PLUTARCHUS (c. 45-c. 120). Vitae illustrium virorum. - Sextus RUFUS. De historia Romana. And other additions. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 2 January 1478.
2 volumes, royal 2° (371 x 245mm). Collation: a10 b10(5+1) c-m10 n8 o-x10 y-z &8; A12(-1-2, blank) B-E10 F-N8.10 oo-pp8 Q-Y10 Z8 &&10 (a1 blank, a2r Thesei vita, b7 blank, &8r register, &8v blank, A1-2 blank, A3 (signed A1) Cymonis...Vita, &&9v colophon, &&10r register, &&10v blank). 232 (of 233, without blank a1) leaves; 227 leaves (of 228, without blank A1, but with blank A2), &8 bound at beginning of vol. I, &&10 possibly supplied from another copy. 50 lines. Type: 1:115R. 4- and 9- to 12-line initial spaces, printed guide-letters, major initial opening each volume in red. (Neatly repaired tear without loss in first leaf, few small wormholes in first quire, light marginal spotting at end of vol. II, one leaf with some old stains.) Late 18th-century English red morocco gilt, panelled with rolls, corner ornaments composed of small tools, spines gilt and lettered, one spine label, gilt edges (spines sunned, a little chipped and worn, some wear at extremities, scuff marks on sides). Provenance: headlines and some annotations in a contemporary humanist hand -- "E 54" (early note washed from foot of first page) -- Michael Wodhull, 28 January 1779 (1740-1816; inscription, collation note and references in vol. I; sale Sotheby's 11 January 1886, lot 2052, £1.16 to Ridler) -- Walter Hirst (bookplate).
THE WODHULL COPY OF ONE OF JENSON'S FINEST PRODUCTIONS, the third edition of Plutarch's Lives. This renowned work of biography and historiography pairs the lives of famous Romans and Greeks and draws lessons from the contrast. It circulated widely, and the Latin translations printed here are largely the work of 15th-century humanists, including Donatus Acciaiolus, Guarinus Veronensis, Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, Antonius Tudertinus, and Lapus Florentinus; they were commissioned by the Florentine stationer Vespasiano da Bisticci in the 1450s and 1460s. It was Plutarch who provided much of the historical background for Shakespeare. Collations differ, depending on how bibliographers treat the blank leaves. HC *13127; BMC V, 178 (IC. 19711); BSB-Ink. P-626; Bod-inc. P-392; Goff P-832. (2)