The last Soncino book printed in Italy

Folengo, Teofilo (1491-1544).

Orlandino qual tratta darme e damor per Limerno Pitocco da Mantua composto. Rimini, Girolamo Soncino, 1527.

Folengo, Teofilo (1491-1544) Orlandino qual tratta darme e damor per Limerno Pitocco da Mantua composto. Girolamo Soncino, 1527.

8° (155x111 mm). Collation: A-P4, Q6. LXVI leaves. Roman and gothic type. Title-page printed in red and black within an elaborated woodcut frame. Half page woodcut vignette on fol. A2r, showing Berta and Milone. Nineteenth-century vellum, over pasteboards. Red edges. A good copy. Title-page soiled, some foxing and browning, small stains on a few leaves; a short tear to fol. E3, without any loss. Wormhole in the outer margin of the first thirty leaves not affecting text, pin wormhole in the first twenty leaves that slightly affects the title-page border, the frame of the woodcut on the following page and a few letters. Two manuscript notes in Hebrew on the verso of the last leaf.

Provenance: on the recto of the last leaf, the early ownership entry by 'Eliezer bar Silomo Debauzo'; La Anticuaria Libreria de Llordachs Hermanos, Barcelona (ticket on the front pastedown).

The fine third edition of the Orlandino – written by Folengo under the nickname of Limerno Pitocco – and the last book printed by Gershom Soncino in Italy before moving, in 1527, to Salonika, in the Ottoman Empire. The first edition of Folengo's poem had appeared in Venice in July 1526, printed by Gregorio de' Gregori for the bookseller Niccolò Garanta, followed a few months later by another edition, also issued for Garanta, by the Nicolini da Sabbio brothers. The Orlandino is a poem in octaves, which narrates the early years of Orlando, fitting into the semi-popular tradition of the cantari dedicated to the childhood of the hero. The poem is divided into two sections: the background (Berta and Milone, Orlando's parents, falling in love) occupies six books, while the hero's deeds are narrated in the seventh and final canto.

Gershom Soncino was the greatest of the pioneers of Hebrew printing, active in different Italian towns – Brescia, Fano, Pesaro, and Rimini – from the late fifteenth century until 1527, when he was forced to flee for the Ottoman Empire. He published books in Hebrew, Latin, and Italian, with a special interest in chivalric literature, as the fine Orlandino of 1527 attests. The volume is illustrated with the same woodcut depicting Berta and Milone used, with a few variants, in 1526 in the Venetian editions of the poem. The Soncino Orlandino omits, as a measure of prudence, a few stanzas of the seventh canto and the entire eighth canto, which contains an anti-clerical tale on the fake abbot Griffarosto.

In his Annali tipografici dei Soncino (1886), Giacomo Manzoni states he was never able to see a copy of this book. An additional noteworthy feature in the copy presented here is its earliest recorded ownership, to be referred to a certain Eliezer ben Salomon Debauzo, reflecting the taste of the Sephardic diaspora in Italy for chivalric literature.

Manzoni, Annali Soncino, no. 134; E. Sandal, “Indice cronologico delle edizioni latine e volgari di Girolamo Soncino (1502-1527)”, G. Tamani (ed.), L'attività editoriale di Gershom Soncino, 1502-1527, no. 110; Melzi-Tosi p. 192; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 79.

$ 5.800