Civilis belli libri X.Paris, Simon de Colines,

LUCANUS Marcus Annaeus (1528)


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Woodcut printers device on title page, white on black woodcut initials with crible grounds. Italic type. 

8vo (154 x 102mm). 156ff. Contemporary London blindstamped calf [Oldham tool 946/SW.b (3)] over flexible boards made from sheets from a incunable edition of Aristotle's Physics - see below - fore-edge title (spine neatly restored with upper and lower panels renewed, though splits remain to upper joint, lacking pastedowns and flyleaves, later ties).

A surprisingly rare first Colines edition of the Pharsalia, and the first to use his newly cut italic type, 'a splendid English-sized chancery italic which easily rivals the best of the Italian designs' (Vervliet). This copy is found in a contemporary London binding which uses a sheet (or sheets) from a Venetian incunable edition of Aristotle's Physics as binder's waste.


This is a beautifully printed volume, made distinctive by the first use of Colines' elegant new italic type. As Vervliet explains, 'Mainly used for a series of classical and neo-Latin poetry, Colines introduced in 1528 a new italic in the chancery style, ostensibly inspired by the Arrighi and Tagliente italics of 1524 (Johnson-Morison, 1924, 41). It is a very elegant face. Even more than his romans, it reveals Colines' mastery as a punchcutter and designer.' 


Having taken over the workshop, and married the wife of Robert Estienne after his death, Colines (c.1480-1546) produced octavo volumes like this one primarily for the consumption of students, a purpose that the clarity of the type here speaks to. 


Lucan's Civil War, or Pharsalia, was his epic on the wars between Caesar and the forces of the Republic under Pompey, and subsequently Cato. Colines' text is based on the 1493 edition produced at Venice by Simon Bevilaqua, and incorporates corrections and amendments made by the Aldine Press in their 1502 edition. The epic as it stands is unfinished, interrupted by Lucan's suicide (in 65 A.D.) on the orders of the Roman government following his involvement in an unsuccessful conspiracy against Emperor Nero.


The exposed sheet used on both front and back boards is from the July 1496 Latin edition of Aristotle's Opera printed in Venice by Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, for Benedcitus Fontana (ISTC ia00966000), a fragment of folio 48 verso from the third (fourth?) tract of Book 7 of the Physics, chapters 27-30. It is likely that there are more sheets beneath.


Fittingly, given Colines' intention that this be used as a schoolbook, there are several early inscriptions on the title page that give the sense of this volume having passed through the hands of several English schoolboys in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (from top): '... vermis et non homo' ('I am a worm and no man'); 'Jhon Tomson tempore tabescit' (John Tomson or Thomson, 'time flies'); parallel with the spine, the statement of ownership 'Harrisius me Jure tenet'; 'Henricus Welfettus', Henry Welfett or Welford, his name in full and below 'henrH W'; and at the foot, 'Willliam[?] Keronsey's boke'. The signature and initials of Henry Welfett can be found at various points. There is student marginalia to the beginning of the first book, dropping off after the first few pages, as expected. 


First few leaves a little soiled, some light dampstaining.

Adams L1569. BMSTC (French), p.290. Renouard (Colines), 125. Moreau III, 1548. Not in Schreiber.


K. Amert, 'Intertwining Strengths: Simon de Colines and Robert Estienne', Book History 8 (2005), 1-10. H.D.L. Vervliet, The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance (Brill, 2008), 63-96 and 'Simon de Colines, punchcutter 1518-1546' in De Gulden Passer Jaargang 81 (2003), pp. 115-169.

(OCLC: in US only Brigham Young, Columbia, Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, St. John's)

Stock Code: 247440

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