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Lot 0036
Blue paper forgery.- Cato (Marcus Porcius), Marcus Terentius Varro, Junius Moderatus Columella and Rutilius Taurus Palladius. Libri de re rustica, collation: *4 A-E8 F10 a-z8 A-O8, italic type, woodcut printer's device to title, A1 and verso of otherwise blank final f., woodcut illustrations and diagrams, initial spaces with guide-letters, on white paper washed blue in 19th century, possibly at the time of rebinding, 19th century vellum, spine richly gilt and with red and black calf labels, lightly soiled, 8vo (192 x 126mm.), [Venice], House of the heirs of Aldus & Andreas Torresani, 1533.
⁂ This copy offers striking evidence of the 19th-century vogue for copies of books printed on blue paper, which were sought by many collectors as desiderable curiosities, and in turn led to the production of skilful forgeries. In the case of this Aldine it would seem most likely that Italy was the source of the forgery, given that the vellum binding is also typically Italian. The volume is in fact described in the sale catalogue of the library of its first known owner, Sir John Hayford Thorold, as a perfectly genuine blue paper copy, "printed on Blue Paper, gilt vellum, extremely rare, if not unique". It was bought by Henry Richards Luard, as evinced by a loosely insrted letter dated 3 January 1885 and signed by John K. Ingram of Trinity College in Dublin, to whom Luard had turned, seeking information about other copies of Aldus' De re rustica on blue paper. Like Thorold, Luard was fully convinced he owned a true treasure, and the volume is also described as a genuine blue paper copy in the sale catalogue of his library, sold at Sotheby's in 1891.

Provenance: Sir John Hayford Thorold (1773-1831; The Syston Park Library. Catalogue of an Important Portion of the Extensive & Valuable Library of the Late Sir John Hayford Thorold, Bart. Removed from Syston Park, Lincolnshire, which Will be Sold at Auction, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London 1884, lot 1719); Henry Richards Luard (1825-1891; Catalogue of the valuable library of the late Rev. Henry Richards Luard, B.D., Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London 16 November 1891, lot 1033).

Rothamsted acquisition date 1926.

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Blue paper forgery.- Cato (Marcus Porcius) Libri de re

Estimate £2,000 - £3,000
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London, UK
Auction Curated By:
Rupert Powell
International Head of Books and Works on Paper
Justin Phillips
Early and Continental Printing