One of the Earliest Examples of a Venetian Woodcut Border
APPIAN OF ALEXANDRIA. Historia romana. [And:] De bellis civilibus. Venice: Bernard Maler, Erhard Ratdolt and Peter Löslein , 1477.
First complete edition of Appian’s Roman history (De bellis civilibus had been printed by Vindelinus de Spira in 1472). Two parts in one volume. Large quarto (11 1/4 x 8 1/8 inches; 286 x 206 mm.). [131] (of [132], lacks initial blank); [212] leaves. Roman type, thirty-two lines, printed marginalia. Two full-page white-vine woodcut title borders (the first use of each border), five- and nine-line white-on-black woodcut initials, all hand-colored in this copy. Ruled in red throughout, headlines supplied in red, some paragraph marks supplied in red and blue. Early ink pagination in lower margin. The lower part of c1 verso and all of c2 recto have been left blank intentionally, to correspond with a lacuna of one folio in Appian’s manuscript, with a printed marginal note to that effect.

Modern antique-style vellum over boards. Gilt spine with brown morocco label. The binding is signed: “Bound for William Brown, Edinburgh.” Leaf a2 reinforced at gutter. Recto of first leaf and verso of last leaf soiled, some dampstains and light foxing or spotting. Three repaired tears in gutter of final leaf. From the Library of John A. Saks, with his bookplate. Early ink signature in armorial medallion of Part I title border: “Rober/ti Koe/nigsman/ni/1627/12 Cal./April.” Effaced arms on Part II title border. Overall, an excellent copy.

An excellent copy of the third book from Ratdolt’s press at Venice. These volumes represent the earliest example of the use of a fully-developed woodcut border in a Venetian book. Ratdolt’s first border, a three-sided, simple black-on-white title designed for the Calendarium of 1476, is composed of fairly conventional plants growing out of vases. The borders for the Historia romana and De bellis civilibus, by contrast, are scrolling white vines and acanthus leaves, full and lush, black-on-white (in some copies, red-on-white), with a medallion for the owner’s arms in the lower edge. Ratdolt’s initial letters, which replaced the illuminated or rubricated initials, are also of the utmost importance in the history of book-decoration (see Hind, A History of Woodcut, II, pp. 459-462).

BMC V, p. 244. Goff A-928. GW 2290. Hain 1307*. Polain 284. Proctor 4367, 4368.

HBS # 66848 $25,000