Back in August I noted a story about the continued financial difficulties faced by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I wrote then: "The Horticultural Society famously sold off much of its rare book collection in 2002 for $5.45 million; the chairman of the board suggested yesterday that more of the Society's books may be deaccessioned to get them out of this particular jam. I hope it doesn't come to that, but things really don't sound good."
Well, it seems that shoe has dropped. Scott Brown reports that at least six books with MassHort bookplates will be on the auction block at Sotheby's on 11 December. These include a 1491 edition of the Hortus Sanitatis, which the auction house calls the "most comprehensive and richly illustrated medical or natural history publication of the fifteenth century." That alone is estimated to sell for $100,000-150,000. It was given to the Horticultural Society in 1947 by J.D. Cameron Bradley. Another Bradley donation, the first edition of the first illustrated herbal in English (the Grete Herball, 1526), is expected to fetch $40,000-60,000.