A Very Appealing Copy, with Distinguished Provenance, of the First Livy in English


(London: Adam Islip, 1600). 330 x 220 mm. (13 x 8 3/4"). 6 p.l., 1403, [1] pp., [21] leaves (first and last leaves blank). Translated from the Latin by Philemon Holland. FIRST COMPLETE EDITION IN ENGLISH.

Early 18th century mottled calf, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with large central fleuron and complex scrolling cornerpieces, one compartment with gilt lettering "G / 2 * II," another with small inlaid red morocco label of the Earl of Essex, with gilt "SX" and a coronet, red morocco title label, edges marbled (expertly--almost invisibly--rebacked and recornered). Title page with printer's elaborate device (McKerrow 324), verso of title with woodcut portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, dedication to the queen with woodcut headpiece and armorial initial, verso of fourth leaf with portrait of Livy within a laurel wreath, verso of sixth leaf with epitaph of Livy within a laurel wreath. Front pastedown with 18th(?) century ink notation "D : 2. / 9."; also with engraved armorial bookplate of James Heron Watson dated 1930 and bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection Library of Dr. & Mrs. H. R. Knohl; title page with ink signature of William Walter dated 1600 and with the initials "W W" inked into the printer's device; verso of title page with engraved armorial bookplate of Algernon Capell, Earl of Essex, dated 1701. Pforzheimer 495; STC 16613. A little wear to extremities, gilt on spine a bit rubbed, isolated small rust spots and minor marginal smudges or stains, other trivial imperfections in the text, but A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, quite clean and crisp, in a pleasant, sturdy, carefully restored binding.

This edition of Livy's history of Rome is, in Pforzheimer's words, "the first of that stately array of folio translations of the classics which issued from the pens of the 'translator general in his age.'" It is described by DNB as "a work of great importance" that "set out to be lucid and unpretentious, and achieved its aim with marked success," all the while being "accurate, and often lively." Throughout the Renaissance, Livy (first century B.C.) was revered as the premier source for Roman history, and his account of the rise of Rome from humble beginnings and its triumphs in the Punic Wars was central to historical and political thought.

Although the British had access to English excerpts of Livy, they could not read his complete text in their own language until the present edition was published. Holland (1552-1637) was a physician whose love of the classics prompted a devotion to rendering ancient authors (including Pliny, Plutarch, and others) into the language of Shakespeare. Besides the complete text of Livy's history, our volume contains an essay on the topography of Rome by J. Bartholomew Marlian of Milan, as well as the "Breviaries" of Florus, a useful chronology that summarizes the lost books of Livy, also appearing here for the first time in English.

This copy has graced the libraries of important collectors, including that of Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex (1670-1710), and Dr. H. R. Knohl. A colonel in the 4th Dragoons, Capell was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King William III between 1691 and 1702 and on the Privy Council to Queen Anne. Knohl assembled an outstanding collection of early English imprints. The William Walter who originally owned the volume may have been Sir William Walter of Wimbledon, MP (1574-1632).

Price: $17,500.00