Corona delle nobili et virtuose donne. Libro primo [- quarto].

Venice, appresso Cesare Vecellio, 1601.


Oblong 8vo in 4s. 4 parts in 1, separate t-ps, ff. [28] unnumbered, A-G4; ff. [28] unnumbered, AA-GG4; ff. [28] unnumbered, AAA-GGG4; ff. [32] unnumbered, AAAA-HHHH4. Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps, large woodcut with Venus and gentlewomen sewing to A3, 108 white-on-black woodcut sewing patterns, occasional text or figurative illustrations of female personifications, animals or grotesques, decorated initials. Occasional finger soiling, marginal ink smudges from contemporary annotations to few blank margins or versos, small marginal repair to blank verso of first t-p and DDD2-3, outer blank margin of C3 and CCC2-3 trimmed. A very good copy, in fresh impression, in probably C19 russet morocco, later marbled eps, double gilt ruled, ornate early crimson morocco panel inlaid from probably original binding, bordered with rolls of tendrils, gilt to a pointillé design of corner- and centrepieces with large fleurons and gouges, semé of gilt dots, raised bands. Morocco label of Robert Hoe to front pastedown, numerous annotations dated 1682-1708, few later pencilled annotations to margins.

A lavishly illustrated sammelband of scarce editions, elegantly bound and of illustrious provenance, of the four parts of this famous sewing pattern book for gentlewomen. Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601) was a Venetian engraver and painter. His most famous publication is ‘De gli Habiti Antichi e Moderni’ (1590), a visual encyclopaedia of world fashion in his time. ‘Corona delle nobili et virtuose donne’ first appeared in 1591 in 3 parts, dedicated to Viena Vendramina Nani and also sold separately; a fourth, with a different title, was issued in 1593. All were reprinted, with additions, several times. ‘Although the earliest examples [of textile pattern books] were intended for a diverse audience of artists, craftsmen, and art enthusiasts, over the course of the C16 the titles, illustrations, and printers’ introductions were aimed more and more at […] girls and women’ (Speelberg, ‘Fashion’, 42). The patterns illustrated in these works reproduce famous stitching points used in Venice—a centre of lace production—and Europe. The most important are ‘punto a reticella’ (‘made by drawing the threads of the cloth […] or by working the lace on a parchment pattern in button-hole stitch’), ‘punto tagliato’ (cut-work) and ‘punto in aria’ (‘worked on a parchment pattern’); others, like the ‘opere a mazzette’ mentioned in the title, have remained unidentified (Palliser, ‘History’, 43-46). Some patterns were specifically for handkerchiefs or ‘bavari’ (veils) in the Venetian style. The annotations in this copy, dating 1682-1708, reveal the serendipitous fate of such crafts book, this copy having been used as an unofficial account book before being elegantly rebound for a bibliophile’s collection. The writer was from mainland Veneto (e.g., ‘mastea’ for washtub). Although the notes mostly relate to the sale of wine and grains, mentioning debts paid by specific customers (both men and women), the business included sartorial services, for which the present work provided practical suggestions. Indeed, there are accounts concerning cloths—cream-coloured satin, and distaffs (‘fuseli’) of linen and hemp—and finished garments (a satin shirt).

Robert Hoe (1839-1909) of New York was one of the great collectors of the turn of the C20. His personal library catalogue was published between 1903 and 1919 in 16 vols and its sale fetched over £400,000.

No copies recorded in the US.

Catalogue of the library of Robert Hoe II, 1879; Brunet V, 1105 (1591 ed.); Berlin Cat. 940. B. Palliser, A History of Lace (London, 1869); F. Speelberg, Fashion & Virtue (New York, 2016).


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AELIANUS, et al.


Ailianou poikilēs istorias […] Aeliani variae Historiae libri XIIII.

Rome, Blado, 1545.


EDITIO PRINCEPS, LARGE PAPER COPY. ff. (iv) 111 (xiii). Greek letter. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and verso of last. T-p and verso of last a little dusty, upper margin of first gathering and a handful of other ll. oil (?) stained, tiny tear to upper outer blank corner of * 3 and ι 3 , very light water stain to outer blank margin of couple of ll., occasional minor bleed from yellow painted edges, lower outer blank corner of ρ 2 torn. A very good, fresh, large paper copy in English polished calf c.1600, double blind ruled, gilt arms of Herbert of Cherbury to covers, ms. price and monogram to margin of t-p, raised bands, lower edges a bit rubbed. ‘Powis’ to front pastedown, contemporary probably binder’s instructions to verso of last.

Handsomely bound, large paper copy of the Greek editio princeps of this compendium of anecdotes on ancient history and other interesting, lesser known Greek texts on physiognomy and divination. Claudius Aelianus (175-235AD) was a Roman Stoic author, renowned for his mastery of Greek. ‘Variae Historiae’ is one of two works that have reached us—a compendium of anecdotes on the ancient world (on wonders, customs and myths), biographies (of philosophers, writers and historians) and maxims, often taken from sources now lost. Among the subjects he discussed were Greek painting, fly-fishing and pagan religious cults, some of which archaic and obscure. With Aelianus’s ‘History of Animals’, ‘Variae Historiae’ formed ‘part of the standard canon of classical reference works in the early modern period’ (Lupher, ‘Greeks’, 128). Prefaced by a life of the author taken from Philostratus, this edition was prepared by Camillo Peruschi (d.1572), rector of the university of Rome in the 1530s. It features another five works. ‘De rebus publicis Commentarium’ by the Greek astronomer and philosopher Heraclides Ponticus (390-310BC), famous for suggesting that the Earth rotates on its axis in the course of 24 hours. Polemon of Laodicea’s (90-144AD) and Adamantios’s ‘Physiognomica’ were manuals teaching how to tell character from appearance, the former highly influential in the Arabic world. The last two—a treatise on divination through the study of heart palpitations, and another on divination through birthmarks and moles—were attributed to the pagan soothsayer Melampus (3 rd century BC).

This copy was in the fine library of the great book collector Edward, 1 st Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1582?-1648), created at Montgomery Castle, in Wales, in 1622-25. It was also one of c.230 volumes which, through the history of the Herbert family, ended up in the library of Powis Castle after 1748, probably from Oakley Park, dispersed in the 1950s-60s (Roberts, ‘Lord Herbert’, 118).

Dibdin I, 229; Moss I, 3; Fumagalli 1523; Brunet I, 62; Schweiger I, 3; Hoffmann, Bibliographisches litt. der griechen, I, 11. Not in Bernoni. D. Lupher, Greeks, Romans, and Pilgrims (Leiden, 2017); D. Roberts, ‘Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s Library at Montgomery Castle’, Library & Information History 31 (2015), 117-36.


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HALL, Joseph

Occasionall Meditations. By Ios: Exon. Set forth by R.H.

London, printed [by B. Alsop and T. Fawcet?] for Nath: Butter, 1630


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. [xxiv], 251, [i]. A-L¹² M⁶. Roman letter some Italic. Title within ornate woodcut border, text and tile with box rule, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments, occasional (editorial?) manuscript corrections in the text ‘Mice. Josef Thorpe August 20 1707’ on fly, “John Bright” in a contemporary hand at the end of the text, book-label of John Sparrow on pastedown, Robert S Pirie’s below. Some age yellowing. A fine copy, crisp and clean in very charming contemporary English polished limp vellum, covers bordered with a single gilt rule, figure of an angel gilt stamped at centres, spine triple gilt ruled in compartments, fleurons gilt at centres, yapp edges, remains of blue silk ties. 

First edition of this important work of meditations full of the the epigrammatic concision and wit that are the hallmark of Hall’s work in the genre; a fine copy in a charming contemporary binding. These meditations differ from his earlier works in that they focus on  observations from nature and moments that occur in every day life. “The Occasional Meditations show the latest development of Hall’s meditative practices. In order to gain inspiration, Hall went directly to nature. He turns from focusing on scripture or other heavenly things to mediation on nature. This is different from the Lutheran tradition because it goes against the sola scriptura tradition….the meditations can focus on any object in nature… This focusing is the starting point for leading the reader to a religious or spiritual experience.” Darrau: ‘The Reception of English Puritan Literature in Germany.’ 

“Bishop Hall’s The Art of Divine Meditation (1606, 1633) and the three editions of Occasional Meditations (1630, 1631, 1633) warrant .. recognition. Contemporaries noted their influence or praised “the divine, and eloquent Contemplations, and occasional Meditations of Doctor Hall”; and modern scholars emphasise Hall’s importance in the development of Protestant meditation. .. The genre commonly associated with Hall and practised by other seventeenth century authors turns on a distinction from formal meditation. By its nature, contemporary commentary notes, the occasional meditation resists the formality of the meditative practice variously described as set, solemn, or deliberate. Bishop Hall stresses “there may be much use, no rule” for the meditative mode that depends upon “suddain invention not composed by study.” It is essentially occasional or, in the often-repeated synonyms, extemporal, sudden, quick, rapt, and ejaculatory. Hall offers the further distinction between meditation “either extemporal and occasioned by outward occurrences offered to the mind; or deliberate and wrought out of our own heart. .. Hall’s fundamental distinction between the extemporal and the deliberate“outward occurrences offered to the mind” as opposed to those “wrought” from the heart, refines the accepted belief that meditation in general was a “bending of the mind” upon spiritual concerns. Later commentaries on the occasional meditation note a characteristic “sudden fixing of the mind,” a “profitable minding,” or a “serious bending of the mind.” Some attempt is also made to differentiate meditation from study, which turns on the difference between the head and the heart or discovering the truth as opposed to improving the truth spiritually.” Raymond A. Anselment ‘Robert Boyle and the Art of Occasional Meditation’

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 that King 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. 

ESTC S124972  STC 12687. Not in Pforzheimer or Grolier.


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MORLEY, Thomas


A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke.

London, Peter Short, 1597.


FIRST EDITION, folio, pp. (vi) 183 (xxxv). Roman letter, printed side notes. Title within elaborate woodcut border comprising representations of great scholars of antiquity such as Ptolmey and Strabo together with allegorical figures of the sciences, a globe and Father Time at head, Mercury with caduceus at foot (McKerrow & Ferguson 99); woodcut headpieces incorporating Royal arms, large woodcut initials. Very extensive printed music, in red and black in places, some woodcut music and diagrams. Title and verso of last dusty, water stain to upper fore edge of that and next mostly marginal, the odd little marginal mark; generally clean and good in fine speckled C18th calf, spine and borders gilt, armorial bookplate on front pastedown, in slipcase.

First edition of the most famous musical treatise in the English language, the first satisfactory musical treatise published in England and certainly the most enduring. A new edition was published in 1771 and the work was still in use into the C19th. Morley (1557-1604?) was a pupil of Byrd, to whom the present work is affectionately dedicated, and like him became a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, in 1592. In recognition of his services, Morley was granted the patent, previously held by his master, of printing books of music and selling ruled paper. In his day Morley was a celebrated composer in his own right (the present work contains a number of new songs) especially of madrigals where he was much admired for his grace and skill, but his fame rests principally on the present work which was practical, simple and eminently usable.

Divided into three parts that treat respectively of ‘teaching to sing’, descant, and setting and composing, it also includes whole pieces set out in ‘table format,’ i.e. a sort of version of a choir book where separate parts are laid out sideways on a double page so that the singers and players can use the volume sat around a table. Selling originally at four shillings the work was immensely popular, so much so that that perfect copies are now very rare.

“The ‘Plaine and Easie Introduction’ stands by itself. Written in dialogue form, it gives a pleasant impression of Morley’s personality and is of the greatest value for the side-lights which it throws on contemporary musical life, while for the English student of modal music it is indispensable, being still the most important English work on the subject.” Grove V p. 897.

STC 18133.  Lowndes IV 1615 ‘An ample and luminous general treatise’.  RISM p.598.  Gregory & Bartlett I 118.  Hirsch I 416.  Steele 161.


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The Order of My Lord Mayor, The Aldermen and the Sheriffes, for their meetings.

London, R. Young, 1629.


Small 8vo. pp. (iv) 32 (ii), without first blank. Mostly large black letter, small woodcut arms of the City of London at head of title page, a couple of decorative headpieces. Light age browning or yellowing, upper margin cut a bit short, generally a good copy in modern vellum.

An extremely rare publication of the orders and regulations governing meetings of the high officers of the City of London on special, public and ceremonial occasions. Most of these were annual events fixed by the liturgical calendar though some, such as a coronation, occurred only very occasionally. The orders do not regulate the conduct of business, or the administration of the meetings, but provide instructions on roles and duties, timings, and in particular dress codes. It is a sort of secular ‘ceremonialum’ for what was rapidly becoming the grandest and richest corporate government in the world which often provided a splendid show for the local populace.

The entertainment was not a mere matter of ‘panem et circenses’ but had a serious underlying social and political purpose. It is easy to forget today just how significant the symbolism of clothes and gestures was in the C17th (viz Malvolio) and how vitally important were the rules of precedence and procedure. This little work seems to have been designed principally for participants in these ceremonies, by the study of which deeply embarrassing (and perhaps worse) solecisms could be avoided. It opens with a paginated table of the principal ceremonies and closes with a list of the City corporations. Copies were discarded when the office holder retired or the regulations changed, and there were doubtless few to begin with, almost none of which survived to our day.

The earliest recorded edition of this sort was printed in 1568 and is known by a single copy at the Huntington; the Guildhall Library has the only recorded copy of an edition of 1604 and the Bodleian the unique 1610 as well as the only surviving quire of “c.1625?”. Then follows this title of which two copies are now known (apart from the present), at the British Library and Guildhall respectively; a different issue, partly reset, survives uniquely at Harvard.

STC 16730.


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GARISENDI, Antenore or VIZANI Pompeo


Torneo fatto sotto il Castello d’Argio Da’ SS Cavalieri Bolognesi il di IX. Febraio 1578.

Bologna, Giovanni Rossi, 1578.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. 112. Roman and Italic letter within printed line border, title with woodcut ornaments, woodcut historiated initials, discreet restoration at blank upper margin of title and gutter of last leaf, very light age yellowing in places. A very good copy in eighteenth century rose and gilt embossed paper boards, later eps.

Rare first edition of this fascinating description of a chivalric ‘tournament’ held in Bologna for the carnival of 1578, containing descriptions of the various scenes enacted for the occasion, including the names of the participants and details of the poems and songs recited. It is a blow by blow account with speeches, poems and songs reported verbatim. The local participants are identified by the stylised names of chivalric romance, ‘gli Cavalieri Ardenti, Fideli, placito’ and the rest by place of origin such as “Cavaliero di Scotia, Cavalieri Portoghesi”.

The ‘Knight of Scotland’ speech is of particular interest as he may be identified with the semi-mythical James Crichton better known as “The Admirable Crichton” who arrived in Italy at around this time having served in the French army. In his speech the ‘Scottish Knight’ makes many references to Merlin and to the ‘Great Queen of Scotland’ and his adventures and travels in France. The show was staged in the Piazza delle Scuole (now the Piazza Galvani) on a gigantic platform, which was built up above the heads of the surrounding onlookers.

This was the second and last tournament organized by the Accademia della Viola, initially founded in 1561 as the Academy dei Desti, by Ettore Ghisileri, Legnani Vincent and others, with the intention of reviving the ancient traditions of the knightly orders of Europe. The present account was compiled by Pompeo Vizani (1540-1607), also a member of the Academy of Viola, who signed the work under the pseudonym Antenor Garisendi. Vizani, a descendant of an important aristocratic Bolognese family, also helped organize the spectacle. At the end of the volume he recalls, not without some pride, that “questi signori Cavalieri per motivo proprio, et senza altra occasione, che del Carnovale, fanno quello, che a’ pena fanno altre Citta’ a’ contemplazione, et con l’aiuto de’ loro Principi, et con grandissime occasioni”.

A most interesting insight, and first hand account, of popular chivalric entertainment in late Renaissance Italy. This first edition is rare with few copies in libraries outside Italy. We were able to locate only three copies in the US.

Not in BM STC It. C16th or Adams Graesse or Brunet. Edit 16, CNC 20438. Cicognara. 1387.


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Il giuoco de gli scacchi di Rui Lopez, spagnuolo nuovamente tradotto in lingua italiana da M. Gio. Domenico Tarsia.

Venice, Cornelio Arrivabene, 1584.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. (viii), 214, (ii). Italic letter with some Roman, small woodcut printer’s device to title, elegant historiated and foliated woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces; seven small woodcut figures of chess board and pieces in text, early marginal manuscript Italian annotations, underlinings and corrections sometimes making precise additions to the text. Title page a bit browned and dusty, small old repair to blank upper outer corner, some age browning and mostly marginal spotting, single worm hole to fore-edge of final leaf. A used but still good and interesting copy, in excellent modern natural morocco, covers bordered gilt, gilt olive branch corner and centre pieces, spine with raised bands and gilt fleurons, old yellow edges.

The first Italian translation, and second edition, of this fundamental treatise on chess by the Spanish Bishop Ruy Lopez de Segura. The very rare first Spanish text was published in Alcala de Henares in 1561. It was the first major chess book since Damiano’s of 1512. López de Segura was born in Zafra near Badajoz, probably of Marrano Jewish descent, and he studied and lived in Salamanca. Considered by many to be the first world chess champion, as he won the first modern chess tournament in Madrid, he was certainly one of the leading players of his day; there are still moves named after him such as the Ruy Lopez opening.

In 1559-60 he went to Rome to attend an ecclesiastical conference and whilst there he defeated all the best players, including Leonardo di Bona. In 1561 he proposed the 50-move rule to claim a draw and introduced the word gambit (specifically, the Damiano Gambit). It was an important time in the development of the game in Europe when Kings, Popes and gentlemen become patrons of chess players and organised matches at court.

In 1574-75 King Philip II of Spain organised a tournament and invited all the top Italian players. Although this time López de Segura lost to Leonardo da Curtie and Paolo Boi, he impressed the King by playing a simultaneous blindfold tournament. Curtie, who eventually won the tournament, received the princely prize of a thousand ducats.

Ruy López de Segura’s book starts with a basic description of the game and then gives detailed examples of plays and tactics. It has been the object of numerous studies and is considered one of the founding books of chess theory. It is also charmingly illustrated. An interesting copy of an important work.

BM STC It. C16. p. 393. Adams L1475. Palau 141991. Van der Linde 372.


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NOLPE, Pieter


Beschrivinge vande Blyde Inkoomste, Rechten van Zeege-bogen en ander toestel op de Wel-koomste van Haare Majesteyt van Groot-Britanien, Vrankryk, en Jerland.

Amsterdam, Nicolaes van Ravesteyn for Pieter Nolpe, 1642.


FIRST EDITION. Large folio, pp. (viii), 36 (11 engraved plates). Roman letter, verse in Italic. Large woodcut printer’s device of two lions flanking the arms of Amsterdam on title, six superb double page allegorical plates, five full page engraved plates of triumphal arches, and one very large folding engraved view of Amsterdam, all engraved by Pieter Nolpe after Peter Potter and others, autograph “S.S. Banks 1813” at head of dedication. Small tear in one leaf expertly restored, no loss and not affecting plate, one blank outer corner restored, some light damp staining towards head of last ten leaves (some leaf loosening). A superb, large copy, with excellent dark impressions of the plates, in contemporary polished vellum over boards.

Magnificent fête book attributed to Samuel Coster, commemorating the 1642 entry into Amsterdam of Henrietta Maria, superbly illustrated with a series of allegorical engravings celebrating her visit, and a wonderful large engraved view of Amsterdam (quite commonly missing). Henrietta Maria (1609 – 1669), Queen Consort of Charles I, arrived in Holland after a stormy crossing in March 1642. Ostensibly her journey was to offer Princess Mary’s hand, her daughter, to her future husband William II Prince of Orange, but she also used the occasion to try to obtain military and financial assistance for the King.

She received a less than enthusiastic welcome, since she was both Catholic and a queen, and the Protestant republic was reluctant to help. The Prince of Orange was apprehensive about assisting her for fear of jeopardizing his own position with the States, and hoping to maintain good relations with both sides. Despite this, the City of Amsterdam agreed to receive the royal guests. For the occasion of her arrival ‘tableau vivants’ of Arion, and the Dolphin and Perseus and Andromeda were planned in the Damrak (then still a canal), but were never actually performed. These scenes or fêtes, represented in allegorical engravings by Nolpe, had strong political overtones.

“In Dutch literature, the subject of Andromeda stands for the threatened country – the Netherlands – and Perseus for the noble hero who liberates it from tyranny. … In 1642 a tableau vivant (in the waters of the Rokin) was planned for the joyous entry of Henrietta Maria in Amsterdam, with Perseus symbolizing Frederick Henry.” Jan Suijter. Again the figure of Arion rescued by the dolphin in the next plate symbolized the Netherlands saved by William of Orange. The other four scenes represented: ‘The marriage of Peleus and Thetis’ (a prefiguration of the Marriage of William II and Mary Stuart), ‘The Treaty of Adolf van Nassau,’ ‘The Marriage of Reinout II of Egmond and Eleonora Plantagenet,’ and ‘The Marriage of James II of Scotland and Maria van Egmond.’ All were subjects chosen to allude to the importance of the Orange family in the well-being of the Dutch Republic, and to stress the connection between the Stuarts and the House of Orange.

The series is very finely engraved by Nolpe after oil sketches by the celebrated artist Peter Potter, one of which survives, in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. The other engravings show the stages or triumphal arches designed for the fêtes. The last engraving is a very finely engraved large sea view of Amsterdam showing the salut given by the fleet in welcome of Henrietta Maria. This view is particularly rare. A large copy, with all the plates retaining their full margins, of a rare work, especially complete.

Sarah Sophia Banks was an English collector of antiquities and sister to the celebrated naturalist Joseph Banks. Her important collection of theatrical ephemera containing playbills, broadsides, notices, and press-cuttings dealing with private theatrical performances, dating from 1750 to 1808, was presented to the British Museum Library on her death in 1818.

Landwehr, Splendid ceremonies, 1971, p. 111. Ruggieri 1088; Vinet 746.


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