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Important Books & Manuscripts

Wednesday 24th May 2017: 1:00pm BST

Guido de columnis

Lot 1

Columnis (Guido de) Historia destructionis Troiae, first edition, one of only four known books from this press, The Netherlands, ?Utrecht, Printer of Alexander Magnus, ?Gerardus de Leempt, 1477-79.

 

Hammer Price: Unsold

Full Lot Details

Columnis (Guido de) Historia destructionis Troiae, collation: [a-i10 k8 l10 m-o8], [132] ff., the first and last blank, 34 lines (variable), Gothic type: 116 B, opening initial in red and blue, the others in red, chapter headings, paragraph-marks and foliation in red, occasional early ink marginalia in different hands, f.33 small section of upper corner torn away, affecting one number of supplied foliation, ff. 51 & 61 short tear to lower inner corner, mostly marginal, but on f.51 just touching 1 letter recto and verso without loss, f.94 short marginal tear at foot, a few ff. working loose, some spotting and staining. 17th century English calf over pasteboards, head of spine and corners worn, rubbed and scuffed, housed in a modern dark brown morocco-backed cloth drop-back box, [The Netherlands,?Utrecht], [Printer of Alexander Magnus, ?Gerardus de Leempt], [c.1477-1479].

First edition. An excellent wide-margined copy of this rare history of Troy by the 13th century Sicilian judge Guido de Columnis. We can trace no copy in an Italian institution and locate only one copy in the United States. Furthermore, we can trace no copy at auction.

Around 1271 Matteo della Porta, the Archbishop of Salerno had suggested to Guido de Columnis that he write a work in Latin on the fall of Troy. The first book was written within the life time of the archbishop, but without his encouragement the final 34 books were not written until 1287, when all were completed within three months. The work is based on the mid-twelfth century Roman de Troie of Benoît de Saint-Maure. The first book goes back to Peleus, father of Achilles, and the search for the Golden Fleece, while the final book deals with the death of Ulysses. It enjoyed huge success in its time.

This is one of only four books that are attributed to the so-called 'Printer of the Historia Alexandri Magni'. It has been suggested that the printer was in fact Gerardus de Leempt. The suggested timeframe of printing comes from the watermarks present, which are found in books printed 1477-1479 (see Watermarks in Incunabula printed in the Low Countries, available through the ISTC entry). It is feasible that the 'historia troiana' written on the first and final blank in red crayon was done so at the atelier of the printer.

Provenance: 'Wyllyam Algar' (16th century ink inscription to front blank recto); 'Nulla sors longa, dolor est voluptas / invicem cedunt; brevior voluptas', a quotation from Seneca's Thyestes, ll.596-597 (ink inscription of c.1600 to front blank recto); f.131 ink accounting notes in an English 16th century hand and a few lines from book III of Chaucer's Book of Fame, ll. 1564-1572; The Macclesfield copy (engraved North Library armorial bookplate with press mark 116. F. 12 and armorial blind-stamp to upper margin of first 3 ff.)

References: BMC IX, 108; Goff C-768; HC 5505; Bod-Inc C-392; ISTC ic00768000.

Condition Report

Full Lot Details

Columnis (Guido de) Historia destructionis Troiae, collation: [a-i10 k8 l10 m-o8], [132] ff., the first and last blank, 34 lines (variable), Gothic type: 116 B, opening initial in red and blue, the others in red, chapter headings, paragraph-marks and foliation in red, occasional early ink marginalia in different hands, f.33 small section of upper corner torn away, affecting one number of supplied foliation, ff. 51 & 61 short tear to lower inner corner, mostly marginal, but on f.51 just touching 1 letter recto and verso without loss, f.94 short marginal tear at foot, a few ff. working loose, some spotting and staining. 17th century English calf over pasteboards, head of spine and corners worn, rubbed and scuffed, housed in a modern dark brown morocco-backed cloth drop-back box, [The Netherlands,?Utrecht], [Printer of Alexander Magnus, ?Gerardus de Leempt], [c.1477-1479].

First edition. An excellent wide-margined copy of this rare history of Troy by the 13th century Sicilian judge Guido de Columnis. We can trace no copy in an Italian institution and locate only one copy in the United States. Furthermore, we can trace no copy at auction.

Around 1271 Matteo della Porta, the Archbishop of Salerno had suggested to Guido de Columnis that he write a work in Latin on the fall of Troy. The first book was written within the life time of the archbishop, but without his encouragement the final 34 books were not written until 1287, when all were completed within three months. The work is based on the mid-twelfth century Roman de Troie of Benoît de Saint-Maure. The first book goes back to Peleus, father of Achilles, and the search for the Golden Fleece, while the final book deals with the death of Ulysses. It enjoyed huge success in its time.

This is one of only four books that are attributed to the so-called 'Printer of the Historia Alexandri Magni'. It has been suggested that the printer was in fact Gerardus de Leempt. The suggested timeframe of printing comes from the watermarks present, which are found in books printed 1477-1479 (see Watermarks in Incunabula printed in the Low Countries, available through the ISTC entry). It is feasible that the 'historia troiana' written on the first and final blank in red crayon was done so at the atelier of the printer.

Provenance: 'Wyllyam Algar' (16th century ink inscription to front blank recto); 'Nulla sors longa, dolor est voluptas / invicem cedunt; brevior voluptas', a quotation from Seneca's Thyestes, ll.596-597 (ink inscription of c.1600 to front blank recto); f.131 ink accounting notes in an English 16th century hand and a few lines from book III of Chaucer's Book of Fame, ll. 1564-1572; The Macclesfield copy (engraved North Library armorial bookplate with press mark 116. F. 12 and armorial blind-stamp to upper margin of first 3 ff.)

References: BMC IX, 108; Goff C-768; HC 5505; Bod-Inc C-392; ISTC ic00768000.

Condition Report