On Saturday, what is widely claimed to be one of the world’s smallest books sold at auction in Brussels for €3,500, far exceeding the estimate set by experts prior to the auction.
The sale took place at Arenberg Auctions in Brussels and the book had an estimated of €1000 – €1,500. With charges included, the final cost came to €4,200, Belga News Agency reports.
— Arenberg Auctions (@arenbergauction) December 18, 2021
The book in question is a prayer book measuring 5mm x 5mm – barely the size of a pencil lead. The tiny leather-bound book bears the title “The Lord’s Prayer” and contains seven versions of the prayer. The print is so fine that it cannot be read with the naked eye and requires a magnifying glass.
It is one of a few hundred copies published in 1952 by the Gutenberg Museum. The German institution, synonymous with the art of printing since Johannes Gutenberg pioneered mechanical printing in Europe in the 15th Century, had sold the small book to finance restoration works.
The uniqueness of the copy auctioned on Saturday is that it was sold with its metal printing plates, which are bigger than the book itself.
Arenberg Auctions specialises in the sale of rare books, manuscripts and maps. Its Friday-Saturday sale, its last for the year, included many exceptional lots such as an edition of one of the most famous illustrated incunabula, the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is over 500 years old. It went for €38,000.
A two-metre-high painting of José de Anchieta signed by Brussels artist Antoon Sallaert (1594-1650), was bought for €11,000.
The auction grossed a total of €1.25 million, described by house expert Henri Godts as a “tidy sum.”