The First Appearance of Durer's Terence Drawings in a Book


(Kentfield, California: Allen Press, 1968). 340 x 225 mm. (13 1/4 x 8 7/8"). [34] leaves. ONE OF 140 COPIES.

Original mustard-colored paper boards backed with woven fabric, upper cover printed with a Durer illustration of a Roman theater, untrimmed edges. Housed in the original mustard paper slipcase. With 27 illustrations after drawings by Albrecht Dürer. Woodcut headers printed in brown, chapter numbers printed in blue-green. Allen Press Bibliography 32. ◆Faint mark in one margin (a paper flaw?), otherwise pristine.

Printed on sumptuously thick paper, this attractive edition of Terence's masterful final play marks several firsts: it is the first time these illustrations by Dürer appear in a book, it is the first use of the Unciala type in America, and it represents the maiden voyage of the Allen Press’ newly acquired Columbian handpress. Written in the 2nd century B.C., "Aldephoe," or, "The Brothers," is a comedy that revolves around two brothers of very different dispositions: Demea lives in the country and is a strict disciplinarian, while the urbane Micio is liberal and indulgent. Each brother raises one of Demea's sons, both of whom become involved with young women beneath their station. The city son, Aeschinus, seems to abandon the girl he's impregnated, a cruelty for which the apparently lax Micio is blamed. Furthermore, Aeschinus beats up a pimp and abducts one of his music girls. In the end, these outrages are discovered to be expressions of compassion (Aeschinus never did discard his pregnant love, and he turns over the freed music girl to his loving brother). When the true circumstances come to light, both sons are redeemed, marriages take place, and Demea and Micio both embrace a more moderate way of life. The drawings used to illustrate the Allen Press edition of this play have a fascinating history that goes back to the 15th century. Around the same time Johann Treschel was completing the first illustrated edition of Terence in Lyon, Johann Amerbach of Basel--unaware of Treschel's work--commissioned Albrecht Dürer (then just 22 years of age) to design 150 woodcuts for his own illustrated edition. When Treschel published his Terence in 1493, Amerbach stopped the project altogether, and Dürer's drawings went unpublished. The Kunstmuseum of Basel, where the drawings now reside, sent photographic reproductions of the 27 extant illustrations to the Allens, who were then able to create metal plates for the present edition--the first time that these drawings were used in a book. The type employed here was originally designed in 1945 by Oldrich Menhart of Prague, and, according to the Allen Press bibliography, the Allens' "use of it is believed to be the first outside Czechoslovakia." This book was also the first work to be printed on the 1846 Columbian handpress, acquired by the Allens from London, and on which they would continue to print for the duration of the Press' activity. Founded in 1939 by Lewis and Dorothy Allen, the Allen Press produced 45 titles over the course of over 40 years. Cave says that "in setting by hand, and printing by hand on dampened handmade paper, the Allens have achieved a regular standard of work that is the envy of most other fine printers." (.

Price: $475.00