CAESAR, Gaius Julius (100-44 B.C.). Commentarii. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1471.
Median 2° (330 x 222mm). Collation: [1-210 3-58 6-910 10-128 1310 148 1510 1612] (1/1 blank, 1/2r text, 16/11v colophon, 16/12 blank). 145 leaves (of 148, without first and final blanks and lacking 16/1). 39 lines. Type: 1:115R. 6-line initials opening each book alternating in red and blue (initial space to 'Bellum Gallicum', book V, left blank), some MS quiring still visible in lower corner. (Small wormhole in first few leaves filled, stain at upper corners of first 7 quires, light spotting or small stain in about 8 other leaves.) 18TH-CENTURY ENGLISH RED MOROCCO GILT BY CHRISTOPHER CHAPMAN, roll-tooled border [Nixon roll 5] to sides, spine gilt in compartments [Nixon stamps 7, 13], marbled endleaves, gilt edges (wear at extremities with some loss of leather, front hinge split, short splits at rear hinge). Provenance: contemporary marginal annotations washed; Rover? (assertion by Hultmann); G. Hultmann (signature and extensive note on flyleaf, booklabel); Baron Suchtelen (armorial bookplate); St. Petersburg, Russian and Austrian Imperial Library (sale, Lucerne, Gilhofer & Ranschburg, Kostbare Bücher aus Österreichischen und Russischen Kaiserlichen Bibliotheken, June 1933, no. 311, red ink stamp on two leaves, shelf label on front pastedown); Eduardo J. Bullrich (red leather booklabel, purchased from Jean Bannier, bookdealer in Paris in October 1933; sale Sotheby's, 17-19 March 1952, lot 97, £52 to Foyle).
SECOND EDITION. The Commentaries, recording Caesar's victories over Gaul and Italy, are written in the third person, giving the impression of an objective history rather than a personal memoir. Caesar's 'Commentaries on the Gallic War' and the 'Civil War' are his only works to survive in their entirety. They are joined in this, as in all 15th-century editions, by Commentaries on the African, Alexandrian and Spanish wars, written by members of his staff. Jenson based his edition on that printed two years earlier at Rome by Sweynheym and Pannartz.
This volume was bound by Christopher Chapman, a London binder best known for his work for the Harleian library. Somewhat curiously, the volume appears to have left England at an early date and entered various collections on the Continent, returning again two centuries later in the 1930s.
Of the beauty of this edition, Dibdin wrote: 'Clement justly praises the beauty of its typographical execution: and observes that "l'on peut assurer sans crainte que c'est un bijou de bibliothèque"' (Bibliotheca Spenceriana I, p.289). In more modern times Jenson's roman type was admired by Bruce Rogers, who considered that with it 'the roman letter was done once, perfectly, and for all time.' H 4213; BMC V, 169 (IB. 19632-34); GW 5864; Polain(B) 950; Goff C-17.