RABELAIS, FRANÇOIS. Tiers Livre des faictz et dictz Heroiques du noble Pantagruel, composez par M. Franç. Rabelais docteur en Medicine... Nouuellement Imprimé à Lyon: [s.n.] 1546.
Small 8vo, 130 x 87 mm. (5 5/16 x 3 3/8 in.), blue crushed levant morocco, sides gilt-panelled, bound over the original boards, preserving as doublures the original calf upper and lower covers with the gold-tooled arms of JACQUES-AUGUSTE DE THOU (his arms as bachelor, OHR 216, #1), spine in six compartments, the second lettered in gilt, the remainder with Baron Pichon's monogram stamped in gilt, edges gilt over marbling, gilt roll-tooled border framing the doublures, by Chambolle-Duru, very small nick to board edge of lower cover, washed and pressed, title-page slightly darkened, blank fore-margin of title and top of fol. a2r each with a small light stain, small dampstain to lower margins of about 5 leaves in quires d and g, neatly repaired tear to flyleaf bearing Ménage's notes; modern blue morocco gilt suede-lined folding case. Collation: 4 a-p8. 124 leaves. Title and text in roman type, Rabelais's 4-page royal privilege in bâtarde type, 10-line criblé initial P with saint, 2 smaller ornamental criblé initials. Brunet IV, 1050 and Supplement II, 364; Huchon TL L46; Plan 71; Rawles & Screech NRB 29; Rothschild-Picot IV, 3199; Tchemerzine V, 287b.
SECOND EDITION, ONE OF FIVE COPIES KNOWN. The first edition of the Tiers livre -- the first of Rabelais's books published openly under his name --was printed in Paris by Chrestien Wechel earlier in the same year. Plan mistakenly took the present anonymously printed Lyonese edition (possibly the work of Pierre de Tours) for the fifth edition, a confusion that was perpetuated by Tchemerzine. A close reading of textual variants in the four editions dated 1546 and two undated editions known to have been printed before 1552 enabled Mireille Huchon, in her pathbreaking textual analysis of the early editions of Rabelais, to reestablish the correct sequence of editions. Huchon shows that the present edition was copied directly from the Wechel edition, and that certain textual variants in this edition, consisting of corruptions of the text by inattentive compositors, were copied in the eight succeeding editions that appeared before the Parisian printer Michel Fezandat finally published a corrected text, with 52 instead of 46 chapters, under Rabelais's supervision in 1552.
This second edition reprints in its entirety the lengthy and unusually broad printing privilege granted to Rabelais by François I on 19 September 1545, and first printed in the Wechel 1546 edition. Rabelais published no other works with Wechel: a document recently discovered in the Archives Nationales (cf. Rawles & Screech p. 172) refers to a lawsuit brought by Wechel against Rabelais: although the cause is unknown, this dispute put an end to their collaboration.
This celebrated copy is the only volume of Rabelais known to have been in de Thou's library. Like all editions of Rabelais published during his lifetime, it is of great rarity. Rawles & Screech cite five other recorded copies, of which one is a probable ghost; of the four remaining, three are in institutions (BN-Rothschild, BL, and Yale) and the location of the fourth (the Fontaine copy in citron morocco by Trautz-Bauzonnet) is unknown (it is not certain that it belongs to this edition). All five known copies of the Wechel first edition are also in institutions. THE DE THOU--HEBER--PICHON COPY IS THUS THE EARLIEST KNOWN COPY OF THE Tiers Livre STILL IN PRIVATE HANDS.
1. Jacques-Auguste de Thou (1553-1617), supralibros as above. At this time the volume was bound with an imperfect copy of the Quart Livre of 1553.
2. Gilles Ménage (1613-92), literary scholar and philologist, and an early collector of Rabelais, engraved armorial bookplate mounted on front flyleaf, extensive manuscript note in his hand (according to Pichon) on lower flyleaf facing colophon page citing a bequest from Du Bellay to Rabelais, bequeathed in 1692 to:
3. The Jesuits of the Collège de Clermont, Paris (sale, December 1763, lot 4986).
4. "Lang's sale 1785," inscription in Heber's hand on Menage bookplate.
5. Richard Heber (1773-1833), ink stamp on lower flyleaf and aforecited purchase note. "At this stage the volume was rebacked with English binding" (Rawles & Screech). Sold at one of his 13 London sales (1834-37) to:
6. Baron Jérôme-Frédéric Pichon (1812-1896), bookplate, "Memor fui dierum antiquorum," gilt monogram on spine, ms. note on lower flyleaf beneath Heber stamp, outlining the book's provenance and peregrinations during his lifetime: Pichon sold the volume in his first sale (where it was correctly described as the second edition) of 19-24 April 1869 (lot 714), to:
7. Antoine-Laurent Potier, bookseller and collector, resold to:
8. Baron Pichon. It was after this second acquisition of the book that Pichon had the Tiers livre separated from the Quart livre and rebound by Chambolle-Duru (sale, 3 May 1897, lot 979).
9. With Dreyfus-Valette and Thomas-Scheler, Manuscrits et Livres Précieux du 13e au 20e siècle , no. 19
10. The present owner.