Michel Wittock's Copy of a Derome Binding in Very Fine Condition


(London: Typis Jac. Bettenham, 1742). 210 x 132 mm. (8 3/8 x 5 1/4"). 15, [1], 319, [13] pp.Latin translation by J. Curtenius. Edited by R. W. [i.e., Richard Warren]; notes by Charles Ashton.

REFINED RED MOROCCO, GILT, BY DEROME LE JEUNE (his ticket on verso of front flyleaf), cover with French fillet border, smooth spine elegantly gilt in compartments separated by multiple rules, each compartment with diagonal dotted lines creating a lozenge at center containing a bird on an elaborate perch, volute cornerpieces, gilt lettering, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Verso of front free endpaper with morocco bookplate of Michel Wittock and book label of "C. L."; title page with ink stamp of E. Boisgelin. Schweiger, p. 148; Lowndes II, 1066; Brunet III, 155; Graesse III, 272. ◆A little browning to blank flyleaves, but AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY, with clean, fresh, smooth text in a nearly pristine binding.

From a distinguished library, this is a respected edition of a commentary by a Neoplatonic philosopher on the "Golden Verses" of Pythagoras, elegantly bound by a master. There were no fewer than 18 members of the Derome family who made their livings as binders in Paris from the middle of the 17th century until the first quarter of the 19th, but by far the most distinguished family member was Nicolas-Denis, called "le jeune" (1731-88). Known for the gracefulness of his bindings, and being capable of "amazing delicacy" (in Hobson's words), Derome le jeune was, simply, the leading binder of the day, and his work was much in demand. Because he refused to turn away customers, Derome was forced to hire a number of assistants, whose work he could not always supervise closely. However, Thoinan says that the binder's best work is indicated by the presence of the ticket, as here. Hierocles of Alexandria lived in the fifth century, when the figure of Pythagoras was revered as almost divine by the last of the pagan philosophers. Our author states in his commentary here that the "Golden Verses" manifest "the whole sacred body of the Pythagoreans." Pythagoras also had a following among Neoplatonists in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the commentary of Hierocles was published in the early days of printing, issued in a Latin translation by Aurispa in Padua in 1474 and in Rome in 1475. The Greek text was not published until 1583, along with a new Latin translation by editor Joannes Curterius, which is used in this edition. Prepared by Cambridge scholar Richard Warren, our volume includes Hierocles' life from the Suda, in Greek, followed by the texts of the "Golden Verses" and Hierocles' commentary in Greek, with Latin on the facing page, and extensive notes in Latin beneath. Warren's text is considered to be an advancement over earlier versions, since our editor was able to consult a copy of an additional manuscript from the Medici library. Our volume was once in the illustrious library of Michel Wittock, who amassed one of the greatest collections of fine bindings in the 20th and 21st centuries. Wittock founded the Bibliotheca Wittockiana near Brussels in 1983 as a museum and research center, where exhibitions from his extensive collection are open to the public.

Price: $3,000.00