(Basileae: Ex Officina Ioannis Oporini, March 1552; Tubingae: Per Ulrichum Morhardum, 1546; Parisiis: Apud Joannem Lodo[v]icum Tiletanum, 1545). 171 x 102 mm. (6 3/4 x 4"). 137 (i.e., 134),  pp.; 451,  pp.; 51,  pp. Three separately published works bound in one volume.
EXCELLENT PERIOD FLEXIBLE VELLUM WALLET-STYLE BINDING composed of a single sheet of vellum folded around spine and fore edge, the edges overlapping on the front cover and held together with the original brass clasp and catch, flat spine with two apparently original exposed cords, vellum fragments of old (12th century?) manuscript leaves used as sewing guards, modern repair (approximately two inches square) to upper corner of left flap. In a fine recent folding cloth box with thick plush lining. Title page of Aesop with decorative woodcut border by Holbein; title page of Cebes with woodcut printer's device. Front flyleaf with modern armorial bookplate of Hermann Kunst. Rear flyleaves with six pages of notes in Greek and Latin in an attractive 16th century hand. First work: VD16 X 31; not in Adams, Schweiger, or Hoffmann. Second work: Hoffmann I, 64; Schweiger I, 13; VD16 A 420; not in Adams. Third work: not in Adams or Hoffmann; Schweiger I, 77 (citing a 1562 Paris edition translated by Theodore Adams). Front cover with very small tear in vellum flanked by a total of five holes (as a vestige of an early sewed repair), front flyleaves a little dusty, curled, and with a two-inch slit near the top (one slit with old, neat paper repair), first title page a little soiled, some of the text with very faint overall yellowing, but almost entirely quite fresh and clean internally, and the binding markedly well preserved.
Containing three Greek classics with their Latin translations, mostly on facing pages, this is an unusually well-preserved specimen of a seldom-seen early binding style. In addition to Aesop's well-known "Fables," composed in the 6th century B.C., the present volume contains Xenophon's "Cyropaedia" (an early 4th century B.C. idealized biography of Cyrus the Great) and the "Tablet" of Cebes (a moralistic consideration, in the Socratic manner, of the significance of human life, probably not by the 4th century Greek philosopher it is attributed to, but rather by a pseudonymous author of the 1st or 2nd century A.D.). All three of our editions are obscure, and it is instructive to imagine how they would have been purchased--no doubt in original sheets--from a stationer handling the products of presses from Switzerland, Germany, and France and then assembled, perhaps by a university scholar, to provide an anthology of works likely meant for language study. Wallet-style bindings were used in the 16th century on books that were either very luxurious or put to hard use. Elaborately decorated wallet bindings might be used to protect precious manuscripts, while plainer versions were commonly used to protect ledger or account books, which were frequently used in open-air settings and which could encounter very hard wear. Few of these bindings have survived, and the present example is the first 16th century wallet binding we've had in our inventory in 35 years. It is a utilitarian binding, simply stitched onto the text block, and with no embellishment other than the brass clasp--perfectly designed for an impecunious student or teacher who would appreciate inexpensive protection beyond that given by the usual book with the fore edge of its text block exposed. (ST12548)
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PJP Catalog: 73.017