Quinti Horatii Flacci Opera. by HORACE. PINE, John (1690-1756), engraver.

Quinti Horatii Flacci Opera. by HORACE. PINE, John (1690-1756), engraver. < >
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‘the most elegant of English eighteenth-century books’
HORACE. PINE, John (1690-1756), engraver.

Quinti Horatii Flacci Opera. Vol. I [-II]. London, John Pine, 1733.

First Edition, second state of vol. II p. 108 with the inscription on the medal of Augustus Caesar in the corrected state of ‘potest’. Two volumes, 8vo, (221 x 130 mm), pp. [xxxii], 176, [2], [177]-264, [2], first end final pages blank; [xxiv], 48, [2], [49]-94, [2], [95]-152, [2], [153]-172, [2], [173]-191, [1] blank, [13] explanation of the plates, printed entirely from engraved plates, some light foxing and offsetting, in contemporary crimson morocco, triple gilt filet borders to covers, gilt spines with raised bands and contrasting brown morocco labels, marbled endpapers, gilt edges, some slight wear to the bindings with a little bit of surface abrasion and staining.

One of the most famous engraved books of the eighteenth century: ‘the most elegant of English eighteenth-century books in which text and illustrations alike are entirely engraved’ (Ray p. 3). Pine’s work was inspired by French book design and in turn it had a profound effect on English typography. Its magnificent plates, illustration and typography have made it a staple of book collecting ever since. The work was intended only as a deluxe edition and it was not issued in workaday bindings. Here it is in a simple but beautiful red morocco binding. On any other book, this might suggest a particularly special copy but for Pine’s Horace, it was probably a trade binding, for over the counter sales.
The text was first set in type and a proof transferred to the copper plates to be engraved letter by letter, the headpieces, decorated initials, tailpieces and full page illustrations then engraved on the same plates. ‘The brilliancy of this engraved roman text struck a new note, and thus Pine’s Horace may have had a good deal to do with the taste for more “finished” types which waxed as the century waned.’ (Updike II, p. 138.) In this sense, Pine paved the way for Baskerville and Bodoni and, like them, he generously spaced his lines. In his address to the reader, Pine draws attention not only to the brightness (nitore) of his letters but also to the fact that unlike movable type there is no chance of errors being introduced during printing.
A prospectus was issued on 24 February 1731, with a list of subscribers and 67 plates, before the addition of the signature letters (ESTC N39784). The list of subscribers in the first volume, supplemented by that in volume II, brings the total to well over 1000 names, with separate sections for many European countries or capital cities. This must be one of the longest subscription lists in any eighteenth-century book.

See Gordon Norton Ray, The illustrator and the book in England from 1790 to 1914 (1976); Daniel Berkeley Updike, Printing types, their history, forms and use (3rd edition, 1962).

ESTC t46226; Brunet III, 320; Cohen-de Ricci 498.

Keywords: The Arts
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