By Frank Werner
It is not every day that a reviewer of catalogues has it this easy. To sum up the intention of this brilliant catalogue, I can do no better than to quote the introduction:
“’Rare Objects with a Story’ endeavours not to be your normal catalogue. It features only thirty items and makes no attempt to be a ‘paint by numbers’ production that features a balanced quota of well-known classics from each part of the world.
Rather the selection is unconventional. All of the objects featured are rare and many are unique. They are also all items that have some significance to us and that we would be pleased to collect ourselves. While market trends and regional fads come and go, we feel that these objects have, due to their rarity, artistic merit and intellectual interest will maintain a certain timelessness. In other, words, they are objects that we believe in.
One will also notice that, in most cases, the descriptions are uncommonly thorough. In an effort to merge our academic background [both Dasa Pahor and Alexander Johnson hold PhD’s in art or history] with our vocation, we hope that these objects will serve as an invitation to a journey of discovery. All of the items have great stories, some far more fascinating and surprising than we initially thought possible. “
Indeed. The catalogue is 214 pages thick, and, as mentioned, presents just 30 objects. But what objects! For instance, there are two extraordinary works of highly complex, fine printing. The large broadside, printed in Ulm in 1625, depicts a deer through the technique of Carmen figuratum, forming a labyrinth of text that reveals fascinating insight into contemporary medicine (on its way to its new owner). Louis Rosenthal’s micrographic portrait of the Duke of Sussex (1843), one of the leading historical figures of Freemasonry, is intricately composed of thousands of lines of the text of the Duke’s biography (€ 17,500).
The list goes on. I could mention every single item in the catalogue, but I suggest you get a copy of it as soon as possible. It is profusely illustrated, the texts are well written and highly informative. There is a sense of humour, which never distracts from the information, and a sharp eye for the extraordinary, strange, funny or just plain weird in evidence.
This is indeed, to once more quote the foreword: “a catalogue to keep”.