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MARTIAL, Marcus Valerius Martialis.


Venice, in aedibus Aldii [Aldus Manutius], December 1501 Stock Code: 118784
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First Aldine edition, one of the earliest books to be produced in pocket format and in Aldus's beautiful italic type. Aldus starting issuing his groundbreaking "Libelli Portatiles" - or "Portable Library" - in April 1501 with an edition of Virgil, followed by Horace in May, Petrarch in July, Juvenal and Perseus in August, and this edition of Martial in December, marking 1501 as one of the most extraordinary years in the history of publishing. The editio princeps of the Epigrammata was printed at Venice by Vindelinus de Spira between 1469 and 1473.
"The series of editions of classical Latin and Greek authors and Italian vernacular poets published as pocket-sized books (enchiridia) was Aldus's most successful editorial innovation... and they immediately caught the eye of wealthy European literati and collectors. Their slim and elegant proportions contributed towards a permanent change in the physical appearance of Western books, and secured Aldus enduring fame... The elegance of the book proportions and the beauty of the printing in the elegant new founts designed for Aldus by Francesco Griffo assured an immediate success" (University of Cambridge online).
Well represented institutionally but below two dozen copies have appeared at public auction in the last one hundred years.

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Octavo (150 x 94 mm); collation: A-Z, &8. Mid-17th century Continental sheep sometime rebacked with the original spine laid-down, sides gilt tooled overall with roll tool borders enclosing large central lozenge, centre and corners filled with scrolling floriate motifs (including a tulip tool), remains of pinkish silk ties, spine tooled in black with a repeated floriate motif within five compartments (and tulip tool), blue-green edges. Housed in a brown flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Previous owner's monogram on colophon leaf. A little wear to extremities of binding, gilt dulled, gathering N misbound after gathering O, small ink stain to fore-edge encroaching slightly in to margin of a couple of gatherings, without the terminal blank leaf otherwise a very good copy.


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