Defending Heliocentrism just nine years after the publication of Copernicus’ De revolutionibus

Doni, Anton Francesco (1513-1574).

I Marmi del Doni, Academico Peregrino. Al et Eccellente S. Antonio da Feltro Dedicati. Venice, Francesco Marcolini, 1552 - 1553.

Doni, Anton Francesco (1513-1574) I Marmi del Doni, Academico Peregrino. Al et Eccellente S. Antonio da Feltro Dedicati. Francesco Marcolini, 1552 - 1553.

Four parts in one volume, 4° (207x150 mm). Collation: A-X4; Aa-Pp4; a4, B-X4; AA-MM4. 167, [1]; 119, [1]; 166, [2]; 93, [3] pages. Italic type. Woodcut printer's device on last pages of each part within full-page scrollwork borders, title-page of part 1 with large globe device; parts 2-4 each with a different device on title-pages. Forty-four woodcut illustrations in the text (three repeats) in various sizes, including portraits of Doni, the printer Marcolini, and other writers and cultural figures. Smaller woodcuts within ornamental frames of scrollwork and grotesques. Woodcut headpieces, decorated initials. Contemporary limp vellum. At the centre of both covers the blind-stamped coat of arms of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. Inked title on the spine and tail-edge. Covers somewhat soiled, minor loss to the bottom of the spine. An attractive copy, first title-page slightly dusted, small worm-tracks skilfully repaired in the gutter of the first leaves, slight staining in places.

Provenance: from the library of the Duke of Sussex Augustus Frederick, sixth son of King George III (1773-1843; armorial binding); Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from John Fleming, 1966 (ex-libris on the recto of the front flyeleaf; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York 2013, lot 163).

First edition of one of the most famous and esteemed works by the eccentric Florentine writer and former priest Anton Francesco Doni, a collection consisting mainly of a series of imaginary dialogues involving more than a hundred different characters, some real, some fictive, who are portrayed conversing upon the marble steps (I marmi) of the Duomo in Florence: the wide-ranging topics under discussion are unrelated and include, in the second part, the invention of printing (fol. Aa4r) and the publishing production of Aldus Manutius (fols. Cc2v-Cc4r). Further, the first dialogue contains a noteworthy passage of particular import to the reception history of Copernican theory during the sixteenth century, when the 'buffo' Carafulla defends the heliocentric system just nine years after the publication of Copernicus' De revolutionibus.

On fol. LL1r of the fourth part the title-page of another of Doni's works, the Inferni, is reproduced to announce the forthcoming publication, followed by a description of its contents on fol. LL2r and LL2v. This is probably the first time in the history of printing in which the imminent publication of a new work is promoted through the insertion of its soon-to-be-released title-page within another published work.

Adams D-824; Mortimer Italian, 165; Casali Annali, 95; Gamba 1368; C. Ricottini Marsili-Libelli, Anton Francesco Doni scrittore e stampatore, Firenze 1960, no. 40; R. Mortimer, “The Author's Image: Italian Sixteenth-Century Printed Portraits”, Harvard Library Bulletin, 7 (1996), pp. 45-46; M. R. Macchia, “Le voci della scienza nei 'Marmi' di Anton Francesco Doni: la divulgazione scientifica fra oralità e scrittura”, R. Librandi - R. Piro (eds.), Lo scaffale della biblioteca scientifica in volgare, secoli XIII-XIV: atti del Convegno, Matera, 14-15 ottobre 2004, Firenze 2006, pp. 469-484; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 115.

$ 6.500