Bibliophile and oenophile alert: rare 16th-century German winemaking book on the auction block!


A rare copy of an early German winemaking book is on the auction block. It’s expected to fetch £2000-3000. The unusual offering comes to us courtesy the Rare Books & Works on Paper sale at Chiswick Auctions. The bidding ends on May 29.

Here’s the cool part: the beautiful woodcuts are by Hans Schäufelein, one of Albrecht Dürer‘s most gifted pupils. Schäufelein, born sometime between 1480 and 1485, was one of Dürer’s first journeymen. He developed his own style, yet never lost Dürer’s friendship and confidence along the way.

The illustrations, which show a winemaker at his labors, were originally planned for the Heinrich Steiner’s edition of the Liber Ruralium Commodorum by Petrus de Crescentiis, a work that was never printed.

This extremely rare copy on the production, storage, and improvement of wines, as well as beer, vinegar, mead, wormwood, and brandies, was reprinted eleven times until 1560, often bound together with Kuchenmeysterey, the first German cookbook.

According to Carmen Donia of Chiswick Auctions, interest in wine books, as well as an increase in their prices, has been a trend for the last few decades, thanks to the explosion of interest in food and wine in our wider culture. Among the earliest and most desirable titles is a work by Bartolomeo Plantina, the first printed cookbook from the late 15th century, the 1514 First Aldine Edition of Libri de re rustica (Book of Country Affairs), including works by Columella, Cato, Varro and Palladius, as well as Paulo Mini’s Discorso della natura del vino (1596), one of earliest books on wine.

“The author, not surprisingly a physician, considering the role wine played in health and wellbeing, tries to analyze tasting notes from different regions around Italy,” she says.

“Large collections of rare and first edition wine books have typically been amassed by wine estates, but equally academic institutions and wealthy individuals, especially traders and passionate oenophiles, have taken an interest. All early printed books (15th-16th century) on wine making, or on the culture surrounding wine, are very rare. We are therefore delighted to be able to offer this unique edition in our upcoming sale.”

Interested? Place your bids here.


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