The First, Finest, and Most Influential Early European Study of Turkish Costumes


(Antwerp: Willem Silvius, 1576). 201 x 144 mm. (8 x 5 3/4"). 8 p.l., 328 (i.e. 408), [30] pp. (lacking final blank).Translated by François Flory. First Edition in Italian.

QUITE APPEALING LATER 19TH CENTURY HONEY BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, covers with gilt fillet border and delicately tooled cornerpieces, spine richly gilt in compartments tooled in the style of Bozerian, with floral tools emanating from a central circlet on a densely stippled ground, gilt titling, turn-ins ruled in gilt with floral corner tooling, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Engraved printer's device on title and 60 FULL-PAGE COSTUME WOODCUTS by Assuerus van Londerseel after Nicolay. Front pastedown with bookplate of James Cowan; front free endpaper with bookplate of Allan Heywood Bright (see below). Colas II, 2203; Hiler, pp. 656-57; Blackmer 1196 (1580 ed.); Adams N-251. ◆Pressed and perhaps lightly washed (but with plenty of strength to the paper and the illustrations), approximately forty percent of the gatherings with small, inoffensive stain at lower outer corner, one leaf with candle wax spot, final leaf slightly soiled, otherwise a fine copy with only the most trivial imperfections, the text consistently fresh and clean, and the attractive retrospective binding very bright and entirely unworn.

This is a really excellent copy of a work that Colas says represents the finest and most influential introduction to Turkish costume, not to mention the first study of its kind to appear in Western Europe. This first edition in Italian reprises (in slightly reduced form) the copperplate engravings of Louis Danet, which appeared in the first edition, published in Lyon in 1567. The Royal Geographer to Henri II, Nicolas de Nicolay, Seigneur d'Arfeville & de Belair (1517-83), was ordered by his king to join a number of other scholars on an embassy to Istanbul and to complete a thorough survey of the trip and places visited. The resulting report includes detailed descriptions and intricate engravings of some of the earliest portrayals to reach the West of the inhabitants of Algiers, Tripoli, the Barbary Coast, Turkey, Greece, Persia, and Armenia. Nicolay depicts the clothing of numerous occupations (soldiers, merchants, lawyers) and social strata (slaves, ladies, paupers) along with descriptions of cuisine, manners, city life, and bathing customs. The handsome binding is unsigned, but the design and delicate gilt embellishment of corners and spine compartments suggests that it might have been done by someone like Tout. Previous owner Allan Heywood Bright (1862-1941) was a businessman and Liberal MP for Oswestry. Building on his family's long history of collecting, Bright specialized in esoteric and particularly rare books. His library sold for nearly £5 million at Christie's in 2014. While this book is not extraordinarily rare, it seldom appears in the kind of desirable condition seen here.

Price: $9,500.00