Kalendarium humanæ vitæ. The Kalender of mans life.
Kalendarium humanæ vitæ. The Kalender of mans life.
Kalendarium humanæ vitæ. The Kalender of mans life.

Kalendarium humanæ vitæ. The Kalender of mans life. London: for William Hope, 1638.

8vo (142 x 91 mm). [152] pp. (plus 2 extra leaves). Final blank removed. Engraved title by George Glover, 16 full-page emblematic woodcuts, the oval emblems set within repeating ornamental cartouches (using 3 series of blocks), with inset letterpress Latin and English captions; typographical ornaments, woodcut factotum initials. This copy with duplicates of leaves B2 and H5 in the two states. Farley’s poems in Latin and English, in italic and roman types respectively. Signature and catchword on E2r shaved. Modern polished calf, gilt edges (joints and extremities a bit rubbed, scratch to upper cover). Provenance: contemporary partly deleted signature Charles on Imprimatur page at end; a Latin poem (with a word of Greek) on King Charles of England, with its English translation opposite, in another contemporary hand on the final page opening, one line and the writer’s signature unfortunately cropped; Richard Holmden, armorial bookplate; Robert S. Pirie, bookplate (acquired from Quaritch in 1997), sale Sotheby’s NY, 2 Dec. 2015.***

only edition of a delightful bilingual emblem book by a Scottish poet of whom little is known. Farley’s Neolatin poems on the seasons and months are accompanied by his own English translations in iambic pentameters, and illustrated with a series of well-made original woodcut emblems. Farley’s single other major work, the Lychnocausia, also a Latin-English emblem book, appeared the same year. He dedicated both editions to Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset.

The engraved title includes five circular emblems, one for each season and a memento mori, with a letterpress explanation bound opposite (A1v). The months are arranged by season, starting with spring and March, symbolizing man’s birth; this parallel with the Life of Man continues to winter, or death; this final section concludes with a series of hymns, or “Epitaphs on the Dead.”

Praz remarks on the rarity of English emblem books, most of which never saw a second edition: “This literary genre, on the whole, did not flourish in England, and this is the more surprising in as far as English seventeenth-century poetry abounds in conceits, and, on the other hand, the greatest collectors of emblem books were later found in England” (p. 157).

Quire B of this copy is in the uncorrected state, with the English caption on B2r reading “I dig a grave”, and quire H in the corrected state, with English caption on H5r “I enjoy my fruites”; bound in are an additional copy of leaf B2 in the corrected state (”I dig the ground”) and H5 in the uncorrected state (”Injoy my fruites”). An English reader has supplied his own additional Latin and English poem at the end.

There are about 15 copies of this edition in US libraries, but it is scarce in the trade. Not in the Princeton collection. ESTC S101880; STC (2nd ed.), 10693; Pforzheimer 362B; Grolier Club, Wither to Prior, 351; Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, 157 & 332. Item #2772

Price: $5,500.00

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