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Event Date13 July 10:30 AM BST | Live auction 21033

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Sale Overview

Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction on 13 July is its most valuable ever various owner sale, led by three extraordinary books: the Longleat copy of a 1499 Bible historiée on vellum, the first complete printed Bible in French (£600,000-£900,0000); a deluxe copy of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa, a foundation work of philosophy, theology and economics (£400,000-£600,000); and a presentation copy of Newton’s Opticks, which revolutionised human understanding of light and colour (£400,000-£600,000). Important science is at the heart of the sale, with a private collection including a 15th-century manuscript of Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci, which introduced the Hindu-Arabic numbering system to the West (£300,000-£500,000), and first editions of Newton’s Principia (£350,000-500,000) and Darwin’s Origin of Species (£100,000-£150,000). Elsewhere, literary classics span Don Quixote, in an important copy with a French royal provenance (£300,000-400,000) and Harry Potter, with a set of signed first editions (£100,000-£150,000), while natural history and cartography include Besler’s ravishing Hortus Eystettensis (£250,000-£350,000) and the earliest pair of table globes on the market (£300,000-500,000). There are 50 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, covering humanist texts, Books of Hours and alchemical treatises, led by a Parisian Bible once owned by John, Lord Lumley and William Cecil, chief advisor of Elizabeth I (£80,000-£120,000); and autographs include a unique glimpse into Isaac Newton’s childhood (£60,000-£90,000), a sketchleaf from Mahler’s 9th Symphony, manuscripts and relics from the heroic age of Antarctic Exploration and a charming group of drawings by Quentin Blake.

Auction times
13 Jul 10:30 AM (BST) Lots 1-130
13 Jul 02:00 PM (BST) Lots 131-256

Our specialist’s selection

Brought to you by

Eugenio Donadoni

Eugenio Donadoni

Senior Specialist, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts | Books & Manuscripts

Eugenio Donadoni joined Christie’s in 2010, where he leads the manuscripts team with responsibility for the appraisal, researching, cataloguing and marketing of medieval and renaissance and earlier western manuscripts worldwide. Born in Florence and raised in Naples, he underwent a radical process of Anglicisation and ended up reading for an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree, and a doctorate at Oxford University. His loyalties are still divided, especially come the World Cup.

Highlights include the sale of the Rothschild Prayerbook ($13.6m, the world record at auction for an illuminated manuscript, January 2014); the Carolingian ‘Gospels of Queen Theutberga’ (£1.99m, July 2015); the only copy of the Ripley Scroll in private hands (£584,750, December 2017); the Audley End Lydgate (£392,750, July 2018); and the oldest known manuscript of Ezechiel in Latin (£212,500, July 2019). Notable collection sales have included the Arcana Collection of Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts, the stunning group of manuscripts from the collection of Yates, Thompson and Bright: a Family of Bibliophiles (16 July 2014), the collection of Maurice Burrus (25 May 2016), and, most recently, The History of Western Script: Important Antiquities and Manuscripts from the Schøyen Collection (10 July 2019). While cataloguing the Yates, Thompson and Bright sale, Eugenio identified a previously unknown text by the Renaissance French author Catherine d’Amboise: this important discovery formed the subject of his 2016 article in French Studies Bulletin. In November 2015, Eugenio dragged medieval manuscripts out of the Dark Ages and into the Digital Age by piloting the department’s first, and very successful, Online Only sale – Script and Illumination: Leaves from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.

Over the past ten years Eugenio has negotiated a number of multi-million pound private sales of medieval and renaissance manuscripts to clients in Europe, the UK and the Americas: most significantly the Clumber Park Chartier (now in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library) and the Breviary of Saint-Louis de Poissy (now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France).

Eugenio is one of Christie’s international auctioneers, and takes all of the London department’s auctions. He plays in a much-loved – if terrible – rock band, will offer unsolicited advice on anything food-related and is trilingual in English, Italian and French. He also reads Latin and Ancient Greek.

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