2 Ancient and modern Sweden / DAHLBERG, Erik 106


Description: Ancient and modern Sweden in 355 engraved plates

[Engraved title-page:] Suecia antiqua et hodierna.

[Stockholm, 1769? (engraved ca. 1670-ca. 1750)]. 3 parts in 1 volume. Folio. Contemporary mottled calf, sewn on 5 cords, richly gold-tooled spine, red morocco label in 2nd of 7 compartments. In a modern cloth-covered slipcase. With 355 engraved plates (including 3 engraved title-pages and the large view of the Swedish Church in London, often lacking); most plates double-page, several folding. Only the index is printed letterpress, with a woodcut decorated initial and a woodcut tailpiece. 13, [1 blank] pp. plus 355 plates.

A magnificent series of hundreds of plates showing Sweden's (and Finland's) cities, gardens, palaces, churches and antiquities, executed by such prominent artists as Willem Swidde, Jean Marot, Adam Perelle and Jan van Aveelen.
Erik Jönsson Dahlberg (1625-1703) was a military engineer and subsequently Director of Fortifications to King Karl X of Sweden. He spent three years in Frankfurt am Main, where he became acquainted with the brothers Matthaeus and Conrad Merian, then working on their epoch-making Theatrum Europeaum and their famous topographies, which greatly impressed Dahlberg. Indeed, his Suecia antiqua et hodierna "was modelled closely upon the format of Topographia Galliae (published 1655) but Dahlberg was also to improve upon his models in making Suecia more exhaustive than they" (BAL).
Already in 1661 Dahlberg began working on the drawings and by 1664 he had completed the those the first half of the work. He engaged several French engravers and the printer Jean Goyton, but publication was halted by a new war with Denmark (1675). Quarrels with the French engravers forced Dahlberg to engage several other engravers, including the Dutchman Jan van Aveelen. Van Aveelen moved to Sweden in 1698 and worked tirelesly on the series until his death in 1715, producing no fewer than 144 plates. Six hundred sets of the plates were finally printed in 1726, followed by 400 more sets in 1769. Several authors worked on an introductory text, but this was never finished and only partially printed.
The plates are printed on at least two paperstocks, watermarked: fleur-de-lis = "DS" and fleur-de-lis = "IV". Similar watermarks (Heawood 1469 and 1540) are known from ca. 1690 and 1743; the present plates, therefore, most likely come from the second printing of 1769. This is confirmed by the presence of the plate of the Swedish Church in London, which "dates the collection to the mid-eighteenth century or later" (BAL).

Modern armorial bookplate (with initials DC) on paste-down. A few plates browned, one mounted on another leaf. Front hinge and head and foot of spine expertly restored. "[E]ine kunstgeschichtliche Quelle von unschätzbarem Wert und ausserdem eine ganz hervorragende künstlerische Leistung" (Thieme-Becker).
BAL 772; Berlin Kat. 2256; Lipperheide 1037; Warmholtz, Bibliotheca Historica Sueo-Gothica 207; for Dahlberg: Thieme-Becker VIII, p. 276.
  • Number: 1060738 (7622)
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum