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    Games of Love

    Peter Rollos. Le Centre de l'Amour, Decouvert soubs Divers Emblesmes Galans et Facetieux. Paris: Chez Cupidon, 1680. First edition. Small oblong quarto (5.125 x 6.8125 inches; 130 x 178 mm.). [4], 90 (of 92), [2] leaves. Collation: *4, A-H4, I(4-1), K-O4, P(4-1), Q-Z4, **2. Engraved allegorical title, 90 (of 92) engraved plates, and engraved "Quatrain" (on the verso of Plate 92), all after Peter Rollos. Lacking I3 (Plate 35, "Deux trepas," and the French verse for Plate 36, "Les flateurs") and P1 (Plate 57, "L'instinct," and the French verse for Plate 58, "Efforts inutiles"). The "Tables des Emblesmes" (2 leaves), which contains on the verso of the second leaf the French verse to accompany Plate 1 ("Les Ages"), is bound at the end instead of following the preface, and the rear flyleaf is adhered to it - the flyleaf has been partially torn away, but still conceals much of the French verse.

    Late eighteenth-century tree calf, neatly rebacked, with most of the original spine laid down. Smooth spine decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt, covers with decorative border of gilt dots, marbled endpapers, edges sprinkled blue (now darkened). Title engraving cut and mounted; lower corner of K4 (Plate 40, "Crainte de scandale") renewed, affecting both engraving and text; tear to upper margin of S4 (Plate 72, "Pauvre rencontre"), affecting both engraving and text; verso of Z3 badly stained with ink (possibly an attempt to obliterate the French verse for Plate 92, "Le Cocu"). Several additional mostly marginal tears or paper flaws, some repaired. Some edge browning; slight dampstaining in the upper corner, heaviest in the first three gatherings; a few additional small stains. Pencil note on front free endpaper and a few scattered ink or pencil marks. Overall, a very good copy, with dark impressions of the plates. Rare. Landwehr and Praz cite only later issues of this work.

    Engravings after Peter Rollos, previously published in his Vita Corneliana and Euterpae suboles (1639, although both first published earlier), with mottoes in Latin and German (a few in German only), and French verse on the facing pages. The plates include depictions of courting couples engaging in or observing various sports and activities, including backgammon, cards, tennis, shuffleboard, volleyball, croquet, duelling with swords, archery, and jousting.

    Le Centre de l'Amour (published by Cupid himself, according to the imprint), with its "gallant and facetious" emblems, "adopts a consciously libertine ('libre') approach to its subject, versification and meaning in the interests solely of giving pleasure to its readers...The author's guiding principle is the Latin Natura diverso gaudet (Nature delights in diversity) at once an advertisement for the book's various delights, and a frank recommendation to promiscuous enjoyment...Each activity carries its own double entendre involving balls, shuttlecocks, the middle-region, cones or feathers. These objects are rather monotonously stroked, pushed, knocked, hit, struck, rubbed, or touched" (John Manning, The Emblem (London: 2002), pages 175-176).

    Landwehr, German Emblem Books, 223. Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, pages 302 and 477-478.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th Wednesday
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