[ACHILLES TATIUS of Alexandria (fl. c.450 A.D.)]. Narrationis amatoriae fragmentum è Graeco in Latinum conversum, translated by Ludovico Annibale della Croce (1499-1577). Lyons: Sebastianus Gryphius, 1544.
8° (168 x 116mm). Italic type with occasional roman and greek, ruled in red. Woodcut device on title and verso of final leaf. 11-line and 5-line woodcut historiated initials. (Some marginal browning and staining.)
BINDING: Parisian polished black morocco, c. 1549, for Thomas Mahieu, four line gilt frame, front cover with the title NARRATIOES AMATORIE lettered above and the ex libris T. MAIOLI ET AMICORUM below, spine with five double and one single band, each compartment tooled with an ivy sprig, single fillet on board edges and turn-ins, coloured headbands, gilt edges; early 20th-century morocco pull-off case. Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of Bookbindings, London, 1891, case F no. 22; G.D. Hobson, Maioli, p. 61, no. 1; A.R.A. Hobson, French, no. 16, ill; Reflets de la bibliophilie en Belgique III, Brussels, 1976, no. 17, pl. 5; Cinq siècles d'ornements, no. 26; Hobson/Culot2 38.
PROVENANCE: Thomas Mahieu (ex libris on binding) -- Père Abbé Fauvel (ex libris; sale Paris, 1856, lot 1214) -- [Quaritch Catalogue of Bindings, 1889, no. 55, ill.] -- Lord Amherst of Hackney (sale Sotheby's, pt. 1, 3-5 December 1908, lot 3, ill., to Quaritch) -- Edouard Rahir (Bulletin Morgand, N.S. 20 , no.1) -- Cortlandt Field Bishop (ex libris; sale New York, 14-15 November 1938, lot 2209, ill.) -- John Roland Abbey (ex libris; inscription 'J.R. 1923' on rear pastedown, sold London, 21-23 February 1965, lot 2, ill.) -- [Georges Heilbrun cat. 36, Livres ayant appartenu à des amateurs célèbres, Paris, 1971, no. 1].
A BINDING OF IMMENSE CHARM AND ELEGANCE, PROBABLY THE FIRST OF THE SURVIVING BINDINGS WHICH WERE EXECUTED FOR THIS GREAT BIBLIOPHILE, mainly between the years 1550 and 1565. The identity of Thomas Mahieu (fl. 1540-1588) was first discovered by Seymour de Ricci and reported in 1926 in G.D. Hobson's Maioli, Canevari and others (p. 60). Possibly of Italian origin, Mahieu was secretary to Queen Catherine de' Medicis from 1549 to 1560, a high ranking civil servant living at the Italianised French court. It was at this same period that his passion for fine bindings was being most indulged. He was subsequently conseiller du roi, by 1572 he had become 'Trésorier de France et général de ses finances en la charge et generallité de Langue-doil', remaining in this office until 1575. With the exception of one known Italian binding, all his bindings were bound by French ateliers, several the same as those patronised by his acquaintance and fellow civil servant, Jean Grolier (cf. Foot, Henry Davis Gift, vol. I, 14), the last two being bound in 1584 and 1588.
As G.D. Hobson was the first to observe, the sprig of ivy on the spine bears a strong resemblance to a tool on Grolier's bindings; it is the only small tool used. In excellent, unrestored condition and with a provenance of great distinction, this early Mahieu binding is a true bibliophilic treasure. Baudrier VIII, p. 189, noting that this edition contained only the last four books of Leucippe and Cleitophon. Not in Adams or BLSTC 16th-century French.