AESOP - Appologi sive Mythologi cum quibusdam Carminum et Fabularum additionibus Sebastiani Brant. Edited and with verses, fables and commentary by Sebastian Brant (1458-1521). Basel: Jacob Wolff of Pforzheim, 1501.
One volume bound in two, 2° (294 x 205mm). Gothic type. With the 2 final blanks. 335 woodcuts: full-page woodcut of Aesop and 193 woodcut illustrations in part I; woodcut portrait of Brant with his coat-of-arms and 140 woodcut illustrations in part II. Calligraphic initials in type, woodcut white-on-black initials. (Small wormholes, mostly repaired, at beginning and end, small marginal section of first leaf repaired, 4 woodcuts lightly censored [as often (Davies)] with pale wash, causing a small hole in one, occasional neat repaired tears, blank section of C3 renewed.) Early 19th-century English straight-grained blue morocco tooled in gilt and blind, each volume to a slightly different design, green endpapers, vellum and paper endleaves, gilt edges; modern cloth folding box. Provenance: 1526 purchase inscription washed from first leaf (emptus 1526 per christopher[i]...), early MS pagination in volume I -- Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773,-1843, son of George III, bookplate; sale Evans, part IV, 22 April 1845, lots 216 and 217) -- Henry Huth (1815-1878; sale Sotheby's, 15 November 1911, lot 55, £106 to Quaritch) -- W.R.H. Jeudwine (booklabel; sale Bloomsbury, 18 September 1984, lot 29) -- George Abrams (booklabel; sale Sotheby's, 16 November 1989, lot 131).
FIRST EDITION with Brant's substantial additions, making it a significantly more extensive compendium of fable and story ranging from the Antiquity of Aesop to the Renaissance of Brant. The German humanist and author of the Ship of Fools based his edition of Aesop on that printed at Ulm in 1476, highly important not only for its Latin translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel but for its extensive and influential series of woodcuts. Brant included other fable literature which features in later incunable editions, such as the Fabulae Extravagantes (17 fables derived from ancient sources), the 4/5th-century compilation of 42 fables by Avian, and the Fabulae Collectae, short tales about human folly derived from Petrus Alfonsi and Poggio Bracciolini. Brant gives these texts a new treatment, amending their translations and adding his own verse commentary. The second part of Brant's Aesop edition is an entirely new work: 140 chapters of fables, exempla, riddles, contemporary accounts of miracles and wonders of nature, brought together from folk tradition, contemporary reports, and sources reaching back to antiquity. They are told with Brant's characteristic combination of wit and style.
Brant's Aesop is a typographic masterpiece. Its unified design presents a woodcut, then verse, then prose. The woodcuts illustrating the Aesop corpus are enlarged, reversed copies of the Ulm series, first used in Wolff's Basel edition of c.1489 (Goff A-115). To these are added 145 NEW WOODCUTS FROM A STRASSBURG MASTER, most illustrating the second part and four in part one replacing earlier versions. Cf. B. Schneider, Brant Fabeln, 1999.
AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY FROM THE SUSSEX-HUTH-JEUDWINE-ABRAMS COLLECTIONS, AND RARE ON THE MARKET; only a handful of copies - most imperfect - have come on the market in the past century and no finer copy has been sold at auction since 1946. Adams A-291; Davies, Murray German, 20; VD-16 A-435.
See illustrations on previous page and on the back cover. (2)