RABELAIS, FRANÇOIS. Les Oeuvres de M. François Rabelais... Contenans la vie, faicts & dicts Heroïques de Gargantua, & de son filz Pantagruel. Avec la Prognostication Pantagrueline. [N.p., n.d.] 1556.
16mo, 120 x 71 mm. (4¾ x 2 13/16 in.), CONTEMPORARY CALF, probably from a Parisian atelier, covers panelled in blind with triple fillets, inner panel with gilt fleurons at corners and central gilt arabesque composed of a double impression of large fleuron tool, spine in 5 compartments each with a small gilt quatrefoil tool, evidence of ties, gilt edges, discreet restoration to corners and extremities of spine, joints and backstrip worn with some loss to leather, occasional loss of gilding to larger fleurons, first quire loosening slightly at top, small tear to i5 catching page number, a few corners creased in quires k and B, minor marginal stain to l2-3, small faint dampstain in upper margins of last 100 leaves, extending to foremargins of last 20 leaves; modern morocco gilt silk-lined folding case. Collation: a-z8 aa-zz8 A-B8. 384 leaves. Roman type, preliminary verses in italic, some Greek type, 7-line woodcut capital B on a2r and v7r, 5- and 6-line typographic capitals at some chapter openings. Alden & Landis 556/37; Brunet IV, 1055 and Supplement II, 366; Plan 94; Rawles & Screech NRB 60; Rothschild-Picot II, 1515; Tchemerzine V, 304b (Lucien Scheler noting that he knew of only two copies, including his own, in contemporary bindings).
SECOND OR THIRD COLLECTED EDITION, largely based on the first collected edition of 1553, with some variations: the Tiers livre is numbered to 48 chapters, through the repetition of chapter no. 45 and the omission of no. 47; and the Quart Livre is based on Fezandat's 1552 edition (NRB 45) rather than on the later edition (NRB 47) that was used by the printer of the 1553 edition as copy-text. The careful printing and very small almost pearl-sized roman type is reminiscent of the work of the Lyonese printer Jean de Tournes, but the printer has not been conclusively identified. Another more roughly printed and less accurate edition was published with the same date of 1556 under a false imprint "A Troye" (NRB 59): the priority of these two 1556 editions is almost impossible to establish, as they were each copied separately from the 1553 edition.
A VERY FINE COPY OF A RARE EDITION: Rawles & Screech list 13 copies, including this one (described as in a morocco case by Capé, no longer present), of which eight are in institutional collections; of the remaining four copies two may be ghosts. Most of these recorded copies are in later bindings. (A further copy that may correspond to one of the NRB copies is the Guyot de Villeneuve copy, bound by Cuzin, recently offered by Pierre Beres along with the Escoffier copy in contemporary morocco [cat. 85/290-91].)
Provenance: I. Thiballier, neat 16th or 17th-century signature and monogram in ink on title-page -- Copious marginal annotations (glosses and translations) to the first 100 pages by a 17th or 18th-century English reader -- "HR", ink monogram on title-page -- Constantin N. Radoulesco, monogram inkstamp on lower free endpaper -- Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, inkstamp on lower pastedown -- (With Helmut Schumann, Zurich, Cat, 493/43; and Librairie Rossignol, Paris) -- Jean-Paul Barbier, bookplate on front pastedown (sale, Ader Tajan, Paris, expert P. Meaudre, 22 May 1992, lot 51) -- The present owner.