Cicero’s famous »Epistolae familiares«, Aldine edition in superb contemporary binding, 1552


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Marcus Tullius CICERO: M. TVLLII CICERONIS / EPISTOLAE FAMILIARES. / PAVLI MANUTII SCHOLIA, / quibus harum epistolarum locos complures, ab / alijs propter obscuritatem aut ommissos, aut / minus recte explanatos, partim / interpretatur, partim / corrigit. 2 parts in 2 vol. With 4 woodcut printer's devices of the Aldine Press. Venice: Paulus Manutius Aldi Filii 1552.

Pott 8vo (16:10 cm). Signature: A-2L⁸; 3A-3E⁸. [1 leaf (front end paper)], [nn. p 1-2 (title leaf with printer's device)], p. 2-267, [11 nn. pages (index, table of contents, colophon, printer's device)]; [80 nn pages]; printer's devices on leaves A1r, 2L8v, 3A1v and 3E8v. Fully blind tooled pigskin binding on three raised bands over flexible cardboards

Study copy of this handy Aldine edition of Cicero's famous »Epistolae familiares« (Letters to Family and Friends) and Paolo Manuzio’s commentary on them, bound in a contemporary fully diced calf binding probably from a South German master.

Contents: Following their rediscovery by Petrarch, the great Roman orator's and prose stylist's »epistolae« became the most influential and authoritative patterns for the art of writing letters, especially during the Italian Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment.

Binding: Full leather binding made of pigskin on three raised bands over cardboards, with an ink stamped signature „TCM“ and date „1554“ on front panel, as well as pictorial and ornamental blind tooling with rolls and plates on both boards and spine, incorporating among others the words »Fides«, »Spes« and »Charitas [sic!]« (thus representing the Christian virtues) and numerous figures of saints, all in an elaborate fillet framing with diversified floral decoration.

Condition, Provenance: Binding in parts worn, as well as finger and ink stained, the majority of the blind tooled motives well preserved however. Edges and corners, top and bottom of spine restored with some marginal piecing, end papers renewed, spine newly hinged. Numerous inscriptions from the 16th to 19th ct. including owner's remarks, filled capitals, annotations and underlinings with black and sometimes red ink, as well as pencil, made of different hands (e.g. owner's remarks „Michaeli Heltensi“ (possibly from the Transilvanian town Heltau, today Cisnădie (Romania), 1603/04, leaf a1r; „Samuelis Kluge“, 19th, leaf b1r). Some leaves as well as edges slightly finger and ink stained, leaves 3D7-3E⁸ with water-stains at margins.

Holdings, Rarity: WorldCat/OCLC quotes only 7 copies of this latin Aldine print outside of Italy, at the BSB, UB Barcelona, UB Bern, Harvard, UL Manchester, Stanford and UCLA; with this particularly attractive and nicely preserved binding probably very hard to find.

References: Ahmanson-Murphy 429; Renouard (3rd ed., 1834), 153:5; Index Aureliensis 138.679; Fock, Bibliotheca Aldina, p. 81; Leigh, Catalogue of the Christie Collection, p. 109; Adams C1954; see comparable bindings in the EBDB.

Additional information

Weight 1 kg