Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 8 Mar. [after 30 Mar.] 1494. Third edition. Folio (12 7/16 x 8 3/8 inches; 316 x 213 mm). , 134 leaves. With elaborate
woodcut border, which is celebrated as being one of the finest of the 15th century.
Initial spaces with letter guides. Tissue guard in front of title-page. This copy with very
large margins, taller than most. The letter of Mancinellus to Nicolaus Rubeus at the end
of the prelims is dated 'tertio Cal. Aprilis', 30 Mar. 1494.
Full 19th-century vellum. Spine label, lettered in gilt. The top of the woodcut just
slightly shaved along the top edge, but still taller than most. A few occasions of tiny
worm holes to the top and bottom margin through the first three signatures, not
affecting text. Small hole on title-page, repaired almost invisibly near the head of the
faun. A 1 3/4-inch repair to top inner margin of leaf A8, not affecting text. Previous
owner's bookplate on front pastedown. Small stickers to back free endpaper. Occasional
very old, small ink corrections. Overall a near fine copy.
This edition is preceded only by those of 1474 (Venice: Jacobus Rubeus) and 1475
(Rome: Arnoldus Pannartz), but this is the only edition that contains the elaborate
"The brothers De Gregoriis who published Ketham's Fasciculo appear to have devoted
particular attention to the production of woodcuts; to judge from the number and
variety of the works of their press, which display artistic embellishment. A Latin
translation of Herodotus (Hain, 8472) brought out by them in 1494, has its first page
adorned with a magnificent woodcut border, consisting of rich pilaster-forms, printed
in white relief on a black ground. Beneath, there is a picturesque illustration, engraved
in strong simple outlines, the subject of which is not recognisable, and may perhaps
represent a misconception of some antique compositions. In the upper corner, beside
the initial letter, Herodotus is seen sitting at a table, while Apollo places a laurel crown
upon his head. This is probably the most splendid of all the examples of decorative art
applied to books at that period. In the unsurpassed elegance of its architectural
construction, and the flawless perfection with which the wood-engraver rendered the
design, it can be compared with nothing but the finest specimens of inlaid work. The
effect produced by this beautiful woodcut, with its simple elements of white and black,
is such as to bring it into successful rivalry with the most brilliant miniature
illumination. We find the same border used again (but without the figures of Herodotus
and Apollo) in an edition of St. Jerome's works printed in 1497-98 (Hain 8581)." (The Art
of Wood-engraving in Italy in the Fifteenth Century. Friedrich Lippmann).
Goff H90. ISTC ih00090000. Polain B 1887. Proctor. (Item #1962)