A Splendid Deluxe Copy of "the Stupendous Sallust"


(Madrid: Joachin Ibarra, 1772). 362 x 254 mm. (14 1/4 x 10"). 8 p.l., 395, [1] pp. First Edition of this translation by the Infante Don Gabriel of Spain. ONE OF 120 LARGE PAPER COPIES.

HANDSOME CONTEMPORARY RED MOROCCO, covers bordered by gilt dogtooth and twining floral rolls, raised bands, spine gilt in double-ruled compartments with acanthus leaf cornerpieces and central daisy surrounded by dots and small flowers, turn-ins repeating the floral roll, blue watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. Engraved title page with decorative frame, portrait frontispiece, and nine plates, including one map, two scenes (a battle and a surrender), two plates of weapons, one of coins, one of battle plans, and two of orthography (one being an inscription and one a table of letters). Verso of front free endleaf with bookplate of Florencio Gavito and tipped-on typed note stating that the book had been acquired at the 1920 sale of the library of Edmond Rostand. Palau 288.134; Salvà 2791; Cohen-de Ricci 938; Schweiger II, 900. Minor rubbing to joints and extremities, covers with slight variation in color, but A SUPERB COPY, the binding lustrous and with no significant wear, and especially clean, fresh, and bright internally, with thick, smooth paper and vast margins.

This is an outstanding contemporary copy of the limited deluxe version of the masterwork of perhaps the greatest Spanish printer of all time and certainly the greatest printer Spain produced in the 18th century. Even apart from the elegant period morocco binding, the book is a beautiful object: in our special Large Paper version, the text is printed on thick, particularly bright paper with enormous margins, and is artfully arranged: the Spanish translation, in a large, graceful italic type by Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros, dominates the page, appearing in a single column that uses twice the area of the much smaller Latin text, printed below it in double columns in roman type (this diglot edition combines the Latin text of the 1634 Elzevier edition with a translation by the Infante Don Gabriel, son of the Spanish King Carlos III). Some of the only extant texts of Sallust (86-34 B.C.), this volume includes his history of the conspiracy against Cataline and his account of the Roman war against Jugurtha. Though he is less concerned with facts than with political propaganda, his narrative is marked by memorable epigrammatic speeches, vivid scenes, and psychologically complex delineation of characters. Joaquín Ibarra (1725-85) established himself at a fortunate time for printers in Spain: when Carlos II ascended the throne, he determined to improve all Spanish industry, but especially the book arts. The king exempted printers, typefounders, and punchcutters from military service, and, even more importantly, reduced the price of metal used in making type, thereby stimulating production of new fonts. Ibarra was an innovative printer, experimenting with paper to reduce plate mark impressions, developing his own printing ink noted for its quality, and establishing standard measures for the production of type. His talents led to his appointment as royal printer. According to Glaister, Ibarra "had a great influence on raising the standards of printing, not only in Spain, but in Europe generally." His Sallust was immediately recognized as a masterpiece: Europe's most famous printer of the day, Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), called it "the stupendous Sallust." The fine engravings, beautiful typography, rich impressions, and luxurious paper here epitomize Ibarra's work. Certainly Continental, and perhaps Spanish, the binding is just what one would expect on such a showpiece, and the lack of wear inside and out indicates that the volume has always been a treasured possession, treated as the work of art it is. The present copy is 352 mm. tall, just as was the royal presentation copy given by the translator to James Harris, British Minister to Madrid from 1769-71 (and sold as one of 120 Large Paper Copies, most recently at the 2003 Sotheby's auction of the stock of H. P. Kraus). Our copy has apparently resided in the libraries of French playwright Edmond Rostand (1868-1918), famous as the creator of "Cyrano de Bergerac," and the 20th-century Mexican bibliophile Florencio Gavito.