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5th Jun 2020
Pietro Andrea Mattioli Medica Senensis estimate 3000 4000 1

As attention focusses on the race for a coronavirus vaccine, a 500 year-old book going under the hammer in Norfolk later this month shows that the quest for ways of preventing illness is nothing new.

A ground-breaking study of the use of plants in medicine published in 1554 will be among the lots being auctioned at Keys Auctioneers and Valuers Book Sale on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th June.

The book, called ‘Medica Senensis… de Materia Medica’, which has a pre-sale estimate of £3,000-£4,000, was written by renowned 16th century Italian doctor and naturalist, who was physician to Archduke of Austria Ferdinand II and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.

Mattioli’s great work amounts to an overview of the collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing, and in particular the role of plants in medicine.

“This is an extremely rare  copy of one of the greatest early medical books,” said Tim Blyth of Keys.  “At a time when the world’s attention is focussed on the search for a vaccine for the newest virus, this is  a reminder that the quest to find new medicines has been going on  for many hundreds of years.”

The book is the star lot in Keys’ first Book Sale since it relaunched its sales programme at the end of April following the lockdown pause.  As with every sale since, the auction will be conducted live on Keys’ own online bidding platform KeysLive.

Other lots attracting already interest from bidders include a 1970 first edition of Richmal Crompton’s ‘William The Lawless’ (estimate £500-£600) and a signed 1987 first edition of Ian Rankin’s ‘Knots and Crosses’ (estimate £750-£1,000).

Keys Auctioneers and Valuers Book Sale takes place on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th June, on Keys live online bidding platform KeysLive.  Full details can be found at www.bid.keysauctions.co.uk.