Among the finest illustrated books of the seventeenth century with over 100 engravings
By VIRGIL & HOLLAR, Wenceslaus , 1668

The Fables of Aesop paraphras’d in Verse Adorn’d with Sculpture and Illustrated with Annotations. The Second Edition.

Art & Architecture
  • Author: VIRGIL & HOLLAR, Wenceslaus
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Thomas Roycroft
  • Publication date: 1668.
  • Physical description: Folio (420 by 270mm). Two volumes in one. Large paper copy. Volume one: title printed in red and black, portrait frontispiece of Ogilby by W. Faithorne after Lely, engraved frontispiece by W. Hollar, 82 engraved plates, proofs before letters, 10 of which are signed by W. Hollar. Volume two: title printed in red and black, 64 (only, of 69, lacking plates for Fables XXVII, XXXVI, and XXXVII) engraved plates, proofs before letters, 7 of which are signed by Hollar, three engraved headpieces and initials. Together, a total of 148 (of 150) full-page engraved plates, contemporary calf, rebacked preserving original spine in 7 compartments separated by raised bands, title in gilt on red morocco lettering piece to second compartment, "S.X." surmounted by a crown in gilt to others, marbled edges, lacking three plates of the Aesopics. Collation: (vol. 1) 4 ff., A-C, D2-Z2, Aa2- Ff; (vol.2) A-D, [D2], E2-Z2, Aa2-Hh2 0402.
  • Inventory reference: 18634


First edition of the Aesopics and second for the Fables.

Aesop’s fables were among the earliest printed books to be illustrated, with several examples having been printed before 1500. After the success of the edition of Virgil’s works in folio in 1654, John Ogilby decided to take on Aesop. The first edition was published in 1665 in London. It is likely that the Great Fire of London took its toll on both the 1665 and the 1666 editions, as both are now scarce. Ogilby’s was re-issued in 1668, together with his ‘Aesopic’s or A second Collection of Fables’ also with etchings by Hollar.


Insignia of the Earl of Essex in gilt on spine; Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex (bookplate).

Algernon Capell, 2nd Earl of Essex (1670- 1710) of Cassiobury House, Watford, Hertfordshire, English nobleman, soldier, and courtier. After his father’s suicide in The Tower awaiting execution for his part in the Rye House Plot in 1683, Capell became the 2nd Earl of Essex. He held the office of Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King William III between 1691 and 1702. As Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire he was Colonel of the Hertfordshire Militia in 1697. He was Colonel of the 4th Dragoons between 1693 and 1710. In 1708 was made a Privy Counsellor by Queen Anne.


  1. Donald Wing, Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland etc…, 697 & 698 – Pennington, A descriptive catalogue of the etched work of W. Hollar (402A)

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