Two Illustrated Works on Roman Antiquities, Including Several Woodcuts of Books


(Basel: Hieronymus Froben, 1552 [and] Venice: Jacopo Strada, 1557). 330 x 215 mm. (13 x 8 1/4"). [108] leaves; 8 p.l., 192, 181-228 pp., [99] leaves (index). Two works in one volume. FIRST COMPLETE AND FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of the first work; FIRST EDITION (Second Issue) of the second work.

18th century marbled calf, rebacked, original backstrip laid down, flat spine in compartments formed by decorative leafy rules and featuring large floral ornaments at center, two morocco labels, marbled end papers. Printer's device on titles and on final leaf of first work, fine large and small (mostly historiated) woodcut initials, and MORE THAN 100 FINE WOODCUTS (mostly large or full-page) IN FIRST WORK, several signed by "C S" (perhaps Conrad Schnitt or Christoph Schweizer), ILLUSTRATING BUILDINGS, OCCUPATIONS, MILITARY MACHINES, COSTUMES, etc. (some cuts repeated, one cut printed upside down); 369 numismatic woodcuts in text of second work (262 of these, including repetitions, with medallion portraits and 107 with names only). Front flyleaf with early ink inscription of a library number; third leaf of first work and 10th leaf of second work with the crowned "L" library stamp of the Lamoignon Library. VD 16 N 1884; Schweiger II, 618; Brunet IV, 111; Graesse IV, 691 (all for first work); Mortimer (Italian) 322 (a later edition, with copies of these cuts), 355; Adams N-354, P-195. Original spine leather somewhat dried and eroded, covers slightly pitted and marked, but the binding entirely firm, with only superficial wear to joints, and certainly agreeable. First title a little smudged and foxed, a few other trivial imperfections, but A REMARKABLY FRESH, CLEAN, AND SMOOTH COPY INTERNALLY, AND WITH FINE IMPRESSIONS OF THE CUTS.

This is a very attractive copy, with distinguished provenance, of two works with considerable data relating to, and shedding substantial light on, the politics, government, provincial administration, and military establishment of Rome, as well as other aspects of Roman life. The first work here is an anonymous early fifth century Roman state handbook (more commonly known as the "Notitia Dignitatum") edited by Siegmund Ghelen (Gelenius, ca. 1477-ca. 1554) and Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547) from a lost Medieval manuscript. It is arranged according to the provinces of the Roman Empire and their cities. The second work is a synopsis of Roman history from Romulus through the reign of Habsburg emperor Charles V in the 15th century. Its first section is based on the "fasti consulares," inscriptions from the Arch of Augustus in the Roman forum listing all Roman consuls from 483 B.C. to 19 A.D. These relics were discovered in the 1540s, when the forum was being quarried for building materials. The compiler of this work, Panvinio (1529-68) was an Augustinian monk devoted to antiquarian studies who spent considerable time in Italy recording inscriptions on ancient monuments, medals, and other surfaces. He recognized the "fasti consulares" fragments recovered from the ruins and worked frantically to save them. They were restored by Michelangelo and added to the collection of what became the Capitoline Museum. Panvinio also used the coins and medals collected by Strada, the publisher, as a source for this compilation. A considerable portion of the interest and value in this volume today resides in the woodcuts. Copied from the original illustrations in an early manuscript of the work (now lost); the cuts in the first work include many depictions of books, showing several different kinds of decorated bindings. The illustrations also provide many details of Roman dwellings, costumes, and objects used in private, religious, and military life. Excepting the fact that they have produced books on basically the same subject, our two printers could hardly be more different. Whereas the Swiss Froben was one of the giants of Renaissance printing and a great promoter of learning, the Venetian Strada apparently spent much of his time speculating in the antiques market, being one of the first merchants to make a business of selling Italian antiques to foreigners. Our copy comes from the collection of the great bibliophile Antoine Moriau (1699-1759), who leased the stately Hôtel d'Angoulême Lamoignon in Paris to house his library of 14,000 books and more than 2,000 manuscripts. The second work here is rare.

Keywords: Froben