GIOVIO, Paolo.


Turcicarum rerum commentarius. [followed by] Commentarius captae urbis ductore Carolo Borbonio.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1539.


8vo. 2 works in 1, separate t-ps, continuous signatures, pp. 87 (i), 32. Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps. First t-p a little dusty with slight yellowing, minimal marginal foxing to last three ll. A very good, clean copy in late C19 crushed crimson morocco, marbled eps, gilt oval centrepiece to covers, spine and inner edges gilt, a.e.g. One early ms. marginal note.

Finely bound, good, clean copy of the second Estienne Latin edition of this important Turcicum, with the second part (not always present), including G.B. Egnazio’s famous account on the origins of the Turks. Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), a major historian and ethnographer, first published ‘Commentario’ in Italian in 1531, to contribute to the debate on the Ottoman wars, in view of the planned crusade of 1532. Like other such treatises, it was dedicated to Emperor Charles V, who led Europe against the Turks; it was also ‘the most realistic, less moralistic and clearest’ (Zimmermann, 159-60). It comprises sections on the origins of the Turks, their sultans from Orhan to Suleyman, their troops and war strategies. It was first translated and published in Latin in Strasbourg, in 1537, by the Italian Reformer Francesco Negri (1500-63). Robert Estienne printed it in 1538. Estienne added, with continuous signatures but separate foliation, the anonymous ‘Commentarius captae urbis’, also published separately. It recounts the sack of Rome of 1527, led by Charles III de Bourbon, on the French troops’ rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor. It also includes the famous ‘De origine Turcorum’ by Giovan Battista Egnazio, first published by Aldus in

1516 as an appendix to Egnazio’s biographies of Roman emperors. Based on diplomatic documents produced for the Serenissima in the late C15, it did not depict a complimentary image of the Ottomans, presented as skilful invaders of the Byzantine empire, and, especially Suleyman, ambitious conquerors. This did not suit state policy as Francis I sought instead to promote the ongoing Franco-Ottoman alliance, established in 1536. A fine sammelband of scarce Turcica.

Only Illinois copy (both parts) recorded in the US.

Göllner 644 (without second?) and 651 (separate publication of second); Renouard 48:12; French Books 72130; BM STC Fr., p.203; Brunet III, 585 (1538 ed.). T.C. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio. Uno storico e la crisi italiana del XVI secolo (2012); E. Armstrong, Robert Estienne, Royal Printer (1954).


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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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Annotationes in Sophoclem et Euripidem

[Geneva, Henri II Estienne,] 1568.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xvi) 207 (i). Roman letter, with Italic and Greek. Printer’s device to t-p, floriated initials. Light age browning, t-p lightly thumbed, lower outer blank corner of third fol. torn, very faint water stain to lower gutter of a few gatherings, the odd thumb mark. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary dark brown English calf, C14 ms vellum strip on spine and front pastedown, double blind-ruled border, oval centrepiece gilt, interlacing ribbons, curvy tendrils, leaves and fleurons in contrasting blind, spine in five compartments, raised bands, gilt lettering, some loss at joints and lower edge of rear cover. C18 armorial bookplate of Beilby Thompson of Escrick to front pastedown, early autograph ‘Geo: Seignior’, casemark (?) ‘m/1’, monograms ‘GHS’ (Seignior’s?) and ‘SWF’, little annotations ‘2’ and ‘of’ (?) to t-p, contemporary autograph of William Harrington (?) and monogram ‘TG’ to eps, modern bookplate to rear pastedown. In box.

The exquisite binding bears the same centrepiece as fig. 3.37 in Nixon and Foot, ‘English Bookbinding Styles, 1450-1800’, produced in Cambridge in the 1570s. An early owner of this copy was George Seignior (d. 1678), reverend, classical scholar and fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, to which he donated part of his books in 1676.

Very good, well-margined copy of the FIRST and ONLY EDITION of Henri Estienne’s commentary on the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. Estienne (1528/31-98) was a French printer—the eldest son of Robert—and scholar of Greek and Latin. After being entrusted with his father’s presses in 1559, he published numerous new or revised Latin translations of Greek authors like Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle and Aeschylus, as well as editions of the Greek New Testament. This commentary was intended, as shown by cross-references, as a companion volume to his editions of Sophocles and Euripides’s tragedies of the same year. It begins with a learned ‘tractatus’ on Greek orthography discussing the use and printed reproduction of diacritics like accents and breathings, and word alterations like crasis and elision. In the ‘annotationes’, Estienne makes continuous references to the codex tradition and editions like those of Rancoretus and Turnebus, seeking to redress major ‘lectiones depravatae’—mistranscriptions and philological misinterpretations—made by his predecessors. He also provides sophisticated brief studies of Sophocles’s lexicon and Euripides’s appropriation of Homer’s poetics. A nicely bound and finely printed jewel of classical scholarship.  

Beilby Thompson (1742-99) of Escrick, Yorkshire, was a British landowner and politician.

Rénouard 131:4; Brunet II, 1082; mentioned in Dibdin II, 411.


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Comoediae sex.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1541-1542.


4to, pp. 621, [27]. Roman letter, little Greek; large printer’s device on title; title very lightly soiled, small paper flaw at foot of 242 and 243, very occasional underlining in red chalk in margins. A good copy in eighteenth-century brown calf, gilt supralibros of René-Alexandre Aubry (died 1740) on covers, elaborately gilt compartments and morocco title label on spine; a. e. g., marbled endpapers;  minor scratches on covers, extremities slightly rubbed, lower joints a little cracked, repair to head of spine; bookplate of Henri Tardivi (1854-1915) on front pastedown; ex dono signed by Anatole France (1844-1924) ‘Au jeune Latiniste et Bibliophile Jean Bunard’, 1st January 1921, on front fly, year of acquisition ‘1873’ and price note ‘f. 9’ in his hand on verso of front endpapers and recto of front fly.

Accurate Estienne edition of one of the masters of Latin comedy. A liberated slave of North African origins, Terence (c. 195/185-159 BC ) is the most prominent comic playwright of ancient Rome along with Plautus. Relying extensively on the plays of the New Greek Comedy and especially those of Menander, the six comedies written by Terence enjoyed long-lasting success, were copied in several manuscripts and thus exceptionally survived all together. For almost two millenniums throughout the Middle Ages and early modern times, they were employed as model of polished Latin in schools. This is regarded as the best edition published by the humanist printer Robert Estienne, including three fundamental commentaries: the first, featuring the earliest biography of the author, by the famous grammarian Aelius Donatus (fl. mid-4th century AD); the second, complementing Donatus with an insight into the third comedy (The Self-Tormentor), by the scholar Giovanni Calfurnio (1443-1503), one of Aldus’s editors; and the third, briefly illustrating Terence’s metric system and vocabulary, written by Erasmus, whose emendations of the textual faults in a previous edition by Estienne himself (1529) are gladly accepted here.

This copy belonged to René-Alexandre Aubry, lord of Barneville and counsellor of the Parisian Parliament, died 1740. There is no record about his library, though two other books with his distinctive supralibros (Guigard, II, p. 23) have appeared on the French market in recent years. At the beginning of 1921, the book was presented to a promising young Latinist, Jean Bunard, by the French novelist and poet Anatole France (1844-1924), who appears to have acquired it in 1873. Son of a Paris book dealer, France, born François-Anatole Thibault, was a well-known bibliophile. A few months after this gift, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

BM STC Fr., 416; Adams, T 333; Brunet, V, 713 (edition estimée); Graesse, VII, 56; Renouard, 53:11; Schreiber, 64.


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Opera quae extant omnia.

[Geneva], Henri Estienne, 1578.


FIRST COMPLETE EDITION, folio, 3 vols., pp (xxxvi) 542 : (viii) 992 : (viii) 416, 139 (i). Greek and Roman letter, double column, smaller printed side notes. Printer’s woodcut device within ornate woodcut border on first title, woodcut ornament on others, fine large floriated and grotesque woodcut initials, head and tail pieces, contemporary annotations and underlining in Greek, Latin and French throughout, inscription on lower margin of the title effaced. Light age yellowing, lower blank corner of QQq torn, light oil? stain on last leaf of vol. II, marginal ink stain in last leaf of vol. III, minor very occasional mark or spot, some minor spotting in places. Generally very good, clean, well margined copies in handsome near contemporary speckled calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rules, spine with six gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments with large fleurons to centres, title gilt lettered direct, head and tail bands restored, upper joints slightly cracked on vols I and II a.e.r.

The ‘Celebrated and magnificent’ (Dibdin) first complete edition of the first published and probably foremost work of philosophy of the ancient world, ‘it has been truly said that the germs of all ideas can be found in Plato’ P.M.M. cit inf. It was also by far the best edition until modern times as well as the first edition of the translation of Jean de Serres and of many of the glosses and scholia. All subsequent editions in fact derive from it. By Renaissance standards Plato was a best seller: his two dominant themes, the quest for the truth and for human improvement held enormous appeal for the nearly modern mind. This edition was also responsible, with the Thesaurus Grecae, for its editor’s Henri Estienne’s reputation as one of the great literary and scholarly figures of the C16 – the preparation of the Greek text for which this edition is above all valued was entirely his work. This copy is complete with the dedications to Elizabeth I, James VI  and the Canton of Berne – their absence is the works most common defect.

“For two centuries [Estienne’s edition] remained the indispensable instrument of Platonic studies: to this day its pagination is universally accepted as the standard system of reference to the text of Plato… For the translation Estienne discarded the old standard Latin version by Fincino, and commissioned an entirely new one by John de Serres… Of all Henri Estienne’s publications the Plato is perhaps the most lavishly decorated… it is the only publication in which Estienne used his entire series of decorative headpieces, numerous woodcut initials, culs-de-lampe, and a striking elaborate title-device specially designed for this edition and making its only appearance here…” Schreiber.

The annotations in the volume are almost certainly those of a contemporary scholar, and are in Latin Greek and French. Unfortunately what is probably his manuscript ex-libris on the title has been effaced.

Renouard 145:1, ‘cette édition a toujours été en grande estime…les beaux exemplaires sont rares.’ Brunet IV 695 ‘Belle édition, plus recherchée pour son texte et pour les notes de H. Estienne…les exemplaires…se rencontrent difficilement bien conservés.’ Dibdin II ‘This work has long been considered as a very valuable acquisition to the libraries of the learned, and for its its magnificence and variety of critical material must be always held in estimation.’ Printing and The Mind of Man 27 (1st edn.). Schreiber 201. Adams P 1468


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Seminarium, et plantarium fructiferarum praesertim arborum quae post hortos conseri solent.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1540.


8vo, pp. 193, [23]. Roman letter, little Greek; printer’s device on title; a few tiny ink spots on blank outer margin of title, occasional spotting, very light waterstains to inner lower corner in second half. A very good copy in seventeenth-century vellum, recased, a. e. sprinkled; very lightly stained; faint contemporary marginal annotation in Latin on p. 61.

Second expanded edition of a curious encyclopaedia of fruit-trees illustrating nomenclature and cultivation, first published in 1536. Second son of Henri Estienne, the famous humanist printer and founder of the Estienne family press, Charles (1504-1564) was a pioneer in French anatomy and a respected Latin scholar. He published influential anatomical treatises and Latin textbooks, though he also contributed to agronomy and descriptions of rural life. Relying on ancient as well as contemporary sources, Seminarium et planetarium is particularly valuable for its account of the different types of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, nuts, citruses, olives and other fruits. For instance, it records for the first time the Martin Sec pear as a autochthonous species of France. The second part of the book dwells on sawing, pruning, transplantation, extirpation and general maintenance of plants. One can find guidelines for olive oil extraction, occasional reference to vines and vineyard management and, most curiously, the recipe for pear wine as prepared in antiquity. The work was published by Charles’s brother, Robert, who was at the time the Royal Printer for Hebrew and Latin publications, as he proudly pointed out on the colophon. When Robert fled to Geneva because of his Calvinist belief in 1551, Charles, who remained Catholic, took over the management of the Parisian Estienne workshop for a decade.

BM STC Fr., 156; Adams, S 1743; Renouard, 49:3; Schreiber, 61; Oberlé, 682 (1545 ed.); Simon, II, 231 (Lyon 1537 reprint).



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Biblia utriusque Testamenti.

[Geneva], Robert Estienne, 1556-1557.


In 2 vols. Fol., ff. [10], 188, 316, [2], 436, 336, 41, [1]. Predominantly Roman letter, some Greek and Hebrew; large printer’s device and decorative head-piece with vine and peasants on title and half-title, a few detailed illustrations, one full-page; title slightly dust-soiled with torn outer lower corner, a few leaves age yellowed, occasional light foxing mainly to margins, small marginal waterstain to final gatherings of vol. 2. A stunning, well-margined copy in exceptional morocco by the King’s binder of Geneva (cf. M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, pp. 279-285, nos 226-229), elegantly tooled with gilt and painted black border with panel of interlacing ribbons, painted black, and gouges, unpainted, on background powdered with dots, one mask at head and one at foot, some elements carved after gilding; spine similarly tooled, all board edges gilt with horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, all edges gauffered with gilt floral and grotesque motifs; joints possibly strengthened, a little rubbed at corners; eighteenth-century English annotation on front pastedown of vol. 1, quoting from the 1732 English translation of Calmet’s Dictionnaire historique, critique, chronologique, géographique et littéral de la Bible; c19 stamp of ‘G. W. Oxenham’ on front pastedown of both vols, Magg’s acquisition labels (March 1940) on rear pastedown of vol. 2.

Splendidly bound copy of the fifth edition of the renowned Latin Bible of Robert Estienne (1503-1559). It was the first to include Theodor Beza’s translation and commentaries on the New Testament, following Estienne’s conversion to Calvinism and subsequent move to Geneva. The book retains the detailed woodcut illustrations of the 1540 edition and the Latin version of the Old Testament by Sante Pagnini. Although this was not exactly the first attempt to separate and number biblical verses, the vast influence of the edition made this practice accepted once and for all.

The extraordinarily rich and detailed binding on both volumes can be attributed with certainty to the King’s binder, who was arguably the best in Geneva in the second half of the sixteenth century and probably a Parisian craftsman who emigrated due to unorthodox religious belief (I. Schunke, ‘Die Genfer Einbände in U. Fuggers Bibliothek’, in Die Einbände der Palatina, I, Vatican, 1962, pp. 218-236 and M. M. Foot, ‘The Geneva King’s binder and other 16th-century bindings decorated with masks’, Association International de Bibiliophilie: XXIVe Congrès 2005, pp. 17-29). His elaborate style, influenced by Parisian models, is characterised by lavish gauffering and use of grotesque and bizarre masks (here a sad-looking king and a staring ram) as decorative elements at head and foot of covers, from which the rest of the interlacing decoration usually springs.

BM STC Fr., Supplement, 11; Adams, B 1055 ; Darlow & Moule, 614; Renouard, 87 (‘depuis long-temp fort rare’); Schreiber, 113; Brunet, I, 876; Graesse, I, 394.



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