DIOMEDES (fl. 4th century). De arte grammatica [and other grammatical treatises]. [Venice:] Nicolaus Jenson, [ca. 1476-1480].
Chancery 2o (286 x 194 mm). Collation: a10 b-m8 n6 (a1r blank, a1v table of contents, a2r Diomedes, n6v blank); o-t8 u10 x8 (o1r Phocas, De nomine et verbo, p7v Priscianus, Institutio de nomine, pronomine et verbo, q8r (Pseudo-) Flavius Caper, De orthographia et latinitate verborum, r3v Agroecius, De orthographia et proprietate et differentia sermonis, r7v Aelius Donatus, De octo partibus orationis, t2v Donatus, De barbarismo, t7v Maurus Servius Honoratus, Commentarius in artem Donati, x8v blank). 170 leaves. 35 lines. Types: 1B:115(112)R (text), 115Gk (a few words), 5:93GA (signatures in quires k, n, u, x). One 8-line and numerous 3- and 4-line spaces for initials, printed guide letters on a2r, t2v, t3r, t5v, t7v, u8v and u9r only. First text page with illuminated border of neo-Classical ornament by a contemporary Italian artist, originally painted in red and silver (now severely oxidized). In this copy the type-pages of l1v and l8r were transposed in printing. (Fols. b6,7 supplied, slight staining and foxing to first and last few leaves, mostly filled wormholes in first 3 quires, small repaired hole in t7 affecting 4 letters, repaired marginal tear in i2, occasional marginal dampstaining, BM inkstamp offset to illuminated border on a2r.) Early 19th-century English blind-tooled green morocco, covers panelled with narrow rolls enclosing a wide drawer-handle roll border framing a scrolling palmette roll, an 8-pointed star tool in each corner, spine divided into 6 compartments by false double raised bands, black morocco gilt lettering-piece in the second, the remainder densely decorated in blind with small floral tools, turn-ins with gilt Greek-key rolls, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (worn and rubbed, spine faded, inner hinges cracked), a few deckle edges preserved.
Provenance: a few contemporary marginal notes -- British Museum (cancelled inkstamps on versos of first and last leaves, sold March 1932: cf. BMC) -- (Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., collation note -- anonymous owner, sale Sotheby's, London, 4 December 1978, lot 60 (to Francis Edwards).
FIRST EDITION of this collection of 4th-6th century grammatical treatises, all but the Donatus printed here for the first time. The principal interest of Diomedes' work, a compilation of the works of earlier rhetoricians, is its transcription, in book 3, of portions of Suetonius' lost rhetorical treatise. Priscian's Institutio de nomine... is an abridgement of his Institutiones grammaticae. Donatus' De octo partibus orationis and De grammatica are parts 2 and 3 respectively of his Ars major. Servius' commentary on Donatus preserves a portion of Donatus' lost commentary on Virgil. The Explanationes artis Donati by "Sergius" on u9r is in fact part 2 of Servius' commentary.
This edition is commonly dated to ca. 1475 (cf. GW and ISTC). BSB-Ink dates the edition more broadly to ca. 1475-1480 (the year of Jenson's death), based on the later state of the roman text type. However, the appearance in a few quire signatures of Jenson's gothic type 93GA, introduced in 1476 (cf. BMC V, p. 166), would suggest that the edition was printed no earlier than 1476.
The binding appears to be from the shop of L. Staggemeier and Samuel Welcher, the most successful of the numerous German immigrant binders working in London in the late 18th and early 19th century. Although similar drawer handle tools were part of the material of several of these German shops, the tool used here is identical to that appearing on a signed Staggemeier and Welcher binding on the Doheny copy of the 1763 Baskerville binding (Doheny sale, Christie's New York, Part IV, 17 October 1988, lot 1094). The Doheny binding also contains the same unusual scrolling palmette roll. The partnership of Staggemeier and Welcher -- who signed their bindings with easily lost paper labels -- lasted from approximately 1799 to 1810.
RARE. HC 6214; BMC V, 182 (IB. 19722 [this copy], 19723, 19734); BSB-Ink. D-161; Flodr, Diomedes 1; GW 8399; IGI 3471; Lowry 46; Pr 4118; Goff D-234.