One of 15 Large Paper Copies, with Immense Margins


(Parma: nel regal Palazzo, co' tipi Bodoni, 1793). 230 x 150 mm. (9 x 6"). 5 p.l. (title and dedication), 62 pp., [2] leaves (blank); 1 p.l. (title), 78 pp. ONE OF 15 QUARTO COPIES ON SUPERFINE PAPER containing the dedication to Marchesa Paolina Rosa Prati (née Sanvitale) and the text of Cebes in Greek and Italian. (50 quarto copies were printed on regular paper with just the dedication and the text in Italian, and 200 octavo copies were issued with just the Greek and Italian text.).

Original orange paper boards, spine with apparently original paper label (either unlettered to begin with or titling now faded away), edges untrimmed. A Large Paper Copy. ◆Two-inch split to tail of rear joint, paper binding a little chafed and soiled, last three leaves of text with slight marginal foxing, but a very fine copy otherwise, the text especially clean, fresh, and bright--with immense margins--in a sound original unrestored binding.

This is Bodoni's most deluxe printing of a Socratic dialogue on the development of individual virtue and the meaning of life, attributed to Cebes of Thebes (ca. 430 - 350 B.C.), although more likely the work of an unknown 1st or 2nd century philosopher. In the text, the author describes a tablet with allegorical illustrations representing the dangers and temptations of human life, and prescribes a character-building education to avoid them; the work has drawn comparisons to Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." Brooks says Bodoni dedicated the work to a noblewoman of Parma, Paola Sanvitale Rosa Prati, in gratitude for a picture she had painted for him. Only our strictly limited version, on beautiful thick paper, contained Bodoni's effusive dedication, along with the text in his elegant Greek font, followed by the Italian translation in Roman type. Printer, punch-cutter, and type designer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) worked for more than 20 years at the Royal press in Parma before obtaining permission to set up his own private press in 1791. Brooks says that "he took his printing in all its branches very seriously, labored incessantly to perfect his type, had a fine artistic sense, . . . and produced books not only of a very high standard, but also showing a remarkably distinct individuality." Bodoni used the finest quality paper available, and his clear, beautiful types have been envied and copied for many generations. "The result of his labors is a long list of books which," in Brooks' words, "reach a very high, many of them the highest, level of technical excellence."

Price: $800.00