September 27, 2012

Swann Galleries to Auction Aldine Imprints & Early Printed Books

New York—On Tuesday, October 23, Swann Galleries will offer an auction of Aldine Imprints & Early Printed Books from the Library of Kenneth Rapoport, which features 100 books from the Venetian press of the scholar-publisher Aldus Manutius and his successors. This is the most extensive selection of Aldines to appear at auction since the mid-1990s.

Included are three incunables, nine Greek editiones principes, and 47 first Aldine editions of works by classical and later authors, many in contemporary fine bindings.
The incunables are Aristotle, Organon, first edition in the original Greek of the philosopher’s writings on logic, 1495 (estimate: $15,000 to $25,000); the first Aldine and first complete edition in the original Greek of The Idylls of Theocritus, illuminated throughout in colors and gold in a contemporary hand, 1495/96 ($40,000 to $60,000); and Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, oratorum, rhetorum, a collection of letters by or attributed to 35 ancient Greek and early Byzantine authors, intended to serve as epistolary models, 1499 ($5,000 to $7,000).

Other significant classical texts include Euripides, Tragoediae septendecim, first edition in the original Greek of all but 4 of the extant plays, 1503 ($20,000 to $30,000); Plato, Omnia Platonis opera, first edition in the original Greek of the works of Plato, one of the press’s most important publications, and the last of the Greek first editions produced under the supervision of Aldus, 1513 ($30,000 to $50,000); and Claudius Galenus, Librorum pars prima[-quinta], in five volumes, first edition in the original Greek of the vast Galenic corpus of medical writings, and the largest production in Greek to come from the press, 1525 ($25,000 to $35,000).

Noteworthy vernacular editions are Francesco Petrarca, Le Cose Volgari, the first non-classical text to be printed in an innovative small format in the new Aldine italic type, 1501 ($10,000 to $15,000); Dante Alighieri, Le Terze Rime, first Aldine and first small-format edition of the Divine Comedy, 1502 ($5,000 to $7,000); and Baldassare Castiglione, Il Libro del Cortegiano, first edition of an enormously popular and influential guide to courtly etiquette and conduct, 1528 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Among the non-Aldine highlights are Le Bible en Francoys, Lyon, 1547, in a contemporary Parisian binding made for Marcus Fugger ($3,000 to $5,000); and Antoine-Rodolphe Chevallier, Alphabetum Hebraicum, the first example of Hebrew printing from the Geneva press of  Henri Estienne, 1566 ($2,500 to $3,500).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23. The books will be on public exhibition Friday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Monday, October 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, October 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Tobias Abeloff at (212) 254-4710, extension 18, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is also available via