JOSEPHUS, Flavius.


Basle, H. Frobe, 1544.


EDITIO PRINCEPS. pp. (xii) 967 (i). *6, a-z6, A-Z6, 2a-2h6, 2i4, 2k-2z6, 2A-2M6. Greek letter, preface in Roman. Title page in red and black, Froben’s large woodcut device in red, smaller woodcut device on verso of last, fine large historiated woodcut initials and white on black and strapwork headpieces, capital spaces with guide letters. Contemporary autograph at head of t-p in English hand, ‘Arthur Best Pemb.’ in later hand at side, feint marginal annotations in a slightly later hand in lead-point in places, engraved armorial bookplate of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex on pastedown, that of John Alfred Spranger below. Very light age yellowing, first leaf of text, a little dusty, title with minor stains, small waterstain in lower blank margin of first few leaves, tiny single wormhole in blank outer margin, occasional very minor marginal stain or mark. A good copy, crisp and clean, on thick paper, in contemporary English, London, blindstamped calf over thick boards, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, border of central panel with blind roll with Tudor emblems, signed H.R. (Oldham 442) centre triple blind ruled to a lozenge with the same scroll, spine with raised bands, rebacked to match, upper corners restored, old morocco labels, holes for ties, a.e.r.

A most interesting copy of the important Editio Princeps of Josephus’ works, in a strictly contemporary London binding with early English provenance, edited by A.P. Arlenius and S. Gelenius, which served as the basis for all later editions of the Greek text until the end of the nineteenth century. Josephus Flavius, the ancient Jewish writer of first century Palestine, wrote a number of historical, apologetical and autobiographical works which together comprise a major part of Hellenistic Jewish literature. The original Aramaic version of his first work, the Bellum Judaicum, or The Jewish War, has been lost. However, the Greek version, and the rest of his works written in Greek during his Roman exile after the destruction of Jerusalem, were preserved by the Church, because of their general importance for the history of Palestine in the early Christian period and for the curious Testimonium Flavianum to the founder of Christianity contained in the Jewish Antiquities. Josephus’ writings represent the only contemporaneous historical account to link the secular world of Rome and the religious heritage of the Bible. His greatest work is his Antiquitates Judaicae (The Antiquities of the Jews) in which he recounts the history of the Jews from creation up until the revolt of AD 66-70 and contains contemporary references to Jesus, James (the ‘brother’ of Jesus), John the Baptist, Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, Agrippa I and Agrippa II, as well as the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the Zealots. His Bellum Judaicum (History of the Jewish War) gives a detailed account of the revolt of AD 66-70 and includes Josephus’ famous description of the siege of Jerusalem. “The Jewish War not only is the principal source for the Jewish revolt but is especially valuable for its description of Roman military tactics and strategy” (Britannica). “Josephus gives as his reason for writing this history the contradictory reports circulated either to flatter the Romans or to disparage the Jews (ib.§ 1). He himself pretends not to have flattered the Romans, though he is distinctly partial to them. He emphasizes his exactness (e.g., “Vita,” § 4); but his claim thereto is justified only when he states bare facts. He writes partly as an eye-witness and partly from reports obtained from eye-witnesses (“Contra Ap.” i. § 9); and he had already begun to make notes during the siege of Jerusalem. Both Vespasian and Titus, to whom the work was submitted, praised his accuracy.” Jewish Encyclopedia.

Arlenius of Brabant was a pupil of Gyraldus and also produced the first Greek edition of Lycophron as well as an important edition of Polybius. In 1542 he travelled to Venice, where he became librarian to the Spanish ambassador, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, cataloguing Mendoza’s collection of Greek manuscripts, from whose library he obtained the manuscript to produce this edition. This work is dedicated to Mendoza. The beauty of Froben’s printing, typography and layout does justice to the importance of the text; a very handsome copy of this seminal work.

“A familiar London roll is signed H.R., with in the other compartments, Tudor emblems. There are three variants of this roll and one of them I know only two examples, one at Shrewsbury School and the other belonging to the Oxford University Press…The remarkable thing about these two examples is that one book is dated 1551 (which fits in with most of the bindings bearing other H.R. varients), but that the other is dated 1654 and is not an emboitage.” This work must have come to England shortly after printing and was probably first bound at London.

Royal provenance: Prince Augustus Duke of Sussex was the sixth son of George III. “He had liberal views and supported the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation, the removal of civil restrictions on Jews and dissenters, the abolition of the Corn Laws, and parliamentary reform. He was elected President of the Society of Arts in 1816, and from 1830-8 was President of the Royal Society. Duke Augustus built up a large library of over 50,000 volumes, including about 1,000 editions of the Bible, and many ancient manuscripts.” Royal Collection Trust.

BM STC Ger. C16th p. 463. Adams J352. Graesse II, 480. Brunet III, 569 “assez rare.” Dibdin II,130 “beautiful and rare.” Hardwood 76 “it is one of the noblest and most venerable old books I ever saw.”


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PECKHAM, John, GALLUCCI, Giovanni Paolo.


I tre libri della perspettiva commune.

Venice, appresso gli eredi di Giovanni Varisco, 1593.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. ff. (viii) 48. Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, 64 geometrical diagrams, decorated initials. Few ll. browned (poorly dried paper), faint water stain to last three gatherings in places, very minor marginal foxing. A good copy in contemporary vellum, modern bookplate to front pastedown, ’12 May 1823’ and casemark inked to fep, autograph ‘Marcius(?) Meraius’ [Müller] to t-p, small not modern stamp to lower outer blank corner of last. In modern folding box.

A good copy of the first edition of the first Italian translation of this fundamental optics manual—a ‘rare book’ (Riccardi I/1, 570), ‘rarer’—according to Guglielmo Libri—‘than the original work’ (‘Catalogo’, 1861, n.5656). Giovanni Paolo Gallucci (1538-c.1621) was a renowned mathematician and cosmographer, with interests in astrology; he was also a frequent translator of medical and scientific works, including ‘I tre libri’. This was a major optics manual written by the English Franciscan John Peckham (c.1230-92), student at Paris under St Bonaventure, and later professor at Oxford and archbishop of Canterbury. Inspired by the theories of Francis Bacon, whom he met either in Paris or Oxford, his ‘Perspectiva communis’ (1279) was said to be so named as it was widely used. In the following centuries it was ‘the most popular book on this subject’ as well as ‘the text-book until as late as about 1600’, when Kepler published the first modern study of optics (ten Doesschate, ‘Oxford’, 334). Gallucci’s vernacular translation made this fundamental yet concise work available to a broader audience. ‘Perspectiva’ was an explanation of the Arab mathematician Alhazen’s theories in 100 propositions, most followed by Gallucci’s brief commentary and illustrated with diagrams. Alhazen explored refraction, double vision and the physical circumstances that give rise to visual perception; he was the first recorded scientist to mention refraction by curved surfaces (ten Doesschate, ‘Oxford’, 323). Gallucci’s glosses feature examples taken from everyday life. For instance, ‘Propositio IX’ illustrates why a fire appears bigger at night, and bigger from afar, when one cannot distinguish the individual flames. Gallucci compares this to what happens in church to a short-sighted person who looks at the many lit candles: without his spectacles on, the candles will appear like they are big, and touching one another; with his spectacles on, the individual flames will be discernible and the candles smaller. The long section on mirrors discusses the reflection of colours, the angles of incidence, transparency, the function of lead on glass mirrors, mirrors made of iron or diamond, spherical or plain or shaped like a column, and the appearance of images on broken mirrors. An outstanding, clear scientific milestone and the basis of key modern optics theories including Kepler’s.

BM STC It., p. 496; Riccardi I/1, 570. Not in Brunet. G. ten Doesschate, ‘Oxford and the Revival of Optics in the Thirteenth Century’, Vision Res. 1 (1962), 313-42.


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LACTANTIUS. De divinis institutionibus libri septem…Item Tertulliani Apologeticus adversus gentes


OROSIUS. Historiae adversus paganos.

Venice, Octavianus Scotus, 1494 and 1483.


Folio. 2 works in 1, ff. 90, 78 unnumbered ll., a8 b-m6 n4. Roman letter. Orosius, illuminated first initial in gold, blue, red and green, and others rubricated in red and blue, Lactantius with woodcut decorated initials and printer’s device to last leaf of first. Edges dusty, a little mainly marginal finger soiling or spotting, 1: scattered worm holes to lower outer corner of first 3 ll. affecting couple of letters, slight age yellowing, 2: few ll. slightly browned, small worm holes to outer blank margin of last gathering. Very good, well-margined copies in contemporary south German calf over wooden boards, traces of two clasps, lacking centre- and cornerpieces, double blind ruled to a panel design, upper cover: outer border with blind stamped hearts pierced by arrow within lozenges, centre panel with rolls of tendrils, and thistles within lozenges, lower cover: outer border with blind stamped floral tendrils, Virgin and Child within roundel (EBDB w000090, K019) stamped to corners, centre panel with cross-hatching in blind and same stamp of Virgin with Child, raised bands, covers and spine worn, small loss at head and foot, traces of later paper label, ‘Lactantius’ tooled in blind to upper cover, spine lined with C15 (Italian?) ms. (Jacobus à Varazze’s Legenda aurea). C19 bookplates and library stamp to front pastedown and C19 bibliographical information to rear, extensive contemporary Latin marginalia in red in German hands c.1500, authors’ names inked to upper edge.

Extensively annotated copies of Lactantius’s ‘Opera’ (with Tertullian’s ‘Apologeticus’) and Orosius’s ‘Historiae’—three milestones of early Christian theology and historiography. On the first leaf of the second work is a contemporary inscription with instructions to the binder, that the books by Orosius should be bound in half leather for plain reading, without ornaments. Half leather was requested by owners with budget constraints; that Orosius is now bound with a later work, in full leather formerly with brass decorations (and with a lavishly gilt initial), indicates it was shortly acquired by a wealthier owner. It was actually bound at the Augustinian monastery in Nuremberg (as shown by the Mary-with-Child stamp, EBDB w000090, K019), which boasted the most active bindery in the city in 1464-1526 as well as its own printing press.

At the turn of the C16, the Augustinian monastery was a thriving humanist hub, hosting personalities like Regiomontanus, Beheim, Schedel, Pickheimer and Scheurl (Kunzelmann, ‘Geschichte’, III, 275), none of whose hands appear to correspond to that of the annotator in this copy, although Schedel also annotated in red. This was likely part of the monastic library, nearly a quarter of whose books had been printed in Venice (Kyriss, ‘Nürnberger Klostereinbände’, 57); or it may have belonged to a scholar with links to the monastery, even to one of the higher-ranking monks or priors—e.g., Lupf, Pesler or Mantel—who, since the turn of the C16, had been chosen among former university students or lecturers in humanistic studies (Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus’, 40-41). 

The annotations were made by a scholar, probably for lectures, as suggested by the ‘ars memoriae’ diagrams on the last leaf of the Lactantius—a table with cells marked alphabetically, each with keywords and leaf number (e.g., ‘P’ has ‘prophets’ and ‘poets’, ‘I’ has ‘Iove and others [deities]’ and ‘idola’). The scholar had a remarkable interest in ‘Christian humanist’ readings and a critique of pagan cults. He was especially keen on the first three books of Lactantius’s (c.250-325AD) ‘Institutiones divinae’ which discussed the typological wisdom of the ancients and their insights or errors concerning the Christian god before the coming of Christ. He glossed passages on theological interpretations of prophets (e.g., sybils), poets (e.g., Ovid, Virgil, Orpheus, Hesiodus), deities (e.g., Apollo, Jove, Juno) or semi-divine figures (e.g., Hercules, Romulus). He annotated passages concerning ancient theories on the philosophical value of poetic invention (‘figmenta poetarum’) and history, e.g., Plato’s interpretation of myth and Euhemerus’s view of classical gods as worthy humans who achieved posthumous veneration. Further glosses were made to passages on the theological and moral wisdom of the ancients in relation to Christian theology. Similarly, the annotations to Tertullian’s (155-240AD) ‘Apologeticus’, a defence of Christianity against pagan cults like Gnosticism, focus on sacrifices, the worship of ‘idola’, ‘simulacra’, the nature of Christ and the devil, the kingdom of God, the Roman religion, and the ‘[mythical] fables and horrendous filthiness of the [ancient] gods’. Orosius’s (375-418AD) ‘Historiae adversus paganos’ was a providentialist world history showing the beneficial effects of Christianity on civilisation. The annotator was interested in the famous initial geographical description of the world, as well as in the development of world history from the ‘vengeance of the Deluge’ (glossed as ‘iusta’) down to the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, the Christian persecutions, ending with Constantine’s reign, with excursion into mythical history (e.g., the Amazons) and symbolic events like plagues and earthquakes.

A remarkable, fascinating witness to the circulation of humanist scholarship in late medieval northern Europe, on the eve of the Reformation.

  1. I) Not in BMC XV.
  2. II) BMC XV, p. 278. Brunet IV, 237 (mentioned); Graesse VI, 51: ‘the second counterfeit’ of Hermann Levilapis’s 1475 edition, with revised verse before the registrum. E. Kyriss, Nürnberg Kloistereinbände der Jahre 1433 bis 1525 (Erlagen, 1940); A. Kunzelmann, Geschichte der Deutschen Augustiner-Eremiten (Wurzburg, 1972), vol. 3; F. Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus in Nürnberg um 1500’, Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 64 (1977), 10-45; J.H. Overfield, Humanism and Scholasticism in Late Medieval Germany (Princeton, 1984).


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ALCIATI, Andrea.



Antwerp, ex Officina Plantiniana, 1648.


12mo. (xxxvi) pp. 392 (viii) (liv), first and last sections blank except for annotation. Italic letter, little Roman and Greek. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and last, 211 ½-page woodcut emblems, decorated initials and ornaments. Few lower edges untrimmed, very minor toning. An excellent copy in contemporary vellum over boards, yapp edges, spine double gilt ruled into four compartments, large gilt fleuron to each, gilt-lettered morocco label. Bookplate c.1700 of W. Holmes, St John’s College, Oxford, to front pastedown, occasional slightly later Latin and English annotations to text and couple of blank ll.

An excellent copy of this very scarce edition of the most important Renaissance emblem book. Andrea Alciato (1492-1550) was an Italian jurist who, after moving to France, published numerous works on civil law and antiquities. Originally published as ‘Emblematum liber’ in 1531, ‘Emblemata’ was the first work of its kind and the source of a whole new Renaissance iconographic tradition. An emblem was a semantic unit made of a motto, a symbolic (frequently surreal) illustration and a few lines of verse; only if understood together did these three elements acquire their true moral or philosophical meaning. (An explanation was nevertheless provided in the final appendix.) They illustrate all kinds of subjects, from virtuous love to the ills of astrology, visiting prostitutes, occasion, fortune, and plants. Alciato drew material from ancient historians, proverbs, the recently rediscovered Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the epigrams of the ‘Planudean Anthology’, a collection composed by a Byzantine scholar (Praz, ‘Studies’, 25). The occasional annotator of this copy was most probably William Holmes (1689-1748), a young scholar at Oxford, and later Vice-Chancellor and Regius Professor of History. He was interested in the emblems against the ambition of scientists reaching beyond human knowledge, those who do not know flattery and those who cause their own ills. He glossed the verse with numerous related didactic quotations from Cicero, Seneca and Tacitus, and translated into English an obscure Latin word; he also noted references from Lipsius’s ‘Civilis Doctrinae libri sex’ and Henricus van Heer’s chemical ‘De spadanis fontibus’. A very clean, fresh copy of English provenance of this handsomely produced little book of emblems.

Getty, Yale and Princeton copies recorded in US.

Not in Landwehr, Dutch Emblems, Brunet, Graesse, Praz or Adams.


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BUSBECQ, Ogier Ghislain de.



Legationis turcicae Epistolae quatuor.

Frankfurt, apud A. Wechel (heirs of), C. de Marne and J. Aubry, 1595.


8vo. pp. 360 (xxiv). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and last, decorated initials and ornaments. Blank margins somewhat wormed, intermittent faint water stain to upper outer corners, paper flaw to upper outer corner of F2 and outer lower of T4, outer and lower edges of last gathering softened and little frayed, couple of holes to outer blank margin of last two ll. A good clean copy in contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties, title and shelfmark inked to spine, lower edges of rear cover chewed. Latin verse in contemporary hand inked to fly, inscriptions ‘Moyle Breton Univ. Coll. Oxon. 1768’, ‘Amasia natus est Strabo’ (late C17, a scholarly gloss), ‘one and thirtieth booke third shelf from the top of the South East Box’, ‘meo remigio rem gero’ (motto) and ‘R Leedes’ (c.1600) inked to t-p, occasional annotations in contemporary hands, casemark inked to outer and lower fore-edge.

Second edition of these remarkably important letters on Turkey, written in the 1550s, with the only surviving glossary of a long-extinct Germanic language. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (1522-92) was a scholar, keen herbalist and diplomat in the service of the Austrian monarchy; he spent several years in Constantinople where he negotiated the boundaries of disputed territories and was involved in politics at the court of Suleyman the Magnificent. First published without authorial licence in Paris in 1589 as ‘Itinerarium Constantinopolitanum’, ‘Epistolae’ is his most famous work and one of the earliest Western testimonies on the Ottoman world. It gathers letters which Busbecq sent to the Hungarian diplomat Nicholas Michault. In addition to observations on the natural environment, he included in his work the first and only recorded glossary (80 words), as well as the excerpt of a song, in a Crimean dialect. Having heard of a Germanic language being spoken in Turkey, he managed to have an interview with a native speaker noting words close to Dutch (e.g., ‘tag’ ‘day’, ‘plut’ ‘blood’), others which differed, and cardinal numbers (Considine, ‘Dictionaries’, 140-41). Busbecq also expresses strong opinions on the conquest of the New World, as colonisers ‘seek the Indies and the Antipodes through the vastity of the ocean because there the booty is easy to take from naïve and gullible natives, without bloodshed’. One of the English annotators of this copy, who wrote in English, Greek, Latin and Arabic, was a scholar at University College, Oxford, as per ex-libris on t-p. He wrote in Arabic the word ‘sherbet’ to gloss a sentence on ‘sorbet’, a cooling fruit drink typical of Eastern territories; according to the OED, the word was first recorded in English in 1603. He was also interested in Busbecq’s observations on Turkish flora and fauna, as he glossed ‘glycyrrhiza’ as ‘liquorish’ and ‘sicedula’ as ‘nightingale’ and ‘beccafico’. The Latin verse on the fly reprises some of the epigraphs which Busbecq used to conclude his accounts, e.g., the Tacitean ‘religion is the pretext, the object is gold’ in his discussion of the conquest of the New World. A very influential work in the history of Western perceptions of the Ottoman world.

A jeweller named William Leedes took part in expeditions of the Turkey Company in 1579 and 1584, with other merchant adventurers, arriving as far as Baghdad.

Göllner 2026; Graesse I, 580 (1605 ed.); Blackmer 249. Not in BM STC Ger. or Alden. J. Considine, Dictionaries in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2008); The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, ed. E. Seymour Forster (Baton Rouge, 2005).


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Fasciculus temporum.

[Strasbourg, Johann Prüss, 1488.]


Folio. ff. (xii) 90, lacking final blank. Gothic letter, multiple column, initials rubricated throughout. 14 small woodcuts of buildings, 2 of exotic mirabilia and 1 half-page of Christ Pantocrator. A dozen ll. anciently reinforced at gutter, few slightly browned, scattered worm holes touching couple of letters, trail to lower blank edge of D-F, small tear from outer blank corner of L2, occasional thumb marks, lower outer blank corner of N5 with old repair. A very good copy in contemporary dark goatskin over wooden boards, two clasps, straps renewed, lacking bosses, double blind ruled to a panel design, upper cover: outer border with blind-stamped St Sebastian pierced by arrows, and running deer, second with same deer stamp, inner border with lilies within lozenges and floral stamps in blind, centre panel with cross-hatched lozenge, lower cover: outer border with blind-stamped rosettes and Apostles within roundels, second with lilies within lozenges, inner border with eagles and Holy Lamb within roundels in blind, centre panel with cross-hatched decoration, raised bands, a bit rubbed, spine cracked. Nearly contemporary marginalia to P4, additional diagrams inked to P5 (blank), all c.1503.

The striking, austere binding, with the uncommon stamp of St Sebastian pierced by arrows, was most likely produced in south Germany, where the majority of examples are recorded (‘Einbanddatenbank’). The eagle stamp is almost identical to that of the ‘Zu Augsburg Adler’ binder (Schwenke 335).

A very good copy of this remarkably successful late medieval universal chronicle—‘this innovative genealogical history lays the claim to being the first ever horizontal timeline’ (Champion, ‘The Fullness’, 173), with an early mention of printing. The Westphalian Werner Rolewinck (1425-1502) was a Carthusian monk in the Charterhouse of Cologne or Utrecht; little else is known. ‘Fasciculus temporum’ was his masterpiece, with dozens of editions appearing in Latin, French, Dutch and German solely in his lifetime. Based on major Christian historiographic sources like Orosius and Eusebius, ‘Fasciculus’ presents a history of the world in the form of a genealogy—a traditional historiographic structure dating back to late antiquity—leading the reader from the Creation to the pontificate of Sixtus IV. The diagram adapted to the horizontal dimension of the book format the original vertical schema of genealogies used to represent biblical history in medieval times. Rolewinck’s genealogy is surrounded by descriptive passages populated with heretics, kings, martyrs, popes, mythical figures, prophets, ancient deities, biblical patriarchs and celestial phenomena, all listed in the long thematic index. The six ages of the world begin with the patriarchal genealogies of Genesis to the Flood, the survival of Noah and his family, and its repeopling by his three children, moving on to the ancient civilisations with a focus on the genealogy leading to Christ, down to the late C15. For the year 1457, Rolewinck enlarged the original reference to print in previous editions (Josephson, ‘Editions’, 61-62): ‘The very fine science of book printing never known before appeared at that time in the city of Mainz. This is the art of all arts, the science of all sciences; thanks to the speed of its process comes a trove of desirable wisdom and science which all men instinctively wish for, which pierces the deep lairs of darkness. It represents in writing this world prey to evil and it illuminates it.’ Scattered among the texts are handsome woodcuts of Noah’s Ark, Babylon, the burning of Sodoma and Gomorrah, the fall of Troy, and Christ. Of the two outstanding woodcuts with marvellous monsters, the first illustrates the consequences of a comet during the pontificate of Pelagius, when a man half-fish/half-human was born, without hands or eyes, and a ‘quadruped’ child with legs and arms reversed. The second is an allegorical representation of Emperor Lodovick III as a dog-headed man. The nearly contemporary annotator of this copy—who saw genealogy, in the typical contemporary manner, as a ‘living text’ which could be lengthened as history proceeded (Génicot, ‘Les généalogies’, 10)—drew additional roundels on the last blank for Popes Alexander VI (d.1503) and his successors Pius III, who died before the end of the year, and again in 1503, Julius II. A strikingly-bound copy of this handsomely produced, influential work.

BMC XV, p. 121; Brunet II, 1188; Graesse (1487 ed.). M.S. Champion, The Fullness of Time (Chicago, 2017); L. Génicot, Les généalogies (Turnhout, 1975); A.G.S. Josephson, ‘Fifteenth-Century Editions of Fasciculus temporum’, PBSA, 11 (1917), 61-65.


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Historia anglicana ecclesiastica.

Douai, M. Wyon, 1622.


Folio, 3 works in one, half-title to second, pp. (xxiv) 1-660, 661-740, 741-743 746-779 [i.e., 775] (i). Roman letter, little Italic, t-p in red and black. Engraved vignette to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. Variable browning (poor quality paper), t-p spotted, lower outer blank corner of A4 repaired, very minor spotting, occasional light waterstaining to upper margins, minor worming to lower blank margin of final gatherings. A perfectly acceptable copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, title inked to spine, inscription c.1800 ‘questa opera è di un Cattolico Romano’ to fly.

Second edition of this major work of English Reformation history, including the first printed account of Henry VIII’s divorce. Nicholas Harpsfield (1519-75) was a Catholic priest, theologian and historian who, after reading canon law at Oxford, became friends with Thomas More and during his brief exile to escape the increasingly rigid reformism, composed the account of Thomas’s martyrdom. Upon Queen Mary’s accession, he was appointed Archdeacon of Canterbury and involved in trials of hardened Protestants, being singled out for his ruthlessness in John Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’. During his later years, imprisoned in the Tower of London, he penned an attack on the validity of Henry VIII’s divorce, one against the ‘Wycliffite heresy’, and the ‘Historia anglicana ecclesiastica’, a posthumously published history of all English dioceses from the first century AD, according to the great tradition of Bede and William of Malmesbury. The editor of this edition, Richard Gibbon S.J., included an addition by the Jesuit Edmund Campion, the account of Henry VIII’s divorce and the schism—its first appearance in print. Widely circulated in ms. for half a century prior to its publication, the ‘Historia’ became a major reference point for exiled English Catholics, who saw in ecclesiastical historiography a solid battleground for debate on the schismatic church. The eminent Jesuit William Allen left a ms. copy to the English Collegium at Douai, which was taken to Rome, whilst the learned Robert Parsons S.J. ranked it as important as Bede (Kewes, ‘Uses’, 110; Birkhead, ‘Newsletters’, 233). A monument of the English Counter-Reformation.

The C18 Italian owner of this copy felt the need to clarify on the flyleaf that ‘this book was written by a Roman Catholic’.

BM STC Fr. 1601-1700, 147; Rep. Bib. XVII IV (Douai), 1132. G. Birkenhead, Newsletters from the Archpresbyterate (Cambridge, 1998); F. Heal, ‘Catholic and Protestant Polemics’, in The Uses of History in Early Modern England, ed. P. Kewes (San Marino, CA, 2006).


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BENZONI, Girolamo


Novae novi orbis historiae.

[Geneva], E. Vignon, 1578.


FIRST LATIN EDITION. 8vo. 2 parts in 1, second with half-title, ff. (xxxii) 480 (xii), variant issue without final H7 (emendatio) and H8 (blank). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. Edges of first two gatherings a bit softened, elsewhere somewhat dusty, slight age yellowing, very occasional marginal spotting, small tear from lower blank margin of Q4 just touching signature, very faint water stain to foot of E-H in places. A good, clean copy in contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties, printed paper waste used as pastedown, title inked to spine, outer edge of upper cover chewed, occasional contemporary marginalia.

A good copy of the first Latin edition of this major Americanum—the first account of the New World based on the personal experience of a non-Spanish author. A mysterious figure, the Milanese Girolamo Benzoni (1519-72) travelled to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain to join expeditions in the New World; he spent the years 1541-56 visiting the Caribbean, Central and South America, though the reasons are unknown. In 1565, upon his return to Italy, he published ‘Historia del Mondo Nuovo’, the first edition of this successful account of his adventures; in the following decades it was translated into English, French, German and, the present, Latin. It was unsurprisingly not translated into Castilian as the work was accused of being anti-Spanish and adverse to their colonisation methods. In particular, it presented them, following traditional stereotypes, as cruel, greedy and impious conquerors of the meek and frugal Indians. Unlike earlier travel writings, Benzoni did not just focus ‘on “exotic” items…marvellous or strikingly out of the ordinary’; he was interested instead in phenomena which diverged from what was known in Europe (Enders, ‘An Italian’, 27). One of these is the Indians’ habit of smoking ‘petum’ (‘tabacum’ in the original Italian), the making of which he describes at length and which he characterises as a ‘pestiferous and evil poison’; this detail, and the fact that Indians were ‘stupefied’ by it, has convinced several botanists that what he saw was not the smoking of what we now call tobacco. The contemporary annotator of this copy highlighted Benzoni’s anti-Spanish stance by glossing a passage on the conquistadores’ gory and vicious deeds as ‘the summary of [Benzoni’s] work or books’, and added to another that ‘to convert to Christianity good exempla not violence are needed’. He also underlined passages on unhealthy climate and ‘vapours’. An important work on the European reception of the discovery of the New World.

As highlighted by Sabin, the collation of this edition is variable as some copies are recorded without the final index; or lack the final errata and/or blank, as present.

Sabin 4792 (highlights differences in collation); Adams B685; Alden 578/3; JFB B198. A. Enders and E. Fraser, ‘An Italian in the New World’, Dispositio 17 (1992), 21-35.


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Loci communes theologici.

Augsburg, [H. Steiner], 1536.


8vo. 176 unnumbered leaves, a-y8. Italic letter, little Greek. T-p within woodcut border with grotesques, decorated initials. Outer lower corner of t-p torn just touching border, light water stain to few lower or upper blank margins, lower margin of last 10 ll. chewed. A very good copy bound in two vellum ms. leaves, upper cover: Old Testament excerpt (Job 6:8-11) from C13 (English?) bible, lower: excerpt from C15 (Netherlandish?) ms. of St Bonaventure’s rule, former a bit soiled. Contemporary partly erased ex-libris ‘liber engelberti holstein ouerhoff’ to t-p, contemporary Latin inscriptions from Augustine’s De gratia et libero arbitrio to verso of t-p and moral passage with stoic motto to verso of last, occasional contemporary annotations including transcriptions and translations from the Greek.

A handsomely bound copy of an enlarged edition of this influential theological work. Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a major Reformed theologian with outstanding linguistic skills. After studying theology and biblical exegesis, he was awarded the Greek professorship at Wittenberg, upon the advice of Luther, with whom he collaborated in the following years on documents including the Augsburg Confession. First published in 1521 and reprinted and revised numerous times in his lifetime, ‘Loci’ was devised to circulate the new Reformed ideas to a wider audience, in the form of simple statements—a format later borrowed by Calvin. It features sections on fundamental tenets, including sin and predestination. The early owner (and probably the annotator) of this copy was probably Engelbertus Holstein (fl.1550s-1572), called Overhof, whose name appears in a charter dated 1551 from Bredevort near Aalten, in the Netherlands (Gelders Archief, 0481/306). At service of the Lord of Bredevort, in 1572, during the Dutch revolt, he was probably in the Calvinist army during the ransacking of local monasteries (Brink, ‘Een geuzerie’, 198). He was interested in major Reformed questions including faith, free will, salvation by good works (hence the Augustinian quotation copied at the beginning), the number of sacraments and their meaning, penance, the dominion of the Church and customs. He often translated Melanchthon’s Greek phrases into Latin, and highlighted passages, for instance, on man’s inherent corruption from original sin, hence the impossibility to satisfy the requirements of divine law, and that free will requires the assistance of the Holy Spirit. He also reflected on the meaning of ‘justification’, faith and grace. In ‘Loci’, Melanchthon ‘wished to show that reformed theology taught the whole Gospel, and did not just exaggerate a part of it’, so as to refute Catholic critics (Cameron, ‘Philipp Melanchthon’, 718). This all-embracing work was therefore suitable reading for educated new reformed believers like our annotator. Since 1535, a year after the English Act of Supremacy, the work had borne a dedication to Henry VIII, for his interest in the Gospel and the arts. This edition retained the dedication in the year of Anne Boleyn’s execution and ‘Loci’ remained ‘a crucial work at a crucial point in the English Reformation’, probably capable of softening Henry VIII’s previously harsh attitude towards the Lutherans (Schofield, ‘Philip Melanchthon’). A beautifully-bound copy of this theological milestone of the early Reformation.

Only Illinois copy recorded in the US.

Not in BM STC Ger., Brunet, Graesse or Adams.

J. Schofield, Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation (London, 2006); E. Cameron, ‘Philipp Melanchthon: Image and Substance’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 4 (1997), 705-22; J.N.B. van den Brink, ‘Een Geuzerie te Breedevoort in 1572’, Nederlands archief voor kerkgeschiedenis 27 (1934-35), 193-204.


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TOTTI, Pompilio


Ritratto di Roma antica.

Rome, Andrea Fei, 1627.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xviii) 162 (vi). Roman letter, little Italic. Additional engraved t-p with female figure (city of Rome) flanked by the Pantheon, Colosseum, arms and Egyptian obelisks, arms of Ercole Trivulzio (?) below, woodcut Roman medal to t-p, 130 ¾-page plates with genealogy of Romulus, Roman buildings, coins and monuments, 144 woodcut medals of Roman Emperors, 2 full-page woodcut plates with male figures holding urn (rivers), decorated initials and ornaments. Outer edges a bit dusty and minimally trimmed, light water stain to upper outer corners and outer margins of last gathering, small hole to plate 82 (to remove the Sun), slight offsetting from plates, a few outer margins and verso of last somewhat finger soiled, slight marginal fraying to last three. A good copy in C17 vellum over boards, marbled eps, traces of yellow paint to covers, decorative double blind ruling, lozenge-shaped centrepiece and large fleurons to inner corners in blind, spine triple blind ruled in five compartments, modern bookplate to front pastedown.

Lavishly illustrated first edition of this handsome, detailed, early guidebook on ‘the principal temples, theatres, amphitheatres, circuses, sea battles, triumphal arches, curie, basilicas, columns, order of triumphs, military and civil dignities, rites, ceremonies, medals and other remarkable things’ of ancient Rome. With it, its obscure author, the Umbrian Pompilio Totti (1590-c.1644), sought to create ‘a portrait of ancient Rome both figured and animated’, bringing to life the antiquarian narratives of the city’s past through fresh images of its ruins, buildings, inscriptions, princes and inhabitants. The first few chapters, prefaced by an engraved genealogy, are devoted to Romulus, his founding and planning of the city; thence the narrative proceeds to the seven kings of Rome and their successors, interspersed with antiquarian digressions on Roman customs including weddings and military triumphs. The fine engravings, here in fresh impression, were based on the accounts of ancient historians, on contemporary works like Marliani’s ‘Antiquae Romae topographia’ and on Totti’s personal knowledge: e.g., an illustrated tripod was now ‘in the house of Signor Cavaliero Gualdo, and looked just as when it was unearthed in the baths of Paolo Emilio’. Sacrificial rites are illustrated with plates portraying a ritual scene and the numerous instruments used. The ‘colonna miliaria’, which stood ‘at the centre of Rome, mistress of the world’, was the ‘terminus’ of all the roads coming from and heading towards all the provinces and countries and kingdoms of the Empire. In the engraving it is accompanied by the lists of distances separating individual cities like Antioch or Constantinople from Rome. In Totti’s work, the topography of the past and the present blend, with extant monuments sharing the stage with buildings of which only scant references existed, such as the villa of Scipio the African. An engaging guidebook and a beautifully produced example of Renaissance antiquarianism.

BM STC It. C17, p. 917; Schudt, Guide di Roma, 181. BAL (1645 and 1697 eds). Not in Fowler or Berlin Cat.


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