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DRYDEN, John (1631–1700). Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems. London: John Tonson, 1700. Large folio in fours (365 x 235 mm). Half–title (some light marginal spotting or browning throughout, lacking sig. Mmmm; supplied in facsimile). Full contemporary red goatskin elegantly paneled in gilt with various tools, spine in 7 compartments with 6 raised bands, central lozenges framed in various tools in compartments, gilt–titling in second compartment, all edges gilt, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers (some darkening at joints, surface cracks along spine panel, recased). Provenance: GEORGE JOHN SPENCER, 2ND EARL SPENCER (1758–1834), Wimbledon bookplate with festoon design titled in manuscript as mentioned in The Bookplate Journal, Vol. 13 No. 2 (pp. 107–108, “Caxton’s Boethius: the pedigree of the John Rylands Library’s copy” by Bryan Welch (2015), AND WITH SPENCER’S IDENTIFIABLE LETTER “D I.” FOR DUPLICATE ON THE FRONT ENDLEAF IN THE UPPER LEFT–HAND CORNER. “Accession numbers, from 1 to above 20,000, were inscribed in ink on the verso of the upper cover of the binding or of the front endleaf, in the upper left–hand corner” (De Ricci); CERL (Owners of Incunabula) goes on to say that “these numbers are often canceled and followed by the letter ‘D’ or ‘d’, presumably for ‘duplicate’”. FIRST EDITION, LARGE PAPER COPY, “issued on thick and fine paper which usually measure more than an inch larger both ways” (Pforzheimer; his copy an inch shorter). PREVIOUSLY OWNED BY “ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOK–COLLECTORS, NOT ONLY IN ENGLISH HISTORY, BUT EVEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD” (De Ricci). The Second Earl of Spencer’s height of collecting began in 1790 with the purchase of the library of Count Reviczky and later at the Duke of Roxburghe sale in 1812 which for the first time in the history of bibliophily, the four–figure limit was reached in an auction for a single printed book. The Roxburghe Club was soon inaugurated in commemoration of the sale of this volume with Spencer as the first President of this exclusive club. In 1813, Spencer purchased the famous Alchorne library which added numerous duplicates to the Earl’s library which he sold later that year. Spencer would pursue the ideal copy of a book and would replace the one he owned when he found a copy that was complete, in better condition or more desirable and sell the duplicate. Since 1805, Spencer employed the services of bibliographer Thomas Frognall Dibdin who produced the seven volumes of the Biblioteca Spenceriana which De Ricci calls “the handsomest and most elaborate catalogue of a private library yet issued”. Spencer’s library would become the “most beautiful and richest private library in Europe” amounting eventually to about 41,500 volumes which included 52 books printed by Caxton and nearly a complete collection of Aldines ever brought together. Originally he kept all his books at Althorp but by 1802 he had moved all his incunabula to Spencer House in London and also at his houses in Wimbledon and Ryde. In 1892, the library was acquired by Mrs. Rylands, becoming the cornerstone of the John Rylands Library which she established in Manchester in memory of her husband. De Ricci, pp. 71–77; Macdonald 37a; Pforzheimer 326. From the private library of a distinguished Chicago book collector.
DRYDEN, John (1631–1700). Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.
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