PLAUTUS, Titus Maccius.
FIRST FEMALE BOOK COLLECTOR?
Ex Plavti Comoediis.Venice, Heirs of Aldus, 1522
FIRST AND ONLY ALDINE EDITION. 8vo. Ff. (xiv) 184. Printer’s device to tp and last. Autograph to tp of Louise Guillermin de Corny, considerable Latin marginalia in attractive Chancery-style hand, most likely Louise’s. Slight age yellowing, tp a little soiled with two small holes to inner corner, oil splash to outer margin of some leaves, similar stain to gutter of final gatherings, marginal spotting in places. A good clean copy with generous margins in very handsome French black morocco C1600, double filleted gilt inner and outer borders, ornate central ornament, gilt stamped, smaller stamps at corners, spine gilt, head and foot a bit rubbed, edges a bit worn, aeb.
Handsomely bound Aldine edition of the comedies of Plautus, the early Roman playwright, from the library of one of the first-known private female book collectors and certainly the first Aldine, Louise Guillermin de Corny. The full inscription to the title page reads ‘acquis par moij Louise de Guillermin de Corny ultramontaine’. The use of the active voice demonstrates remarkable autonomy and evokes her personally seeking, purchasing and owning the copy. It also contains considerable marginalia in an attractive Italic hand where lines are noted with a variety of symbols and then transcribed below. There are also references to the textual difference between the Aldine and earlier editions. The distinctly feminine hand and similarities of style strongly suggest the autograph and marginalia are by Louise Guillermin de Corny using different nibs but we have been unable to find useful comparables.
The Guillermin family traced important aristocratic lineage from the early sixteenth century in Corny-sur-Moselle, Metz, North Eastern France. Jacques Guillermin, seigneur de Corny, married Louise Marsal, who accumulated a library so significant her collection is documented in the 1820s. One can assume the wealth of the Guillermin lordship enabled her to collect such prestigious works. A marriage record of her daughter, Marguerite Guillermin, dates from 1705, meaning we can trace Louise’s birth date to the mid-late seventeenth century. Louise’s penchant for the ancients, specifically Aldine editions, meant they made up approximately one third of the library. Her signature has been found in Appian’s Foreign Wars, 1545, Heirs of Aldus, in the collection of the University Library of Pisa. It states ‘Ce livre appartiens a moij Louise Guillermin de Corrij nee en france’. A wonderfully powerful record of a female bibliophile.
This is the first and only Aldine edition, prefaced by ‘Francisci Asulani in recognitionem M. Acii Plauti epistola ad Nicolaum Sconbergum, Archiepsicopum. Campanum.’, and states it relies upon editorial work done by Aldus Manutius and Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1508 when the two men were living together. It contains an index, summaries of each play, and a section on the life of Plautus. Plautus lived from c. 254 BC to 184 BC and his works are the earliest Latin literary works to have survived in their entirety. This edition contains his surviving plays including Amphitryon, Asinaria, Cistellaria, Menaechmi, Pseudolus and Rudens.BM STC. It p. 524; Brunet IV 708; Adams II 1487; Ren 94:2.