The Earliest Obtainable Edition of Marcus Aurelius
Libro Aureo de Marco Aurelio. Emperador y Elocuentísimo Orador. Nueuamente Impresso.
Antwerp: Joannes Grapheus, 1529.
GUEVARA, Antonio de. Libro Aureo de Marco Aurelio. Emperador y Elocuentísimo Orador. Nueuamente Impresso. [Antwerp: Joannes Grapheus], 1529.
First Antwerp edition, and fourth edition in all. The Earliest obtainable edition. Preceded only by two editions from Seville printed by Cromberger in 1527 and 1528, and an edition in Valencia in 1528. Small quarto (7 3/8 x 5 3/16 inches; 188 x 132 mm). 126,  leaves. Complete. Leaves a3 and a4 bound out of order between b4 and c1. Title-page printed in red and black within a woodcut border. Final leaf with woodcut printer's device.
We could only find one other copy at auction and one copy at the British Library who's title-page is defective. Sotheby's state's about their copy in 1978 that it is "one of the only two known copies of this edition, the other (with a damaged title) being in the British Library." Thus this copy may be one of three known copies.
Full 17th-century vellum. Yapp edges. Spine lettered in ink manuscript. Top edge dyed brown. Vellum darkened and soiled, but binding is strong. Title-page trimmed close at fore-edge, just barely touching woodcut border. Some occasional light dampstaining. Previous owner's bookplate on front pastedown. Early ink ownership inscription dated 1664 on final leaf. Overall a very good copy of this rare book.
According to Sotheby's "The fourth work in Spanish, and the first literary work, to have been printed in the Southern Netherlands; of the three preceding works, there are no known copies of the first and third, and one copy only of the second (P-F, vol. II, “Table chronologique”, p. 813). Palau conjectures that the first edition appeared in Seville in 1527. The work was very successful and influential throughout Europe in the sixteenth century, being translated into Latin, Italian, French, and English. Guevara claimed to have based the work on a manuscript in Florence, but the work is in fact an imaginary, and highly fanciful, life of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, written with a didactic purpose." (Sotheby's Peeters-Fontainas sale).
Guevara's work which was "an attempt to invent a model for rulers, became one of the most influential books of the 16th century. Well received outside Spain, the book was widely translated, even though much annoyance was voiced over Guevara’s false attribution of parts of the work to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose Meditations did not come to light until later (1558)." (Brittanica).
Palau 110082. Peeters-Fontainas 557.