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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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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Institutione del prencipe christiano.

Venice, per Comin de Trino, 1546


8vo. pp. 71 (i). Italic letter, occasional Roman. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, woodcut initials. Occasional very slight foxing to outer or upper blank margin, small paper flaw to lower blank margin of H1. A very good, clean copy in superb contemporary Venetian olive goatskin, traces of ties, triple blind ruled to a panel design, single gilt ruled outer border, second border double gilt ruled with small ivy leaves to corners, surrounded by four gilt lotus tools, central panel with gilt arabesque cornerpieces and gilt round centrepiece surrounded by gouges and small fleurons with (upper cover) gilt title and (lower cover) the binder’s trade-mark gilt apple flanked by the gilt initials AA, raised bands and smaller false bands, eight compartments decorated with blind-tooled tendrils, bands single gilt ruled or hatched, all edges gilt and gauffered, upper joint cracking but firm, repair at head and foot of spine. Book label of Michel Wittock to front pastedown.

Superbly bound—studied and portrayed in Hobson & Culot, ‘Italian and French C16 Bookbindings’, n.11 (pp.36-37), from the library of Michel Wittock, a major C20 collector of fine bindings. The binding bears the trademark tools—small ivy leaves, lotus tools and the apple-shaped centrepiece, here flanked by the owner’s initials (e.g., de Marinis I, 2162 and 1707, and Henry Davis Gift II, 293-95)—of the Venetian Apple Binder (so named by M. Foot), active c.1530-50s (Henry Davis Gift I, 309-15). He is also known as Fugger Binder (preferred by Hobson and Schunke), as most of the books in the bibliophile Johann Jakob Fugger’s library came from his workshop; he also worked for Cardinal Granvelle and Thomas Mahieu. The same gilt initials AA flanking the apple tool are present on similar bindings gracing five other works (one unnoticed by Hobson & Culot, now Folger 182-313q), all printed in Venice between 1527 and 1546. According to Hobson & Culot, ‘it is possible—though this is pure guesswork—that A A stands for Arnoldus Arlenius, of s’Hertogenbosch, who in 1546 was employed in Venice as the librarian of the Spanish ambassador, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza’. Mendoza, himself a renowned bibliophile, was employing a Venetian binder, Andrea di Lorenzo, who used very similar tools to the Apple Binder.

This most influential and much reprinted ‘mirror for princes’ was originally published in Castilian as ‘Relox de Príncipes’ (Valladolid, 1529) by the Franciscan Antonio de Guevara (1481-1545). It first appeared in Italian in 1543 in a shortened form, translated and revised by Mambrino Roseo da Fabriano. Guevara’s ‘Relox’ was divided into three sections—brought together by the protagonist, the Philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius—instructing Princes on the importance of Christian faith, their relationship with their wife and children, and political virtues. Reprinted nearly two dozen times in the C16, Mambrino’s translation was a collection of selected passages, under a title which reprised Erasmus’s famous ‘Institutio Principis Christiani’ (Buescu, ‘Corte’, 93).

Simplifying for a wider audience the genre of the ‘mirror for princes’, the ‘Institutione’ gathers exemplary anecdotes from the lives of ancient princes. It includes the customary warnings on the importance of virtue (e.g., patience and understanding of poverty) and the abhorrence of vice which might endanger the state (e.g., flattery and ambition). But it also covers topics closer to a prince’s family life. With an eye to a broader readership among aristocrats and the upper middle classes, Mambrino translated sections concerning the fundamental role played by women in the career of a prince, with instructions to princely wives how best to love their spouses, and to their husbands how pregnant princesses should be carefully looked after. A section is also devoted to the education of heirs, and the major role played by nurses; these should be ‘good orators’ and ‘learned, if possible’, women of this kind being still possible to find, ‘though more rarely, in modern times’.

Only Pratt and BYU copies recorded in the US.

EDIT16 CNCE 47315; Hobson & Culot, Italian and French C16 Bookbindings, n.11 (this copy).

A.I. Buescu, ‘Corte, Poder e Utopia: O Relox de Príncipes (1529) de Fr. Antonio de Guevara e a sua fortuna na Europa do século XVI’, Estudios Humanísticos. Historia 8 (2009), 69-101; I. Schunke, ‘Venezianische Renaissance-Einbände’, in Studi di bibliografia e di storia (1964), IV, 173-6.


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LACTANTIUS. De divinis institutionibus libri septem…Item Tertulliani Apologeticus adversus gentes


OROSIUS. Historiae adversus paganos.

Venice, Octavianus Scotus, 1494 and 1483.


Folio. 2 works in 1, ff. 90, 78 unnumbered ll., a8 b-m6 n4. Roman letter. Orosius, illuminated first initial in gold, blue, red and green, and others rubricated in red and blue, Lactantius with woodcut decorated initials and printer’s device to last leaf of first. Edges dusty, a little mainly marginal finger soiling or spotting, 1: scattered worm holes to lower outer corner of first 3 ll. affecting couple of letters, slight age yellowing, 2: few ll. slightly browned, small worm holes to outer blank margin of last gathering. Very good, well-margined copies in contemporary south German calf over wooden boards, traces of two clasps, lacking centre- and cornerpieces, double blind ruled to a panel design, upper cover: outer border with blind stamped hearts pierced by arrow within lozenges, centre panel with rolls of tendrils, and thistles within lozenges, lower cover: outer border with blind stamped floral tendrils, Virgin and Child within roundel (EBDB w000090, K019) stamped to corners, centre panel with cross-hatching in blind and same stamp of Virgin with Child, raised bands, covers and spine worn, small loss at head and foot, traces of later paper label, ‘Lactantius’ tooled in blind to upper cover, spine lined with C15 (Italian?) ms. (Jacobus à Varazze’s Legenda aurea). C19 bookplates and library stamp to front pastedown and C19 bibliographical information to rear, extensive contemporary Latin marginalia in red in German hands c.1500, authors’ names inked to upper edge.

Extensively annotated copies of Lactantius’s ‘Opera’ (with Tertullian’s ‘Apologeticus’) and Orosius’s ‘Historiae’—three milestones of early Christian theology and historiography. On the first leaf of the second work is a contemporary inscription with instructions to the binder, that the books by Orosius should be bound in half leather for plain reading, without ornaments. Half leather was requested by owners with budget constraints; that Orosius is now bound with a later work, in full leather formerly with brass decorations (and with a lavishly gilt initial), indicates it was shortly acquired by a wealthier owner. It was actually bound at the Augustinian monastery in Nuremberg (as shown by the Mary-with-Child stamp, EBDB w000090, K019), which boasted the most active bindery in the city in 1464-1526 as well as its own printing press.

At the turn of the C16, the Augustinian monastery was a thriving humanist hub, hosting personalities like Regiomontanus, Beheim, Schedel, Pickheimer and Scheurl (Kunzelmann, ‘Geschichte’, III, 275), none of whose hands appear to correspond to that of the annotator in this copy, although Schedel also annotated in red. This was likely part of the monastic library, nearly a quarter of whose books had been printed in Venice (Kyriss, ‘Nürnberger Klostereinbände’, 57); or it may have belonged to a scholar with links to the monastery, even to one of the higher-ranking monks or priors—e.g., Lupf, Pesler or Mantel—who, since the turn of the C16, had been chosen among former university students or lecturers in humanistic studies (Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus’, 40-41). 

The annotations were made by a scholar, probably for lectures, as suggested by the ‘ars memoriae’ diagrams on the last leaf of the Lactantius—a table with cells marked alphabetically, each with keywords and leaf number (e.g., ‘P’ has ‘prophets’ and ‘poets’, ‘I’ has ‘Iove and others [deities]’ and ‘idola’). The scholar had a remarkable interest in ‘Christian humanist’ readings and a critique of pagan cults. He was especially keen on the first three books of Lactantius’s (c.250-325AD) ‘Institutiones divinae’ which discussed the typological wisdom of the ancients and their insights or errors concerning the Christian god before the coming of Christ. He glossed passages on theological interpretations of prophets (e.g., sybils), poets (e.g., Ovid, Virgil, Orpheus, Hesiodus), deities (e.g., Apollo, Jove, Juno) or semi-divine figures (e.g., Hercules, Romulus). He annotated passages concerning ancient theories on the philosophical value of poetic invention (‘figmenta poetarum’) and history, e.g., Plato’s interpretation of myth and Euhemerus’s view of classical gods as worthy humans who achieved posthumous veneration. Further glosses were made to passages on the theological and moral wisdom of the ancients in relation to Christian theology. Similarly, the annotations to Tertullian’s (155-240AD) ‘Apologeticus’, a defence of Christianity against pagan cults like Gnosticism, focus on sacrifices, the worship of ‘idola’, ‘simulacra’, the nature of Christ and the devil, the kingdom of God, the Roman religion, and the ‘[mythical] fables and horrendous filthiness of the [ancient] gods’. Orosius’s (375-418AD) ‘Historiae adversus paganos’ was a providentialist world history showing the beneficial effects of Christianity on civilisation. The annotator was interested in the famous initial geographical description of the world, as well as in the development of world history from the ‘vengeance of the Deluge’ (glossed as ‘iusta’) down to the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, the Christian persecutions, ending with Constantine’s reign, with excursion into mythical history (e.g., the Amazons) and symbolic events like plagues and earthquakes.

A remarkable, fascinating witness to the circulation of humanist scholarship in late medieval northern Europe, on the eve of the Reformation.

  1. I) Not in BMC XV.
  2. II) BMC XV, p. 278. Brunet IV, 237 (mentioned); Graesse VI, 51: ‘the second counterfeit’ of Hermann Levilapis’s 1475 edition, with revised verse before the registrum. E. Kyriss, Nürnberg Kloistereinbände der Jahre 1433 bis 1525 (Erlagen, 1940); A. Kunzelmann, Geschichte der Deutschen Augustiner-Eremiten (Wurzburg, 1972), vol. 3; F. Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus in Nürnberg um 1500’, Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 64 (1977), 10-45; J.H. Overfield, Humanism and Scholasticism in Late Medieval Germany (Princeton, 1984).


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MEXIA, Pedro


The Imperiall historie, or the lives of the Emperours, from Iulius Caesar… 

London, Mathew Lownes, 1623


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. [xii], 867, [i]. A-4C⁶, 4D⁸. Roman letter, some Italic. Engraved title with figure of ‘Germanie’ above, Roman Emperor to left and German Emperor to right (Jonson, Anon 27), large historiated and smaller floriated initials, woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, ‘1713’ ms. with shelf mark and price at head of pastedown, engraved bookplate of Maurice Burrus at side, his purchase label “Maggs 1936’ on rear fly. Light age yellowing, some minor mostly marginal spotting, closed tear expertly restored on title. A very good copy in stunning contemporary olive morocco for Charles I, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, outer dentelle border of repeated small gilt tools, large fleurons to corners, central panel with an all over semée of alternate rose and lozenge tools, arms of Charles I gilt stamped at centres, spine with gilt tooled raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments with gilt ruled and gilt scrolled ‘false bands’ at centre of each compartment, richly gilt with small tools in each half compartment, edges gilt ruled, remains of blue silk ties, bound upside-down. 

A stunning copy of this work, the second edition of the English translation by Traheron of Mexia’s ‘Historia imperial y cesárea’, enlarged by the historian Edward Grimstone, in a  remarkable Royal binding for Charles I. This work was printed the same year as Charles’ trip to Spain for the ‘Spanish match’. “The other English-Spanish translation published in this annus mirabilis was an edition of Pedro de Mexia’s The Imperiall Historie, first published in 1604, with additional material written by the Sergeant at arms Edward Grimestone and dedicated to Lionel Cranfield the Lord High Treasurer.” Alexander Samson ‘The Spanish Match: Prince Charles’s Journey to Madrid, 1623’. The superb binding is similar in style and structure to one in the BL shelfmark c18c4, also with a dentelle border with an all over semi of small tools around the arms of Charles I. It is the work of the highest quality using the finest materials. It was most probably made for Charles’ library, and not just for one of the Royal chapels. It is hardly a coincidence that this work was published the year of Charles I’s trip to Spain for the ‘Spanish Match’, and the combination of this work in this binding would suggest a presentation copy to Charles, probably from Grimestone. 

“One of the later royal historians appointed in the age of Charles V, Mexia shared with his predecessor the distinction of writing a text that was popular both in Spain and abroad. Eight Castilian editions of his Historia Imperial y Cesarea were printed between 1545 and 1665 in Seville, Madrid, Basel and Antwerp. The Italian translation by Ludovico Dolce was even more successful. Between 1558 and 1688 at least seventeen Italian editions were printed in Venice, some of which included the lives of Charles V, Maximilian II, and Ferdinand. A German translation was printed in Basel in 1564, and two English translations by William Traheron and Edward Grimestone were published in London in 1604 and 1623, respectively. In total, at least twenty-eight editions were printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, making it the most successful of the Spanish Imperial histories after that of Guevara. It surpassed Guevara, however, in the influence and reputation that it enjoyed in Spain, where it was considered a fundamental work by the educated class in the later half of the sixteenth century. Viewed as free of lies and exagerations of chivalric literature, the Historia Imperial was considered by some contemporaries to be the first general work of humanist history written in Castilian.” Thomas James Dandelet. ‘The Renaissance of Empire in Early Modern Europe.’

“Grimeston wrote a number of ‘continuations’ to large scholarly works including two editions of the Historie of France .. and his translation of Pedro Mexia’s The Imperiall Historie (1623) whose continuation had some topical overlap with Grimeston’s continuation for the third edition of the History (1621)”. Anders Ingram. ‘English Literature on the Ottoman Turks in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’.

A stunning Royal binding. 

ESTC S114709. STC 17852. Lowndes 1541. Alden 623/82


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HALL, Joseph

The Shaking of the Olive-tree. The remaining works of Joseph Hall.

London, J. Cadwel for J. Crooke, 1660.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [xvi], 64, 112, 121-168, 179-209, 230-438. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek. Title within double line rule border, woodcut head pieces and initials, typographical ornaments, “Via media. The way of Peace in the five busy articles commonly known by the Name of Arminius.” has special title-page, pagination and register are continuous, extra illustrated with engraved portrait of Hall, folded, placed as frontispiece, book-label of John Sparrow on pastedown, Robert S. Pirie below. Light age yellowing, the rare marginal spot. A very good copy crisp and clean in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, fleurons gilt at centres, red morocco label gilt. a.e.r.

First edition of some of the works of the celebrated theologian and author Joseph Hall, published four years after his death containing many as yet unpublished including two important pieces of autobiography, many of his unpublished sermons on a multitude of subjects, and several controversial writings. The two autobiographical works are ‘Observations of some Specialities of Divine Providence In the Life of Jos. Hall, Bishop of Norwich’ and his tract ‘Hard Measure’ which details the severe treatment to which himself and other prelates were subjected under Parliament during Charles’ reign. “Hall is responsible for initiating several literary genres. In his own day, he was acknowledged as a ‘leader of literary fashion’. Tom Fleming Kinloch describes him as a pioneer in more than one branch of literature. Hall has been regarded by scholars mainly as a master of satire. John Milton criticised Hall’s writings [but] despite Milton’s criticism there have been many voices praising Hall’s contributions to English literature. Arnold Davenport quotes Pope, who found Hall’s satirical works to be amongst the best poetry and authentic satire in the English language.” Damrau “The Reception of English Puritan Literature in Germany.” “Several folio editions of his works were published by the bishop in his lifetime, in 1621, 1625, and 1634. The preface of the first folio has an extravagant laudation of King James, reprinted in the folio of 1634. A small quarto, with a collection of posthumous pieces called ‘The Shaking of the Olive Tree,’ was published in 1660; in 1662 a more complete collection of the bishop’s works.” DNB.

Joseph Hall (1574-1656), Bishop of Norwich, poet, moralist, satirist, controversialist (against Milton, i.a.), devotional writer, theological commentator, autobiographer and practical essayist, was one of the leading hommes de lettres of the Jacobean age. He was at the centre of public life under James I representing him at the Synod of Dort in 1618, assisting in his negotiations with the Scots and in Lord Doncaster’s French embassy and was foremost among the defenders of the temporal and spiritual powers of the Bishops in the Puritan Parliament of 1640-41. However, it is as a writer that Hall is now remembered. Fuller called him ‘the English Seneca for his pure, plain, and full style’. While Hall may not have been the first English satirist, as he claimed, he certainly introduced the Juvenalian satire into English.

Wing H416. Lowndes 979. Not in Pforzheimer or Grolier.


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Rome, ex typographia Reverendae Camerae Apostolicae, 1637.


4to. pp. (xx) 231 (i). Roman letter, occasional Italic and Greek. Engraved arms of Maffeo Barberini to t-p; two engraved headpieces (David playing the harp and another surrounded by a floral branch with bees); four engraved tailpieces (two with sun surrounded by wreath with bees, two with rising sun and motto ‘ALIVSQ ET IDEM’); decorated woodcut initials and tailpieces. Light browning to outer margin of t-p and last, slight foxing, small faint water stain to upper margin of first few ll., very light browning to a few ll., wear to a couple of letters on one leaf. A very good, crisp, well-margined copy in contemporary Roman olive morocco, gilt to a triple-ruled panel design, small gilt rosettes to corners, outer border with gilt rhombus-shaped arabesques including small fleurons and central oval with a vertical row of small fleurons, centre panel with large gilt fleurons to each corner, edges sprinkled red.
Spine in five compartments, gilt triple-ruled border and large gilt fleuron to each, minor rubbing at head, foot and joints. Bookplates of William O’Brien to front pastedown and Milltown Park S.J. Library to fly, ‘C’ and Milltown Park stamp to t-p, the odd early annotation.

The beautifully gilt binding appears to borrow, with plainer intentions, the design and rhombus-shaped decorations on BL C108h12, produced c.1630s by the Rospigliosi bindery (i.e., Gregorio and Giovanni Andreoli) in Rome. Very good, crisp copy, in fine impression, of Maffeo Barberini’s ‘Poemata’. Born in Florence, Barberini (1568-1644) was educated by the Society of Jesus in Rome and earned a doctorate in law at Pisa. Thanks to his uncle, Pope Clement VIII, he was appointed papal legate at the French court. In 1623, he was elected Pope with the name of Urban VIII; during his pontificate, Galileo was called to Rome to disown his cosmological theories. A great patron of scholars and artists like Athanasius Kircher and Claude Lorraine, Barberini was himself a talented poet. First printed in Venice in 1628, ‘Poemata’ gathers his most important compositions in Latin and Greek, from biblical paraphrases to reflections on virtues and vices, poems addressed to scholarly friends and relatives, odes to saints and even musings elicited by the sight of beautiful statues. The collection blends the versatile erudition of late humanism, the jovial nature of ‘alba amicorum’ and the darker undertones of international politics. Three poems are devoted to the seminal studies on the ‘marvels’ of the animal and botanical world written by Ulisse Aldrovandi, ‘guardian of Nature’. Another celebrates the saintly death of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, beheaded in 1587; the darkness which has covered the earth is lit up not by the burning torches at her funeral but by the stars in the heavens. ‘De sole et ape’ provides a key to the typographical iconography of the volume, decorated with shining suns and the bees of the Barberini. The explanation of the emblematic motifs is that bees’ wax can survive the heat of fire, be used to make torches and, like the sun, can chase darkness away. This edition—the second to be printed by the ‘Typographia Camerae Apostolicae’ which had retained the privilege since 1631—was advertised as revised and re-set with new and more elegant types.

Only Harvard and BYU copies recorded in the US.BL STC It. C17, p. 927. Not in Brunet.


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MORE, Thomas

Lucubrationes, abinnumerismendis repurgatae. Vtopiae libri 2. Progymnasmata. Epigrammata. Ex Luciano conuersa quaedam.

Basel, apud Episcopium F.(roben), 1563


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp.(32), 530,(46). α­-β8, a­-z8, A-­N8. Roman and Italic letter, some Greek. Froben’s woodcut device on title, repeated on verso of last, full page woodcut of the Island of Utopia, white on black floriated initials, underlinings and occasional marginal annotation in an early hand, autograph “Th. Thruston, Caio-Gonvil” in C17th hand at head of t-p. repeated on stubb, price record, dated 1766, of 2 shillings on fly, Robert S Pirie’s bookplate on fly. Light age yellowing, first few leaves with some mostly marginal soiling, a7 soiled in lower margin (original paper soiling), closed tear in upper margin of a4, the very rare mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, with good margins, in contemporary English dark calf, covers bordered with a quadruple blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands, all edges blue, ‘Moras’ in contemporary hand to fore-edge, small crack to head of upper joint, tear to lower compartment on spine, fore-edge of upper cover worn, corners worn.

First edition of the Latin works of St. Thomas More, a collection of five works and 13 letters, containing the Utopia, the Epigrammata, the translation of Lucian and the epistle to Dionysius, finely printed by Froben, including a beautiful full page woodcut of the island of ‘Utopia’. The Utopia, based on Froben’s edition of 1518, includes the prefatory letters of Erasmus to Johannes Froben, Guillaume Budé to Thomas Lupset, Pierre Gillis to Jerome Busleyden, Thomas More to Peter Gillis and Jerome Busleyden to Thomas More. It also includes the annotations by Erasmus. The Epigrammata is based on the revised first separate edition, also printed by Froben, in 1520, including the dedicatory letter to the German humanist Willibald Pirckheimer by Beatus Rhenanus (a well known editor of classical texts, an associate of Froben, and a friend of both Erassmus and Pirckheimer) in which he writes glowingly about More and his epigrams praising his wit, language, style, learning and ability as both translator and composer. By far the most important of More’s Latin works was the Utopia, the pre-eminent humanistic dialogue, appealing for the application of wisdom in the life and government of men, but at the same time a delightful work of entertainment and irony. The origin of a new word in the English language (and subsequently in many others), the work was the model or source for innumerable ‘Utopias’ or ‘distopias’, from Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ in the C17, through Swift in the C18, to Huxley and Orwell in the C20. It was More’s greatest literary work, achieving immediate international success, and probably the most significant and enduring by any Englishman of the age. “It was written, like Gulliver’s Travels … as a tract for the times to rub in the lesson of Erasmus; it inveighs against the new statesmanship of an all-powerful autocracy and the new economics of large enclosures and the destruction of the old common-field agriculture, just as it pleads for religious tolerance and universal education … Utopia is not, as often imagined, More’s ideal state; it exemplifies only the virtues of wisdom, fortitude, temperance and justice. It reflects the moral poverty of the states which More knew, whose Christian rulers should possess also the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity … [More] is both a saint to the Catholic and a predecessor of Marx to the Communist. His manifesto is and will be required reading for both, and for all shades of opinion between” Printing and the Mind of Man 47, on the 1st edn.

This copy is particularly interesting as it is preserved in a contemporary English binding showing the work was imported to the UK shortly after its publication, despite Thomas More’s then status in England as a ‘traitor’. John Venn in his Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College records a donation made by a “Thomas Thruston MD, fellow commoner”, who left all his medical books and £50 to the college circa 1700, most probably the same Thomas Thruston who once owned this work.

BM STC C16. Ger. p. 860. Adams M 1752. Gibson 74. JCB 1:220. Alden, 563/17.


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LE ROY, Louis


De la vicissitudine ò mutabile varietà delle cose, nell’universo.

Venice, Giorgio Angelieri presso Aldo Manuzio, 1585.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (xxxii) 327 (i). Roman letter, occasional Italic. Title within woodcut architectural border with cherubs holding palm leaves, male and female figures, weapons and printer’s device; decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Light age yellowing, couple of ll. with light mostly marginal water stains, mostly marginal, slight marginal foxing in a few places, a few gatherings lightly browned, small slip pasted over two lines on one Ai. A good, well-margined copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, contemporary title and shelfmark inked to upper cover. Spine cracked with minor loss to upper compartment. Stamps of Jesuit seminary ‘SGS’ on t-p, tiny early marginal inscription to t-p, early ink stamp of the ‘Bibliot (?)  Stanu[y]’ on t-p and verso. 

Good first edition of Louis Le Roy’s much admired and curious work on the mutability of the universe, in its Italian translation by the humanist Ercole Cato. Le Roy (1510?-77) was a humanist, political writer and historian renowned for his translations of Greek authors, including Aristotle and Plato, into French. ‘De la vicissitudine’, first published in French in 1575, was his last work and a definitive compendium of his prismatic ideas on history, politics, letters and philosophy. The main subject of the work are ‘the variety and vicissitudes of men, peoples, cities, republics, kingdoms and empires’. A blend of the classical and Christian traditions inspired by the cultural syncretism of Italian humanism, it concentrates on change—inspired by the Renaissance concepts of ‘mutability’ and ‘variety’—as the principle responsible for all historical mutations, from migrations to wars, the history of civilisations, the making and unmaking of the physical world through interactions between the four elements. These mutations, Le Roy argued, are kept together by divine providence which prevents such balance of contraries from turning into chaos. In the section where Le Roy explains the simultaneous creation and eventual end of the Heavens and Stars, the owner of this copy concealed with a pasted slip: ‘when the Universe will have dissolved, returning to the ancient Chaos and original darkness’. Le Roy was especially attracted by the birth, development and ruin of civilisations, which he explored through the medieval model of universal history embracing the origins of man to the present. The work ends in a sombre tone, with a prophetical message based on the warnings of the past, that the climax of European civilisation might soon be undone by new invading peoples, plagues and wars.

Niccolò Manassi (fl. 1590), a scholar and author of the preface, was entrusted with the Venetian Aldine press from 1585, when Aldus the Younger moved to Rome to run the Vatican press.

USTC 837671; Renouard 235:1; BM STC It. p. 376; Alden 584/43 and 575/16: ‘Includes references to America’. Not in Brunet or Graesse. M. Jeanneret, Perpetual Motion: Transforming Shapes in the Renaissance from da Vinci to Montaigne, Baltimore, 2000, pp. 166-67.


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FREIG, Johannes Thomas


Basel, Sebastian Henric Petri, 1582


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. (16), 366, (2). Roman, Italic, Greek and Hebrew letter. Large printer’s woodcut device on title and last verso, one decorated initial representing a rabbit; folding table after p. 162, woodcut illustration on p. 262 representing a bridge, printed music. Light age yellowing, very rare spotting and staining, paper flaws at head of p. 161 partly affecting half a dozen lines of text, small worm trail to lower margin of last gathering. A very good and clean copy in quarter vellum over boards C1900.

First edition of this interesting and popular early school book, intended as  an introduction to all the subjects of humanist education.

German philosopher and jurist, the Calvinist Johannes Thomas Freig (1543-1583) was a pupil and the first biographer of the famous teacher and educational reformer Pierre de La Ramée (Ramus). Freig was professor of logic and rhetoric in Freiburg and Basel, later becoming rector of the school at Altdorf. He studied Cicero’s works and extensively wrote on philosophy. He also was responsible for the influential “Latina grammatica pro schola Altorfina Noribergensium” (1580).

Freig was inspired by the Ramist logical method according to which discourse is founded on arguments or commonplaces. The “Paedagogus” summarises the ideal curriculum focused on classical learning and religious education in the biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew and Latin), by means of dichotomous tables and an analysis expounded in the form of question and answer. The work starts with Freig’s dedicatory letter to the prince of Marche (Italy) Giovanni Martino Amelio, providing information on the work’s contents and recalling the friendship between the noble Amelio and his father, Nicholas Freig. Then, after a classification of the liberal arts, including a reference list of the most important authors – mainly classical – and a Latin epigram by the French poet Bartelon Pantaleón from Ravières (Bourgogne), the work is divided into 24 chapters each dealing with a different subject. They concern Latin, Greek and Hebrew grammar, with particular attention to classical and biblical (Psalms) texts; French conversation on various cultural topics (wine,  food, places of the house); rhetoric (figures of speech); poetics; logic; geometry (the axis and its use in astronomy and measuring of land; coining); architecture (materials, buildings and their arrangement, with a paragraph on the library); physics, based on Tolomeus’ model; then ethics, economics, politics, military activities (armies, armour, encampment); history; law and medicine (diseases and their symptoms, with a section on the plague).

The chapter on music is the largest and highlights the distance between theory and musical practice. It especially concerns vocal music together with vernacular psalmody and Latin hymns. Recommended books are Boethius’s and Heinrich Glarean’s Dodecachordon (1547).

Adams, F 1013; BM STC Ger., p. 320. Not in Brunet or Graesse.


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