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A couple of dealers have since pointed out to me that missing from the description was the fact that this copy was once owned and inscribed by English poet and cleric John Donne (1572-1631).

The motto Per Rachel ho servito e non per Lea*, which he added to all his books, appears at the top of the title-page and his signature, though now only faintly visible, appears at bottom right.

It seems that there were a good many dealers looking at the book, each fondly hoping they might have been the only person to have spotted its provenance.

Donne’s library was widely dispersed after his death.

* Taken from Petrarch, it translates as ‘I have served Rachel, not Leah’, and was intended to imply that he pursued a contemplative rather than active life.