London: Printed by H. Hills jun. for Francis Barlow, and are to be sold by Chr. Wilkinson, Tho. Fox, and Henry Faithorne, 1687. Item #04323
The First Edition To Contain The Thirty-One Magnificent Full-Page Engravings
Including The Rare Suppressed Plate Number Seventeen
A Fine and Very Tall Copy in Mid-Eighteenth Century Straight-Grain Morocco
AESOP. Æsop’s Fables with His Life: in English, French and Latin. Newly Translated. Illustrated with One hundred and twelve Sculptures. To this Edition are likewise added, Thirty one New Figures representing his Life. By Francis Barlow. London: Printed by H. Hills jun. for Francis Barlow, and are to be sold by Chr. Wilkinson, Tho. Fox, and Henry Faithorne, 1687.
Second edition (first published in 1666). Virtually all copies of the first edition were destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666. This is the first edition to contain the additional thirty-one full-page engraved plates.
Folio (13 3/8 x 8 1/2 inches; 339 x 216 mm.). [2, blank, verso engraved pictorial title], [2, title, verso blank], [2, dedication], [1, To the Reader], [1, full-page engraving of Aesop surrounded by animals and birds], 40, 40, 17, 2-221, , [1, blank] pp. Full page engraved plate of the arms of the Earl of Devonshire and thirty-one (including the suppressed plate No. 17, which is often missing) full page engraved plates by Thomas Dudley after Francis Barlow illustrating the life of Aesop, and 110 half page engravings in the text. The thirty-one additional plates are bound after the forty pages of English text. These plates were engraved in 1678 - this second edition is the first to contain these superb engravings. The first and last leaves (the engraved pictorial title and 'The Table') have been expertly and almost invisibly backed due to some minor loss of the lower blank margin of the pictorial title not affecting plate mark and a small fore-margin repair on the last leaf, again not affecting any text. Some very minor stains or browning to some leaves, overall an exceptionally fine and very tall copy of this magnificently beautiful edition.
Bound ca. 1760 in full maroon straight-grain morocco, covers ruled in gilt, spine with six raised bands ruled and lettered in gilt, decorative gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges rough gilt. Two small stains on rear board, lower corner of rear board slightly creased, otherwise near fine. With the engraved armorial bookplate of the British Barrister and Liberal Party Politician, Felix Thornley Cobbold (1841-1909) on the front paste-down.
For this second edition of his magnificent production, Barlow commissioned Aphra Behn, then at the height of her popularity as a playwright, poet and translator, to write a quatrain summarizing the fable and to be engraved on the 110 plates illustrating the fables. In order to substitute Behn’s verses for those of Thomas Philipot (d. 1682), the lower area of the plate needed to be burnished down and the new verses engraved onto the plate in place of the earlier ones. “The workman doing the burnishing feared damaging the bottom border of the design above the verse: in many places traces of the tops of the letters in Philipot’s top lines remain. In a few instances a small new plate for the new verse had to be inserted.”(Hodnett).
“I Conceive it necessary to say concerning the Present Edition of this Work; That it exceeds the Former by a careful Correction of the Latin Copy, and by a more Exact Translation from the Latest and Best French Edition. The Life of Aesop likewise is illustrated with Thirty one new Copper Plates.
The Ingenious Mrs. A. Behn has been so obliging as to perform the English Poetry, which in short comprehends the Sense of the Fable and Moral: Whereof to say much were needless, since it may sufficiently recommend it self to all Persons of Understanding.” (To the Reader leaf).
“The fables and plates are printed here in the same manner as in the first edition, the French version on the verso of each leaf, facing the plate, and Latin version on the recto of the following leaf… The thirty-one additional plates illustrating the life of Æsop are placed at the end of the volume. They are preceded by the plate representing Æsop surrounded by animals and birds, which formed the first plate to the first edition. Plate No. 17 is usually wanting, being generally removed as too free a character. Nearly all of them are signed "Tho: Dudley fecit". (Grolier, Wither to Prior).
Francis Barlow (1626?-1704) was the first English-born book illustrator. He was also the first English etcher, modern animal and bird artist, recorder of sporting scenes, political cartoonist, and, possibly, modern landscape artist. The lifelikeness of his animal and bird drawings, prints, and paintings attracted the admiration of the founders of the Royal Society and allied him with the scientific spirit of the seventeenth century. Barlow was, moreover, an interesting illustrator of great freshness and vigor…" (Edward Hodnett. Five Centuries of English Book Illustration, p. 54).
“This seventeenth-century polyglot (English-French-Latin) Aesop is handsomely illustrated with engravings after designs by Francis Barlow (?1626-1702), an English painter renowned for his pictures of country life and field sports. (He was perhaps the finest English draughtsman of animal scenes in the seventeenth century.) Barlow, who published the book at his own expense, explains in his preface that he intends the work to contribute to the education of young people. This is the first edition; the relatively few copies known are all survivors of the Great Fire of London, which swept over the printer’s premises in 1666” (Morgan Library, Early Children’s Books - citing the 1666 first edition).
Felix Thornley Cobbold (1841-1909) was a British barrister and Liberal Party politician. Cobbold was the son of John Cobbold, Member of Parliament for Ipswich, and his wife Lucy, daughter of Henry Patteson (sometime Rector of Drinkstone and of Wortham, Suffolk). John Cobbold, Thomas Cobbold and Nathaniel Cobbold, grandfather of Cameron Cobbold, 1st Baron Cobbold, were his elder brothers. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge, and later became a senior fellow of this college. Cobbold also sat as Member of Parliament for Stowmarket in Suffolk between 1885 and 1886, and for Ipswich between 1906 and his death. In 1895 he presented Christchurch Mansion to the town of Ipswich as part of an arrangement to preserve the mansion and surrounding Christchurch Park from development. He also bequeathed Gippeswyk Park to Ipswich. Cobbold died in December 1909, aged 68.
Grolier, Wither to Prior, 666. Hodnett, Aesop in England, pp. 56-59 and 72. Morgan Library, Early Children’s Books, 9 (describing the 1666 first edition). Wing A703.