Nero Caesar, or Monarchie Depraved. An Historical Worke, by the Translator of Lucius Florus.

London, printed by T.S. for Thomas Walkely, 1622.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xviii] 288, errata pasted on rear fep. Roman letter. Attractive engraved title by Francis Delaram (Hind II, p. 232) depicting Nero mounted above allegorical figures of Rome and London, with 5 small vignettes including Nero’s death, the temple of Poppaea, Boedicea and Agrippina, numerous engraved very fine oval illustrations of coins and medals to text, text within typographic borders. Printed title and its conjugate index leaf cut shorter, remargined at tail (prob. supplied), short repaired tears to blank lower margins of three leaves, upper edge a little dusty, occasional marks or spots in the ample margins. A good copy in a very handsome and very high quality CONTEMPORARY MOROCCO CENTERPIECE BINDING (somewhat comparable to Foot, Henry Davis Gift II, 67, 68), boards with ornate richly gilt arabesque of geometric and floral patterns with a central cartouche, elaborate cornerpieces, and a double gilt-ruled inner frame with corner fleurons within a blind and gilt-ruled outer frame. Rebacked preserving original spine, extremities a little rubbed, lacking ties. 17th century note on fly.

First edition of Bolton’s antiquarian work on the life of the Emperor Nero in a very nice contemporary morocco binding, with fine tooling and gilding. The corner and centre pieces are conspicuously finely cut and richly decorated though the design is slightly unusual for a London binding of the period. The corner thistles between the inner and outer gilt frames may indicate a Scottish origin. Bolton uses the very accomplished engravings of coins, medals and inscriptions to illustrate his translations of Classical historians; Lowndes states that “the copies bearing the date 1624, have not the blanks for the coins filled in”, this copy has them. There are a number of states of this work (indicating an erratic printing history: in fact, it was produced by two printers, B. Alsop for quires B-M, and Thos. Snodham for the rest), and some copies of this edition have an additional two quires containing Bolton’s ‘An Historical Account’.

Bolton was an accomplished antiquary and poet, educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and Inner Temple, but was hampered in professional advancement by his lifelong commitment to Catholicism. His patron, the Duke of Buckingham (the dedicatee of this work) procured him some small office at Court, where Bolton achieved some notice by suggesting the founding of a Royal Academy with wide-ranging powers of censorship over secular literature published in England, which failed due to James I’s death. Bolton ended his days in debtor’s prison, but “he claims, as an antiquary to stand beside Camden, Selden, and Spelman” (DNB).

STC 3221; Lowndes I, p. 232; Gillow I, p. 259, no. 5; Hind II, p.232; Johnson, Catalogue of Engraved and Etched English Title-pages, p. 11; cf. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, vol. II, no. 67; not in Pforzheimer.


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