HOW TO USE A FLORILEGIUM

Illustrium poetarum flores. 

Antwerp, Joannes Bellerus, 1563. 

12mo, pp. 687, [6], [3 (blank)]; woodcut vignette on title, woodcut headpieces and initials; light occasional soiling, a few minute wormholes; a very good copy in contemporary calf, panelled sides with gilt centre-pieces and floral corner-pieces within double blind-stamped border, panelled spine with four half-raised bands, gilt morocco lettering-piece, edges gilt; spine rubbed, skilful repair to joints; several contemporary and near-contemporary French ownership inscriptions to the title, including Chaupy and Reynal; numerous contemporary annotations in text, and dense comments on final blanks and rear free endpaper.

£1950

Approximately:
US $2463€2261

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A remarkable copy, with numerous and eloquent contemporary annotations and additions in a French hand, of a scarce edition of an extremely popular collection of quotes and passages from classics of poetry, published by the renowned Flemish printer and composer Joannes Bellerus (Jean Bellère, 1526–1595).  This florilegium, which arranges passages from twenty-two authors (including Ovid, Horace, Virgil, Lucretius, Catullus, and Ausonius) by theme and sets these themes out alphabetically for easy reference, had first appeared in 1513; its effective format and the breadth of its content had, by mid-century, ensured its popularity both as an item for private libraries, and as a school text. 

The manipulation and intensely personal use that a contemporary reader made here place this copy at the intersection of two genres: the original florilegium remains, but the features of a personal notebook in their abundance claim centre-stage, with the intense idiosyncrasies of a commonplace book.  The reader discreetly marks the quotes of most interest to them; they then often add passages from other works or authors related to the same theme, including verses which we have not been able to identify; numerous additions are then made in all the blanks available, and the index at the end is also marked – this time with the deletion of uninteresting topics.  The rear endpaper contains a list of Latin words with syllable length markings, evidently an aide-memoire for metric in verse composition. 

Belgica typographica 1541–1600, 1550; Pettegree & Walsby 21427; USTC 404396. 

Two copies of this edition in the UK (BL, NLS) and three in the US (Illinois, NYPL, Ransom). 

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