A COLLECTION OF NINE DIAMOND CLASSICS BY CATULLUS, CICERO, DANTE, HOMER, HORACE, PETRARCH, TASSO, TERENCE, and VIRGIL.
(London: William Pickering, 1821-31). 85 x 45 mm. (3 1/2 x 1 7/8"). 12 volumes.
VERY PLEASING CRIMSON MOROCCO, ATTRACTIVELY GILT, BY CAPÉ (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with central gilt fleuron enclosed by blind-ruled frame with oblique gilt floral tools at corners, raised bands, spine panels with gilt bellflower tool, gilt titling, turn-ins densely gilt with multiple decorative rolls, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. (One volume recently placed in a remarkably faithful replica binding.) Engraved frontispiece in all but three volumes (the second volumes of Dante, Tasso, and Homer). Virgil with errata slip bound in between pp. 282-83. Keynes 45, 47, 51, 61, 72, 79, 80, 81; Bondy pp. 86-90; Spielman 83, 93, 113, 198, 205A 407, 473, 476, 502. Isolated tiny rust spots or faint foxing, but A SPLENDID SET with no signs of use, the text clean, fresh, and bright, the bindings lustrous and unworn.
This is an exceptionally fine, rarely seen complete collection of Pickering's famed miniature Diamond Classics series, elegantly bound in red morocco by Capé. William Pickering began his career as a bookseller before turning to publishing in the late 1810s. In 1820, he issued the first in the popular series of "Diamond Classics," miniature books set in tiny 4-1/2 point ("diamond") types. Bondy (who set aside his arbitrary three-inch limit on size in order to include these books) says, "Due to the great editorial care and the superb printing and binding which went into their manufacture, combined with the importance of their contents, these little volumes are now very eagerly collected by minibibliophiles, and even more generally by lovers of finely produced books." A number of collectors had their volumes rebound by leading artisans like Charles-François Capé (1806-67), one of the most distinguished binders in France in the middle years of the 19th century, and especially well known for the delicacy of his work. He was the binder to the Empress Eugénie, and Béraldi calls him "the Bozérian of the second Empire." The present set includes the Pickering Catullus (1824), Cicero (1821), Dante (two volumes, 1822), Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" (two volumes, 1831), Horace (second printing, 1826), Petrarch (1822), Tasso (two volumes, 1822), Terence (1822), and Virgil (1821). Spielmann singles out the Homer for special praise, noting that with its "clear, easily legible type" printed by Charles Whittingham, it is "one of the best-printed Greek miniature books ever produced." And the Virgil is especially rare: Spielmann and Sheringham aver that all but 100 copies were destroyed by a fire at the offices of printer C. Corrall. The condition here is simply outstanding. (ST16814)