London: W. Bulmer and Co. Cleveland-Row, St. James's, 1812.
8vo, 17, , [iv], 284 (i.e. 283)pp. Original blue wrappers bound into later quarter parchment and gray boards. A few pencil notes of prices and a summary of some prices in the same hand at the back, ink signature on title "Thos. Fox" dated London 1812 in ink. Unobtrusive library stamp and number under the "Conditions of Sale", dated 1928.
§ First edition. This was "the event that could be said to mark the start of the modern era of book collecting: the sale of the library of John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe. The sale of this extensive and masterfully assembled collection attracted the interest of every major book collector in Britain, its praises having lately been sung in Dibdin’s Bibliomania, or Book-Madness (1809). To celebrate the sale of the Valdarfer Boccaccio [see below*], Dibdin held a dinner party on June 16, 1812 for a group of collectors that would become known as the Roxburghe Club. The club, now the oldest bibliophilic society in the world, likewise celebrates its 200th anniversary this year." "A new era in British book-collecting may be said to start with the Roxburghe sale (1812). For the first time in the history of bibliophily, the four- figure limit was reached in an auction sale for a single printed book. From being the hobby of a scholar or the whim of an eccentric commoner, the collecting of rare books became, once more, as in Harley's and Sunderland's days, the favourite pastime of the wealthy nobleman. John, third Duke of Roxburghe (1740-1804), had found in the family library a certain number of valuable books. Round this nucleus he built a handsome and extensive library mainly devoted to incunabula, French chivalry-romances, early English and Italian literature, Shakespeare and the drama. The sale was a most sensational affair and the total of £23,341 was an extraordinary one for the time. Dibdin has scribbled reams of enthusiastic literature on the smallest incident of each daily session." (De Ricci, English Collectors of Books & Manuscripts 1530-1930, pp. 71-72). Dibdin, Bibliographical Decameron, III, pp. 49-69. Lister, Biography of Dibdin (in litt.) chapter 6, describes the sale, which Dibdin attended and bid at, in detail. *The John Rylands Library now holds the copy of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decamerone ([Venice]: Christofal Valdarfer, 1471) which fetched the then record price of £2260 at the Roxburghe sale. The Marquess of Blandford (George Spencer-Churchill (1766-1840), fifth Duke of Marlborough) saw off competition from his cousin Lord Spencer (George John Spencer (1758-1834), second Earl Spencer) to secure the Boccaccio in 1812, but Spencer ultimately triumphed, paying a mere £918 15s for it when Blandford was forced to sell seven years later. Item #123981