1537 Noctes Atticae, Aulus Gellius. Annotations, ties and top-edge title.


Gellius' Attic Night's was immensely popular in the early 16th century, being reprinted many times. This copy, printed by a noted 16th century printer, with its contemporary annotations, edge titling, and binding in the style of the time, provides a very tangible 16th century connection to the modern collector.

The titling on the edge of the text block indicates the earlier style of storing books, which was flat, with their edges exposed to the passerby. The lack of dust on the edges of this book indicates it was stored in a bookcase (or similar) which didn't gather dust on the edges; it is rare(ish) to find an edge title not darkened from the results of centuries of dust.

This copy without the Annotations of Petri Mosellani, which are sometimes found at the rear of this edition; Annotations had its own printer's signatures (gatherings lettered independently), indicating it was intended as a separate work.

About the Work -

"Aulus Gellius (c. 125 – after 180 AD) was a Latin author and grammarian, who was probably born and certainly brought up in Rome. He was educated in Athens, after which he returned to Rome, where he held a judicial office. He is famous for his Attic Nights, a commonplace book, or compilation of notes on grammar, philosophy, history, antiquarianism and other subjects, preserving fragments of many authors and works who otherwise might be unknown today."

" Attic Nights takes its name from having been begun during the long nights of a winter which he spent in Attica. He afterwards continued it in Rome. It is compiled out of an Adversaria, or commonplace book, in which he had jotted down everything of unusual interest that he heard in conversation or read in books, and it comprises notes on grammar, geometry, philosophy, history and many other subjects. One story is the fable of Androcles, which is often included in compilations of Aesop's fables, but was not originally from that source."

"The work, deliberately devoid of sequence or arrangement, is divided into twenty books. All these have come down to us except the eighth, of which nothing remains but the index. The Attic Nights are valuable for the insight they afford into the nature of the society and pursuits of those times, and for its many excerpts from works of lost ancient authors."

About the Printer -

Initially Gryphius mostly published works on law and administration, in Gothic script. He then moved to Latin classics. He also translated classical Greek authors into Latin. He published his contemporaries Erasmus, Guillaume Bude and Poliziano.

In 1536 he went into business with Hugues de la Porte, who financed him in an independent venture. He founded l'Atelier du Griffon, with a griffin mark. Around this time he introduced the Italic type of Aldus Manutius.

In the 1540s he was the highly reputed 'Prince of the Lyon book trade'. He promoted the local humanist culture, and his books were prized for their clean lay-out and accuracy.

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue number 147298; 18 copies recorded in the world's libraries.

Baudrier, ... de Lyon au XVIe siecle - reference VIII 101

Pettegree, Walsby and Wilkinson, French Vernacular Books... - reference 71727

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 16 x 10.5 x 3.5 cm. Vellum binding with ties. Titling on top and bottom edges, and manuscript title, in an old hand, on spine. All edges red. Title page with Gryphius printer's mark.

Pages - (cxiiii - 32 introductory leaves), 575.

Collation - a-d8, a-Z8, A-N8

Condition -

See pictures. Vellum binding is worn with some cockling, creases, etc. There's a chip on the spine revealing the lower layer of vellum. Ties are fragile, one is missing and one is shortened. Manuscript title on spine refreshed, still in old hand. Endbands still present. Shelfmark written on flyleaf. Title page heavily marked and changed with previous owners. Earliest inscriptions (see with flashlight) scribbled out and covered with leaves, two other inscriptions cut out and replaced with paper; still with stamps and shelfmark numbers. Bottom corner of title page chipped. Verso of title page with annotation on the definition of voice. Toned throughout. Occasional thumb, dog-eared page, rust spot, etc.. Some annotations, markings, etc. throughout (see pictures). Edge coloring of red did make a slight moisture mark along the edges of the margins. In bottom margin there is a worm track, no text affected. At rear light fore-edge bump, circa 20 leaves.

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