In Most Appealing 18th Century Red Morocco, A Prize Binding Given by a Notable Headmaster


(London: Prostant venales apud T. Deighton, J. Cooke, Oxon, et W. H. Lunn, Cantabrig. 1792). 243 x 153 mm. (9 1/2 x 6"). xx, [8], 401, [31] pp.Edited by Henry Homer, from the edition of Charles Rollin.

SUPERB CONTEMPORARY RED STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT, covers with frame of shells, flowers, and volutes, arms of Henry Homer at center, smooth spine divided into compartments by plain rules and chain rolls, compartments with cornucopia centerpiece overflowing with wheat sheaves, volutes at corners, gilt lettering, Greek key roll on turn-ins, pale blue watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. With engraved frontispiece portait of Henry Homer after Sylvester Harding, dated 1791. Front pastedown with late 19th century Jolliffe armorial bookplate; front flyleaf with ink Latin inscription presenting this volume to Charles Jolliffe, as a school prize for diligence at Reading School, signed by headmaster Richard Valpy and dated 15 Nov. 1799. ◆Spine uniformly darkened to maroon, rear board just a little marked, portrait somewhat foxed, but a very attractive copy, clean and fresh internally, in a considerably appealing unrestored contemporary binding showing little wear.

This work, which sets forth a still-influential theory of education, appears here in a handsome binding that was originally an appropriate prize for a diligent pupil, awarded by a headmaster of considerable distinction. A rhetorician of Spanish origin, Quintilian (ca. 35-ca. 95 A.D.) was a respected teacher in Rome, where his pupils included Pliny the younger and the grandnephews of Emperor Domitian. After his retirement, he wrote this treatise as a manual for educating an orator, from early childhood through young adulthood; a complete manuscript of the work was discovered by Poggio Bracciolini, and it first appeared in print in 1470. The bulk of the volume covers the matter and manner of oratory, while the first two books (of 12) contain important early comments on the theories of education; the final two books constitute a critical history of earlier classical literature, in which Quintilian ranks authors in their respective disciplines, setting Homer and Virgil at the top of Greek and Latin literature, respectively. Editor Henry Homer (1753-91) was a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and a brilliant classical scholar who produced editions of Livy, Tacitus, Sallust, Cicero, Pliny, Ovid, and Julius Caesar in his brief life. He died before our Quintilian was finished, and the work was completed by his brothers, Arthur and Philip Bracebridge. Our binding is identical to a copy of Homer's edition of Sallust in the collection of Sir Paul Getty at Wormsley Library. It is possible that Henry's brothers had some copies of his works thus bound as a tribute to him. Our volume was presented in 1799 to Charles Jolliffe, perhaps the son of Thomas Samuel Jolliffe, who was killed at Waterloo in 1815. This possibility is supported by the fact that the volume came from the library of Ammerdown House in Somerset, built by Thomas Jolliffe in 1788 and still the seat of the Jolliffe family, raised to the peerage as Barons Hylton. At the time our binding was presented, Reading School was just reaching the height of its prosperity and influence under the leadership of Richard Valpy (1754-1836). In the years since his 1781 appointment, DNB tells us, he had reviatalized the struggling school, raising the number of students to 120, "of whom many were the sons of Berkshire magnates and gentry." Despite being a strict disciplinarian and "a mighty flogger," Valpy was "held in high esteem and affection" by his pupils. He was most respected for his scholarship and produced texts used for Greek and Latin instruction throughout the country. Utterly devoted to the school, he turned down two opportunities to become a bishop and declined the headmaster position at the renowned Rugby School to reamin at Reading, which he served for 50 years.

Price: $1,950.00