1566 Emblemata by Andrea Alciato. Printed in Lyon by Rouille. Illustrated.


A complete, 1566 edition of Andrea Alciati's Emblemata. This work established the genre of emblems, when it first appeared in the 1530s. The author edited and added to the work over time, and this 1566 edition holds Alciati's complete production of emblems (barring one suppressed explicit example).

Fourteen of the emblems, those appearing at the end, are trees, which holds some appeal to arborists.

About Alciati's Emblamata -

"Andrea Alciati is most famous for his Emblemata, published in dozens of editions from 1531 onward. This collection of short Latin verse texts and accompanying woodcuts created an entire European genre, the emblem book, which attained enormous popularity in continental Europe and Great Britain."

"An emblem book is a book collecting emblems (allegorical illustrations) with accompanying explanatory text, typically morals or poems. This category of books was extremely popular in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries."

"Alciati's work spawned thousands of imitations in all the European vernacular languages: secular, religious, or amorous in nature, emblem books were an integral part of European culture for two centuries." - Wikipedia

"The 1550 Latin edition by Rouille is the first to have 211 emblems (the whole corpus, apart from the so-called obscene emblem; Adversus naturam peccantes) illustrated. Most of the editions are octavos, with elaborate frames, but there were also editions in smaller format, without decorative frames, including one of the French text in 1549. Rouille and his heirs went on publishing editions of the emblems in Latin until 1626, still using almost all the same woodcuts." (Alison Adams, Andrea Alciato's Emblemes)

About Alciati -

"Alciati was born in Alzate Brianza, near Milan, and settled in France in the early 16th century. He displayed great literary skill in his exposition of the laws, and was one of the first to interpret the civil law by the history, languages and literature of antiquity, and to substitute original research for the servile interpretations of the glossators. He published many legal works, and some annotations on Tacitus and accumulated a sylloge of Roman inscriptions from Milan and its territories, as part of his preparation for his history of Milan, written in 1504–05. Among his several appointments, Alciati taught Law at the University of Bourges between 1529 and 1535." - Wikipedia

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue number 158120; not rare.

Pettegree, Walsby and Wilkinson, Books published in the French Language before 1601 - reference 52450

Provenance -

Bookplate of William Thomas Smedley, his more "elaborate" plate (per Folgerpedia). "William Thomas Smedley (1851-1930), a resident of London and Bath, was a noted bibliophile, collector of Elizabethaniana, and Baconian... the Folger Library collection includes at least 1,460 volumes formerly owned by Smedley" - Folgerpidia, William Thomas Smedley

At the rear of the book, as the base of the pastedown, is a "F.S.L. Dupl." stamp; this book was deaccessioned from the Folger Shakesperean Library; it's not often you can buy a book from that beautiful institution.

Also, with the bookseller ticket of E. Menken; I found an 1891 The Bookseller article stating that Menken was moving from Gray's Inn to the corner of Bury and Oxford Street, so this Gray's Inn ticket must predate 1891.

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 17.5 x 12 x 1.5 cm, octavo. Pasteboard binding. Illustrated.

Pages - 1-226, [5], last page (verso of p4) blank

Collation - A-O8, P4

Condition -

See pictures. Pasteboard binding heavily worn, with edge wear, thumbing, corners worn, etc.. Bookplate and ticket on pastedown. Gap between flyleaf (free front endpaper) and text block at gutter.

Book is toned throughout, with occasional fox spots. Title page has a few faded ink spots. Some thumbing, occasional dog-eared page, page-edge chip, faded ink drop, etc.. Some trimming is tight to printing, especially headers (sometimes cutting into heading). Some pages aren't as well-inked as others. 1/2" tear at bottom 45 (leaf C6), no text affected. Some pages more toned than others. Some of the plates look like they were getting a little older by this printing, the impression made not being as sharp as the earlier editions.

Still, due to the pictorial nature of this work, it's nice to find a copy the collates complete (no leaves missing). Library duplicate stamp on the rear pastedown.

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