Lot 1
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50,000 - 70,000 GBP
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  • Aesop
  • Esopi appologi sive mythologi cum quibusdam carminum et fabularum additionibus Sebastiani Brant. (Basel: Jacobus Wolff de Pforzheim, 1501)
  • Paper
2 parts in one volume, folio (308 x 202mm.), full-page woodcut portrait of Aesop on verso of title-page, woodcut initials and illustrations, small portrait of Brant on A1v, nineteenth-century chestnut morocco ruled in gilt and blind in period style, spine gilt in compartments, gauffered edges, small wormholes throughout (some repaired, some affecting text but without substantial loss), a few leaves with repaired tears (some affecting text but without loss), a few small stains, extremities slightly rubbed


Adams A291; Fairfax Murray, German 20; IA 100.931; VD16 A435

Catalogue Note

A splendid tall copy of this rare illustrated edition of Aesop, and the first edition of Brant's additional fables.

Sebastian Brant's new section of 140 fables follows the same structure as the first section, with a woodcut followed by verse and then prose, as originally compiled by the German medic and humanist Heinrich Steinhöwel for the c.1476 Ulm edition of Aesop (Steinhöwel was instrumental in Johann Zainer's decision to set up a press in Ulm). The Ulm edition was in both Latin and German, presumably to appeal to a wider audience (which worked as the book proved very popular), but for this edition Brant uses only Latin, the language of humanism (he polishes some of Steinhöwel's Latin phrasing and moderates the coarser or more salacious passages; the book was, after all, dedicated to his son), and expands the collection well beyond Aesop's animal fables.

The numerous woodcuts in this volume fall into two distinct categories. The woodcuts in the first part (with a few exceptions) are rather simplistic and naive in execution and are based (in reverse) on the woodcuts from Zainer's successful Ulm edition of c.1476 (incidentally the first illustrated edition of Aesop); the actual blocks were first used in Wolff's edition of not after 1489 (Goff A115). The woodcuts of the second part are more sophisticated, with the use of hatching and perspective to enliven the images, and they were cut specifically for this edition; is it thought they were produced by the workshop of Johann Grüninger in Strassburg.