Enchiridion Leonis Papæ Serenissimo imperatori Carolo Magno, Enchiridion du pape Léon, Envoyé comme un rare Présent à l'Empereur Charlemagne.
Rome [ Paris ]: Chez Le Père Angelo de Rimini, ND [ circa 1850 ? ]. Hardcover. Small Octavo (5.5 x 3.5 inches). (vi) + 180pp Contemporary quarter leather binding: black leather spine with gilt titling and decorations over marbled paper boards. Marbled endpapers. Black and white illustrations: engraved device on title page. Sixteen plates: eight full page engraved plates (two of which are folding) printed on thick paper and six full page plates printed on normal paper stock. FRENCH text. A curious mid-nineteenth century edition of this famous grimoire. An early owner's inscription (see further below) has the date 1872 on it, so it was obviously published no later than that, though we would estimate more likely in the 1850s. This edition is interesting as it mixes explicitly magical - even necromantic - material (such as the numerous magical seals and devices and a depiction of "La Main de Gloire") with devotional material (the first plate is of Saint Veronica). The origins of "The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III" are obscure, but according to the legend echoed in the book's title the text is derived from a prayer book that Pope Leo III is said to have presented to Charlemagne after Leo crowned him Imperator Augustus in December 800 CE. The book was said to be invested with magical properties that would protect it's owner through all the vicisitudes of life, provided that he treated it with reverence and repeated the prayers in it daily. When, over seven centuries later, the work finally appeared in print, it was apparently not as the simple devotional book that it was originally purported to be, but rather took the form of a series of spells or charms, mostly for specific worldly ends, in prayer-like form. Other versions of the work, with a more explicitly occult text, were published by various of the French grimoire makers during the first half of the nineteenth century. This is an example of such a work. Typically there is a rather cursory attempt to disguise place of publication, which the title page gives as "A Rome, Chez Le Père Angelo de Rimini," a statement which is rather obviously contradicted by the imprint in the colophon: "Imprimerie de Cosson, rue du Four-Saint-Germain, 47." Boards somewhat rubbed, particularly at edges, and with an odd square-shaped crease to the bottom corner of the front board which also has a small round blemish. There is a neat, early presentation inscription with the recipient's name and "Y loove (sic) you with all my Heart / 1872" [above a neat decorative flourish] on the half-title page. The text block was obviously cropped for binding, but this only affects the word "Enchiridion" on the title page (the last few letters of which are slightly shaved). Occasional pale foxing throughout, small silverfish nibbles to second blanks at front and rear. Still a solid, attractive copy of this unusual edition. Item #48073