One of Five Illustrated Books Published by Robert Estienne


(Paris: Robert Estienne, 1536). 216 x 140 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 1/2"). 4 p.l., [1]-168, [8], [1]-203, [13] pp. (with pagination anomalies).Edited by Charles Estienne. FIRST EDITION OF "De re Navali," First Printing of this collection.

STRIKING 16TH CENTURY ENGLISH CALF, HEAVILY AND BEAUTIFULLY GILT, covers gilt with border formed by two plain rules flanking a floral roll, this frame enclosing a central field of very many tiny star tools, intricate strapwork cornerpieces, and large central arabesque composed of strapwork interspersed with lilies and volutes; flat spine divided into latticed gilt panels by double plain rules and floral bands, newer (17th or 18th century?) black morocco label, the binding almost certainly with some restoration (the joints probably worked on, though the repairs executed with such skill as to make difficult identifying exactly what has been done), old stock used for replacement endpapers. WITH 32 FINE WOODCUTS in the text, 11 OF THEM FULL-PAGE OR NEARLY SO, the illustrations showing ancient ships, Roman clothing, and urns; woodcut printer's device on title, decorative initials, and four woodcut diagrams. Text in Latin and Greek. Schreiber 53; Renouard 44, #19; Brunet I, 710-11; STC French, p. 39. Covers with minor discoloration, a little crackling and minor scratching, and gilt a bit dulled and eroded, one corner somewhat bumped, half a dozen leaves with faint dampstains to lower outer corner, a hint of soiling in isolated places, but AN EXTREMELY PLEASING COPY, the binding solid, with no serious wear, and still very attractive; the text clean, fresh, and bright; and the margins generous.

This is the first of just five illustrated books published by Robert Estienne, offered here in a handsome and historically important contemporary English binding. Included in the present volume are Baïf's monograph on ancient ships, the author's treatise on Roman dress, and his work on early vases and receptacles, as well as an early printing of the first published monograph on colors, "De Coloribus" by Antonio Telesio (1482-1534), later reprinted in Goethe's "Farbenlehre." A distinguished humanist and diplomat who was well known in his own time for translations of the Greek dramatists, Baïf (1485-1547) is today best remembered for the works contained in this collection. The woodcuts, which include 20 of early ships, may have been produced by the atelier of Geoffroy Tory, since five of them are signed with the Lorraine cross (Tory was the Royal printer of France, appointed by François I, whose titles included Duke of Lorraine). Our volume appears here in a lovely 16th century decorative binding that certainly is English and seems in design and execution similar to the work of the artist whom Nixon dubbed the "Dudley Binder," for the work he did for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Our binding's central panel, with its oval medallion and ornate cornerpieces, is typical of the Dudley Binder's work (see, for example, items #16 and 17 in Nixon's "Five Centuries" and Foot's "Davis Gift," #43).