Folio, two volumes (575 x 365 mm. each), full contemporary Dutch vellum blind tooled with ornate central feature, rebacked lacking ties. Volume 1 with general typographic title, volume title and engraved frontispiece with allegorical Papal figures and devotees; volume 2 with typographic title, engraved frontispiece showing the raising of a column and half title. With 113 engraved town plans, views and elevations, mostly double page, several folding, with the folding three-sheet panorama of Frascati (often wanting), Latin text, mounted on guards throughout, a good clean example.
The FIRST EDITION OF JOAN BLAEU’S GREAT TOWN BOOKS OF ITALY. In 1648 Blaeu published his celebrated two volume town book on the Netherlands. It was issued towards the end of the war with Spain and as such records an important period of Dutch history. The only other country to benefit from Blaeu’s talents was Italy. First published in 1663 it was issued in three volumes although evidence supports the fact that the third on Napoli and Sicilia was issued later as a preliminary volume only. Volume one includes topographical views of Rome, Bologna, Ferrara, Perugia and Tivoli amongst others, and volume two illustrated Ancient Rome. In 1682 Blaeu’s heirs issued two further volumes on Piedmont and Savoy effectively completing the coverage of Italy.
The second volume on ancient Rome includes some magnificent plates on amphitheatres, circuses and theatres. The portion of this volume dealing with Egyptian obelisks is based on ‘Obeliscus Pamphilius’ published by Athanasius Kircher (1602-80) in 1650. Van der Krogt described the work as very rare citing ‘About 75 copies (single volumes included) are known’. PROVENANCE: gilt book label and blind stamp of the Knights Templar ‘Sigillum militae’, on titles; stamp of Biblioteca Abbatiae on titles. Koeman (1967-70) Bl 72 & 73; Phillips LC 4039; Shirley BL T.Bla 4a; Van der Krogt 43:211 1l & 2l.