CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C.) De senectute, in English: Of Old Age. Translated [by Stephen Scrope? (c. 1399-1472)] at the order of Sir John Fastolf (1378-1459) from the French paraphrase of Laurent du Premierfait, [and probably revised by William Worcester]. -De amicitia, in English: Of Friendship. Translated by John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester (beheaded 1470). -- Bonaccursius de MONTEMAGNO (fl. 14th century). De nobilitate, in English: Of Nobility. Tr. John Tiptoft. [Westminster:] William Caxton, 12 August [-September ?] 1481.
Chancery 2° (270 x 202mm). COLLATION: 16 (lacking: first blank, preface, dedication, and beginning of the table of contents) a6 (1r continuation of table, incipit: he was content with age, 5v Thus endeth the remembraunce of thistoryes comprysed, 6 blank); b-h8 i4 (Of Old Age, b1r incipit: mY soverayn frende Attitus, how be it, i3r colophon: enprynted by me symple persone William Caxton in to Englysshe at the playsir solace and reverence of men growyng in to olde age the xij day of August the yere of our lord. M.CCCC.lxxxi, i3v and i4 blank); 2a-2f8 (Of Friendship, 2a1r incipit: qUintus Mucius Augur Sevola, This was his name, 2d5r Of Nobility, incipit: wHan Thempyre of Rome moste floured, 2f8r Caxton's epilogue, 2f8v Explicit Per Caxton). 114 leaves only (of 120; first 6 leaves missing including a blank).
PAPER: apparently a single stock (bull's head/star watermarks). TYPE: bastarda 2*:135 (text) and 3:136 (names), both designed by Johann Veldener. 29 lines, initial spaces with printed guide-letters. Set in two production units and printed in formes. CONDITION: some light, mainly marginal, worming; first and last page somewhat stained, marginal staining in a few other leaves. LARGE, FRESH AND UNPRESSED COPY, with the sharpest of type impressions.
BINDING: contemporary or early-16th-century English dark leather -- calf or goatskin -- over pasteboard, the sides decorated in blind, panelled with intersecting triple fillets, a roll-tooled border (too worn to read), the centre field diapered, a large flower tool (not in Oldham) in the compartments, a gilt royal emblem incorporating crowns and sceptres tooled in three compartments of the spine in the early 18th century, citron morocco lettering-piece also added: Tully on Old Age, vellum manuscript pastedowns (front, Italian, double column, rotunda, 14th-century; back, perhaps English, double column, bastarda, 15th-century). Binding worn and skilfully restored.
PROVENANCE: Francis Layton of Yorkshire (d.1661), Keeper of the Jewel House to Charles I, his signature in lower margin of a1r, indicating that already in the 17th century the book was imperfect at the beginning. He married Margaret of Rawdon, whose portrait and doublet were negotiated by Christie's in 1994 to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Ralph Thoresby valued Layton's library c.1714, after the death of the latter's son, and wrote to John Anstis in 1720 that the Layton printed books and manuscripts were valuable and had the Royal arms upon them (Stowe MS 749, fo. 133). He owned at least two other Caxtons: a Cato now at Glasgow University (De Ricci 16.5) and a Myrrour at Göttingen. (This entire note on Layton's books derives from information most kindly furnished by Dr. Margaret Nickson.) -- H.H. (signed 18th-century note on first page, about the copy in the Ratcliffe sale). -- ?Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (1730-82). -- Earls Fitzwilliam (pressmarks).
FIRST EDITION OF ALL THREE TRANSLATIONS AND THE FIRST CICERONIAN TEXTS PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND. 'Sir John Fastolf, although he was to become a secondary original of Shakespeare's fat knight, had fought in the French wars with unblemished prowess and temperance; he was a patron of the Pastons and stepfather of Stephen Scrope, the same whose translation of Dicts had remained unknown to Rivers and Caxton ... Scrope may well have been the translator of Tully of Old Age also; Scrope's text ... was doubtless the one listed, along with Caxton's Game of Chess among Sir John Paston's English books in 1475' (Painter p.112).
RARE IN FINE CONDITION AND EVEN RARER IN CONTEMPORARY BINDING. Three copies have been offered at auction in the last two decades, none as fine as the Layton-Fitzwilliam copy: the complete Berkeley-Sion College copy (De Ricci 31.10), the Kimberley-Boies Penrose copy (De Ricci 31.24) and the Roxburghe-Devonshire copy (De Ricci 31.20). Ames-Herbert I, pp 30-35; Ames-Dibdin I, pp 119-30; HC 5311; Blades 33; Pr 9640; Duff 103; De Ricci 31.23; GW 6992; Goff C-627; Oates 4075; Goff C-627; STC 5293; Needham Appendix D, Cx 45.