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A page from the 1493, first French edition of Boccaccio’s …des nobles et cleres dames being offered as part of the Bonna library in Paris, guided at €40,000-60,000.

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The only known copy of Elzevir of Leiden’s first state issue, it is the dedication copy and one that was superbly bound in red morocco gilt in the ‘Fanfare’ style by Le Gascon for the Comte de Noailles.

The Galileo is estimated at €700,000-900,000, but pitched at a slightly more modest €40,000- 60,000 is a 1493, first French edition of Boccaccio’s celebrated collection of biographies devoted exclusively to women from mythology, legend and history, …des nobles et cleres dames.

Known from many 14th century manuscript copies and first printed in 1473 by Gunther Zainer of Ulm as De Claris Mulieribus, it is a work that includes, along with the famous, several almost forgotten figures and women who were not necessarily virtuous. Boccaccio also excuses his preference for pagan over religious women by noting that the saints’ lives had been recorded elsewhere.

Boccaccio’s work had appeared in many editions and in other languages by the end of the 15th century and in England was a source for the writings of Chaucer, Edmund Spenser and others.

The French version, using a translation by the poet and humanist Laurent de Premierfait (d.1418) and printed by Antoine Verard as De la louenge et vertu des nobles et cleres dames, is illustrated with some 80 woodcuts, as was the Ulm edition.

However, whether they are printed from the same blocks, copies or derivative, I have been unable to ascertain.