This Illuminated Medical Almanac From 1445 May Fetch $100,000 at Auction

It contains truly bizarre predictions for the new year.


Medieval art is having a moment. Let’s call it the Game of Thrones effect.

There’s New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz’s obsession with graphic sexual imagery from illuminated manuscripts, the fact that more than 100 artists teamed up for a Game of Thrones art book, and some serious museum attention to medieval imagery—as evidenced by the J. Paul Getty Museum’s focus in a Game of Thrones blog post.

Undoubtedly sensing a thirst for this type of work at the moment, Live Auctioneers is offering an illuminated German medical almanac for sale on July 8 that has not been seen in public for 60 years.


The circa 1445 manuscript on parchment paper is estimated at £60,000 to £80,000 ($95,00 to $125,000) and is filled with monthly “medical-astronomical prognostications” for individuals in need of advice on ailments.

The book, which was a prestigious commission for a wealthy patron in the diocese of Strasbourg, is from the celebrated workshop of artist Diebold Lauber (who is featured in the Getty collection).

It opens with predictions for the new year, depending on which day of the week the first day of January falls on.


It contains gems like, “If Monday the weather will be extreme and there will be little honey and much manslaughter: if a Thursday the weather will be fine but there will be little wine; if a Friday many will have sore eyes.”


The book also contains advice and entries for each month: For January, advising against bleeding but for drinking strong wine with ginger; for February, advising bleeding only through the thumb and to eat hot food and also drink strong wine; and for March, advising to eat roast meat and bathe often.

Ensuing month’s entries contain advice about consuming medicinal herbs, abstaining from smoked meats, and predictions about thunder, weather changes, and mysterious stones that bring strife (read: meteorites).

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