October 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Divine Dolphin & Anchor at Auction

Coming up at Swann Galleries tomorrow is the most extensive selection of works from the press of Aldus Manutius to appear at auction since the mid-nineties. They come from the library of collector Kenneth Rapoport. Anyone with even a passing interest in books and printing must be impressed by the Aldine imprint--surely many are taken with Aldus' dolphin and anchor device, having been recycled by publishers for five hundred years and tattooed on the arms of many a booklover (or so I hear). Here are a few examples of what's on offer:

Musaei Interior.jpgMusaeus and Orpheus, Musaei opusculum de Herone & Leandro, in Greek with Latin translation, Venice, 1517. Seen above is the first title page showing the Aldine device as well as the signature of scholar-printer, Johann Herwagen. Bound with Oppian's Oppiani de piscibus libri V. Eiusdem de venatione libri IIII in German blind-tooled pigskin. Estimate $8,000-12,000.

Idyllia Full.jpgThe first Aldine and first complete edition of Idyllia of Theocritus with contemporary hand-coloring, Venice, 1495/96. This beauty is illuminated in colors and gold in a contemporary hand and bound in early eighteenth-century mottled calf. Also contains extensive marginalia in Greek and Latin. Estimate $40,000-60,000.

Castiglione Binding.jpgBaldassare Castiglione's Il Libro del Cortegiano is a first edition of the prototypical courtesy book, Venice, 1528. It is bound in twentieth-century brown morocco, with gilt tooling to the panel. Estimate $10,000-15,000.

In all, according to Swann, there are three incunables, nine Greek editiones principes, and 47 first Aldine editions of works by classical and later authors, many in contemporary fine bindings, at this sale. Oh, and did I mention the first Aldine and first small-format edition of Dante's Divine Comedy, 1502 ($5,000-7,000)?

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries.