Rinuccini, Camillo (1564-1649).
Descrizione delle Feste fatte nelle Reali nozze de’ Serenissimo Principi di Toscana D. Cosimo de’ Medici, e Maria Maddalena Archiduchessa d’Austria. Florence, Giunta, 1608.
4° (232x158 mm). Printed on blue paper. Collation: [π]2, A-H4, I2, K-L4, M2, N-T4, V2. , 149 [i.e. 147, pp. 69-72 omitted],  pages. Complete with fol. M2 blank. Roman and italic type. Text partly printed in two columns. Woodcut coat of arms of the Medici and Habsburg families on the title-page. Fine woodcut compass rose on the recto of fol. N4. Woodcut decorated initials, small tailpieces. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. On both covers, a blind-tooled coat of arms of the Vettori family. Smooth spine with running stitches, title and small decorative motif inked in a contemporary hand, partly faded. Marbled pastedowns. Covers slightly stained, lower corners somewhat bumped. A good copy, printed on strong paper. Some spots, light browning. A few small wormholes, occasionally affecting a few letters.
Provenance: the Florentine Vettori family (armorial binding); James Bindley (1737-1818; the note on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'Jan. 1819 Bindley 2d Sale £ 2.10'; and his sale, Evans, 11 January 1819, A Catalogue of the Curious and Extensive Library of the Late James Bindley, Esq. F.S.A. Part The First, London 1818, p. 37, lot 1043, “on blue paper”); purchased by Richard Heber (1773-1833; small stamp 'BIBLIOTHECA HEBERIANA' on the recto of the front flyleaf; see the sale catalogue Bibliotheca Heberiana. Catalogue of the Library of the Late Richard Heber... Part The Second, Sotheby & Son, London 1836, p. 200, lot 3819, with the note “printed on blue paper,” and sold for the sum of 2 pounds and one shilling); the Italian bibliophile and bookseller Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944; his bibliographical notes on the front flyleaves, including 'Coll. completo G. Martini', and 'Largo margine'); acquired from the English bookseller Percy Mordaunt Barnard in 1916 (see the note on the verso of the flyleaf, 'Barnard, Turnbridge Wells, Inghilt. Agosto 1916').
A marvellous and exceedingly rare copy, printed on blue paper, of one of the most famous festival books of the late Renaissance: the first edition of Camillo Rinuccini's description of the sumptuous ceremonies organised around the wedding of the eighteen-year-old Crown Prince Cosimo II de' Medici to the Archduchess of Austria Maria Magdalena, cousin of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, celebrated in Florence in 1608. This blue-paper copy was likely offered by the author to a member of the important Florentine Vettori family, whose coat of arms is stamped on the binding.
Florence witnessed an unprecedented series of events in celebration of the union between Cosimo, who would become Grand Duke of Tuscany only a few months after his marriage, and his bride from the powerful Habsburg house: plays, musical intermezzi, giostre, horse ballets, a triumphal procession, banquet, and even a naval battle or naumachia on the Arno river. Camillo Rinuccini narrated all of these magnificent events, and his Descrizione enjoyed wide and immediate success. Especially noteworthy is Lorenzo Franceschi's Ballo et Giostra de' venti (fols. N1r-N4r), a poem in octaves describing a horse ballet illustrated with a fine thirty-two-point compass rose or wind rose (fol. N4r), which was also issued separately from the Giunti press.
At least four other issues from 1608 have been recorded, each with varying numbers of pages and, occasionally, plates. This copy corresponds to the enlarged issue, in which Rinuccini's report is supplemented, in the last quires, with two musical dialogues by Francesco Cini – La notte d'amore (fols. O1r-O4r) and L'Argonauta (fols. P1r-P4r) – as well as I Cavalieri sanesi a valorosi e cortesi professori d'arme (fols. Q1r-V2r).
The number of plates included in the various issues of Rinuccini's Descrizione, depicting different ceremonies or banquets and executed by Matthias Greuter, is uncertain: Watanabe-O' Kelly calls for two plates, but a few copies containing five plates are recorded. The copy on blue paper described here is in its original binding, and apparently never included plates, of which there is no mention in the early nineteenth-century sale catalogues of the exquisite libraries of James Bindley and Richard Heber, respectively, to whom this fine volume later belonged.
“Vinet [...] conjectures that the plates were published separately, each having been dedicated to a separate person [...] in similar cases the author, publisher or the buyer might bring the plates to the printer for inclusion in the bound book” (Pettas, The Giunti of Florence, p. 753). The blue-paper recorded copies do not usually include plates.
STC 17th century, 749; Camerini 318; Pettas 871a; Cicognara 1412;
Lipperheide II, Si 14; Sartori, Libretti italiani a stampa, 7648; Vinet 608;
Watanabe-O'Kelly & Simon 1241; R. Mouren, “Quatre siècles d'histoire
de la Bibliothèque Vettori: entre vénératation et valorisation”, B. Wagner
– M. Reed (eds.), Early Printed Books as Material Objects: Proceeding of
the Conference organized by IFLA Rare Books and Manuscripts Section,
Munich, 19-21 August 2009, Berlin-New York 2010, pp. 241-267.