What's It Worth? Illuminated Books and Manuscripts

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Katrina Hess, licensed auctioneer, was very excited when we bought a miniature “Book of Hours” from a fellow antique dealer for $5,000. While she was keen to auction it, we attempted to sell it privately for a small profit of 10-15%.

All illuminated manuscripts and books have value. They were made from the 6th century to the mid 19th century. Early examples like this 15th-century book frequently have extremely artistic illustrations highlighted with genuine gold or silver. The more colorful illustrations are often sliced from books and sold individually, which we would never do. The writing is typically done with incredible flourishes, and highlighted with hand coloring, brilliant inks and precious metals.

Since we had no buyer, we decided to include this book in one of our internationally known auctions and were lucky enough that two collectors got into a bidding war over it. This well-preserved book fetched the handsome price of $15,000. The buyer is a European who specializes in illuminated manuscripts.

Please note single illuminated pages from old Bibles bring about $50 to $100 or less; but complete miniature books in such good condition would certainly catch the eye of our global network of collectors. This is the power of our auctions’ international following. We boast (and can prove) over $100 million in sales online, which makes us one of the most active and robust auctioneers in the U.S.

We make house calls anywhere in the U.S. and have four former Sotheby’s associates, seven GIA graduates and two art history majors on staff.

Always buying, house calls available.

Buying and Selling since 1984. Art, Jewelry, Watches, and Antiques.

Hess Fine Art, 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

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