First new emblem book to appear outside of Italy or France

SAMBUCUS, J. Emblemata, Cum Aliquot nummis antiqui operis ….. Anvers, Plantin, 1564. Title within woodcut ornamental border, portrait, 166 vignettes, 46 medals on 8 pages, all after Pieter Huys and Lucas d’Heere. 240 pp. 8vo. Later vellum, label with gilt lettering to spine.

€ 2250

Voet 2168; Landwehr 590; Adams S.218; BMSTC, Dutch, p. 182: Graesse, Trésor des Livres Rares et Précieux, vi, p. 255. Very rare first edition of this beautiful emblem book. The 166 emblematic woodcuts in various renaissance borders. This first edition is the best in regard to artistic beauty, the text at the end dealing with coins is addressed to Grollierus. An unusal large number of emblems is dedicated to friends and relations of the author (see Landwehr for an elaborate listing). “This is the first edition of Joannes Sambucus’ Emblemata, published in 1564 by Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. It was the first new emblem book to appear outside of Italy or France and constitutes one of the largest and most influential examples of the genre at an early stage of its development. After the first edition, an expanded version followed in 1566, which was reprinted four more times. Besides these Latin editions, Plantin also published the book in a French (in 1567) and in a Dutch translation. Sambucus (Zsámboky János) was a Hungarian humanist, who spent much of his life in Vienna as court-historiographer to the Habsburg emperors Ferdinand I, Maximilian II and Rudolf II. He prepared his emblem book at the end of two decades of traveling through Germany, France, Italy and the Low Countries, before he entered the court in Vienna. His other publications range from editions of classical texts to historiographical works. While in modern scholarship he is mainly remembered as the author of this eye-catching emblem book, his reputation within the early modern Republic of Letters was first and foremost based on his scholarly patronage and his impressive collection of books and old manuscripts. For the illustrations of the book Sambucus had originally commissioned the artist Lucas d’Heere. Plantin, however, had half of these designs redrawn by Geoffroy Ballain and Pieter Huys. The actual woodcuts were produced by Gerard Janssen van Kampen, Cornelis Muller and Arnold Nicolai, whose monograms appear in some of the picturae” (from the website “French Emblems in Glasgow.”) The book has, on page 133, an early illustration of a tennis match. – A bit browned, somewhat heavier in places, some slight dampstaining mostly confined to lower gutter and margins, but in all a good copy.