Oxford: At the University Press, 1931. Thick folio [40 by 30 cm], original blue cloth, lettered in gilt. xii, 311, (1) pages; 141 superb plates depicting 667 medals. Binding worn, with hinges cracked and front cover stained; first few leaves lightly stained, not affecting main text or plates. Ex Duveen Brothers, with their stamp. Contents generally near fine. Item #7211
The rare original edition of this important, beautifully produced work. The collection itself now resides in the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art. George Hill, in his preface, notes that “keenly as Gustave Dreyfus appreciated all his beautiful things, he had a particularly soft place in his heart for the Italian medals... His was perhaps the finest collection that has ever been in the hands of a private collector—the ‘perhaps’ might be omitted but that it is difficult to range the great collections in a true perspective.” A printed notice on the verso of the half-title reveals that “The collection of Monsieur Gustave Dreyfus was acquired in 1930 from his executors by Sir Joseph Duveen Bart.” Sir Joseph was the moving force of the New York City firm of Duveen Brothers and, by most accounts, remains the greatest international art dealer of all time. His trade in master paintings and other superb works of art is legendary. He is best remembered in the numismatic world for his acquisition of the Dreyfus collections of Renaissance medals, plaquettes, and bronzes, and his subsequent publication of the superb three volumes describing and depicting the collections. The bindings on these are rarely up to the challenge of supporting their massive size and are generally the worse for wear. This was a “house copy” and bears the Duveen Brothers Library stamp. The limited initial printings and concentration of copies in institutional holdings combine to make an offering of any of the three volumes a noteworthy occasion. Clain-Stefanelli 14288. Grierson 256.