Books from Three Important Mid-16th Century Printers, Bound together in Elaborately Gilt Morocco, Probably from the Eve Bindery


(Venetiis [Venice]: Paulus Manutius, Aldi F., 1556; Basel: Johann Oporinus, 1556; Venice: Giovanni Griffio, 1555). 297 x 203 mm. (11 3/4 x 7 7/8"). 16, 169 [i.e., 165], [1] leaves; 4 p.l., 178 pp., [7] leaves (last blank); 40 pp. Three separately printed works in one volume. Second Aldine Edition, "much augmented" (Renouard).

ONCE SPLENDID (AND STILL VERY ATTRACTIVE) 17TH CENTURY CALF, GILT, IN THE STYLE OF NICOLAS EVE, cover with gilt supralibros of the College des Grassins on a panel semé with rows of gilt fleurs-de-lys enclosed by a gilt-roll frame, raised bands, spine compartments similarly tooled, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt (neat repairs to heads of joints and to corners). First work with Aldine device on title page. Leaves of third work measuring approximately 171 x 190 mm. (6 3/4 x 7 1/2"). Front flyleaf with pencilled note: "From J. R. Pollock's Library"; verso of flyleaf with ink inscription of J. W. Rimington. For the binding: Olivier 1973, fer 2; Nixon, "Sixteenth-century Gold-tooled Bookbindings," pp. 222-25. For the first work: Ahmanson-Murphy 434; Kallendorf-Wells 383; Renouard p. 169-70; Adams S-1115; Edit16 28012. Second work: VD16 E 89. Third work: Edit16 35197. Covers with half a dozen small patches of lost patina from insect activity, gilt rubbed in a couple of spots, second work lightly browned (due to paper quality), occasional marginal stains, smudges, or other trivial imperfections, but still quite a pleasing copy, the text clean and fresh, and the binding sturdy and appealing.

Handsomely bound for one of the colleges at the University of Paris, and accompanied by works issued by two significant contemporaneous printers, this volume features the second, improved Aldine printing of a milestone in historiography, the first work to treat Roman history with scientific detachment and occasional skepticism about the accuracy of ancient Roman authors. As documented in the British Library Database of Bookbinding, the famous bindery established by Nicolas Eve (fl. 1560-81) is known for two main styles: the so-called "fanfare" design, and the present supralibros on a field of repeating small tools (usually fleurs-de-lys or flames), a design seen on books bound for Henri III (see BL shelfmarks C29k3 and G6455), the monarch who named Eve, and later his son Clovis, "Bookbinder to the King." The present binding bears the arms of the College des Grassins, established in 1569 by a bequest in the will of Pierre Grassin (the elder), Vicomte de Buzancy, to provide an education in the humanities for impoverished scholars from his hometown of Sens. The College was closed in 1793 during the French Revolution. First published in Modena in 1550, "Fasti Consulares" was the young Sigonio's debut as an historian, and it made his reputation. The work is in two parts, a chronological listing of ancient Roman office holders, and an indispensable commentary. The latter focuses on those years in which magistrates celebrated their military victories with a triumphal parade, so that it becomes a chronicle of Roman conquests from the time of the first king, Romulus, through the republican era to the time of the first emperor, Augustus. A leading humanist scholar of the Renaissance, Carlo Sigonio (1524-84) was born in Modena and taught literature and rhetoric in Venice, Padua, and Bologna at the great Italian universities of his day. The second work here, by German lawyer and theologian Johannes Eisermann, known as Ferrarius Montanus (1486-1558) offers guidance on organizing a commonwealth along Christian principles, while the final book, by archeologist Bartolomeo Marliani (1488-1566), lists consuls, dictators, and magistrates memorialized by engravings on ancient Roman monuments. No doubt it was included here, despite its smaller size, as a complement to Sigonio's work. Bindings similar to the present one, as indicated by the British Library Database of Bookbindings, include items held by the Pierpont Morgan Library (shelfmark M.927), Bibliothèque Nationale de France (shelfmark Vélins 1181), Mazarine Library (Ms. 3094), and the Raphaël Esmerian collection (Y. Devaux, Dix siècles, p. 97).