Augustissimorum imperatorum, serenissimorum regum, atque archiducum, illustrissimorum principum, necnon comitum, baronum, nobilium [...] gestarum succinctae descriptiones.
Folio (340 x 488 mm). (6), (124 instead of 125) ff. (= printed title within woodcut border; engraved portrait of Ferdinand II of Tyrol, Archduke of Austria; 3 ff. of preface; dedication to Emperor Rudolf II; 124 engraved portraits by Domenicus Custos after Giovanni Fontana with letterpress text on the verso within woodcut borders). Later marbled calf, spine gilt in compartments. Edges goffered and gilt.
First edition; much rarer than the second, German edition, which appeared in 1603. Ostensibly a series of portraits of military nobles from the 15th and 16th centuries from all across Europe (including the Muslim statesmen Sultan Soliman and Sokollu Mehmed Pasha), this is in fact a magnificent catalogue of the collection of arms and armour owned by Archduke Ferdinand (1529-95) at Schloss Ambras near Innsbruck, which had been collected by previous generations of Habsburg rulers and greatly expanded by Ferdinand with the help of his secretary, Schrenck von Notzing, who edited the work at the commission of his lord. It is considered the world's first illustrated museum catalogue, most notable for the representation of the military costumes of some of the protagonists.
All portraits are engraved within splendid, richly decorated architectural borders; even the biographical text is enclosed within a four-part woodcut border.
Binding slightly rubbed and scuffed in places. A few edge tears throughout; portrait of Francesco Gonzaga torn and repaired in gutter; wants the portrait of Hildebrand de Madrutsch. Includes the printed dedication leaf to Emperor Rudolf II, not cited by Colas or Lipperheide. Provenance: monastery of Weingarten, near Regensburg (dissolved in 1803), ink inscription on title-page dated 1659; stamp of the Königliche Handbibliothek (royal library) in Stuttgart of Wilhelm I of Württemberg. Latterly in the collection of Thomas Fremantle, 3rd Baron Cottesloe (1862-1956), commander of the Territorial Army and president of the Society for Army History Research.
Cockle 928. VD 17, 23:230480V. BL (German books) S 1339. Hiler 787. Colas 2690. Brunet V, 224. Vinet 2046. Cf. Lipperheide Ci 1 (dt. Ausgabe). Waldner, Tiroler Buchdr. 252, 100. Durstmüller I, 68 ("Paurs sog. Österreichisches Ehrenwerk - eine meisterhafte Leistung in gemischter Technik").