The Botanical Library of Olle Wallin – A Collection of Fine Botanical Literature

Stockholms Auktionsverk has been entrusted with the sale of Swedish economist Olle Wallin’s (1934–2021) impressive collection of botanical literature, comprising many rare and important works in the field.

The collected titles span from the late 15th to the late 19th century and include works valued at everything between 2,000 and 100,000 SEK and the books have been carefully selected. These volumes have not only stood still on a bookshelf but have been read and admired repeatedly. The main auction, of the collection itself, will go under the hammer on June 16, and his reference library, reflecting the serious ambition behind Wallin’s collecting, will be sold online in the fall, together with his collection of floras.

“Natural history and science are one of the strongest areas of book collecting and have been for many years. The market for this subject remains strong and we are very excited to introduce this collection to the world”, says Katharina Fahlstedt, Head of the Department for Books, Maps & Manuscripts at Stockholms Auktionsverk.

Among the about 130 titles included in the auction of June 16, are works by Linnaeus (Hortus Cliffortianus as well as his classical travels) and Olof Rudbeck’s rare Camporum Elysiorum (3rd ed. 1789), of which only one or two copies have been for sale since the early 1900s. The first edition of this famous work was published in 1702 but destroyed in the Uppsala fire that very same year and only a few copies survived. Some of the remaining logs for the woodblocks were saved and bought by Linnaeus’ son and later sold to James Edward Smith in England. There are also rare works by Clusius, (Rariorum plantarum historiae, Antwerpen 1601), Linden’s beautiful work on orchids from 1860, and Michaux’s groundbreaking monograph on American oaks published 1801.

Another rare work in the auction is Herbarius Patavie (“Flora of Passau”), the second printed book in Germany with botanical illustrations in woodcuts, which is a so-called incunabulum published in Passau, Bavaria in 1485.

“The work is finely illustrated with 150 woodcuts that are also colored by hand at an early stage. An early incunabulum – i.e. printed before 1500 – in a fine condition coming from the magnificent botanical library of Arpad Plesch, Hungary. A real gem”, Katharina Fahlstedt assures.

Olle Wallin began his professional career working for the Swedish commercial bank Svenska Handelsbanken, after which he was employed by the construction company Beijers, working under Anders Wall. His interest in books and nature was inspired by his parents, both avid book collectors and interested in natural history. The father also collected topographical literature on the province of Skåne. Wallin began collecting seriously after moving to Stockholm in the 1970s and frequently visited antiquarian bookshops as well as attended auctions. His line of work also required extensive travel, foremost to the European continent and the US, and he usually took the opportunity to combine the business trips with visits to leading antiquarian booksellers and auction houses. Many of his collection’s more important and valuable works were acquired on those occasions.

The auction catalogue is published on auktionsverket.com on May 31st.

Live Auction
16 June, Nybrogatan 32, Stockholm

8–13 June, Nybrogatan 32, Stockholm

Opening hours
Monday–Friday 10am–6pm. Saturday–Sunday 11am–4pm

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