A Splendid Fanfare Binding Done by the Duodo Binder, And Later in the Collection of Doris Benz


(Paris: Adrian Turnebus, 1554). 170 x 100 mm. (6 3/4 x 4"). 2 p.l., 554, [2] pp.

SPLENDID CONTEMPORARY DARK BROWN MOROCCO, EXTRAVAGANTLY GILT, BY L'ATELIER À LA SECONDE PALMETTE, covers with a frame of palm fronds and laurel branches and another of flowers enclosing a central panel with intricate cornerpieces and a large central lozenge composed of leaf frond and floral tools, oval medallion with the arms of Nicolas de Villars, Bishop of Agen, at center of lozenge, smooth spine with repeating laurel-wreath ovals, three of these containing a distinctive tulip tool surrounded by an oval of stars, all edges gilt, evidence of ties (very expertly--almost invisibly--rebacked and recornered, using almost entirely the original decorated leather). In a fine russet brown morocco box by Sangorski & Sutcliffe lined with velvet. Printer's device on title page. Text ruled in red. Front free endpaper with (18th century?) ink signature of "Ch. De Cambes / Tertiani"; title page inscribed at foot "Joannis Cambesii." Dibdin II, 63-64; "Homer in Print" A11; Adams H-775. For the binding: Hobson, "Les Reliures à la Fanfare," pp. 70-71; Olivier 1519; Needham, "Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings" 98. A couple of short marginal tears, one opening with faint two-inch spot, last quire with small marginal stain (from binder's glue on pastedown), but A SUPERB COPY: clean, fresh, and bright internally, with ample margins and virtually no signs of use, and its beautiful (albeit carefully restored) binding absolutely dazzling.

This Turnebus edition of Homer is deemed "elegant and excellent" by Dibdin, adjectives that apply equally to its binding by an outstanding Parisian workshop. The exceptionally pleasing binding is among those that had traditionally been attributed to the royal binders Clovis and Nicolas Eve (as is evident from the titling on the box housing it) but, in fact, assigned to them in error. Among the misidentified volumes in this group were the famous fanfare bindings done for diplomat Pietro Duodo--it was the use of fleurs-de-lys and daisy (marguerite) tools on these bindings that caused many bibliophiles to believe they were done by the Eves for Queen Marguerite of Valois. In his 1970 work on fanfare bindings, Geoffrey Hobson corrects this error, asserting that the fanfare bindings were, in fact, not done for the queen, but for Duodo, by a workshop he dubbed the Atelier à la Seconde Palmette (the name deriving from a unique tool), but more commonly known today as the Duodo Binder. Hobson further noted that this bindery, which flourished from 1586 until 1611, was also patronized by our former owner, Nicolas de Villars (d. 1608). Our binding bears several distinctive tools and characteristics in common with those done for Duodo, including the palm frond and foliage frame, and the tulip tool used on the covers and spine. According to Dibdin, the text here is "particularly valuable as being the only volume of Homer published by" Adrien Turnèbe (1512-65), whom he considered "one of the profoundest scholars and critics of the 16th century." Montaigne described Turnèbe as "a man who knew all things," and Heyne admired this Homer for its accuracy. Our volume is in the superior condition typical of the books from the library of Doris Benz (1907-84), whose collection was wide ranging (though with strengths in fine bindings, the best of the private presses, major English authors, and manuscripts). Dickinson says that because she had acquired things very privately, the book world was shocked at the richness of her collection when it came on the market. The restoration work here was done by an extraordinarily skilled artisan and can only be seen upon the closest of inspections.