Two engraved plates (one is folding & with eight images) & five folding woodcut plates of watermarks. Five vols. bound in four. 8vo, cont. paste-paper boards (occasional minor browning), flat spines gilt, red leather lettering pieces on spines. Brussels: [Privately Printed], 1803.
The very rare privately printed catalogue, in its most complex state, of the vast and famous library of Carlos Antonio La Serna (1752-1813), bibliographer, historian of early printing, and “conservateur” at the Brussels Library. The main part of the library, the finest of the time in the Low Countries, was actually amassed by his uncle, Don Simon de Santander San Juan, former secretary of the Spanish King and an ardent book collector resident in Brussels. The collection passed to his nephew Carlos Antonio upon his death in 1791. Carlos Antonio, who had come from Spain about 1772, aided his uncle in forming the collection.
Upon inheriting the collection, Carlos Antonio was forced due to family reasons to try to sell the library; a catalogue in 1792 was prepared. According to Michaud, La Serna sold the library to a Brussels collector, who proposed to make it available to the public, but the purchaser became insolvent after a few years and La Serna recovered possession of the collection. La Serna continued to acquire important books and MSS.
After the Peace of Amiens, La Serna reissued the catalogue under his own name with additions in 1803, hoping to attract a wealthy purchaser amongst the new generation of important collectors at home and abroad. This reissue contained a number additional leaves or cancels (see below). However the library remained unsold until 1809, when Renouard acquired it for 60,000 francs. The great French bookseller offered it at auction in Paris in the same year in 67 sessions.
Vol. I contains three additional leaves, one each inserted in quires B, F, and G. Unlike every other copy I know of, leaf E8 is present. Vol. II contains six additional leaves, one each inserted in quires A, B, F, P, S, and T. Vol. III contains an additional quire C of eight leaves. Vol. IV contains an extra leaf each in quires F and G and quire K is extended to comprise thirteen leaves.
The fifth volume (here bound with Vol. IV) — the Supplément and which is very often missing — contains four pieces: “Observations sur les filigranes”; “Mémoire sur le premier Usage des signatures et des Chiffres, dans l’Art Typographique”; “Praefatio Historico-critica, in Veram et Genuinam Collectionem Veterum Canonum Ecclesiae Hispanae”; “A Divo Isidoro.” They were all clearly issued separately and have been here gathered together with a general title-page. This volume contains a long folding sheet with eight engravings.
Fine and handsome set. This set is priced throughout in a contemporary hand (this is most unusual). In excess of 6500 lots are listed. With thanks to Roland Folter for supplying details on the additional leaves. Early bookplate of Jacob Philippe Le Dru, doctor of medicine, in each volume and with his cipher on each title.
❧ Bigmore & Wyman, II, pp. 351-52–(1803 ed.)–“The superb collection here described includes works referring to every branch of human knowledge, besides many precious manuscripts. There are described a large number of incunabula.” Gustave Brunet, Dictionnaire de Bibliologie Catholique, col. 595–“Réunion assez importante d’ouvrages curieux et d’éditions anciennes et rares.” Taylor, Book Catalogues, p. 25–“This very accurate catalogue has a full author index and contains incidentally eighty-five catalogues of private libraries (rather few of them are Spanish).”.
Item ID: 5863