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Digital Subscriptions > Antiques Trade Gazette > 2273 > Scientific record-breakers

Scientific record-breakers

Second slice of extensive collections features top sums despite other sale casualties

Books and works on paper

A GREAT many record prices were achieved when the second portion of the Giancarlo Beltrame library of scientific books* was sold by Christie’s on November 30.

At the same time, nearly one third of the 368 lots failed to get away, but few items of major importance could be counted among those failures.

Top lot, at £24,000, was a mid- 19th century illuminated manuscript almanack produced for an Ottoman Turkish sultan that did not quite fit in with the principal focus of the collection. However, far more out of place was a 30-lot erotica section that provided a sort of interval attraction among all those serious scientific studies.

That little diversion followed close on the heels of the sale of a 1665, second edition of Diophantus’ Arithmeticorum… featured in last week’s reports (ATG No 2272). Containing Fermat’s observation on the theory of numbers and providing a step towards the invention of the differential calculus, it was the most expensive of the printed books.

Some of the other highlights of the second division sale, which totalled £945,875 with premiums, are described below or in the accompanying illustrations and caption stories.

Sole survivor

The Greek mathematician and astronomer Aristarchus of Samos is renowned as the first man to have proposed a heliocentric theory, some 18 centuries before Copernicus, but only one of his works has survived. Putting forward his view that the sun, not Earth was the fixed centre of the universe as then understood, and that stars were other distant suns and the universe much larger than his contemporaries believed, it was first printed in 1498, along with other texts.

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About Antiques Trade Gazette

Antiques Trade Gazette is the essential publication for everyone with a serious interest in art, antiques and collectables. Every week it is packed with up-to-the-minute news on the market, with individual items beautifully illustrated throughout. Since 1971 it has been the most reliable source of information on what is really happening at auctions in the UK and around the world. Each issue is filled with auction advertisements and detailed auction reports written by expert journalists. The Dealer’s Diary section keeps readers constantly updated on what is happening at the fairs and markets and in the galleries and shops. Market professionals and serious collectors throughout the world rely on ATG to keep them informed on developments and issues which shape the art market. It is here that they learn about the prices achieved at auction in every area - from antiquities to pop memorabilia, from impressionist paintings to Chinese art. With 500 or more art objects pictured, every issue is a treat to the eye and a visual education. Whatever the topic Antiques Trade Gazette is well-informed, up-to-date and entertaining.