CLENARDUS, Nicolaus Institutiones ac meditationes in Graecam linguam, …

Frankfurt, apud Andreae Wecheli heredes, Claudium Marnium, & Ioannem Aubrium, 1590


4to. pp. (cxxiv), 414, (x), 415-574 dbl. cols., (xvi). a-p , q², A-Z , a-2g , 2g , 2h-2s . Roman and Greek letter in various sizes. Woodcut printer’s device on on all three titles, fine grotesque woodcut initials and headpieces, bookplate of W.J. Corfield on pastedown, C.W. Dyson Perrins’ and William Foyle’s below. Very light age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean, with large margins, many deckle edges, in a splendid contemporary English binding by Vincent Williamson of Eton College, of polished calf over pasteboards, covers double blind and double gilt ruled to a panel design, stopped at the corners by a gilt pointillé tools, large acorn tools gilt stamped to corners of outer panel, large block-stamped gilt corner-pieces to corners of inner panel, tree device, with ‘noli altum sapere’ panel, gilt stamped to centres, edges gilt ruled, spine double gilt ruled in compartments, with star fleuron gilt at centres and small fleurons gilt to either side, traces of green silk ties, a.e.r. preserved in modern red cloth case, gilt black morocco spine label.

A fine, very beautifully preserved, and rare example of a beautiful English binding by Vincent Williamson, binder of Eton College. Williamson sometimes, as here, used a distinctive gilt tooled ‘Noli altum sapere’ based on the Estienne device, but adopted by the booksellers Bonham and John Norton and in some cases used by the binder for their books. According to Nixon, Williamson appears to be the first English binder to tool the title of a book on the spine. He is probably the Vincent Williamson apprenticed to George Singleton, stationer, on March 7, 1603. Parish records of St. Giles Cripplegate show that he married Elizabeth Dawson in December 1584. He is referred to in the records of Eton College until 1621. “London was not the only town where gold-tooled bookbindings were made in the first half of the seventeenth century. Thanks to Sir Robert Birley’s researches, we know of bookbindings being produced at Eton, and we know the name of the binder, one Williamson. We even know that he was the first – but by no means the last – recorded English bookbinder who found at one stage of his career that alcohol improved his finishing, only to find that the improvement lasted but a short time… Nevertheless he continued to work until c, 1621, although already in 1608 Sir Dudley Carleton wrote from Eton to a friend in London: ..”We have here a goode workman, but he hath commonly his hands full of worke, and his head full of drinck, yet I had as leve venture my worke with this good fellow that is sometime sober, as with them that are always mad” He also bound several books for Sir Charles Somerset, when the later left Eton in 1604, which are very nearly the first English bindings to be lettered on the spine”. Nixon and Foot The History of Decorated Bookbinding in England, p. 52. See plate 42 for an example of a Williamson binding, and BL Shelfmark c128k3 for another, without the Noli Altum Sapere device.

A beautifully printed edition of Nicolas Cleynaerts teaching manual for Greek first published in 1529, and first augmented thus in 1580: It would have been the ideal manual for learning Greek for a student at Eton, though as this copy remains exceptionally clean it can hardly have been much used.

BM STC Ger. C16 p. 213. Adams C2157. VD C, 4156. L. Bakelants­R. Hoven, Bibliographie des oeuvres de Nicolas Clenard. 1529­-1700.

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