Fine woodcut printer’s device on title, woodcut port. on verso of the dedicatee, Henri III, & several woodcut illus. in the text. 22 p.l., 558,  pp. Folio, fine 18th-cent. marbled calf (joints & ends of spine very carefully repaired), arms in gilt on both covers of the great bibliophile. the duc d’Aumont, triple gilt fillet round sides, spine richly gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine, a.e.g. Paris: A. l’Angelier, 1584.
First edition, a fine copy from the library of the great bibliophile, the duc d’Aumont (1709-82), one of the outstanding book and art collectors of his age, with his arms in gilt on both covers. This is the first French national bibliography, a monumental work of fundamental importance for the history of French literature and scholarship. It has remained an indispensable reference and source book to this day, as attested by Brunet, Petzholdt, and Besterman.
The roughly 3000 authors are arranged alphabetically by their given names, and La Croix du Maine gives succinct bio-bibliographical information for each. Our edition contains a remarkable proposal (not reprinted in the 18th-century edition) for the formation of a French national (royal) library housed in about 100 “noble” bookcases, of which a most attractive illustration is printed on p. 511. This woodcut appears to be the first illustration of library furniture in a printed book. La Croix du Maine also urges the arrangement of the books by a system that is quite close to a decimal classification.
La Croix du Maine (1552-92), began this bibliography at the age of 17 and in the process accumulated a large library. A Protestant sympathizer, he was assassinated at 40 and was therefore unable to issue further volumes as he had planned.
A fine copy. This copy appeared in the auction (lot 2977) of the library of the duc d’Aumont, which was sold in January 1783 in Paris by De Bure.
❧ Besterman, The Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography, pp. 24-25. Grolier Club, Bibliography, 29.
Item ID: 7930