Leiden: Elzevier, 1628. First. hardcover. 2 books bound in one volume. Part I with 16 preliminary leaves including the beautifully engraved title, portrait, and 9 armorial plates, followed by 33 numbered engravings, all but one double-page, and each with 4-12 pages of explanatory text. Part II with 13 double-page plates and explanatory text. Including the title, there are 57 magnificent plates in all, engraved by Crispin de Pass, Bolswaert, Gellius, Stockius, and more than 10 other artists, depicting full-length figures in all manner of fencing attitudes, the floors covered with mathematical plans, and framed with fine decorative architectural backgrounds. Thick elephant folio, attractively bound in gilt-decorated 18th century calf. [Leyde: Bonaventura & Abraham Elzevier], 1628, though colophon and binding state 1630. A near fine clean copy with one plate stained and 4 with neatly repaired tears. near fine.
Unquestionably one of the great book productions of the seventeenth century, if not of all time, and the most beautiful book of fencing extant. Many kings and princes of Europe gave their support to this sumptuous publication, and their grand engraved arms are each represented on the 9 dedicatory pages. The descriptions are printed in fine large type, with decorative initials, head and tail-pieces throughout. The book is very rarely found complete, with the portrait being especially scarce. This is a particularly fine sound copy, measuring 20.75 x 15.5 inches, providing good margins throughout. Bookplate of Lewis Richard Ashhurst inside cover. Despite the exquisite end result, the planned work relating to fighting on horseback was never realized. -- Willems 302; Brunet V 815; Lipperheide 2960; Rosenwald 1427; Copinger 4705.