(Paris: C. L. F. Panckoucke, 1829-32). 235 x 142 mm. (9 1/4 x 5 1/2"). Four volumes. Translated by M. Rinn and M. Achaintre.
ELEGANT RED CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY BELZ-NIEDRÉE (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet borders, raised bands, spine compartments with crossed and interlocked "E" and "B" at center, surrounded by a lozenge of small tools, curling cornerpieces, gilt lettering, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Parallel French and Latin text on facing pages. FRONT PASTEDOWNS WITH THE MOROCCO BOOKPLATE OF ROBERT HOE. ◆Negligible soiling to one cover of volume II, but AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY, everything lustrous and fresh, and with no signs of use or wear.
This is the handsomely bound Hoe copy of a bilingual edition of the works of one of the principal poets of the Silver Age of Latin literature in the first century A.D. Statius (45-96 A.D.) is best known for his epics "Thebaid" and the unfinished "Achilleid," composed during the reign of Domitian. But he also wrote the "Silvae," occasional poems that Britannica deems "valuable for their description of the life style of a wealthy and fashionable class, " complete with "picturesque descriptions of the villas and gardens of his friends, members of an acquisitive and ostentatious class who surrounded themselves with art works and antiques and patronized the poet in return for his versified praises." There are also poems describing the Saturnalia celebrations at the imperial court. Commissioned by a bibliophile with the initials "E. B.," our lovely bindings were done by the German-born artisan Jean-Philippe Belz (1831-1917), who trained as a gilder in Frankfurt before moving to Paris. There, he went to work as a doreur for the well-regarded Jean-Edouard Niédrée, who created bindings in historical styles. He married Niédrée's stepdaughter and took over the bindery after his employer died in 1864. He continued to operate the workshop until 1880, when he retired and turned the business over to J. Canape (fl. 1865-94), a former trade binder who had begun to produce fine bindings in 1874. Flety notes that his "interesting creations" were "marked by his professional conscientiousness." According to Beverly Chew, the library of Robert Hoe (1839-1911), founding member and first president of the Grolier Club, was "the finest [America] has ever contained." Hoe acquired illuminated manuscripts, early printing (he owned a Gutenberg Bible on paper and one on vellum), fine bindings, French and English literature, and Americana, and when his library was sold in 1911-12, it fetched nearly $2 million, a record that held until the Streeter sale more than 50 years later. (ST18725a)