A Large-Format Mid-16th Century Painted French Calf Binding with Strapwork


(Parisiis: Apud Ioannem de Roigny, 1552). 325 x 210 mm. (12 3/4 x 8 1/4"). 1 p.l. (title), 776 pp., [20] leaves (last blank). [Collates as in Adams and Schweiger].

Attractive contemporary calf over thick pasteboards, covers with painted black and gilt rule frame, center of both boards with large, elaborate rectangular strapwork ornament in black and gilt, flat spine divided into panels by gilt rules and cresting roll, three spine panels with black and gilt ornament (similar to those on the covers), one panel with gilt titling inside an escutcheon, all edges gilt (the joints, edges, and portions of the spine at top and bottom very expertly renewed). Numerous fine "criblé" and other decorative initials and 145 WOODCUT SCENES measuring approximately 2 x 3" (some of the cuts repeated). Front pastedown with "HB" book label of Heribert Boeder; title page with ink inscription of Johann Adolph Freitag dated 1653 and with library stamp of the College of Notre Dame, Villefranche sur Saone. Adams E-1033; Dibdin II, 470; Hoffman II, 68-69; Mortimer 512; Schweiger II, 1060. ◆Spine slightly faded and discolored in spots, color of the cover leather a bit uneven, two pages with ink stain touching (but not obscuring) a word of text, isolated rust spots, but a very pleasing copy, the text unusually fresh, clean, and bright, and the carefully restored binding completely solid and certainly pleasing.

This is a large-format illustrated printing of the "Comedies," bound in a more restrained version of the painted entrelac bindings in vogue in 16th century, a binding tall and dignified enough to suit its contents. Dibdin describes this as "a most excellent edition" that contains "almost all the valuable treatises upon the author up to the period of its publication" and notes that "it is of rare occurrence." (There were two issues of this 1552 edition; our colophon, dated to 17 Calendas Decembris, Anno 1551, indicates that we have the first.) Terence's six extant plays, the ancestors of drawing room and modern situation comedies, feature crusty fathers, rebellious sons, and impertinent slaves whose machinations solve the playwright's intricate complications of plot. The plays were popular throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and still retain their appeal. The text of the plays, in large and attractive italic type, is surrounded here by the commentary (in smaller italic) of Donatus (fourth century A.D.) and others. Each scene is preceded by a woodcut depicting the actors on a curtained stage. While very simple in composition, these are animated and frequently amusing. According to Mortimer, our text and scholarly apparatus are mostly reprinted from Girolamo Scoto's Venice edition of 1545, and the scene cuts "are extremely close copies of the Italian blocks used by Scoto."

Price: $5,500.00