WITHER, George

A collection of emblemes, ancient and moderne : quickened vvith metricall illustrations, both morall and divine: and disposed into lotteries.

London, by A[ugustine]. M[athewes]. for Robert Milbourne, 1635.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xx], 62, [vi], 63-124, [vi], 135-196, [vi], 209-270, [x]. Text within box rule. Roman letter, some Italic. Wonderful engraved title-page by William Marshall (Johnson no. 29), letterpress title-page with woodcut printer’s device (McKerrow 304) within double-ruled border, the second (I4r), third (S4r), and fourth (2D4r) books each have separate title pages dated 1634 with the same woodcut device, fine engraved roundel portrait of Wither. 200 engraved emblems by Crispijn van de Passe the elder, floriated woodcut initials, typographical head-pieces, two woodcut volvelles on recto of final leaf (pointers in excellent facsimile). Light age yellowing, small marginal tear on lower margin of D3 not affecting text, marginal repair to X1, very rare marginal spot. A fine, fresh copy, crisp and clean with superb impressions of the engravings, in very good contemporary (probably Oxford) polished black calf over thick boards, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, blind ruled raised bands compartments hatched at head and tail, surface crackling, edges with gilt rule, all edges blue.

A lovely copy of the first edition of this beautifully illustrated and important emblem book, by the English poet and author George Wither. Wither was employed by the London publisher Henry Taunton to write English verses to illustrate the beautiful allegorical plates made by Gabriel Rollenhagen and Crispin van Passe more than 20 years earlier. Its publication coincided with another famous English book of emblems by Francis Quarles. Wither used the plates of the two hundred engravings of Gabriel Rollenhagen, gathered from his two works, Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum (Arnheim, 1611) and Emblematum centuria secunda (Arnheim, 1613). They are circular picturae that present a symbol or group of symbols in the foreground, while other details and scenes in miniature, emerge from the background. Surrounding the engravings is an inscriptio normally in Latin, but sometimes in Greek, French or Italian, and the emblem completed with very brief texts. In reusing these plates, Wither enriched them literarily by adding an English couplet as the inscriptio and extensive poems, as well as a curious game of roulette at the end.

“Emblem books were popular in Europe throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They contained emblematic woodcuts or engravings with accompanying didactic text. Taken together, their purpose was to pithily communicate a message that usually concerned political, religious, or moral teaching.… The images in this volume are the work of Dutch engraver Crispin van de Passe, and originally appeared in Holland two decades before the publication of Wither’s text. Wither, an English poet and author, believed the engravings to be excellent but their accompanying text “meane.” He added his own moral and religious verses to van de Passe’s engravings and the Collection of Emblemes was published in London in 1635. Wither’s verses were composed for the middle-class reader and consistently promote the Puritan virtues of diligence and thrift, qualities that are to be recognized and imitated. .. This volume is of particular interest because it contains a pair of volvelles in its final pages. .. paper wheels fastened to the pages of a book, allowing them to turn in relation to one another. These simple moving parts could thereby be used as rudimentary calculators and memory aids… Wither included his volvelles for a quite different purpose. Blindly turning these two dials allowed a reader to select an emblem upon which to concentrate his or her attention. He intended for this “Lottery,” to be an entertainment, something he referred to as a “Moral Pastime.” As Rosemary Freeman observes in her English Emblem Books, “it obviously had the same appeal as a Fortune-teller at a party.”” Andrew Belongea, ‘Wither’s Volvelles’ The Newberry library.

A lovely copy of this finely illustrated work.

STC 25900b. ESTC S118586. Praz. p. 124.Not in Pforzheimer or Grolier.


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The Roman historie

London : Printed by Adam Islip, An. 1609.


FIRST EDITON thus. Folio. pp. [iv], 432, [lxxvi]. A², B-3I⁴, a-d⁴, ²A-E⁴, ²F². Roman letter, some Italic. Floriated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut and typographical headpieces, long manuscript note (c. 1800) on front fly with autograph Edmond Malone, early shelf mark on fly, bookplate of Robert S Pirie. Very light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. A fine copy, crisp and clean, in excellent contemporary polished armorial calf, covers bordered with a double blind and single gilt rule, contemporary gilt arms of John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater at centres, FB at gilt stamped at lower edge (most probably Francis Bridgewater 3rd Duke), spine with gilt ruled raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, fleurons gilt at centres, gilt lettered red morocco label, gilt ruled edges, remains of green silk ties, upper joint with small crack at head.

A beautiful copy, splendidly bound, with the contemporary arms of John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater (1579 – 1649), of the first English translation, by Philemon Holland, of the surviving books of Ammianus Marcellinus’s history of the Roman empire in the later fourth century, dedicated to the mayor and aldermen of Coventry: the Corporation paid £4 towards the publication. Thomas Fuller, writing in the mid-17th century, included Holland among his Worthies of England, terming him “the translator general in his age, so that those books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library for historians”. Holland’s translation style was free and colloquial, sometimes employing relatively obscure dialect and archaic vocabulary, and often expanding on his source text in the interests of clarity. He justified this approach in prefaces to his translations of Livy and Pliny, saying that he had opted for “a meane and popular stile”, and for “that Dialect or Idiome which [is] familiar to the basest clowne”, while elaborating on the original in order to avoid being “obscure and darke”.

Ammianus Marcellinus, the “last Roman historian of any importance,” began his history of the emperors in about 390 A.D. As a younger man Marcellinus fought under Julian against the Alemanni and Persians, and his work provides an eyewitness account of the period 353-378. Of the original 31 books only 18 were extant at the time of Holland’s translation, and his work includes a chronology of the time period covered by the lost books. Three years earlier, Holland had translated Suetonius’ Historie of Twelve Caesars, Emperors of Rome (1606), so Marcellinus’ Roman Historie was a logical next pursuit. “Holland’s translations are faithful and readable.” (DNB).

John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater, (1579 – 4 December 1649) was an English peer and politician, Baron of the Exchequer of Chester from 1599 to 1605. In 1603, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of Bath, and having succeeded to his father’s titles, he was created Earl of Bridgewater in 1617. Egerton was sworn of the Privy Council in 1626. Between 1631 and 1634, he was Lord President of Wales. In the early 17th century, the 1st Earl’s father had purchased Ashridge House, one of the largest country houses in England, from Queen Elizabeth I, who had inherited it from her father (Henry VIII) who had appropriated it after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Ashridge House served the Egerton family as a residence until the 19th century. John Milton’s masque, ‘Comus’ (‘A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634’) in honour of chastity, was first presented on Michaelmas, 1634, before John Egerton at Ludlow Castle in celebration of the Earl’s new post as Lord President of Wales.

STC 17311. ESTC S114268.


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BIBLE. that is, the Holy Scriptures conteined in the Old and New Testament. …With most profitable annotations vpon all hard places, and other things of great importance.

[Amsterdam], Imprinted at London by the deputies of Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie [i.e. J.F. Stam], 1599. [1639].


PSALMS. The book of Psalmes, collected into English meeter, by Thomas Sternhold.

[Amsterdam : J. F. Stam, after 1633.]


4to. 1) ff. [iv], 190; 127, [i]; 121, [xi] 2) pp. [x], 93 [i.e. 91], [xi]. Roman letter, some Italic in double column. General and NT titles within heart-shaped woodcut borders with twenty-four small compartments, left, the tents of the twelve tribes; on the right the twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists at centre, additional printed general title, 3 woodcut maps and numerous illustrations in the text of the Old Testament, seventeenth-century manuscript entries on blank leaf between testaments of the Crook family of Luton (between 1674 and 1687). Light age yellowing, very light waterstain to upper part of first few leaves, very occasional marginal stains and spots. A fine copy, crisp and clean in stunning contemporary English, or perhaps Scottish, black calf over thick bevelled wooden boards, covers double gilt ruled to a panel design, dentelle and floral rolls to outer two panels, inner panel with large gilt block stamped corners, large arabesque gilt to centre around central oval, semi of small floral tools gilt, spine with raised bands, three large rose tools gilt to each compartment, brass clasps and catches, (without one clasp), all edges finely gilt and gauffered, combed marbled end-papers, head and tail of spine a little rubbed, corners restored.

A rare complete ‘Geneva’ Bible, with the Psalms, published clandestinely in Amsterdam for the English market with a false date and imprint. The binding is very finely worked and shares the same overall design with many bindings in the British library, often with royal, or noble arms, but most particularly with a Scottish binding Shelfmark C21d12, which also has a floral border. The use of black calf and a decoration of repeated rose tools on the spine is particularly striking and effective.

The exiled English community at Geneva, during the reign of Queen Mary, became a centre for Bible study and under the guidance of Whittingham, a new translation of the Bible was undertaken. The present edition was the work of William Whittingham, Anthony Gilby, Thomas Sampson, and perhaps others, revised by Laurence Tomson, with the Franciscus Junius translation of Revelation translated to English by Tomson. The Bible that was produced at Geneva used several devices to help the reader study, understand and interpret. The script was divided into numbered verses for the first time. An ‘argument’ was also used before each book and chapter to help explain the meaning. The marginal notes amount to 300,000 words or about a third of the complete length. The translators used these scholarly annotations to clarify ambiguous meanings and for cross-referencing. King James, to impose his version, discouraged the printing of the Geneva version from 1611. The authorities of the seventeenth century were also suspicious of these marginal annotations, believing that they encouraged sedition. Indeed, James claimed that some notes were “very partial, untrue, seditious, and savouring too much of dangerous and traitorous conceits.” His attitude is perhaps unsurprising when notes such as Exodus 1:19 claimed that a disobedient act against a king was lawful. Despite royal antipathy, the Geneva Bible remained popular, often described as the ‘Bible of the people’. It was not generally used in the Church of England as the notes were sometimes too Protestant for the Elizabethan religious settlement; it was however used in the Scottish Kirk. Indeed, in 1579 a Scottish edition of the Geneva version was the first Bible to be printed in Scotland. According to Darlow and Moule, between 1560 and 1644 at least 140 editions of the Geneva Bible or Testament appeared. It was the Bible of Shakespeare and as late as 1643, Cromwell’s New Model Army was carrying the Soldier’s Pocket Bible made up of extracts. This edition contains two false title pages and was certainly produced outside the monopoly of the Stationers Company. Despite the fact that unlicensed foreign texts infringed this monopoly, imported material had a sizeable share of the English and Scottish book market in the seventeenth century. Here the false imprint dates to the reign of Elizabeth I when Geneva Bibles were less controversial. The illegal transportation of books into the country was certainly monitored by the authorities. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633-45, admitted that he had suppressed the Geneva Bible during his time in office at his trial, stating that he had suppressed this version, not only because of the controversial marginal notes, but also because he was trying to protect the economic position of English printers. John Frederick Stam was an established printer at Amsterdam who particularly targeted the English book market becoming one of the leading printers of English texts in the Netherlands, mainly producing Bibles, generally printed with false title pages which credited the printing to Barker.

1) STC 2177, version with “seuen/ and twenty prouinces” in Esther I, 1. ESTC S117087. Darlow & Moule I 191.

2) STC 2499.4 ESTC S90671. See Emily Wood, Glasgow University Library Special Collections, 2006 for description of a Geneva Bible, Sp Coll Euing Dp-b4,.


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De confessione amantis.

London, In Fletestrete by Thomas Berthelette, the. XII. daie of Marche. 1554.


Folio. ff. [vi], CXCI, [i]. *⁶, A-2I⁶. Black letter in two sizes, some Roman, double column. Title within charming woodcut border (McKerrow & Ferguson 26), historiated and grotesque woodcut initials, full-page manuscript in contemporary hand on recto of final blank (the last blank has been moved, probably when the binding was restored, and placed between the fly and pastedown), contemporary autograph ‘Aymoth Gawyne … . Book” on verso of last blank, “A John Stamforth After Me” in C16th hand on rear fly, verso, with “Simon Gawin” in near contemporary hand alongside, contemporary autograph on title “… .. Josfph his book so that …. hanged on a …”, “Draycott House Wilts” above in C19th hand above, bookplates of Robert Walsingham Martin and Robert S Pirie on front pastedown. Light age yellowing, small worm trail to blank upper margin of quire Aa, title page a little thumbed in blank lower outer corner, the odd thumb mark on the first few leaves, the very rare spot or mark. A fine copy, crisp and clean, printed on thick paper with good margins, in excellent contemporary London calf over wooden boards, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, central panel with a fine blind-stamped roll of alternate heads in medallions, acanthus leaves, and winged cherubs, [Oldham, plate XLVII, HM. a (7) 776], inner panel with a central lozenge with blind roll of acanthus leaves, spine with four double blind ruled raised bands, remains of clasps, brass catches, expertly rebacked with original spine laid down, paste-downs and endleaves from a contemporary an edition of Erasmus’ Colloquia.

An extraordinary and most important copy of Gower’s ‘de confessione amantis’ containing a hitherto unknown manuscript translation into English, in prose, in a contemporary hand, of a complete story from Boccaccio’s Decameron, the first known translation of this tale in English, and a fine copy in a beautiful contemporary English binding.

One of the most important works of fourteenth-century English literature; the first edition was printed by Caxton in 1483, Berthelet published the second in 1532 and this is his second, the third edition overall. The type and the composition differs from the 1532, but there are no textual variations of significance. The Confessio Amantis is a 33,000-line Middle English poem by John Gower, which uses the confession made by an ageing lover to the chaplain of Venus as a frame story for a collection of shorter narrative poems. According to its prologue, it was composed at the request of Richard II. It stands with the works of Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl poet as one of the great works of late 14th-century English literature. The Index of Middle English Verse shows that in the era before the printing press it was one of the most-often copied manuscripts (59 copies) along with Canterbury Tales (72 copies) and Piers Plowman (63 copies). Shakespeare drew upon Gower for the plot of Pericles, the story coming from the eighth book of the Confessio. In the opening lines of the ‘Chorus’ Shakespeare acknowledged his debt: “to sing a song that old was sung, from ashes ancient Gower is come”. No further edition of the Confessio appeared (i.e. after 1554) in Shakespeare’s lifetime.

The final blank, (it shares the same watermark as the rest of the work) contains a hitherto unknown manuscript translation into English prose, in a contemporary hand, of a complete story from Boccaccio’s Decameron. The translation is titled; “Melchiseris a Jew noth a tale of three rings so escaped a great danger ppared for him By Saladine.” This is the story of the three ring Parable which occurs in Decameron on day one, tale three, as told by Filomena. This appears to precede any other known translation of this tale; the first printed edition was in 1620. The translation here seems to be a fair copy as there are no corrections or mistakes, though no indication of author or the source is given. The story translated is that of Melchizedek the Jewish money lender and Saladin, who laid a trap for him in order to get him to lend him money. Saladin asks Melchizedek a question: Which is the authentic law, Jewish, Saracen (Muslim) or Christian? Melchizedek realises he is trapped, so he answers with a story about a man who bequeaths a precious ring to one of his sons, which is passed down through generations until one of the descendants has three sons, and can’t decide who should receive it. So he gets a jeweller to make two more rings identical the first one. But after the father’s death they find that the rings are so alike, they can’t decide who should inherit which ring. Melchizedek concludes that these three religions follow the same pattern, and to this day, no one can say which one’s the true law. Saladin sees that Melchizedek is wise, befriends him and showers him with gifts. The translation given here is very faithful to Boccaccio’s tale but differs from the 1620 edition.

The conjunction of this translation of a work by Boccaccio on a work by Gower is most intriguing as the two share close formal similarities. Gower is usually studied alongside other tale collections with similar structures, such as the Decameron, and particularly Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, with which the Confessio has several stories in common. Gower’s friendship with Chaucer is well documented. When Chaucer was sent as a diplomat to Italy in 1378, Gower was one of the men to whom he gave power of attorney over his affairs in England. The two poets also paid one another compliments in their verse: Chaucer dedicated his Troilus and Criseyde in part to “moral Gower”, and Gower reciprocated by placing a speech in praise of Chaucer in the mouth of Venus at the end of the Confessio Amantis.

The water mark shows the paper this work is printed on comes from Osnabrück or Bruges, Briquet III 11380. The paper for the unused sheets of Erasmus’ Coloquia used as the pastedown and endleaves have a very similar watermark, a gloved hand with star (three fingers), though we have not been able to identify it. Nor have we been able to identify the edition of Erasmus it was from. It is worth noting that all of Erasmus’ works were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by Paul IV, who acceded to the Papacy in 1555. It is possible that this edition was printed but not distributed because of the prohibition against his works, and that a portion of the edition simply remained in sheets, which were used as scrap, of which this is a small survival.

A fine and important copy.

STC 12144. ESTC S120946. Pforzheimer, 422.


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MONTAIGNE, Michel de

An exceptional copy

The Essayes or Morall, Politike and Millitarie Discourses. .. done into English by … Iohn Florio.

London, Val. Sims for Edward Blount, 1603


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, pp. (xx) 664 (iv). A⁸ [¶]² B-Q⁶, R⁴, S-2P⁶, 2Q-2R⁴, 2S-3I⁶, 3K⁴, [3L]². [2Q4 is blank]. Books 2 and 3 each has separate dated title page. First word of title is xylographic. Preliminaries include quire [¶.]² following A8. [¶]1 bears a poem to John Florio; [¶]2 bears errors and omissions; these 2 leaves are frequently lacking. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek. Dedications on verso of title within woodcut cartouches, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque head and tailpieces, woodcut cartouche at the end of the first book, large woodcut headpieces with royal arms in dedication of second book, small typeset slip reading “vyle” pasted over “towns” on B1r, line 25, Q3,4 and Kk 3,4 misbound (inverted). Later autograph ‘Davenport Talbot’ on front free endpaper, red morocco bookplate gilt of C.A. and V. Baldwin on front pastedown, Robert S. Pirie’ bookplate below. A fine copy, crisp and clean and unusually complete, in very handsome mid seventeenth century English tan calf, covers double blind ruled to a panel design, blind fleurons to inner and outer corners of central panel, outer panel lightly speckled, inner panel heavily so, darkly speckled spine with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, richly gilt with small scrolled tools and semée of pointillé tools, gilt lettered tan calf title label, very minor abrasions.

A lovely copy of the first edition of the first English translation of Montaigne, translated by the remarkable John Florio, and the most important Elizabethan translation of any contemporary text. This copy is complete with the rare commendatory verses by Samuel Daniel – according to Pforzheimer (cit inf.) the three British Library copies lack them. “Montaigne devised the essay form in which to express his personal convictions and private meditations, a form in which he can hardly be said to have been anticipated. The most elaborate essay, the Apologie de Raimonde Selonde, is second to no other modern writing in attacking fanaticism and pleading for toleration … he finds a place in the present canon, however, chiefly for his consummate representation of the enlightened scepticism of the sixteenth century, to which Bacon, Descartes and Newton were to provide the answers in the next” Printing and the Mind of Man 95 (1st edn.) There is hardly any other writer in whom the human comedy is treated with such completeness as it is in Montaigne. His humorous and sceptical (if haphazard) analysis of the vanities of human affairs and pleasures of life, typify the closing years of the renaissance. He was one of the few great writers not only to perfect but to invent his chosen literary form; the method of thinking crystallised in his Essays exercised the greatest influence on posterity.

Florio, working in his third language, produced a masterpiece of translation and his version soon became a classic of English literature in its own right. Shakespeare read this edition and used it eg. when writing a passage on the natural commonwealth in the Tempest and Burton, Milton, Hobbes and Locke all knew their Montaigne through Florio’s translation. It remained a great and enduring influence on English literature and philosophy even down to our own day.

ESTC S111839 .STC 18041. Lowndes III 1588. Pforzheimer I 378. Grolier I 102.


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SANDYS, George


A paraphrase upon the divine poems.

London, [Printed by John Legatt, sold] at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard [i.e. the shop of Andrew Hebb], 1638.


FIRST EDITION thus Folio pp. [xxii], 55, [xiii], 171, [i], 15, [iii], 33, [i]. Variant 2 “‘A paraphrase upon the Lamentations of Ieremiah’ has separate pagination, and divisional title on 3A1r. Variant 2: with the latter divisional title cancelled.” ESTC. Divisional title here from another edition mounted in place of the cancel. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printers device on first title, woodcut musical notation in text. Very light age yellowing, rare marginal spot or mark. A fine, large paper copy, crisp and clean, in excellent contemporary English calf over boards, covers double blind and single gilt ruled to a panel design, large fleurons gilt to outer corners, fine large olive brach wreath gilt to centres, spine double gilt ruled in compartments, gilt lettered red morocco label, remains of ties. a.e.r., covers a little scratched, upper joint partially cracked, extremities a little rubbed.

A beautiful, large paper copy of the enlarged second edition of this important work of poetry by Sandys, that first appeared in 1636, but without Lawes’ music, and several other parts.

“Sandys turned to versifying the Book of Psalms in the early 1630s probably shortly after the publication of the great 1632 edition of the Ovid. His full psalter was first published in 1636; in 1638 a considerably expanded edition appeared, adding paraphrases of the Book of Job and the other ‘poetical’ parts of the Bible, as well as musical settings by Henry Lawes. This edition was a considerable event in the annals of Caroline poetry, carrying tributes to Sandys from brother-poets Thomas Carew, Edmund Waller, Henry King, and Sidney Godolphin, among others, as well as musical settings of the psalms by Henry Lawes, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. It is a complex and fascinating work; in many ways it is the most important example we have of a ’Laudian’ style in English religious poetry, but it also includes covert criticisms of the powerful prelate and the ecclesiastical polices of the Caroline government. … When Sandys was preparing his Psalter, the Church of England was going through a period of drastic upheaval. Charles I and Laud, working as a team were engaged in an active program of Church reform .. The most immediately obvious feature of the Laudian changes was a new emphasis on visual splendour .. The Laudian pursuit of ‘the beauty of holiness’ was no shallow aestheticism, but a vital part of a coherent theological system. Sandy’s Psalms revel in the freedom which this new religious style encouraged. The magnificence of Old Testament worship was used as a justification for this new, and -to the iconophobic puritan – deeply shocking policy, and the sensuous appeal of the Old Testament temples is repeatedly emphasized in Sandys psalms… Sandys’s version contrasts sharply with the more conventionally Protestant values enshrined in Sir Philp Sidney’s version ..Nothing like this had been done to the holy text in Englsih before Sandys: the Protestant versions of Sir Philip Sidney or George Wither are spartan by comparison.” James Ellison. ‘George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century’.

Sandys was also deeply interested in America. He was one of the undertakers named in the third charter of the Virginia company and later treasurer and member of its Council. His celebrated translation of Ovid was actually completed in America. A beautiful large paper copy of this important work of English poetry.

STC 212725. ESTC S116693. Pforzheimer 852. “The divisional title to the Lamentations of Ieremiah appears to be cancelled in all other recorded copies except the large paper presentation copy in the Huntington Library.” Lowndes 2189. Not in Grolier.


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TOPSELL, Edward (trans.); GESNER, Conrad

The Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes [with] The Historie of Serpents

London, William Iaggard, 1607; 1608


FIRST EDITIONS. Folio. 2 books in 1. [xlii] 758 [xii]; [x] 316 [viii]. A⁶ [¶]⁶ 2[¶]⁸ *² B-2V⁶ 3A-3X⁶ 3Y⁸ [first blank, F4+1]. A-V⁶ 2A-2H⁶. [first blank]. Roman and Italic letter, first word of titles xylographic, floriated woodcut initials and grotesque head and tail-pieces, typographical and metalcut ornaments, first t.p. with cut of hyena (used for sea wolf on p. 749), pencil note in Pirie’s hand on fly; “This copy and the one in the BM are the only one known with the sea-wolf title-page, most have the Gorgon. A copy with a sea-wolf on the title was lot 481 in the Foyle sale”, second t.p. with the Boa, there is an extra leaf after F4 with heading: “The Picture of the vulger Bugill Folio 57.” in total 155 distinct woodcut illustrations of animals, 15 full-page, eighteenth century engraved bookplate on pastedown, another modern with monogram DP above, Robert S Pirie’s below. Light age yellowing, very minor marginal light waterstain to outer margins in places. Fine copies, crisp and clean with woodcuts in very good impressions, in handsome contemporary polished calf, covers double blind, and single gilt ruled to a panel design, large fleuron with acorn to outer corners, fine strap-work arabesque gilt at centres, spine with raised bands, rebacked, some repair to corners.

First editions in English of Gesner’s work on quadrupeds, illustrating both real and legendary beasts, with an additional work on snakes, including chapters on bees, wasps and flies. Animals are categorized alphabetically, resulting in a few interesting sequences: the Gorgon is beside the Hare, and the Manticore with face of a man, hundreds of sharp teeth, and the body of a lion, is next to a typical Ibex, or Mountain Goat. Although it depicts several mythical beasts in striking (if fantastic) woodcut detail, they are given little space text wise, and the majority of the book depicts European and exotic mammals, and domesticated animals. The largest section describes twenty breeds of dog, as well as an extensive treatment of horses, with an attention to veterinary care and showmanship.  Of Cats, Gesner is wary: “this is a dangerous beast…so with a wary and discreet eye we must avoid their harms”. And of the Rhinoceros, ornamented by an imitation of Dürer, he is simply in awe, asking the reader  to consider that such a large work on many everyday creatures must also contain “the storie of this Rhinoceros, as the outward shape and picture of him appeareth rare and admirable to his eies, differing in every part from all other beasts, from the top of his nose to the tip of his taile…” The work concludes with useful indices of Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Greek names for each of the beasts featured.

The second part is the first English translation of the last of Gesner’s works on animals, on Snakes and Insects.  Unlike his history of Quadrupeds, it begins with an essay on the “Divine, Morall and Naturall” elements of serpents – acknowledging the problematic place of snakes in the history of creation, and moving onto a technical discussion of their anatomy. The work is also distinct from its predecessor in its more consistent (and useful) inclusion of medical authorities and recipes for antidotes. The classification system however is less precise, as if this later work of Gesner’s was more of a catch-all for nature’s miscellany. After Asps, there is discussion of Bees, Flies, Caterpillars, and reptiles such as crocodiles, toads, lizards, turtles, and even dragons and sea serpents. Perhaps more than the streamlined History of Foure-Footed Beastes, the untidiness and slight confusion of this work shows Gesner’s innovations for what they were: straddling the divide between the received knowledge of natural history and the push for newer forms of classification through observation that would define zoology. An unusually good, clean copy of a much read work, more often found defective or incomplete.

Edward Topsell (d. 1638?), matriculated from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1587 and was appointed in 1604 as curate of St. Botolph, Aldersgate. Author of the popular Reward of Religion, lectures on the book of Ruth which reached three editions in his lifetime, his claim to posterity is nevertheless his translation of Gesner’s zoological works.

Conrad Gesner (1516 – 1565), is known as the Pliny of Germany, whose prolific writings are considered the foundations of modern zoology.

ESTC 24123, 24124. Sabin 27228. Wellcome I 6323. Alden 607/93 “On p. 660 is a description of Patagonian giants who clothes themselves with skins of the ‘Su’ with illus. derived from Thevet’s Singularitez de la France antartique, chapt. lvi.” and 608/166 “On p. 141, with illus. is a description of a Brazilian alligator.” Lowndes VII 2698, later ed. On horses, Mennessier de la Lance I p.547 describes in depth the Latin original.


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Cyrupædia : The institution and life of Cyrus.

London, by I[ohn]. L[egat]. for Robert Allot [and Henry Holland], 1632.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, [xviii], 131, 130-213, [vii], 14. [Without engraved t-p]. ““Naumachia .. by Abraham Holland …”, a reprint of STC 13580 with different preliminaries, has separate dated title page (2E2r) with imprint “London, printed for Henry Holland, 1632”; register is continuous. Variant: lacking “Naumachia” (2E⁴ 2F⁶) and the additional dedication preceding “Cyrupaedia” (a²) from Henry Holland to Henry Rich, Earl of Holland.” ESTC. This copy, curiously, with the Naumachia but not dedication (a²). Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printers device on first title, another on the Naumachia, floriated woodcut initials and tailpieces, grotesque woodcut headpieces, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, worm trail in lower blank margin of quires H-L, fol. (¶)3 back to front, t-p fractionally dusty, the rare mark or spot. A good copy in excellent contemporary English sheep over boards, covers quadruple blind, and single gilt ruled to a panel design, large fleurons gilt to outer corners, fine large laurel branch wreath gilt to centres around gilt monogram incorporating the letters HAMSTL, stubbs from a sheet of contemporary English printing (a work by Edward Reynolds), all edges sprinkled red, head and tail of spine and corners with loss, upper joint a bit cracked worn, covers a little scratched and stained.

A very charmingly bound copy of this rare work, in the English translation by Philemon Holland, edited by his son Henry. The Cyropaedia is a partly fictional biography of Cyrus the Great, written around 370 BC by the Athenian gentleman-soldier, and student of Socrates, Xenophon of Athens. The Latinized title Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía (Κύρου παιδεία), meaning “The Education of Cyrus”. Aspects of it would become a model for medieval writers of the genre known as mirrors for princes. In turn it was a strong influence upon the most well-known of these, Machiavelli’s The Prince, which was an important influence in the rejection of medieval political thinking, and the development of modern politics. This was the last translation made by Philemon Holland. “He turned to the Cyropaedia last of all. He worked long and carefully, comparing his version with ones already published in Latin and French. He was eighty years old at the time of publication. His son Henry assumed control and turned the Holland version of the Cyropaedia into a tribute to his father, and dedicated it to Charles I. ..There were great hopes for the translation ..History swiftly imposed an ironic reading on the whole enterprise. Philemon Holland was looking backward to the past rather than forward to pressing necessities. So was Charles. Although new versions of the Cyropaedia continued to appear, they became little more than exercises in a genre that had outlived its usefulness. The Cyropaedia has little to say to those bent on revolution. It represents as well as any single book could the kind of political order a popular revolution would seek to overthrow.” James Tatum. Xenophon’s Imperial Fiction: On The Education of Cyrus

Thomas Fuller, writing in the mid-17th century, included Holland among his Worthies of England, terming him “the translator general in his age, so that those books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library for historians”. Holland’s translation style was free and colloquial, sometimes employing relatively obscure dialect and archaic vocabulary, and often expanding on his source text in the interests of clarity. He justified this approach in prefaces to his translations of Livy and Pliny, saying that he had opted for “a meane and popular stile”, and for “that Dialect or Idiome which [is] familiar to the basest clowne”, while elaborating on the original in order to avoid being “obscure and darke”. Appended to this work is a long poem describing the 1571 Battle of Lepanto in 1622 entitled Naumachia, first printed in 1622, by Abraham Holland, one of Philemon’s sons, with a dedication by his brother Henry, the editor of the work.

ESTC S118709. STC 26068. Lowndes VII 3012. Not in Grolier or Pforzheimer


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CICERO, Marcus Tullius

Epistole famigliari. 

Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1554


8vo, ff. 319, [1]. Italic letter; large printer’s device on title and, within floral border with putti, on last; occasionally lightly age yellowed, light damp stain to lower gutter of a few central gatherings. A very good copy in contemporary rustic limp vellum, contemporary title inked on spine; pasted stubs from fourteenth-century ms, remains of ties; slightly worn; contemporary ex libris of ‘Pompeo del Capellan’ at foot of final verso and couple of marginalia in his hand; inscriptions, drawings and scribbles, partly faint, by other contemporary hands on front and rear endpapers and flys and formerly on covers.

An interesting copy of the earliest influential Italian translation of a masterpiece of Latin literature, first published by the Aldine press in 1545. The translator, Guido Logli from Reggio, was a man of letters in service of the Farnese family and acted as agent of Paolo Manuzio in contracting the publication of some works of Annibal Caro and Girolamo Ruscelli. This edition is part of the ambitious plan pursued by Paolo Manuzio to provide his readership with the complete works of Cicero not only in Latin, but also the Italian vernacular.

The vast corpus of Ciceronian Epistolae and Orationes was for a long time used as foundation texts in early modern schools. Indeed, this copy bears an inscription of the otherwise unknown ‘Pompeo de’ Capellan’, written in a childish hand and employing Venetian dialect (‘Questo libro siè de mi’). The other inscriptions, scribbles and drawings – some only visible under UV lamp – by Pompeo or slightly later students comprise try-outs of Latin alphabet, a passage from the prayer to Virgin Mary (‘sancta Maria ora pro nobis’) and a formal address for a letter in Italian vernacular (‘Al Mag.co sig.or Manoli amico et come patron mio sempre osser[vantissimo]’). A charming Italian Renaissance school-book.

BM STC It., 179; Adams, C  1985; Graesse, II, 185; Renouard, 161:16; Fontanini, I, 233-234.


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PACINI, Giacomo

De tenuis humoris febrem faciente ante purgationem per artem incrassatione…

Venice, Paulus Manutius, 1558.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. (xvi), 267, (iii). a-b2 A-Kk8 Ll4. Italic letter, a little Roman and Greek; Guide letters, a few printed side notes (mostly names of references). Aldine device on title page and verso of final leaf. Spotting to margins of last two quires, a few very lightly browned. A good copy. In mid C19th calf gilt, lightly rubbed. Single rule frame along edges of covers with floral framing on the inside and fleurons at the corners. Gilt spine with label: ‘PACINUS’. Green silk page-marker. Armorial plate of the Dutch medical family Van der Hoeven on the front pastedown; autographs of two members on front free endpaper.

First edition of apparently the only published work of Pacini, and an uncommon medical Aldine. Giacomo Pacini (d.1560) was a Renaissance physician from Bologna, of Milanese origin. He taught at the university of Pavia, in which Matteo Corti and Branca Porro were amongst his colleagues, and Francesco del Pozzo one of his pupils (a Galenic physician known for his polemic against Vesalius’s anatomical work). Pacini lectured in philosophy and medicine at the University of Bologna and, from 1445 until 1559, he practised medicine in the Dalmatian city of Ragusa.

This scarce work is one of many books on fevers and epidemics issued in C16th Northern Italy, where the study of medicine blossomed in the major scientific universities, especially Padua. This medical treatise contributed to the lively debate on fevers by setting out Pacini’s arguments against the stances of some leading physicians of the time, such as Leonhart Fuchs and Giovanni Manardo. Pacini discusses the nature of the bilious humour, whose stagnation in the human body allegedly provoked the corruption of health. According to the theory of the four humours, which was systemised in Ancient Greece and then constituted the backbone of Western medicine until the nineteenth century, the balance between these vital fluids (called sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric humours, by association with the four human temperaments) was crucial for the preservation of good physical and mental condition. An excess of bilious humour, the choleric one, was linked to the putrefaction of the yellow bile. This event was considered of a fiery nature since the choleric temperament was associated with the element of fire. In some cases, this was believed to induce a feverish state usually called intermittent fever, or tertian fever, due to its occurrence on every third day. Pacini argues in favour a purgative concoction as a cure for this ailment. Unlike his opponents, he advises to operate the thickening of the bilious humour and prevent any further degeneration of it.

In the prefatory letter the physician addresses the Senators of Bologna, to whom the book is dedicated. Three short poems in praise of the author follow and an extensive table of contents arranged by chapters precedes the text, which is divided in two parts. The first ‘disceptatio’ contains thirty chapters. Pacini’s thorough analysis of the classical authors and their later interpreters culminates with a sort of ‘concordance of the philosophers’, which is brought out in the five chapters of the second part. Among Pacini’s sources, to mention a few, there are naturally Hippocrates and Galen, the legendary founders of Western medicine; their successors Aelius and Paulus Aegineta; Aristotle and his Arabic commentators, such as Avicenna and Averrois, but also the platonic thinkers; the medieval authors, such as Simon of Genoa, Thomas Aquinas, Tommaso del Garbo, Giovanni Arcolani; Leoniceno and Sebastiano dall’Aquila, author of De morbo Gallico, one of the first works on syphilis. In the second part Pacini attempts to reconcile the teachings of the Greek and the Arabic medical traditions, boosting the ‘concordantia medicorum’ for which he is best remembered.

MZT 2305; Adams P-6; Renouard 173.2; Wellcome 4687. Not in Durling, Garrison and Morton, Heirs of Hippocrates, Osler.


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