THEOPHRASTUS (d. c. 287 B.C.). De historia plantarum. Et decimi principium duntaxat. Eiusdem de causis plantarum, edited by Theodorus Gaza. [Lyons: Balthazar de Gabiano, ?1505].
8° (166 x 98mm). Italic type. 7- to 3-line initiial spaces with guide letters. (Some heavy browning and staining, occasional small wormholes.)
BINDING: contemporary Florentine olive morocco, blind knotwork border enclosed by fillets, center panel with gilt knotwork and vine leaf tools, the larger knotwork tool outlined by lozenge-shaped blind lines, both knotwork tools picked out by small volutes and fleurs-de-lys in blind, the same gilt and blind tools repeated at corners and sides of border, gilt and gauffeured edges (rebacked, preserving section of old spine, covers wormed and worn at corners and sides, endpapers renewed, ties lacking).
PROVENANCE: Franciscan house of St. Anthony of Padua, Florence (ownership inscription and press marks on title, occasional annotations in an early hand) -- sale Sotheby's, London, 20 November 1990, lot 219, to: -- [Fiammeta Soave, in Bibliotheca Aldina, 1991, no. 96, ill.].
This Aldine contrefaçon is the first 8° edition of Theophrastus's botany, a work first published at Treviso, 1483, in Latin. The next two editions were by Aldus, in Greek as part of the Aldine Aristotle (Venice, 1495/96), and Latin (Venice, 1504). Although now worn, the gold- and blind-tooled binding remains an interesting example of Florentine work at this early period, clearly intended to be appropriate for a classical text. Anthony Hobson observes that the knotwork border was not derived from Islamic sources as once supposed but the interlaced headpieces of Greek manuscripts (Humanists and Bookbinders, 1989, p. 103). Adams T-575; Renouard Alde 308.19 ('très rare'), noting that this was the second of three volumes issued, the others containing works by Aristotle.