“FOUNDATION STONES OF SCIENTIFIC ARCHAEOLOGY”: 1721-25 FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF DE MONTFAUCON’S ANTIQUITY EXPLAINED, WITH 447 MAGNIFICENT COPPER ENGRAVINGS
MONTFAUCON, Bernard de. Antiquity Explained, and Represented in Sculptures, by the Learned Father Montfaucon, Translated into English by David Humphreys. London: J. Tonson and J. Watts, 1721-25. Five volumes, with five volume supplement bound in one. Six volumes in all. Folio, contemporary three-quarter plum morocco gilt, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $6000.
First edition in English of de Montfaucon’s landmark work on archaeology, with 447 of 448 copper-engraved plates (including 124 double-page and foldout; bound without only one plate from supplement).
De Montfaucon (1655-1741), a Benedictine of the Congregation of Saint-Maur devoted to historical and ecclesiastical scholarship, pioneered the studies of Greek paleography and archaeology. “His Antiquité… surveyed in fifteen volumes the social and artistic aspects of the ancient civilizations; and the unfinished Monuments de la Monarchie Française tried to do the same for early French history. These works can well be called foundation stones of scientific archaeology” (Printing and the Mind of Man 175). In preparing L’Antiquité… de Montfaucon received contributions and assistance from many of the greatest European collections of antiquities of the period; most of these are credited adjacent to each of their respective illustrations. “As this work has never been completely replaced, it still conserves its long-standing value” (Brunet 28960). “In spite of the imperfections that are impossible to avoid in such an immense work… one cannot deny that it has contributed to the spread, particularly in France, of the interest in archaeology, or that he did not advance this science among us” (Biographie Universelle). Bound without Plate 3 in Supplement. Ex-libris Newcastle Public Library, with bookplates in each volume and small stamps in margins throughout, never affecting images.
One text leaf, pp. 49/50 in Volume I, with closed tear; one text leaf with slight loss at p. 139 in Volume 5; Plate 86 in Supplement torn with slight loss. Usual light scattered foxing and occasional offsetting from plates. An impressive, dramatically illustrated set.