Milan: Uldericus Scinzenzeler, 1497.
[AESOP]. Esopo con la vita sua historiale vulgare e latino [with] Le Fabule de Esopo vulgare e latine. Historiade. [Milan: Uldericus Scinzenzeler, 1497].
An early and rare edition of Aesop's Life and Fables. Two parts in one octavo volume. Book 1- Vita: Complete with 40 leaves [A-E8]. With woodcut title-page and 23 additional woodcuts in the text. Book 2- Fabule: With 67 of 70 leaves. [a-d8, e2-e5, f-i7]. Book 2 is lacking text leaves ei and e6 and blank i8. With woodcut title-page and 63 of 66 woodcuts in the text. There is no woodcut called for for fable 1. Missing leaf e1 contains fable 35 and part of 36 along with the woodcut for fable 35. Missing leaf e6 contains part of fable 40 and part of fable 41 along with the woodcuts for both of those fables. The final missing leaf, i8 is a blank. With numerous historiated initial in both books spanning 3-lines, 4-lines and 8-lines. Gothic type.
This copy is the Walter Crane copy with his bookplate on the front pastedown. The name "Winifred Crane" in pencil on the front free endpaper. "Walter Crane (born August 15, 1845 - died March 14, 1915) was an English artist and illustrator. He is primarily known for his illustrations of the Faerie Queen as well as numerous children's books." (Walter Crane dot com). According to the BBC, in 2004 "This copy was sent to auction when Anthony Crane, the Bath-based grandson of Walter Crane, the Victorian illustrator arranged to sell items from his private library." At that sale it brought £14,500 hammer. According to the British Library ISTC, there are 3 other known copies besides the present copy. A copy in France (Chantilly, Musée Condé Rouen BM) which is imperfect, wanting the Vita and 8 other leaves, Venezia, Fondazione Cini (I imperfect, wanting f.A1-8) and the seemingly complete copy at the Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale. Therefore, only one complete copy that we can determine.
Full early vellum. Tan leather spine label, lettered and ruled in gilt. "Milan 1497" in early ink at foot of the spine. All edges marbled blue. A small worm hole to bottom blank margin of first three text leaves. Faded old ink notes to title verso, juvenile inking to illustration at f1v, ink outline of wolf to margin of leaf g6r, sepia ink illustration of a flower with pinhole tracing to fore-margin of h1r (pinholes affecting following three leaves), pinhole tracing to figures of woodcuts on g4r, g7v, h1r and h5r, yellow wash colouring to woodcut at i2v and sepia wash to three woodcut initials at i2v and i3r, and old ink doodling at foot of final text all in old ink. Some small, near invisible repairs to bottom blank margins of a few leaves in signatures h and i. Vellum a bit soiled and rubbed. Two previous owner's bookplates to front endpapers. Still a very clean, nice copy of this rare book.