Collection of 16th to 19th century Bibles featured at Oct. 20 auction

NEW YORK—On Oct. 20, Swann Galleries will hold a two-session auction of Medical & Scientific Books; Bibles & Early Printed Books, which features 16th- through 19th-century Bibles and related works from the library of Mel and Julie Meadows.

The sale opens with Medical & Scientific Books, which include Ludovicus Nonnius’s Ichtyophagia; sive, De Piscium esu commentarius, first edition of the first book on the health benefits of eating fish, Antwerp, 1616 ($1,500 to $2,500); and Sir William Osler’s text book of general medicine, The Principles and Practice of Medicine, first edition, first issue, New York, 1892 ($1,500 to $2,500).

An extensive selection of works on electricity and its medical applications from the collection of the late Seymour Furman, M.D.—a surgeon known for pioneering non-invasive pacemaker implantation—features Alessandro Volta’s On the Electricity excited by the Mere Contact of Conducting Substances of Different Kinds, first edition of the paper announcing invention of the “Voltaic Pile,” the first electric battery, London, 1800 ($3,000 to $5,000).

Other highlights of the morning session are Johannes Stoeffler’s Calendarium Romanum Magnum, the richly illustrated first edition of a proposal for reforming the Julian calendar, Oppenheim, 1518 ($10,000 to $15,000); a third edition of Giovanni Bianchini’s astronomical tables, Luminarium atque Planetarum motuum Tabulae octoginta quinque, with additions by Pruckner and Peurback, Basel, 1553 ($4,000 to $6,000); and Christian Konrad Sprengel’s groundbreaking work on flower structure and pollination, Das entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur im Bau und in der Befruchtung der Blumen, first edition, Berlin, 1793 ($4,000 to $6,000).

The afternoon session begins with the Meadows collection, which contains early editions of the major English Bible translations. Highlights include the third edition of the Great Bible, the first English-language version authorized for public use, London, 1540, in an early 19th-century Masonic binding ($15,000 to $20,000); a partially hand-colored copy of the first illustrated quarto edition of the Tyndale version, London, 1552 ($15,000 to $25,000); a first edition of the Geneva Bible, which became the household Bible of Elizabethan England, Geneva, 1560 ($20,000 to $30,000); a first edition of the lavishly illustrated Bishops’ Bible, which replaced the Great Bible as the version authorized for church use, London, 1568; and a copy of the 1613-11 second edition of the King James version, known as the “She” Bible because of the reading “she” instead of “he” in Ruth 3:15 ($10,000 to $15,000). Another Bible with a typographical variation is the so-called “Vinegar Bible,” Oxford, 1717-16, whose nickname results from the use of the word “vinegar” instead of “vineyard” in Luke 20, among other misprints ($3,000 to $5,000).

Following the Meadows collection is an assortment of Early Printed Books from various consignors, including sections of Judaica and legal works, as well as a first edition of Michael Praetorius’s Syntagma musicum, the first scholarly book to encompass all aspects of musical performance of the Renaissance and early Baroque periods, Wolfenbüttel, 1619-20 ($6,000 to $9,000).

The auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 20, and will continue after a lunch break at 2 p.m. The books will be on public exhibition Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated catalog is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, contact Tobias Abeloff at 212-254-4710, extension 18, or via e-mail at Live online bidding is also available via

Photos courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.