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    Sixteenth-Century Compilation of "everything strange, wonderful, terrible, incredible and impossible which the author could find in all literature of the previous sixteen centuries"

    Johann Wolf. Lectiones memorabiles et reconditae. Liber Rarus, Car[us], Ex Sacrae Scripturae & Venerandae antiquitatis Arcanis exaratus, Variisq[ue] Allegoriis, Tropologiis & allusionibus anagogicis, hierographicis, Symbolicis, Iconographicis & Mythologicis...Haec secunda editio non solum omnia, quae in prima editione sunt... Frankfurt am Main: Sumptibus Haered. Henningi Grosii, 1671. [Bound with:] Johannes Jacobus Linsius. In Johannis Wolfii...tomos duos, sive centenarios XVI. Lectionem memorabilium et reconditarum superioribus annis editos Index Absolutiss....Leipzig: Apud Grossianos, 1672.
    Second edition (first published in Lauingen in 1600 with title: Lectionum memorabilium et reconditarum centenarii XVI). Two folio volumes (approximately 13.25 x 7.875 inches; 335 x 199 mm.). [2, title (verso blank)], [24, "Auctoris Epistola Dedicatoria"], [4, "Nova Praefatio"], 879, [1, colophon]; [2, title (verso blank)], 8 ("Auctoris Epistola Nuncupatoria. II. Par."), 792, 893-1127, [1, blank]; [4], 20, [139], [1, blank] pages. Signatures: [pi]1 )(4 )()(4 )()()(4 [chi]2 A-Z6 Aa-Zz6 Aaa-Zzz6 Aaaa-Cccc6 Dddd8; a6 B-Z6 Aa-Zz6 Aaa-Zzz6 Aaaa-Qqqq6 Rrrr4; A2 2A4 B4 C2 B-R4 S6. Added engraved title in Volume I, dated 1672: Opera omnia theologico historico politica. Title-page of Volume I printed in red and black with engraved vignette. Twelve engraved plates containing 367 images (Volume I with one double-page, six double-page folding, and one folding plate; Volume II with five double-page plates). Decorative woodcut tail-pieces and initials; typographic head- and tail-pieces. Colophon, with woodcut printer's device, on verso of Dddd8 in Volume I: "Halberstadii, Excusum literis Johannis Erasmi Hynitzch. Anno Christi M. DC. LXXI." Text in double columns, with dates given in printed side notes. Printed manicules on pages 104. "Finit Centenarius Decimus-Sextus" at end of text on page 1127 in Volume II.
    Contemporary half sheep over sprinkled boards, rebacked and with corners renewed with leather (?). Smooth spines with russet leather labels ruled and lettered in gilt. Edges sprinkled red. Endpapers renewed. Flyleaves from the original binding present, with early ink stamp on front flyleaf of each volume: "E Bibliotheca Bottigeri." Boards rubbed and worn with several areas of surface loss. Paper slightly browned, with very occasional discoloration; some mostly faint, mostly marginal foxing, heavier in places. A few leaves with small neat marginal paper repairs or with corners renewed; a few small rust holes in the text, resulting in the loss of a few letters; a few additional tiny rust holes or stains. Added engraved title and title in Volume I browned and with a few small stains. The second, third, and fourth plates in Volume II have been strengthened or extended at top edge, with loss of top rule on second plate, and loss of top rule and page numbers on third plate. Minor worming in the outer blank margin of the last four gatherings of the index (from P1-S6). A very good copy, with good impressions on the plates.
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    "It is putting a strain on the definition, perhaps, to include the Lectiones of Johann Wolf, or Wolfius, among books of Secrets. Its name means 'readings,' 'excerpts,' or 'gleanings,' but these are so choice, they have been selected with so much regard to their exceptional character and to the illustration of all that is rare and secret in history, both human and natural, so many of the books enumerated in these notes have been laid under contribution, that this seventeenth century miscellany may not be refused a place among the others. Besides, the work is almost, if not altogether unknown. It very rarely occurs for sale, it is neither a bibliographer's nor a collector's book, and although it is mentioned by both Watt and Graesse, it is like a thousand others similarly recorded,-a name and no more. Even Brunet has not condescended to say whether or not it is 'more curious than useful.' Yet there are few books more delightful to lose oneself in. In the two portentous folio volumes there is passed before the reader an endless array of other portents, prodigies, monsters, moving accidents, histories, biographies, catastrophes, everything strange, wonderful, terrible, incredible and impossible which the author could find in all literature of the previous sixteen centuries and which could be collected and arranged during the lifetime, incessantly employed, of himself and an amanuensis. Such a book can hardly be opened without advantage. A sort of museum of mis-births, showing what a number of good subjects have somehow gone wrong. And it is not description merely that the book gives us, but there are numerous woodcuts, boldly executed, which assist us in understanding the text. The title-page is decorated with a border, which is all explained afterwards. There is a portrait of the author, and there are pictures of strange events, such as the detection of Pope Joan, of towns overthrown by fire, of the different orders military and monkish, of monsters, like the Cracovian and Tiberian specimens, of angels good and evil, of portents, the prognostications of Paracelsus and a host of other marvels. The title, however, furnishes so good a summary of the contents... The work is not complete without the Index, compiled by Johann Jacob Linsius, called Hagendorn, and printed at Lauingen in 1608. This index is sometimes wanting. The author of this big piece of work was born in 1537, studied at Strassburg, Bourges, Tübingen and Wittenberg, became a councillor of the Elector Palatine, was sent on embassies, travelled widely, passed a very active public life and carried through important and delicate affairs, and when he retired from service settled at Heilbronn where he died in 1600, in his 63rd year. During the whole of his life he had laboured unremittingly at his book, and he gathered the material for it from an army of authors. This work, correctly described by Linsius as 'of great and almost incredible labour,' he toiled at to the last, determined evidently to finish it, and it was published the very year of his death. From the accounts given of him, Wolfius must have been a man of great and varied accomplishments, of enormous erudition, of estimable character, entertaining both from reading and experience, of the most wonderful perseverance and rarest diligence and determination. He was remarkable even at a time when universal knowledge and reading were quite common" (John Ferguson, Bibliographical Notes on Histories of Inventions and Books of Secrets, Part V (Glasgow: 1889), pages 41-43).

    "On a rainy or snowy day, when all looks sad and dismal without, my worthy friend and neighbour, PHORMIO, sometimes gives me a call-and we have a rare set-to at my old favourite volumes-the 'Lectiones Memorabiles et Reconditae' of WOLFIUS-a commonplace book of as many curious, extraordinary, true and false occurrences, as ever were introduced into two ponderous folios. The number of strange cuts in it used to amuse my dear children-whose parent, from the remembrance of the past, still finds a pleasing recreation in looking at them" (Thomas Frognall Dibdin, Bibliomania, or Book Madness...New and improved Edition...(London: 1842), pages 110-111).

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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