This summer, Sothebys
will offer for sale a remarkable collection of historic numismatic books, considered to be the finest private library of its kind in existence. The Collection of Patricia Milne-Henderson: Books on Coins, Medals and Antiquities will be presented in a timed online auction between 8 and 18 July 2016. Together, the 115 lots are estimated at £92,000-132,000.
The auction provides a fascinating insight into the history of British book collecting, and takes the reader on a journey through some of the greatest libraries ever assembled. The provenance of these tomes is extraordinary, from Charles II (bound specially for his library at St. James), the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Pembroke, and Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, to William Beckford, Sir William Stirling Maxwell and the Earl of Bute.
Many of the books in the collection date to the Italian Renaissance, when there was a craze for excavation and uncovering the glories of antiquity. Archaeological finds in Rome and elsewhere at this time meant that Roman coins existed in substantial quantities and were therefore widely available; they provided genuine and datable images of Roman history, art and culture in a portable form. The earliest book is Fulvios Illustrium Imagines of 1517, one of the very first attempts at identifying famous faces of antiquity from numismatic evidence. A generation later, it was understood that images on coins could enhance and clarify historical knowledge, and they were used to help identify statues of Greeks and Romans. Catalogues of coins were also used by artists as sources of images and symbols, particularly for allegorical figures.
Patricia Milne-Henderson, an art historian who was married to Michael Jaffé (1923-1997, former Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum), began to assemble this comprehensive collection in the 1960s and, over the course of almost 50 years, sought out many rare and variant editions, with superb illustrations.
The Earliest Book in the Collection
FULVIO, ANDREA (c. 1470-1527) Illustrium imagines (Rome: Giacomo Mazzocchi, 15 November 1517), 8vo
Provenance: Sir William Stirling-Maxwell (1818-1878) One-time MP for Perthshire, Rector of St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities, Trustee of the British Museum and National Gallery
An antiquarian living in Rome, Fulvio was a friend of Raphael, and advised him on his portrayals of the ancient city.
This book, one of the very first attempts at identifying famous faces of Antiquity from numismatic evidence, contains woodcut medallion portraits of classical figures (from Alexander the Great onwards).
The portraits used were not always historically accurate, despite the blank spaces left for some characters implying that accurate portraits were yet to be found.
Each page is designed to resemble an antique monument with the portrait above and the text (comprising a brief biography) carved beneath.
This is issue II of Fulvio's text; the first issue was printed on 7 November 1517.
The portraits were based on coins and medals from the collection of Giacomo Mazzocchi - appointed one of the Papal Commissioners for Antiquities in 1515 alongside Raphael and Fulvio.
From the Library of Charles II
Illustrium philosophorum, et sapientum effigies ab eorum numismatibus extractae. Venice, 1583, 4to
Provenance: Charles II; British Museum, octagonal stamp in blue (indicating Royal Library provenance), and duplicate stamp, sold in 1787, sale, Leigh and Sotheby, March 1788
The binding by Samuel Mearne is consistent with the bindings he made for Charles II's library at St James's; records show that Mearne bound 830 books for St James's between 1663 and 1667
The work then entered the collection of the British Museum after the Royal Library was transferred there in the mid-18th century.
Olgiati was an engraver active in Venice between 1567 and 1575.
This work, showing portraits of Greek and Roman writers and philosophers was first published in 1567, and the different editions have varying numbers of plates.
From The Collection of The Earls Of Pembroke / Wilton House
HERBERT, THOMAS, EIGHTH EARL OF PEMBROKE (1656/7-1733)
Numismata antiqua in tres partes divisa collegit olim et aeri incidi vivens curavit Thomas Pembrochiae et Montis Gomerici Comes. London, 1746
Provenance: Earl of Pembrokes trustees
This printing of "Numismata antiqua" is accompanied by two documents concerning the terms of the bequest of the collection by the eighth Earl of Pembroke.
Dated 31 May 1733 and 28 June 1733 they relate to the recently deceased eighth Earl of Pembroke's wish that his collection of works of art and medals and coins be held in trust for the purpose of furnishing his house at Wilton "to the end that his house at Wilton might not be found naked, to the great expense of any following Earl of Pembroke".
ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM (1527-1598)
Deorum dearumque capita ex vetustis numismatibus in gratiam antiquitatis studiosorum effigiata et edita. Antwerp: (Philippe Galle), 1573
Provenance: Presentation copy from Ortelius to Joannes Castelius, inscription on first title-page; Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke (1656/7-1733)
Ortelius was one of the great Flemish cartographers, and creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World).
Ortelius is known to have owned a collection of around 2,000 antique coins, which provided the images of heads of gods and goddesses for this work.
Contains the eighth Earls handwritten notes.
This was presented by Ortelius to Joannes Castelius (or Jan van de Casteels, c. 1521-1581 or 1584) - a humanist scholar from Bruges.
The books in the Earl of Pembroke's library at Wilton House were all bound in this typical fashion; on the title-page are the earl's pencil notes to the binder stating the covering material ("Turkey") and the wording for the lettering-piece.
Very early colour printing
GOLTZIUS, HUBERT (1526-1583). Icones imperatorum romanorum, ex priscis numismatibus ad vivum delineatae, & brevi narratione historica illustratae. Antwerp: Officina Plantiniana, Balthasar Moretus, 1645
Originally published in Bruges in 1557, this volume is part of a series of republications of Goltzius' works by Moretus.
HUTTICH, JOHANN (c. 1490-1544). Romanorum principum effigies, cum historiarum annotatione, olim ab Io. Huthichio confecta, nunc vero alicubi aucta & longe castigatiora opera Io. Sambuci. Strassburg: Wolfgang Köpfel, 1552, 8vo
This is a Strassburg reprint of Huttich's work on the portraits of the Roman emperors from Caesar to François I, with the roundel portraits copied from the original white-on-black woodcuts by Hans Weiditz. The text is edited by Joannes Sambucus, who studied in Strassburg briefly in 1550.
HUTTICH, JOHANN (c. 1490-1544). Imperatorum et Caesarum vitae, cum imaginibus ad vivam effigiem expressis. Libellus auctus cum elencho & iconiis consulum ab authore. Strassburg: Wolfgang Köpfel, 1534
This is the fourth edition of Huttichs work on the portraits of the Roman emperors from Caesar to Charles V, originally published in 1525.
ANGELONI, FRANCESCO (1559-1652) La historia augusta da Giulio Cesare infino a Costantino Magno. Illustrata con la verità delle antiche medaglie. Rome: Andrea Fei, 1641
Angeloni, a renowned antiquarian, was secretary to Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, and a friend of Bellori, Domenichino and Poussin. This work not only made public his collection of coins but also contains references to artists both Renaissance and contemporary, combining his interest in collecting art both ancient and modern (he owned a substantial number of drawings by Carracci, for example).
VICO, ENEA (1523-1567). Omnium Caesarum verissimae imagines ex antiquis numismatis desumptae... editio altera. Venice: Paolo Manuzio, 1554, 4to
The coins cover Roman rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian. This is a reprint of the 1553 edition.
SAMBUCUS, JOANNES (1531-1584). Emblemata, cum aliquot nummis antiqui operis. Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1564
FIRST EDITION of Sambucus's emblem book, which was prepared for the press while Sambucus was in the Netherlands in 1563-1564.
VEGETIUS RENATUS, FLAVIUS (fl. 4th century AD). De re militari libri. Accedunt Frontini Strategematibus eiusdem auctoris alia opuscula. Omnia emendatius, quaedam nunc primum edita a Petro Scriverio. Cum commentariis aut notis God. Stewechii & Fr. Modii. Antwerp: Ex officina Plantiniana Raphelengii, 1607
Provenance: Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, inscription on three title-pages
A compilation of Classical writings on military matters, comprising Vegetius, Cato, Frontinus, Aelianus, Polybius, Hyginus, Modestus, Ruffus, and other more fragmentary sources. The illustrations from coins are used by the commentator, Stewechius, as supporting evidence for aspects of the Roman army, including ships, triumphs, and legionary standards.
VELIUS, CASPAR URSINUS (c. 1493-1539). Chronicorum mundi epitome, in singulos annos curiose digesta. Frankfurt: Christian Egenolff, October 1534