AN AMERICAN RARITY—THOMAS JEFFERSON'S PERSONAL COPY OF LLOYD’S “SUPERIOR” EDITION OF ESTIENNE’S HISTORICAL DICTIONARY, 1671, WITH HIS INITIALED OWNERSHIP MARKINGS—THE SANG COPY
(JEFFERSON, Thomas) STEPHANO, Carolo (ESTIENNE, Charles). Dictionarium Historicum, Geographicum, Poeticum. Oxford: Gul. Wells & Rob. Scott, 1671. Small folio (8 by 12 inches), contemporary full dark brown calf rebacked with original gilt-decorated spine panels neatly laid down, raised bands. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. $80,000.
A superb Presidential association copy—Thomas Jefferson's personal copy with his characteristic ownership markings of an important historical dictionary based on Estienne’s famous 16th-century Dictionarium, “the first French encyclopedia.” This is an early reissue of editor Nicholas Lloyd’s Oxford 1670 edition, in Latin, an updated and improved edition of Estienne’s work that was “superior to any of the previous editions.” From the renowned Americana collection of Mrs. Philip D. Sang, in contemporary calf. Rare and desirable.
This volume was in Jefferson's final "Retirement Library" when he died, and it contains Jefferson's characteristic ownership identification marks—he has penned a "T" before the signature mark "I" on page 33 (the letter "J" not being used in signature markings) and a "J" after the signature mark "T" on page 73, thereby marking his initials twice in the volume. Jefferson built three collections of books in his lifetime. The first burned in a fire at his childhood home, Shadwell, in 1770. In 1815, Jefferson sold his second collection of books to the government in order to help rebuild the collection of the Library of Congress, which had been destroyed in 1814 when the British burned Washington and the Capitol building during the War of 1812. The third collection was dispersed after Jefferson's death in 1826, largely through auction to satisfy creditors. Jefferson owned two copies of the 1671 edition of this work. He sold one copy to Congress in 1815 (Sowerby 141). The other (this copy) he purchased in 1817 from a French bookseller; the original invoice is at the Massachusetts Historical Society and has been transcribed in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson. This copy was listed in Jefferson's retirement library catalogue as "Caroli Stephani Dictionarium Histor. Geograph. Poeticum. Lloydii. fol." (page 6, item 63), and it was sold at the 1829 Nathaniel Poor auction of Jefferson's library as item 62 in that catalogue. According to a typed card laid into this volume, "The last owner in the Jefferson family was Mrs. C.R. Randolph, University Station, Charlottesville, Virginia." Carolina Ramsay Randolph (1828-1902) was a great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson; her father was Thomas Jefferson Randolph. This copy was in the renowned Americana collection of Mrs. Philip D. Sang until 1985. This is an early reissue (with new 1671 title page) of Lloyd's updated, expanded, and improved 1670 Oxford edition of Estienne's historical dictionary of classical and Biblical people, places, and other proper names, the "first French encyclopedia." (Sowerby 141). Lloyd's edition was published after thirty years' labor. In 1553, "Estienne printed the first edition of his 'Historical Dictionary,' the first book to which this title was given, and the first that purported to be a universal Dictionary of Biography, modern as well as ancient… In 1670, Nicholas Lloyd published at Oxford an edition of the 'Dictionarium Historicum' of Charles Estienne, but with numerous additions, corrections, alterations, and omissions, a book which gave the author a high reputation, not only in England, but on the Continent, where it was acknowledged as superior to any of the previous editions of the book of Charles Estienne" (Quarterly Review). Estienne was also known by the Latin name of Carolus Stephanus; his name appears on the title page of this work as Carolo Stephano.
Estienne's Dictionarium first appeared in France in 1553. This Oxford edition is a reissue of the 1670 edition, with a new title page.
Sowerby 141. Eight pages bear contemporary ink corrections or annotations in another hand.
Occasional foxing, light wear to covers, corners expertly restored. A very good copy, with an extraordinary provenance, most rare from Jefferson's library and with his ownership marking.