Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2017 Issue

Columbus returns to the Vatican: it's a miracle!

Eight pages and two guards

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue but only after the kings of Portugal, France and England turned down the opportunity to finance his adventure and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella stepped in.  In so doing they rescued their careers from oblivion, earning a place in thousands of textbooks that have carried their names into the present and certainly on into the future.  It was an excellent career move.  For this, Spain was awarded a significant piece of the New World that today speaks their language.  It pays to be first.

 

As a riff on this historical melody it’s long been known that first printed references to Columbus’ discovery have also been desirable.  So desirable in fact that some copies are known to have been stolen.

 

Recently a copy, long missing from the Vatican’s archives, has been discovered in the United States and returned to the home of Saint Peter’s Basilica.  The Pope, we assume, is overjoyed.

 

The rare artifact was found in Georgia, the state, not the nation, some dozen years ago.

 

So this is a reminder that the right of replevin, the unlimited right of those who have had material stolen, can, if their material surfaces, demand its return.  The law is alive, well and probably gaining strength as the internet shrinks the globe making material missing in one country increasingly transparent to institutions, dealers and collectors worldwide.  To paraphrase Columbus, “it’s a new world.”

Rare Book Monthly

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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
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    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
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    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
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    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
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    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
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    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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