Rare 1482 Torah breaks two records
A rare 1482 Torah, or Pentateuch, which is considered by many to stand alongside the Gutenberg Bible as a monument of early printing, broke two records when it sold for nearly £2m at Christie’s Paris.
In doing so, it set new levels for any Hebrew printed book and indeed for any printed book sold in France.
The Torah, printed in Hebrew in Bologna, marked the first appearance in print of all five books that make up the Pentateuch and was the first to which vocalisation and cantillation marks, essential to the reading and chanting of the text, were added.
Until last month, just two copies had come to auction in over 100 years. The first, in 1970, was printed on vellum – as indeed were most copies – and complete, while the second, sold for £310,000 at Christie’s in 1998, was on paper and lacked eight pages. This third copy, newly discovered in a French private collection, was the highlight of the Christie’s Paris sale of April 30. Printed on vellum and lacking only a rear free endpaper, it almost doubled the high estimate to sell for €2.4m (£1,971,360).