KELLER, Diethelm.


KELLER, Diethelm. Kunstliche vnd aigendtliche bildtnussen der Rhömischen Keyseren.

Zürich, Geßner, Andreas, 1558.


FIRST EDITION. Tall 8vo. pp. (xvi) 703 (xvii). Gothic letter. Woodcut printer’s device to title, 717 small white-on-black woodcut coins or medals, decorated initials. Minimal light age yellowing, very small wormholes at blank gutter of title and next, clean tear to lower margin of a6 repaired, faint water stain to outer half of handful of ll. A very good, clean copy in C17 vellum over boards, yapp edges, double blind ruled, raised bands, paper label, very minor worming to upper joint, a.e.r., C20 booklabel to front pastedown.

A very good copy of the first edition of this lavishly illustrated manual of numismatics, with 717 ‘artistic’ and ‘realistic’ portraits of coins or medals of ancient rulers and major figures of the Roman Empire, cut by students of Hans Holbein. Diethelm Keller (fl. mid-C16), of whom little is known, wrote on numismatics, antiquities and even medicine. This work brought together – in German, with recut illustrations and a more ‘scientifical’ stance – material from Strada’s ‘Epitome thesauri antiquitatum’ and Rouillé’s ‘Promptuarium iconum insignorum […] hominum’, both first published in Lyon in 1553 (‘Travaux’, p.61). The numerous sections are each devoted to a specific historical or mythical figure. Beginning with Julius Caesar, the work proceeds through the Roman emperors and empresses, illustrious men and women like Cato, Vergil, Julia Drusilla, Judas, Caiaphas, St Paul and Germanicus, as well as mythological figures such as the sybils. Each is accompanied by a numismatic portrait, which was intended to convey, through physiognomic principles, the true character of the person, as a complement to the account of their life and deeds (Pelc, p.27). Several coins or medals were invented. A handsomely illustrated encyclopaedia of ancient Roman history.

There are two largely identical issues of this first edition, priority not established.

VD16 S 9365; USTC 670369; Graesse IV, p.8. Travaux de l’Institut d\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'histoire de l’art de Lyon, 16 (1993); M. Pelc, ed., Illustrium Imagines (2002).