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Lot 0174
De Thou binding.- Cato (Marcus Porcius) De Agricultura, sive de re rustica, liber, collation: A6 A-L8 B-F8 G2 (without the second A1 as per the copy cited by Adams at Jesus College, Cambridge), small woodcut device on title, lightly browned, bound in 17th century sheep dyed with an overall pattern of partly shaded rosettes for Jacques de Thou, with gilt arms of him and his first wife to covers, spine gilt in compartments with the couple's repeated monogram 'IAM', head of spine slightly chipped, exposing headband, otherwise in excellent condition, 8vo (163 x 97mm., binding 167 x 105mm.), Leiden, Ex Officina Plantiniana, 1598.

⁂ An exceedingly rare example of a stencilled binding executed for the great 17th-century French collector Jacques-Auguste de Thou, printed and pochoir-coloured with a design of flower petals. The covers bear his gilt arms including those of his first wife Marie de Barbancon-Cany.

These bindings form a separate group in the highly notable library ammassed by de Thou, which comprised 6,000 volumes. Antoine Coron states that only about 25 bindings stencilled with flowers are known, mainly appearing in celebrated auctions (e.g. Abbey 19-21 June 1967, lot 1743; Esmerian 6 June 1972, lot 115; Van der Elst 5 June 2002, lot 33; Wittock 7 July 2004, lot 6), and generally housing works by classical authors, as here. These bindings mostly show the arms of de Thou and his second wife Gasparde de la Chastre on the covers, and were executed by an unknown Parisian atelier between 1602, the wedding year, and his death in 1617. Among these stencilled bindings Coron lists only a single volume stamped with de Thou's arms impaling those of his first wife Marie de Barbancon-Cany, who died in 1601: "Aux environs de 1600 apparaissent sur ses rayons les premières reliures ornées de fleurs imprimées. La plus ancienne de la série, sur un Hippocrate de 1587, est la seule que je connaisse qui ne soit pas en maroquin. Cest la seule également au chiffre de Thou-Barbançon, donc antérieure à 1602 (A. Coron, "'Ut Prosint aliis': Jacques-Auguste de Thou et sa bibliothèque", p. 121). The Rothamsted example is also in exceptionally fine condition.

Provenance: Jacques-August de Thou (armorial binding; see Catalogus Bibliothecae Thuanae, Paris 1679, vol. II, p. 337,"[M. Catonis] de Agricultura editio Meursii post A. Popma editionem emendatior. 8°. Raphael. 1598"); Bernard Quaritch (see A Catalogue of English and Foreign Bookbindings Offered for Sale by Bernard Quaritch, London December 1921, lot 124, "Sm. 8vo., brown sheep gilt, arms 2a, sides ornamented with painted or stencilled flowers in black and green, monogram on back in five panels. £25").
Rothamsted acquisition date 1929

Literature: Adams C1127; A. Coron, "'Ut Prosint aliis': Jacques-Auguste de Thou et sa bibliothèque", Histoire des bibliothèques françaises. 2, Les Bibliothèques sous l'Ancien Régime, 1530-1789. Paris 1988, p. 100-125 (esp. pp. 121-122); I.A.R. De Smet, Thuanus: The Making of Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617), Geneva 2006, pp. 171-191.

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De Thou binding.- Cato (Marcus Porcius) De Agricultura,

Estimate £6,000 - £8,000
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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