21 March 2005
CECIL, William (1520-98, first Lord Burghley) -- Bibliotheca Illustris: sive catalogus variorum librorum ... ornatissimae bibliothecae viri cujusdam praenobilis ac honoratissimi olim defuncti, libris rarissimis tam typis excusis quam manuscriptis refertissimae: Quorum auctio habebitur Londini, Novemb. 21 1687. London: Thomas Bentley and Benjamin Walford, 1687.
4o (263 x 183 mm). Collation: A-C2 2C2 F2(1+1) G-M2 m2 N-Z Aa-BB2. (4 headlines cut into.) Modern red quarter morocco. Provenance: Christ Church, Oxford, by exchange to -- A.N.L. Munby (bookplate, Sotheby's 5 April 1976, lot 507).
RARE SALE CATALOGUE of the main part of the library of the first baron of Burghley, the most powerful man in the kingdom under Queen Elizabeth I, of whom it has been said that "to follow his career would be to write the history of England" (DNB). The later books in the sale will have belonged to his younger son, the first earl of Salisbury, his successor in more than one of his offices of state, and to subsequent earls. In addition to the great archive at Hatfield, a small library remains, but the upwards of 4000 lots of printed books (as well as hundreds of manuscripts, including many on vellum and illuminated) offered in this sale are the essential record of the Cecil collection. Included in the English section are books printed by Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde. In the preface to the catalogue, the auctioneers stress that "it contains a greater number of Rare Manuscripts than ever yet were offer'd together in this way, many of which are rendred the more valuable by being remark'd upon by the hand of the said great Man." Munby and Coral p. 7.
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