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GRIMOIRE - AGRIPPA, Henri-Corneille.

Les Œuvres Magiques.

Mises en Français par Pierre D'Aban, avec des secrets occultes, notamment celui de la Reine des Mouches velues. Approuvé par moi Sargatanas. [Bound with:] Enchiridion Leonis Papae serenissimo Imperatori Carolo Magno. Enchiridion du Pape Léon, envoyé comme un rare présent à l'Empereur Charlemagne. Édition Corrigée.

Rome [actually Lille: Imprimerie de Blocquel,] 1740 & 1744 [but 1830 & 1813] Stock Code: 121171
£4,000.00
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"An infamous storehouse of Black Magic"

A superb early 19th-century French copy of two grimoires, printed by Simon Blocquel (1780-1863). This is a clear, neat, and evocative example of contemporary popular grimoires and contains the works of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) including his Heptameron, a concise book of magical rites concerned with conjuring specific angels for the seven days of the week.



Blocquel, a bookseller, freemason, and printer, published a number of grimoires from his publishing press in Lille, giving them fictitious imprints - a common practice with such occult books that "served the dual purpose of frustrating the censors and giving the grimoires an aura of venerable authority and foreign mystery" (Davies, p. 98). The work credits the German philosopher Pierre D'Aban (c. 1257-1316) as the translator. The first translation of Agrippa's work attributed to D'Aban appears to have been published in 1788; Agrippa's De occulta philosophia, the text from which this work is predominantly drawn, was first published in Latin in 1533. This work includes an explanation of how to train hairy flies to find buried treasure and instructions for the exorcism of aerial spirits, accompanied by woodcut plates of the necessary pentacles.

At the end of this work is a two page list of recommended reading, including the most notorious grimoires of the time, the Petit Albert and Le Veritable Dragon Rouge. Together with the works of Agrippa is the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III, a collection of prayers supposedly given to Charlemagne by Pope Leo III upon his coronation as Emperor of the Romans in 800; the earliest known edition is dated to 1633. This practical work is rife with religious language and justifications, including quotes from various psalms and references the teachings of saints such as St Jerome and St Augustine. Within the text, which must be read upon one's knees, with the face turned toward the east, are a series of talismanic prayers, such as those to ward off foxes and counter impotency. Such was the power of these prayers that many believed simply owning a copy of the Enchiridion was enough to offer protection from illness (p. 107). A. E. Waite, the noted mystic and historian of the occult described the Enchiridion "as an infamous storehouse of Black Magic".

France was "the European centre of grimoire production" and throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries there was a mass publication of books with practical occult knowledge, most commonly in a cheap format known as the Bibliothèque bleue, comparable to the English chapbook (p. 97). Many believe this outpouring was a reflection of the "wave of superstition unleashed by the Revolution... people faltered from the true path of Christian piety and moral sensibilities, leading to an era when blasphemous magic flourished" (p. 104). This is a beautiful, comprehensive, example.

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Description

2 works bound in 1 volume, sextodecimo (140 x 83 mm). Contemporary brown calf, flat spine ruled in blind, titles and double ruled frame in blind to front cover, marbled endpapers, red edges.

Illustrations

Text in French and Latin. Portrait frontispiece and hand-coloured frontispiece, 11 plates, of which 5 are hand-coloured and bound out of order, and various diagrams and sigils in the text.

Condition

Minor wear to very tips, slight scratching to covers, occasional faint foxing; a very good, clean copy, with bright plates.

DELIVERY

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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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