De oratore Libri III. Orator. De claris oratoribus.

Venice, [Paulus Manutius], 1559.


8vo. ff. 240 [i.e., 248]. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Aldine device to t-p. Very slight yellowing, printing tear and smudge to outer blank margin of I4, the odd little marginal mark, ink splash to upper and outer edge of last couple of gatherings. A fresh, well-margined copy in c.1700 vellum, gilt-lettered morocco label to spine, all edges blue, silk bookmark. Early ownership stamps of a comet with monogram AF to t-p and verso of last.

This very rare, fascinating woodcut stamp—a comet with seven points surmounted by a small lily and flanked by AF—has defied our attempts at discovering the identity of its mysterious owner, who proudly stamped it 3 times on t-p and once on verso of last. The heraldic route led to the Schininà family of Ragusa, who bear very similar arms, but the keeper of their collection confirmed it is not among the recorded family ex-libris. Its rarity, unusual iconography and absence from major provenance bibliographies suggests it probably belonged to an individual student or young scholar with a small library, or to a small scholarly institution or accademia. If an individual, it was probably someone who did not bear arms he could use for an ownership stamp. The little lily might indicate a Florentine provenance. We could only trace another copy—vol.3 of 3 of Cicero’s ‘Orationi’ (Venice, 1556), at the Biblioteca Storica in Longiano (M5272)—with the same stamp appearing twice on the t-p and twice on the last two ll. That both occurrences appear in mid-C16 student editions of Cicero supports this theory. In the 3-volume Longiano set, only vol.3 bears the stamp, vol.1 having none and vol.2 lacking the first and last gatherings. Both vols 1 and 3 share the same early C17 ms. ex-libris, though vol.3 is sewn differently, with 4 instead of 3 stations. This suggests that vol.3, the only one with the stamp, was probably acquired separately by the same early C17 owner who then signed all t-ps. Since this set has since been preserved intact in Longiano, the comet stamp must have already been present when vol.3 was acquired and signed, plausibly dating it no later than c.1600.

A fresh, well-margined copy of the second volume, published separately, of the ‘Opera Rhetorica’, edited by Paulus Manutius. The second edition, the text based on the 1546 and corrected by Manutius. One of the most influential figures of classical antiquity, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) put his legal skills to the service of politics with speeches which became landmarks of forensic oratory. Defined by Quintilian as ‘eloquence itself’, his copious prose production occupied a fundamental place in medieval syllabi. This second volume begins with ‘De oratore’, an immensely influential analysis of how a good orator should construct persuasive arguments which should however be driven by sound ethical principles. There follow ‘Orator’, a description of the perfect orator integrating observations in previous works, and ‘De claris oratoribus’, a history of eloquence through individual figures including Pericles and Solon.

Renouard 320:3; Ahmanson-Murphy 580. Not in Dibdin, Moss, Schweiger or Brunet.


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Sophokleous ai epta tragoediae. Sophoclis tragoediae septem.

[Geneva, Henri Estienne,] 1568.


Tall 8vo. 2 parts in 1, pp. (viii) 461 (i) 142 [i.e., 242] (ii). First part in Greek letter, in two sizes, second in Roman, little Greek. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p a little dusty, minor soiling to outer margin, occasional very slight foxing towards outer edges, small, faint water stain to lower blank margin of few gatherings, three tiny worm holes to couple of ll. touching the odd letter. A very good, clean copy in C18 English tree calf, marbled eps, single gilt ruled, raised bands, spine gilt, contrasting morocco labels, spine a little rubbed with minor loss at head, corners a bit bumped, late C18 armorial bookplate of F.W. Brydges to front pastedown, another earlier C18 of ‘R.H. [Robert Holbyn] C.C.C. Oxon. Comm.’ to t-p verso, *ii initialled R.H.

Very good, clean copy of this handsomely produced first Estienne Greek edition of Sophocles’s seven tragedies. ‘A very excellent and accurate edition, and highly creditable to the editorial talents of Henry Stephens […]. It contains some very choice readings: there is not an Edition in which I read Sophocles with so much pleasure as in this…’ (Moss). Henri Estienne (1528-98) had been in Geneva since the late 1550s, when his father, the Royal Printer Robert, abandoned Paris to escape religious persecution, bringing duplicates of the matrices of his famous ‘Grec du roi’ typeface devised by Garamond. Upon Robert’s death in 1559, Henri became official printer of the Republic of Geneva. A fine humanist and prolific author, Henri produced numerous editorial milestones of the Greek classics, the New Testament in Greek, and his very expensive masterpiece, ‘Thesaurus grecae linguae’. Based on Turnebus’s 1553 version, this Greek edition of Sophocles comprises ‘Ajax’, ‘Antigone’,

‘Women of Trachis’, ‘Oedipus Rex’, ‘Electra’, ‘Philoctetes’ and ‘Oedipus at Colonus’. The text is surrounded by the Scholia of the 1518 Roman edition and those of Turnebus, edited by Estienne. Appended are the important scholia by the C14 Byzantine scholar Triclinius, concerned with Sophocles’s metre, and a commentary by Joachim Camerarius, whose critical work from the 1530s ‘stands at the very beginning of modern Sophoclean criticism’ (Lurie, ‘Int. History’, 441). Estienne’s annotations on Sophocles and Euripides, mentioned on the t-p for publicity, were printed separately.

A choice collector’s item, this copy was in the library of Robert Holbyn (1710-57) of Nanswhyden, Cornwall, formerly a student at Christ Church College, Oxford. He accumulated ‘a magnificent library, which was taken to Bath and sold by auction by his successor in the property, […] the sale lasting six weeks, with catalogues costing 10s. 6d. each’ (Jewers, ‘Registers’, vii). It was later owned by Francis William Brydges of Tiberton Court, high sheriff of Herefordshire.

Schreiber, The Estiennes, 171; Renouard, Annales, 131:3; Brunet V, 447: ‘Bien executée et réputée correcte’; Hoffman III, 414; Adams, S1448. Dibdin I, 363-64 and Moss II, 597 cite it as published in Paris. M. Lurie, ‘Towards an Intellectual History of Sophocles in Europe’, in A Companion to Sophocles, ed. K. Orman (2012), 440-60; A.J. Jewers, The registers of the parish of St. Columb Major, Cornwall (1881).


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CATO, Marcus Porcius, VARRO, Marcus Terentius, COLUMELLA, Junius Moderatus, PALLADIUS, Rutilius Taurus. De re rustica.

Cologne, Johannes Gymnicus, 1536.


8vo. pp. (xxxii) 814 (x). Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, 15 small woodcuts of agricultural instruments or diagrams, decorated initials. T-p a bit dusty, small marginal hole, light marginal stain to some early and final ll., Ii2-3 cleanly torn and repaired, dislocating couple of letters, far lower outer blank corner of Ii5 lost, small scattered worm holes to margins of last two gatherings. A very good copy in contemporary probably Polish (Gdánsk?) calf over wooden boards, two brass clasps, double blind ruled, outer border with Mercury(?) and female half-figures, centre panel with (upper cover) blind-stamped ivy leaf and blind-tooled inscription THESMA / RVSALLE / BEKENPO / MERANV(?) / ANNO / DOMI / NI / 1539, (lower) blind-stamped fleurons and rosettes, raised bands, flaw to upper cover affecting one blind-stamped letter, small worm holes to lower edge of lower cover. C17 bookplate of Robert Barclay of Urie (Scotland), inscriptions ‘John Cox Booke 1661’ and another C17 crossed out to ffep, t-p with C17 inscription ‘Barclay Ury’, C16 ‘Ioann Weisser (?)’ and early casemark, C16 bibliographic inscription and C16 ‘Thesmarus Alebeke Pomeranus’ to rear pastedown. In modern folding box.

This copy belonged to Robert Barclay (1648-90) of Ury, Scotland—a major early member of the Society of Friends. His ‘An Apology for the True Christian Divinity’ (1676), written in light of the anti-Quakers controversies of the 1670s, became the most authoritative defence of their doctrines, and one of the most remarkable theological works of the time. From 1682, and without ever visiting the colony, Barclay was appointed governor of East New Jersey by its twelve buyers, eleven of them Quakers, who purchased the territory after the death of Sir George Cartelet. Among them was his long-term friend William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania in 1681. John Cox, who owned this copy in 1661, is listed in Quaker documents of the 1670s alongside Penn and Barclay (‘Exalted Diotrephes’, 28). He was most probably the John Cox from Gloucestershire who ‘emigrated to America with his wife and three children in 1688. He settled first in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, but removed later to […] New Jersey. […] He was the progenitor of many of the well-known Quaker Cox families of New Jersey and Pennsylvania’ (Cox, ‘Cox Family’, 37).

The handsome binding was produced for the earliest owner, Thesmarus Allebeke (fl. early C16), from Pomerania. In 1545, he was rector of the schools at St John’s and St Mary’s churches in Gdánsk. After returning to Catholicism, he was a priest at Cedry Wielkie, near Gdánsk. He owned a rich library of classical authors, including incunables, which bore similar bindings (‘Katalog Inkunabułów Biblioteki Miejskiej w Gdańsku’, 257).

A very good, handsomely bound copy. This florilegium of agricultural works was devised for a readership interested in the classical rustic virtues of landownership and the practical aspects of country life, with topics as varied as the best place to set up a beehive, horticulture, remedies for dogs with flees and sick horses, ways to scare off snakes stabling and regulations for workers. Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC) was a Roman statesman, military officer and author. His only complete, extant work, ‘De Agri Cultura’ (c.160 BC) is a manual on the management of a country estate reliant on slaves, with a special interest in the cultivation of vines. A prolific writer patronised by Augustus, Marcus Terentius Varro (116-107BC) based his ‘Rerum rusticarum libri tres’ on his direct experience of farming. He notably warns his readers to avoid marshlands, where ‘animalia minuta’ that cannot be seen by the human eye may be breathed in or swallowed and cause illnesses. A soldier and farmer, Lucius Moderatus Columella (4-70AD) is best known for his ‘Res rustica’, which deals with a wealth of activities including the cultivation of vines and olives, the farming and treatment of animals, and the management of workers. Inspired by Columella and much admired in the medieval period, Palladius’s (C4-5AD) ‘Opus agriculturae’ (or ‘De re rustica’) provides an account of the typical monthly activities of a Roman farm, and mentions the utility of building mills over abundant waterways to grind wheat. This edition features commentaries by Georgius Alexandrinus, Philippus Beroaldus and Aldus. Beautifully bound, with fascinating provenance.

Columbia, UCB, NYBG, NLM, Oberlin, Illinois, KU and Rutgers copies recorded in the US.

Graesse VI, 331; BM STC Ger., p.187. An Exalted Diotrephes Reprehended (London, 1681); H.M. Cox, The Cox family in America (New York, 1912).


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Illustrium virorum vite.

Paris, Jodocus Badius Ascensius, [1520].


Folio. ff. (xxii) CCCXCIII, lacking final blank. Roman letter, index in quadruple column. T-p in red and black, handsome woodcut border with (above) scholar writing, putti and crowned dragons, (centre) large printer’s device showing Ascensius’s printing press, columns decorated with faces within ovals flanked by grotesques, (below) satyrs, soldiers on horseback and blank escutcheon; decorated initials. T-p a little finger soiled, small marginal ink splash, little repaired tear to lower blank margin of N5 verso, intermittent marginal foxing, few marginal small paper flaws, rubbed ink splash affecting a couple of words, minor water stain to upper blank corner of last two ll. A very good copy in contemporary Piedmontese brown goatskin, lacking ties, triple blind ruled to a panel design, second border single cross-hatched in blind with fleurs-de-lis and three-pointed comets, centre panel bordered with small blind-stamped ivy leaves, three blind-stamped IHS roundels bordered with ivy leaf tool, raised bands, compartments single cross-hatched, later label and ink casemark to spine, all edges green and gauffered to a dentelle design, small repair at head and foot of spine. Later red crayon inscription to front pastedown, early ms. shelfmark and largely discoloured circular stamp to front pastedown, early ms. ex-libris ‘D.D. Ioannis Iacobi Carante I.V.D. Cuneensis’ and ‘Ad uso Del Pre Ludovico Ma Caranta di Cuneo Mre Pa Prefto’ to t-p, c.1600, and ‘Joh[ann]es Joseph Rabius huius libri d[omi]n[u]s. Hunc Antonius Luperia Cuneensis dominus 19 April. 1589 scribebat’ to rear pastedown, the odd contemporary annotation.

In the C16, this copy was in the private libraries of families near the Piedmontese town of Cuneo. With roots in the hamlet of Quaranta, Joannis Jacobus and Ludovicus Carante respectively were a lawyer ‘in utroque’ and a prefect. Rabia and Luperia were local surnames, the latter aristocratic. The handsome contemporary binding was most likely produced in the Cuneo territory. Given the IHS stamps, a good candidate may be the Cistercian Abbey of Santa Maria di Staffarda, a large and influential institution, with a scriptorium until the end of the C15.

A very good copy of this handsome Parisian edition of Plutarch’s ‘Lives’, produced at the famous press ‘Prelum Ascensianum’. Established in 1503 by the classicist Jodocus Badius Ascensius (or Josse Badius, 1462-1535), formerly editor for the Lyonnaise printers Jean Trechsel and de Vingle. Badius specialised in classical editions; the present edited by Gérard de Verceil, with a detailed index. ‘Vitae’, by the Greek philosopher Plutarch (46-119AD), greatly influenced Renaissance ‘mirrors for princes’ and was used for moral instruction. The work provided parallel biographies highlighting the virtues, vices and deeds of renowned Romans and Greeks, including Pericles, Theseus, Cicero, Demosthenes, Romulus and Scipio Africanus (who elicited the interest of the early owner of this copy). First used in 1507, Badius’s ‘marque typographique’, after his own design, is the second, and first detailed, illustration of a printing press. In this edition, a new version appeared, recut by a German artist, with important differences. ‘In the second, the composing stick used by the figure in the act of setting type is changed from the right to the left hand; the press shows improved mechanical construction, indicating greater solidity and strength. […] the figure sitting at the case on the right side of the engraving is intended to represent a woman, instead of a man as in the earlier illustration’ (Roberts, ‘Printer’s Marks’, 116-17). The four tools hanging from the machine are scissors to cut the paper or frisket, a brush for pressing down the cloth or paper tympan, dividers, and a mysterious Y-shaped tool.

Only 4 copies recorded in the US.

Renouard, Imprimeurs & Libraires Parisiens, III, p.179; Pettigree & Walsby, French Books, 83337. Not in USTC, Dibdin, Moss, Brunet or BM STC Fr. W. Roberts, Printers’ Marks (London, 1893).


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Aristotelous Politikon Bib. Th. Aristotelis Politicorum Libri VIII.

Leiden, ex Officina Elzeviriana, 1621.


8vo. 2 vols, pp. (xvi) 388; 389-1045 (xli). Roman letter, with Greek, mostly double column. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials. Uniform light age browning, edges a little dusty, slight foxing to first and last ll. of each, lower outer corner of Lll 1 torn affecting two words, marginal paper flaw at lower edge of Eee 5 . A very good copy in early C18 English crimson morocco, marbled eps, double gilt ruled, small gilt rosettes to corners, inner edges gilt, raised bands, same gilt decoration to spine, gilt-lettered title, a little cracking, some corners a bit bumped. Bookplate of Robert J. Hayhurst to front pastedown of vol. 1.

A very good, richly bound copy of this Greek and Latin edition of Aristotle’s immensely influential essay on political philosophy—the basis of early model political theory. ‘A respectable and scarce edition: it is very neatly printed by the Elzevirs’ (Moss). ‘Editio nitida’ (Hoffman). In eight books, the work discusses the institution of the ‘polis’, intellectual and moral virtues as applied to politics, the nature of citizens, types of government, the ideal state and citizens’ education. It was produced by the great humanist Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655), professor at Leiden and editor of numerous Elzevir classical texts. It also features the fragmentary Greek and Latin texts of Heraclides Lembus’s ‘De politiis’ and the Jewish historian Nicolaus Damascenus’s ethnographic account ‘De moribus gentium’. The last few pages are devoted to the Jesuit classicist Andreas Schottus’s annotations to Aristotle’s ‘Politics’. An exquisite set.

Willems 180; Moss I, 129; Hoffman I, 312; Brunet I, 468. Not in Dibdin.


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EUCLID. Elementorum libri XV.

Pesaro, Camillo Franceschini, 1572. [with]

ARCHIMEDES. Opera non nulla. [and] Commentari.

Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1558.


FIRST EDITIONS. Folio. Three works in one, ff. (xii) 255 (iv) 55 (ii) 63 (i), first lacking last blank, separate t-p to each. Roman and Italic letter, pages double-ruled in red. First t-p within architectural border t-p, allegorical figures, grotesques, cornucopiae and small geometrical diagrams; second and third with printer’s device to last; hundreds of fine geometrical diagrams; decorated initials. Occasional light yellowing, first t-p with odd marginal thumb mark, light marginal water stains to second t-p and a few ll. where annotations were washed, a few marginal tears without loss, old repairs to 3 ll. and one outer margin of final ll. of first work. Very good, well-margined copies in superb C17 French brown goatskin, gilt to a single- and double-ruled panel design, centre panel with gilt arms of Louis Bizeau surmounted by a plumed helmet, gilt monogram LB to corners, gilt roll of lozenges and circles to edges, all edges gilt and marbled. Spine triple gilt ruled in seven compartments, six with monogram LB, one with gilt lettering, floral scrolls with dentelles at head and foot, raised bands gilt to a roll of interlacing circles. Early casemark ‘FF. 8. 31.’ and armorial bookplate of Viscount Bruce of Ampthill and Baron Bruce of Whorleton, ‘Robert Bruce
1729’ to ffep, a few washed-out early marginalia. In modern slip box.

The superb binding bears the monogram and arms (a fess, two stars in chief, a crescent in point) of Louis Bizeau (fl. first half of C17), a prominent bibliophile of whom little is known (Olivier, ‘Manuel de l’amateur de reliures’, V, pl. 486). Some of his bindings c.1645-50 have been linked to the same workshop as worked for Dominique Séguier (Quaritch, ‘Examples of the Art of Book-Binding’, 108-9). His books, like this, had ruled pages, gilt edges and marbled pastedowns.

Excellent, well-margined copies, in fine impression, of Francesco Commandino’s Latin translations of Euclid’s ‘Elements’ and Archimedes’s ‘opera omnia’, with Commandino’s commentary, the last two issued together. These texts provided the foundations of modern mathematics and physics. Commandino (1509-75) was a humanist from Urbino renowned for his translations of the ancient Greek mathematicians including Aristarchus of Samos and Pappus of Alexandria. Several of his Latin renditions of Greek mathematical terms, for which he relied on previous adaptations by Roman authors like Cicero and Vitruvius, became the standard. Euclid (4 th century BC) was the first to reunite mathematical findings from the ancient world into a coherent, bi-dimensional system centred on simple axioms of plane geometry, based on angles and distance, from which further propositions (or theorems) could be deduced. His ‘Elements’ began with the crucial definition of ‘point’, ‘that which has no part nor size’ and which is only determined by two numbers defining its position in space—the fundamental notion on which the Euclidean geometrical system is based. Archimedes (287-12BC) was a mathematician, inventor, astronomer and engineer from Syracuse. The ‘Opera non nulla’ includes all his recorded writings, except for the treatise on floating bodies and that on the method of mechanical theorems, which was discovered later. This edition—the sole Aldine of Archimedes’s works—illustrates superbly his theorems on the area of circles, parabolae, spirals, spheres and cones, concluding with the famous ‘De arenae numero’, a calculation of the amount of sand grains needed to fill the universe. It is followed by Commandino’s commentary on Archimedes’s works, where geometrical diagrams are substituted by numerical calculations.

Charles Bruce (1682-1747), Earl of Ailesbury, Viscount Bruce of Ampthill and Baron Bruce of Whorleton, was a keen book collector. A catalogue of his vast library, comprising over 8,000 volumes, at Tottenham in Wiltshire, was printed in 1733—the second earliest catalogue of an English private library ever published (Pollard & Ehrman, 274-75), this copy being n.17, p.83. The library was eventually sold at Sotheby’s in 1919. His first-born, who died in 1738 before succeeding his father, is probably the Robert Bruce who signed the copy in 1729.

I) USTC 828478; BM STC It., p. 238; Brunet II, 1088: ‘édition bonne de cette traduction estimée’ ; Riccardi I, 362; Mortimer, Harvard Italian, 174; Thomas-Stanford, 18.

II) USTC 810251; BM STC It., p. 36; Rénouard 173:3; Riccardi I, 42: ‘bella edizione, assai poco comune’; Brunet I, 344: ‘peu commune’.


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Ποιησεις Ομηρου […] Opus utrumque Homeri Iliados et Odysseae.

Basel, per Ioan. Hervagium, 1551.


Small folio. 2 parts in 1, separate t-ps, pp. (xx) 394 [i.e., 410] (ii), 314 (ii). Greek letter, occasional Roman, mostly double column. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps and versos of last, additional engraved portrait of J. Camerarius by P. Galle (late C16) mounted on ffep decorated initials. A handful of gatherings lightly browned, slight marginal foxing, light water stain to upper outer blank corner, another to lower outer blank corner of second half, small ink splash to outer blank margin of e 6 , edges slightly trimmed touching a few marginalia. A good copy in C18 sheep, modern reback, boards worn with some loss. C19 booklabel of John McAllister, C18 bookplate of Bell’s Circulating Library and modern auction record to front pastedown, intermittent C16 Greek and Latin marginalia in red or black ink, ex-libris of Jacob Feilitscher, Jenensis, 1554, and C16 inscription on Greek language to second t-p.

Annotated copy, extra-illustrated with a handsome author’s portrait by P. Galle, of the Greek text of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’. It sought to improve on the Hervagius edition of 1535, which had a critical apparatus based on the ‘scholia’ of Didymus of Alexandria (now believed to date much later). The German humanists Joachim Camerarius (1500-74) and Jakob Micyllus (1503-58), also the authors of Homeric commentaries, revised the 1541 edition and added further material to the Greek-only ‘scholia’ surrounding the text.

This copy sheds light on the teaching of Greek at Jena in the mid-C16. The annotator was Jacob Feilitzscher, registered as a student at the Protestant Academy of Jena (from 1558, a university) in 1548, the year of its foundation (‘Matrikel’, 99). In 1554, he was studying Greek under the Lutheran humanist and former student of Melanchthon, Michael Neander (1529-81), who, after moving from Wittenberg, taught Greek and mathematics at Jena in 1551-72. Neander compiled a ‘Gnomologia Graecolatina’, a collection of ‘sententiae’ in Latin and Greek by major classical authors. Feilitzscher noted a quotation by Neander on the ‘Odyssey’ t-p, on Homer’s use of the Ionic dialect. In the notes, philology is preeminent, with attention to variants, some not listed in the surrounding commentary, as well as Greek synonyms or Latin translations. Feilitzscher noted rhetorical figures (e.g., ‘hysteron proteron’), classical quotations by Ovid, Virgil and Quintilian. In Book 2 of the ‘Iliad’, he glossed ‘the same with the civil wars in Germany’. He also highlighted and annotated scenes with ‘THERSITES’, as well as references to Aristotle’s discussion of Homer in his ‘Poetics’, and to Virgil. In Book 3, he highlighted Hector’s berating of Paris as ‘mad after women’, a ‘beguiler’ who ‘should never have been born’, and added numerous glosses to the subsequent section on the preparation for the battle, Priam’s dialogue with Helen and her dialogue with Paris after his return from the battle. On the passage describing Helen’s appearance on the walls of Troy, he glossed ‘fair among women’ with ‘Maria’, a reference to the Virgin Mary. In Book 4, he highlighted, with an observation on the Homeric relation between human faults and the gods’ will, Athena’s trick on the Trojan Pandarus, as she convinces him to shoot an arrow against Menelaus and thus undo the truce. Feilitzscher added one gloss to the ‘Odyssey’, underlining what Homer presented as the best treatment of guests and strangers, in Book 15.

In the C18, this copy was among the books available at Bell’s Circulating Library, near St Paul’s Church, one of several which rented out books to readers who could not afford to purchase them or to subscribe to a normal library. Whilst most circulating libraries were devoted to fiction and sensationalist novels, some also sold more scientific and scholarly books. Bell advertised that he ‘gives ready money for new and old books’.

In the early C19, this copy was in Philadelphia, in the library of John McAllister Jr. (1786-1877), owner of a renowned firm of optical equipment, and married to Eliza Young, the daughter of the noted printer and bookseller William Young. After his retirement in 1835, McAllister turned into a keen collector of books and mss., assembling a library ‘rich in works of all kinds’ (Watson’s ‘Annals’, 1905 ed.). The library was divided among his children; his son, John Allister, left his portion, increased with further purchases, to the Library Company. ‘The John A. McAllister Collection held by the Library Company has many thousands of items encompassing some of the same classifications as his father’s collection, but few with a provenance to connect them to John McAllister Jr. and his famous library’ (‘The John A. McAllister Collection’, The Library Company). This copy bears John Jr’s bookplate.

Hoffman II, 316; Brunet III, 271; Dibdin II, 50 (footnote). Die Matrikel der Universität Jena. Band I (1944); ‘Michael Neander’, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 23 (1886), S.340.


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CICERO, Marcus Tullius


M. T. Ciceronis epistolarum familiarium libri XVI,

London, Apud Thomam Marsh, 1574.


8vo. ff. 267 [i.e. 280]. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printers device on title, floriated and white on black criblé woodcut initials. Light age yellowing, title and verso of last soiled, minor mostly marginal waterstaining in places, the odd thumb mark or spot, margins of first quire a little creased. A good, crisp copy, in C18th English calf, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, tan morocco label, corners worn, a little rubbed, small tear on lower cover. 

Exceptionally rare edition, extraordinarily only the second edition of Ciceros letters in the original latin published in Britain. The first English printing (in the version of Manutius) was made in 1571 by Henry Bynneman and is recorded by ESTC in two copies only; this different edition by Thomas Marsh is equally rare, recorded at the Bodleian and York Minster libraries only. Cicero was published in Britain at an early date, Caxton published the first edition in 1481, the first classical work published in Britain, but in translation only. It was only by the later half of the C16th that English printers were skilled enough to compete with European imports of the Latin editions. “In 1569-70 Henry Bynneman, had established his right to print a variety of schoolbooks, basing his appeal partly on a claim to be able to do better than the editions of classical authors then being imported; in 1572 Thomas Marsh acquired a licence to print and sell another wide-ranging selection of schoolbooks ; and in June 1574 .. Thomas Vautrollier acquired a monopoly to print, among others, the works of Cicero and Ovid in Latin.” David McKitterick ‘A History of Cambridge University Press’. Christoph Hegendorff (1500 – 1540), of Leipzig, the editor of this edition, was a Protestant theological scholar, educator, a Protestant reformer and a great, public admirer of Erasmus. His sermons were published in an English translation. 

Written over the course of many years from 65 B.C. onwards and compiled by Cicero’s personal secretary Tiro, the letters are often written in a subtle code to disguise particular political contents. The work is made up of Cicero’s letters to his friends, acquaintances and also their replies, there is one to a conspirator in Caesar’s murder, “I congratulate you.  I rejoice for myself.  I love you.  I watch your interests; I wish for your  love and to be informed of what you are doing and what is being done,” ( Fam. vi. 15).  We know from others that Cicero thought about publishing some of his letters during his lifetime, but it is generally agreed that the Ad Familiares were published by Cicero’s friend Tiro, who suppressed his own letters and included those written to him at the end. Cicero’s letters are among the most valuable sources of information on the period, we learn from him a great deal about daily life in Rome and the provinces, especially the province of Cilicia of which Cicero was sometime governor. There is no other period of antiquity for which we still possess such an immediate and intimate record and in such domestic detail.

ESTC S109965 Bodleian and York Minster only. STC 5296


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PIGNORIA, Lorenzo.


Vetustissimae tabulae Aeneae Sacris Aegyptiorum Simulachris coelatae accurata Explicatio.

Venice, G.A. Rampazetto & G. Franco, 1605.


FIRST EDITION. Large 8vo. pp. (xii) 43 (x) + 12 large folding engraved plates. Italic letter, little Roman. Superb engraved vignette with view of St Mark’s Square to t-p, 12 large folding engraved plates with ancient inscriptions and hieroglyphs of the Mensa Isiaca, recto of five ll. filled with woodcuts of ancient seals, other small woodcut text illustrations, decorated initials. Slight yellowing, small light water stain to upper blank margin, and lower outer blank corner of few ll., one blank verso splashed with minimal see-through. A very good, fresh copy in mottled half calf over sprinkled paper boards c1700, raised bands, spine gilt, gilt label, a.e.r., a little rubbed. Modern bookplate to front pastedown, small pencilled casemark to t-p margin.

A very good, fresh copy of the first edition of this important, lavishly illustrated antiquarian work—with 12 superb folding tables by Enea Vico—by the antiquary and collector Lorenzo Pignoria (1571-1631). It is a study of the ‘Mensa Isiaca’, an elaborately decorated tablet of bronze, enamel and silver acquired by Cardinal Bembo after the sack of Rome of 1527 and later by the Gonzaga in Mantua. Though now believed to be of 1 st-century Roman, not Egyptian, origin, it soon began to inspire the study of hieroglyphs and ancient Egyptian cults; Valeriano too mentioned it in his ‘Hieroglyphica’ and Athanasius Kircher wrote on it in 1652. Pignoria’s work, the first scholarly study, ‘has been considered by subsequent scholars as the most valuable, both for the author’s purpose [not to interpret the tablet allegorically but using ancient sources] and for its historical information’ (Leospo, ‘Mensa Isiaca’, 2). Pignoria was ‘willing to hazard an interpretation of the table’s symbols, but his identifications of individual figures were explicitly tentative, and he did not attempt to explain how they related to one another semantically’ (Stolzenberg, ‘Oegyptian’, 46). The sources include Greek epigraphic inscriptions, ancient amulets and seals, many beautifully illustrated; the tablet is also superbly portrayed in the 12 large folding tables. These were originally produced by Vico in 1559, by commission of Torquato Bembo; Vico was granted a ten-year privilege to print them with the title ‘Vetustissimae Tabulae Aeneae’. In 1600, Giovanni Franco had the plates copied and recut, and sold them as a collection of 12 prints, including the t-p. Copies of Pignoria’s edition are recorded (and were probably bound) with  a variable number of plates, from none to 12. With 12, this copy collates like Princeton, Bib. Apost. Vaticana (Cicognara) and Bib. Naz. Centrale (Rome). These lavishly illustrated copies were probably deluxe versions, produced by Franco with the addition of Vico’s plates.

Cicognara 2544; Brunet IV, 651. E. Leospo, La Mensa Isiaca di Torino (Leiden, 1978); D. Stolzenberg, Egyptian Oedipus (Chicago, 2013).


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ERASMUS. Apophthegmatum opus.

Paris, apud Ioannem Roigny, 1533. [with]

PLUTARCH. Regum & Imperatorum Apophthegmata.

[Paris], Iehan Petit, [after 1507].


Small 4to. 2 works in 1, pp. (x), 496, (xxx); ff. 28, (i). Printer’s device to t-p of both, and last leaf of first, decorated initials. A few lower or outer margins uncut, I: first four ll. a little finger-soiled, slight mainly marginal foxing, II: intermittent browning, light marginal water stain to e 3-7 . Good copies in C19 tree sheep, marbled eps, raised bands, spine double gilt ruled, gilt-lettered morocco label, a.e.r., a little rubbed. I: c,1800 price (?) to ffep, ‘Vidania mal’ (?) on title in C16 hand, 6-line censorship note c.1600, and C19 ‘418’ to t-p, C16 marginalia to first 10 ll., occasional underlinings elsewhere, Letter from Brigitte Moreau of the BNF describing the Plutarch as ‘fort rare’ and known in only one another copy.

Interesting, annotated, very scarce Parisian editions of Erasmus’s and Plutarch’s collections of maxims—the second unrecorded in major bibliographies. Erasmus (1466-1536), the greatest humanist and philologist of the northern Renaissance, wrote some of the most important ‘mirrors for princes’ (‘Institutio principis Christianis’, 1516) and educational works for the elites (‘Adagia’, 1500). Like the latter, ‘Apophthegmata’ was a collection of sayings gathered from Greek and Latin lives of great personalities including Plutarch, Suetonius and Xenophon, grouped according to the virtue they epitomise. First published in 1531, it is here in a new, revised and enlarged edition. This copy was also marked by a near contemporary censor, as shown by his note on the t-p, stating that ‘Erasmus’s works should be read with caution’ and expunged due to his ‘corruption’. Several passages (e.g., one called ‘Deus insepultus’) were highlighted by the censor, and one was erased with the gloss ‘vox Erasmi’ (‘the voice of Erasmus’). From the Index of 1564, Erasmus was included as an author permitted but in need of expurgation; however, this work and the similar ‘Adagia’ were never mentioned specifically or especially targeted (Pabel, 146). The C16 annotator of this copy glossed extensively the dedicatory epistle and the first sections on Agasicles and Agesilaus, kings of Sparta. He was especially interested in material derived from Plutarch’s ‘Apophthegmata Regum et Imperatorum’ (of kings and emperors) and ‘Apophthegmata Laconica’ (of Spartans), a very scarce Parisian edition of which, printed in 1507 by Jehan Petit, was bound together with Erasmus’s work by an early owner. Plutarch (46-120AD) was a Roman magistrate and ambassador, and one of the most influential authors in the Renaissance for his biographies of the lives of the emperors and great ancient personalities, and wise maxims derived from them. Each is contextualised within a short anecdote from the lives of personalities including Silla, Diogenes, Lycurgus and Periander. ‘Apophthegmata regum’, in the Latin translations by Francesco Filelfo and Raffaele Regio, and ‘Apophthegmata Laconica’, together with ‘Moralia’ in Greek, were Erasmus’s models.

I: No copies recorded in the US.
Moreau-Renouard 668; BM STC Fr., p.153. Not in Brunet.
II: No copies recorded in the US.
Not in BM STC Fr., Moreau-Renouard, Hoffmann, Pettigree or Brunet. H.M. Pabel, ‘Praise and Blame: Peter Canisius’s Ambivalent Assessment of Erasmus’, in The Reception of Erasmus in the Early Modern Period, ed. K. Enenkel (Leiden, 2013), 129-62.


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