Deorum dearumque capita ex vetustis numismatibus in gratiam antiquitatis studiosorum effigiata et edita.

Antwerp, ex museo Abrahami Ortelii, 1573 (Philippus Gallaeus excudebat) (with)

XII Caesarum Romanorum imagines e numismatibus expressae, et historica narratione illustratae.

Antwerp, Officina Plantiniana, 1612 (colophon: Robert Bruneau, 1603).


FIRST EDITION of first work. 2 works in one volume. 4to. 1) 60 unnumbered ll.A-P4. 2) pp. 29 (iii). A-D, last blank. Roman and Italic letter. Engraved title-page, 54 engraved plates, engraved title in second work, letterpress publication details below,  12 engraved plates, presentation inscription from Ortelius to Joannes Castelius on lower blank margin of first title-page, erased autograph at head, pencil notes to the binder stating the covering material “Turkey” in lower margin, and the wording for the lettering-piece “Ortel Ed. 1a.” in upper margin (rubbed and trimmed) in the Earl of Pembroke’s hand. Very light age yellowing. Fine copies, crisp and clean, with beautiful rich impressions of the plates, in excellent red morocco gilt circa 1700, bound for the Earl of Pembroke, covers bordered with a double gilt rule and pointillé roll, dentelle gilt roll at inner border, spine with raised bands triple gilt ruled in compartments, richly gilt with scrolled and pointillé tools, gilt edges, combed marble end-papers, a.e.g. extremities slightly rubbed.

An exceptional presentation copy of this beautifully engraved work from the celebrated cartographer Abraham Ortelius to his friend, the humanist scholar from Bruges, Jan van de Casteels, finely bound for the library of the collector-statesman Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke. Ortelius was one of the great Flemish cartographers, and creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). Published in over 25 editions before 1600, his ‘Theatrum orbis terrarum’ (1570) introduced maps into the everyday life of the early modern middle classes and changed the way European civilisation understood world geography. He is known to have owned a collection of around 2,000 antique coins, which provided the images of heads of gods and goddesses for this work. “It is well known that during his lifetime Ortelius gradually filled his house with substantial collections of various forms of art. He also accumulated a large library of printed books, books with maps, loose maps, portolan charts, manuscript maps and manuscript texts. .. Some of Ortelius’s library books, identified by his signature, have survived. .. it is estimated that Ortelius owned about 5,965 maps and 3,514 books written by about 2,892 authors, making his library one of the largest, if not the largest, private collection of books and maps in sixteenth-century Europe.” Marcel van den Broecke. ‘Abraham Ortelius’s Library Reconstructed.’ Jan van de Casteels, (c. 1521-1581 or 1584) was a humanist scholar from Bruges. He was also connected with the Plantin printshop, where some works of his were published in the 1570s. This work consists of a series of fifty-five engravings, depicting medallion portraits of Ancient Gods and personifications within richly worked grotesque ornamental borders, after medals from the collection of Ortelius, preceded by a title-page and three pages of Latin letterpress; each plate is titled and has one or two lines of Latin description within the image. The second work is a reissue with a new title-page of the sheets from the 1603 edition, originally published by Gerard de Jode ca 1565-69. The plates are accompanied by a text by Sweerts and verse by Joannes Bocchius and Balthasar Moretus. The grotesque borders are exceptionally finely worked.

The books in the earl of Pembroke’s library at Wilton House were all bound in this typical fashion in fine morocco; on the title-page are the earl’s pencil notes to the binder stating the covering material (“Turkey”) and the wording for the lettering-piece above. This copy has a printed paper shelf-label at the foot of the spine with the location Gb 7. The eighth earl of Pembroke also had a significant collection of coins.

A fine presentation copy of the first edition of this wonderful engraved work, beautifully bound with tremendous provenance.

1) BM STC Dutch. C16th p. 162. Belgica Typographica 2285; Berlin Catalogue 229. 2) BM STC Dutch. C16th p.592 first issue (1603) only.


Print This Item Print This Item