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THE CAXTON CICERO
CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE)
THE CAXTON CICERO
CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE)
THE CAXTON CICERO
CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE)
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THE CAXTON CICERO
CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE)
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No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium. Important Early English Books from the Kenyon Library at Gredington
THE CAXTON CICERO – Marcus Tullius CICERO (106-43 BCE)

De senectute, in English: Of Old Age. Translated by Stephen Scrope (c.1399-1472) and revised by William Worcester (1415-1482). – De amicitia, in English: Of Friendship. Translated by John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester (1427-1470). – Bonaccursius de MONTEMAGNO (fl. 14th century). De vera nobilitate, in English: Of Nobility. Translated by John Tiptoft. [Westminster:] William Caxton, 12 August 1481; August 1481. [Bound with:] TOUR LANDRY, Geoffrey de la (fl. 1346-c.1406). The Knight of the Tower, translated into English by William Caxton. Westminster: [William Caxton], 31 January 1484. 7 leaves only (of 106).

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THE CAXTON CICERO – Marcus Tullius CICERO (106-43 BCE)
De senectute, in English: Of Old Age. Translated by Stephen Scrope (c.1399-1472) and revised by William Worcester (1415-1482). – De amicitia, in English: Of Friendship. Translated by John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester (1427-1470). – Bonaccursius de MONTEMAGNO (fl. 14th century). De vera nobilitate, in English: Of Nobility. Translated by John Tiptoft. [Westminster:] William Caxton, 12 August 1481; August 1481.

[Bound with:]

TOUR LANDRY, Geoffrey de la (fl. 1346-c.1406). The Knight of the Tower, translated into English by William Caxton. Westminster: [William Caxton], 31 January 1484. 7 leaves only (of 106).
An unrecorded copy of the Caxton Cicero. First edition in English of all works; the Ciceronian texts are the first works of Classical Antiquity printed in England and the first in English. One of only 5 copies remaining in private hands, all imperfect. Preserved with it is a 7-leaf fragment of one of Caxtons rarest imprints, The Knight of the Tower, a guide to the education of young noble women, which survives in only 6 copies, all institutional.

William Caxton, England’s first printer, established his printing press in the precincts of Westminster Abbey in about 1475. His publishing programme was characterised by works in English, mostly literary, aimed at the upper echelons of society: wealthy merchants (like himself), gentry, nobility and royalty. Caxton’s prologues and epilogues in the Cicero show that it is no exception. It is nominally dedicated to King Edward IV, and Caxton praises Sir John Fastolf, Knight (‘a secondary original of Shakespeare’s fat knight’ – Painter, p.112) as the patron of the English translation of Cicero’s Of Old Age and John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, as translator of the other two works. By memorialising the Earl of Worcester (beheaded in 1470) in glowing terms, Caxton was currying favour with the Queen’s family, the Woodvilles, and her brother Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, Caxton’s most active patron in his early years.

Regardless of Caxton’s commercial and political reasons for publishing the Cicero, it remains a milestone in English Humanism. The two Cicero texts are the first works of Classical Antiquity printed in English and John Tiptoft, translator of On Friendship, was a leading English humanist and scholar; the third work in the volume is by the Italian Renaissance humanist, Giovane Buonaccorso da Montemagno, also translated by Tiptoft. The three works all emphasise virtue and wise counsel; Montemagno argues for nobility residing in one’s own character and actions. Stephen Scrope is now recognised as the translator of Of Old Age, working from the French paraphrase of Laurent du Premierfait, and with revisions by William Worcester.

Although reported to some scholars by the 4th Baron Kenyon in the 1950s, the Kenyon copy has escaped public notice in any census or bibliography (De Ricci, Duff, ISTC). It joins only four other copies – all imperfect – remaining in private hands: the Wentworth copy (De Ricci 31.23), sold in these rooms in 1998 (the last copy on the market); the Kimberley-Boies Penrose copy (De Ricci 31.24); the Roxburghe-Devonshire copy (De Ricci 31.20); and the Mandl-Stiftung copy. The Gordan copy (31.41) consists of two fragments. It is a large copy, 30-40mm taller than those in the British Library.

The Knight of the Tower was written by the 14th-century knight, Geoffroy de la Tour Landry, as a guide for his noble daughters, educating them in moral and social conduct, or, as Caxton explains in his prologue to his own translation, so that ‘yong gentyl wyme specially may lerne to bihaue them self virtuously, as wel in their vyrgynyte as in their wedlock and wedowhede’. It enjoyed wide circulation in Europe, but in England already from the 16th century it was considered too risqué and instructive in ‘vices, subtlety and craft’, i.e. exactly the unladylike behaviour it warned against. Dibdin (Typographical Antiquities) cited its ‘unpardonable indelicacy’ and ‘grossly offensive passages’. An English translation existed in manuscript before Caxton’s but his is an independent translation based on a manuscript closely related to Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 9308, associated with the Dukes of Burgundy. It is among the rarest of Caxton imprints. No copy is recorded at auction in over a century and no other copy or fragment is known in private hands. Of the six institutional copies recorded, 3 are imperfect. Correspondence with Marguerite Offord and Seymour de Ricci and other notes loosely inserted.

Cicero: HC 5311; Blades 33; BMC XI, 119; Duff 103; De Ricci 31; GW 6992; Goff C-627; STC 5293; Needham Appendix D, Cx 45; ISTC ic00627000. Knight: M.Y. Offord, The Book of the Knight of the Tower, Early English Text Society, 1971. Goff L-72; Duff 241; Cx 69; Oates 4093; Bod-inc. L-001; BMC XI, 152; HC 9784; DeR(C) 63; STC 15296; ISTC il00072000.

Chancery folio (285 x 200mm). 108 leaves (of 120, without first blank and lacking 11 text leaves [1/2,5,6, and final quire 2f8] but with blank leaves a6 and i4). Knight leaves l1-7 bound in at front. Bastarda types, printed guide-letters, Cicero paperstocks as BMC; Knight paperstocks as in the same quire in both B.L. copies. (Fos. 1/3.4 window-mounted, some light soiling, light marginal dampstain, resulting in some weakness, occasionally repaired, occasional small stain, small marginal wormhole in f8, 2b2-2d6, few small wormholes in e2-8 affecting a few letters, repaired marginal tear in h6,8, repaired tear into text in i1, small marginal excision in a4.5 also lightly affecting a3, repair at upper gutter of e8; Knight leaves cut down and window-mounted, 2 small wormholes in text.) Bound in 1870 by Willis, Sotheran & Co., London, in calf blindtooled to an antique design, spine letters (minor scuffing, light crack at rear hinge); 20th-century brown cloth slipcase edged in brown morocco with 5th Baron Kenyon booklabel. Provenance: a few early annotations, mostly minor pentrials – [Lloyd Tyrell Kenyon, 3rd Baron Kenyon (1805-1869)] – Lloyd Tyrell Kenyon, 4th Baron (1864-1927; 1892 bookplate) – Lloyd Tyrell-Kenyon, 5th Baron Kenyon of Gredington (1917-93; gilt armorial red leather booklabel); by descent.
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