(Paris: Robert Estienne, 1544). 169 x 109 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 3/8"). 446, [24] pp. (with final blank).

REFINED 19TH CENTURY HAZEL BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY CAPÉ (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with interlacing frames surrounding an arabesque cartouche, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with floral tool at center, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Estienne's device on title page. Renouard 65/18; Adams V-108; Brunet V, 1049 (this copy?). Pressed (and perhaps washed) in accordance with the practices of 19th century bibliophiles, but the leaves with plenty of life, and the volume entirely pleasing--the binding unworn and very lustrous, and the text especially smooth, fresh, and clean.

This is an elegant edition, in a very attractive binding, of Valerius Maximus' famous first century anthology collecting the memorable words and deeds of notable Romans. Compiled for the use of orators, the nine books of extremely miscellaneous information are here arranged under headings that show a good deal of order in some parts and disorder in others. The anecdotes usually have a moral, and many concern religion and social virtues, but their chief value today resides in the fact that they record many events that would otherwise be unknown to us. Our volume displays the expert work of French binder Charles-François Capé (ca. 1806-67). Capé was one of the most distinguished binders in France in the middle years of the 19th century, and he was especially well known for the delicacy of his work. He was the binder to the Empress Eugenie, and Béraldi calls him "the Bozérian of the second Empire." The printer Robert Estienne (1503-59) was perhaps the most learned of the famous Estienne family of printers, and he is described by Schreiber as "the most outstanding figure in the Renaissance booktrade in France." The texts here reflect, in Schreiber's words, Estienne's pressing desire to "produce editions of the Latin classics ever lower in price and ever compacter in form." Early editions of this book are not uncommon at auction, but one seldom sees copies as clean and attractive as this one.