ON WINE AND BOOKFAIRS
Francofordiense emporium[Geneva], Henri Estienne, 1574
FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. , 31, , 120. Roman and Greek letter, a little Italic; printer’s device on title, a few floriated initials and grotesque head-pieces; lightly age yellowed, first and last gathering slightly foxed and stained in margins and gutter, more noticeably to top and verso of last. A good copy in modern vellum, title gilt along spine, a. e. formerly blue; at head of title, late nineteen-century autograph of ‘Paul Boiteau’, probably the historian and writer died 1886.
Rare first and only edition of a curious panegyric of the Frankfurt book fair from a distinguished eyewitness and book dealer. Scion of the illustrious printers’ dynasty, Henri Estienne (1528-1598) was a talented Greek scholar educated in Paris with Pierre Danes and Adriane Turnèbe; not only he did publish and edit all major Greek authors and a ground-breaking dictionary entitled Thesaurus linguae graecae (1572), but he also penned a vast number of erudite pamphlets. This is a collection of short essays jokingly presented in the table of contents as the ‘merces’ (goods) displayed in the volume, which is compared to a stall at the Frankfurt fair. The first piece is dedicated to the counsels and senators of Frankfurt in recognition of the warm welcome he received when visiting the city in 1573. The rest of the book is taken up with witty and scholarly poems gathered up during the journey. One can find a handful of excerpts about inebriety taken from ancient sources, including Estienne’s Latin translation of Greek texts, as well as a slightly ironic encomium of the German town of Bacharach (not Baccarat in Lorraine, as Simoni, II, p. 73) and its extraordinary wines. In his enthusiasm, Estienne treads a dangerous path, comparing the Germans and the French: the first – he claims – are superior in the art of drinking, the second in the art of singing.Not in BM STC Fr or Oberlé. Adams, S 1768; Brunet, II, 1802 (‘recueil assez rare’); Graesse, II, 507 (‘volume rare’); Renouard, 141: 2 (‘volume assez rare’); Schreiber, 189; Simon, II, 235.