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A fishy rare book tale from the pope’s doctor


Who needs to sail when you have Rome’s fish markets?

Last month’s most expensive sales on AbeBooks.com span five centuries of natural history, physics and philosophy, and fiction from John Steinbeck. There is also 20th century art and the ultimate book for North American tree-spotters.

The oldest book to sell last month, published in 1554, was also our most expensive – Aquatilium animalium historiae, a study of Mediterranean fish, from a Vatican doctor called Ippolito Salviani, who showed that research can come in many forms. Rather than going to sea to find samples, the man who kept popes healthy trawled the fish markets of Rome.

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Richard Davies

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