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Euclides (fl. 3rd century BC)

Elementorum Libri XV. Accessit XVI. De solidorum Regularium comparatione. Omnes perspicuis demonstrationibus, accuratisque scholjis illustrati. Auctore Christophoro Clavio Bambergensi. Societatis Iesu Rome, Vincenzo, Accolti, 1574

€ 14.500
Euclid's Elementa, from Jean-Baptiste Colbert's Library, finely bound for Comte Charles-Henry de Hoym
Euclides (fl. 3rd century BC). Elementorum Libri XV. Accessit XVI. De solidorum Regularium comparatione. Omnes perspicuis demonstrationibus, accuratisque scholjis illustrati. Auctore Christophoro Clavio Bambergensi. Societatis Iesu. Rome, Vincenzo, Accolti, 1574

Two volumes, 8° (175x118 mm). I. Collation: a-e8, A-Z8, Aa-Ss8, Tt4. [40], 331 of 332 leaves, lacking the last leaf blank. II. Collation: A-Z8, Aa-Oo8, Pp4. 300 leaves. Complete with fol. Pp4 blank. Italic, roman, and Greek type. Title-pages within woodcut architectural frame, text enclosed in plain rule border. Woodcut printer's device on fol. Pp3r of the second volume. Woodcut decorated initials and tailpieces. Numerous woodcut geometrical diagrams in the text. Uniformly bound in eighteenth-century red morocco, over pasteboards. Covers within three gilt fillets, at the centre gilt coat of arms of Charles- Henry Count de Hoym. Spines with five raised bands, richly gilt tooled; title and volume numbering in gilt lettering. Edges marbled and gilt. In a marbled slipcase. A very good copy, a few leaves uniformly browned, re-margining of the outer margin of first four leaves in the first volume, slightly affecting the rule border but without any loss of text.

Provenance: from the library of French politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683; ownership inscription on title-pages 'Bibliothecae Colbertinae'); by descent to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay (d. 1690), Jacques Nicolas Colbert, Archbishop of Rouen (1655-1707), and Charles Eléonor Colbert, Comte de Seignelay (d. 1747); see the sale catalogue Bibliotheca Colbertina, seu Catalogus librorum bibliothecae quae fuit primum Ill. V.D. J. B. Colbert, Regni ministri, deinde Ill. D. J. B. Colbert. March. de Seignelay; postea Rev. et ill. D. J. Nic. Colbert, Rothomagensis Archiepiscopi, ac demum D. Caroli- Leonorii Colbert, Comitis de Seignelay, Paris 1728, Pars Tertia, Continens Libros in 8. in 12. &c., lot 16811, “Euclidis Elemento [sic], cum scholiis Christoph. Clavii. Romae, 1574. 2 vol. in 8. mar”; sold for the sum of 4 francs; the ambassador Charles-Henry de Hoym (1694-1736; armorial binding; see Catalogus librorum bibliothecae Caroli Henrici Comitis de Hoym, olim Regis Poloniae Augusti II. apud Regem Christianissimum Legati extraordinarii, Paris 1738, p. 143, no. 1250, “2. vol. in 8. m.r.”, sold for the sum of 5.3. francs); Jean Furstenberg (1890-1982; ex-libris on the front pastedowns).

Euclid's Elementa edited by the Bamberg Jesuit and professor of mathematics at the Collegium Romanum, Christoph Clavius (1537-1612), and supplemented with his monumental commentary. This Roman publication represents one of the greatest achievements in the history of Renaissance mathematics. “His contemporaries called Clavius 'the Euclid of the 16th century'. The 'Elements', which is not a translation, contains a vast quantity of notes collected from previous commentators and editors, as well as some good criticisms and elucidations of his own” (DSB III, p. 311).

The present copy has a very distinguished provenance, increasing its value. The earliest recorded owner of these volumes was the great book collector Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the chief minister to the King of France Louis XIV from 1661 to 1683. At Colbert's death in 1683, his library, which contained 23,000 printed books and over 5,000 manuscripts, passed by descent to Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Torcy, and then to other members of this outstanding French family. The collection was in large part sold in Paris on 24 May 1728. During the eighteenth century, numerous volumes from the Colbertina came into the possession of one of the greatest bibliophiles of the age, Comte Charles-Henry de Hoym, ambassador to Augustus II of Poland. Hoym commissioned the handsome binding in red morocco bearing his coat of arms on the covers. The leading French binders worked for him: among others, Augustin Du Seuil and Antoine-Michel Padeloup, to whom this binding is possibly to be ascribed. His library was sold in Paris between May and August 1738, and in the preface the bookseller Gabriel Martin points up the presence of numerous volumes ex Thesauro Colbertino in the collection. The volume later passed into the hands of another great collector of fine bindings, Jean Furstenberg.

Adams E-985; STC Italian 238; Steck, pp. 77-78; Denise Bloch, “La bibliothèque de Colbert”, Histoire des bibliothèques françaises, II, pp. 157-179; B. Breslauer, “Contemporary Collectors. XX. Jean Furstenberg”, The Book Collector, 9 (1960), pp. 423-434; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 150.