Misc. Philobiblon

One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century

The exquisite taste of an Italian collector. Natalizio Benedetti’s Tarot of Mantegna.

8. The so-called ‘Mantegna Tarocchi’

. Set of fifty engravings, by the Masters of the Tarocchi. Northern Italy (possibly Ferrara), before 1467.

Fifty plates (platemarks 178x101 mm, and similar; each leaf, with margins, measuring 199x127 mm). Forty-eight plates from the E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A); two from the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49); one print, the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A), inserted recently from another E-series set.

This set is in its book form, in a single quire of twenty-five sheets, with forty-eight plates printed in twos, each pairing printed on a single sheet measuring 199x254 mm, in the original numbered sequence; the Rhetorica plate is trimmed within the platemark, and laid on a single leaf of antique paper which has been skilfully re-conjugated with pl. 28 (Philosofia, Hind 28a). Many sheets feature a watermark 'Flower in a Stem with two Leaves' similar to Briquet nos. 6647-6649, from Northern Italy, ca. 1465-1472. Impressions in greyish black with the fine shading of the figures just outlined, and very few details worn. Generally in very good condition, with margins of 10-15 mm on all four sides, some leaves with minor staining, light discolouration and a few areas of foxing, the last four pages with short worm-track. Traces of glue in several blank versos of the plates. Rebound in early boards, in a full calf slipcase.

Provenance: the volume of forty-nine plates was once owned by Natalizio Benedetti, priore novello and an antiquarian in the Umbrian city of Foligno (1559–1614; ownership inscription in brown ink on the blank recto of the first leaf, 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli. i.e., 'His friends and brothers'); the Benedetti family and its descendants (i.e., Bernardino Lattanzi); Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Important Old Master Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, 26 April 1979, lot 117 (see below); Bernardino Lattanzi; by descent to Christie's London, Old Master Prints, 8 December 2009, lot 4.

For the Rhetorica plate (pl. 23): Henry Foster Sewall (1816-1896); acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in November 1897; deaccessioned around 1917 (see stamp on verso 'Duplicate Sold by The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston'); Anderson Gallery (Catalogue of Engravings, Etchings, Woodcuts and Lithographs. Duplicates from the Collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, New York, 19-20 February 1918, lot 2); Robin Halwas, London.

An extremely rare and important complete set – exceptionally presented in its wide-margined book form – of one of the few Renaissance works of art, not only in the field of engraving, to fully express the life, customs, and indeed entire cultural world of the courtly and learned class of fifteenth-century Italy.

Traditionally called Tarocchi or the Tarot Cards of Mantegna and generally dating to before 1467, these are the earliest engraved cards in Italy, and without a doubt the most fascinating and problematic of the surviving fifteenth-century prints. Although these engravings have been studied extensively and have long been regarded as highly significant examples of early Italian engraving, the cards have yet to disclose all their secrets. It must also be stated at the outset that their conventional title is doubly misleading, for they have only a slight discernible relationship to Mantegna – arguably one of the greatest artists of the fifteenth century – and the very assumption that they are playing cards at all has been called into question. They were most likely an educational game, as supported by the fact that in the very few copies that survive, the prints are presented or in book form or as single prints, but never mounted as playing-cards in a loose deck. Furthermore, there are only fifty cards in total, as opposed to the standard seventy-two typical of a fifteenth-century hand-painted deck of playing-cards, and, most interestingly, their organization and sequence is quite different.

The Tarocchi are known in two series, conventionally referred to as the 'E-series' and 'S-series', both comprising fifty plates divided into five groups. “No impressions are known showing differences of state, or later rework” (Hind I, p. 228). Each print bears a descriptive title, a letter identifying the group to which it belongs, and a number (in both Arabic and Roman numerals) indicating its position in the sequence.

In the E-series the groupings are as follows, according to a scheme in which the letters are in reverse order to the numbers: Ranks and Conditions of Men (letter E, cards 1-10); Apollo and the Muses (letter D, cards 11-20); Liberal Arts (letter C, cards 21-30); Cosmic Principles (Genii) and Virtues (letter B, cards 31-40); and Planets and Spheres of the Universe (letter A, cards 41-50). The first group of ten prints, marked with the letter 'E' in the E-series, is marked with the letter 'S' in the S-series, hence the adopted nomenclature.

The issue of the date and priority of these two series has long been discussed among scholars. Hind's argument, in opposition to Kristeller and Donati, for the priority of the E-series, has proven most convincing. In fact, numerous technical and stylistic details strongly suggest that this series is the earliest, and that the S-series is a direct copy of it. The iconographic and textual details are mostly identical across the two series – the 'second artist' has even copied some errors in the lettering of the titles, as with the reversed 'N' in the Merchant (pl. 4) – but the quality of outline and modelling in the prints belonging to the E-series is evidently higher: the E-series prints have, as Hind has remarked, an “impressive dignity”: “The E series is engraved with remarkable technical precision and neatness in fine rectangular cross-hatching, more cleanly cut and more clearly printed [...] The S series is cut with less precision [...] Moreover the engraver of the S series shows a certain lack of skill in the control of his graver, letting his lines of shading slip from time to time over the contour-line of his figures” (Hind I, p. 224). Furthermore, forty-two of the images are completely or partially reversed in the S-series, and one image – the Re (pl. 8) – was extensively modified: in the E-series the image of the King still follows the medieval iconography, while in the subsequent S-series it is significantly changed into the image of a classical ruler (see Hind, 8b, pl. 327).

The E-series was executed around 1465, as supported by documentary evidence in the form of a Bolognese manuscript – dated to 1467 and preserved in the State Archives in Bologna – which contains a miniature featuring a close copy of the print titled Imperator (pl. 9). Further evidence is found in a manuscript held at the Abbey Library of Saint Gall (Switzerland) which was completed on 28 November 1468 and contains images of the four cardinal virtues copied from the Tarots of Mantegna. The S-series is generally dated to about 1485, or as late as the end of the 1480s, and the attribution is similarly uncertain.

The possible identity of the artist(s) who produced these Tarocchi, as well as their possible pictorial sources, is still a controversial topic that is open to debate. It has long been acknowledged that their execution should not be attributed to Mantegna. Scholars have since variously turned their attributions to schools or artists operating in different Italian cities; among these Venice had previously been considered most probable, as argued by Kristeller and others, owing to the presence of a print titled Doxe, i.e., the head of government in that lagunar town. However, the Tarocchi may instead be the work of artists belonging to the Ferrarese school, as several stylistic and iconographic features suggest. For example, a figure similar to the Merchadante (i.e., the Merchant, pl. 4) appears in a fresco devoted to the Month of August in the Palazzo Schifanoia cycle, while the Chavalier (i.e., the Knight, pl. 6) bears close resemblance to a figure included in the Triumph of Venus from the Month of April, likewise part of the fresco cycle executed by Francesco Cossa.

Furthermore, other prints of the Tarocchi closely resemble two allegorical figures of the Muses preserved in the National Museum of Art in Budapest and attributed to the Sienese artist Angelo Parrasio, a pupil of Piero della Francesca who was active at the Ferrarese court between 1447 and 1456, and who worked on a series of Muses painted for the Este studio at Belfiore. Other similarities can be found in the figures of the two Enthroned Goddesses belonging to the Strozzi Collection in Florence, likewise attributed by Georg Gombosi to Parrasio. On this basis, Kenneth Clark has concluded that Parrasio may have been the designer of the Tarocchi, an attribution which is, however, rather speculative: “there is no documentary evidence of printmaking in Italy before the 1460s, and if the Tarocchi were engraved after Parrasio's inventions, they would have to be dated around 1455. More importantly, it is hard to believe that the Tarocchi are simply reproductive prints [...] Their meticulous, even exquisite technique is so perfectly suited to the style of the images that the engraver and the designer must have been identical [...] we think it most likely that the Tarocchi are the work of a miniaturist, not a monumental painter, schooled in the circle of the Budapest and Strozzi master and active in Ferrara in the early 1460s” (Levenson, Early Italian Engravings, p. 87).

The set presented here is in good condition, with 10-15-mm margins on all four sides. It contains a total of fifty engravings, forty-eight of which belong to the earliest E-series (Hind 1a-18a, 20a-31a, 33a-50a; Bartsch 18A-35A, 37A-48A, 50A-67A), and two to the S-series, Clio (pl. 19; Hind 19b; Bartsch 36) and Chronico or The Genius of Time (pl. 32; Hind 32b; Bartsch 49). Only one print – the Rhetorica (pl. 23; Hind 23a; Bartsch 40A) – has more recently been added to the set, while the two S-series plates have been ab origine, i.e., always, bound with the forty-seven from the E-series.

Even single plates in good condition are extremely scarce on the market, with complete sets being almost impossible to find; Bartsch records ten complete sets in public collections, including only three bound sets in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the Museo Civico in Pavia. Another bound set with one plate missing is held at the Musée Condé, Château de Chantilly. To these four bound sets already on record, the present set is now to be added, providing significant further evidence that the Tarocchi were originally printed in pairs of two to a single sheet, with each sheet subsequently folded and bound together as a book, or, more frequently, cut as single prints.

In addition to its extraordinary completeness and rarity, the set described here is of the greatest importance and value owing to its provenance, which narrates a fascinating tale of collecting, even within the already fascinating context of the Tarots of Mantegna. The set's earliest recorded owner was Natalizio Benedetti (1559-1614), an outstanding antiquarian and collector from Foligno (Umbria). He was priore novello of the city in 1592, then entered the service of Bishop and later Cardinal Filippo Filonardi (ca. 1576-1622). Benedetti had a wide European network of relationships, as evinced through his correspondence with the renowned book collector, antiquarian, and great patron of the arts, Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637). In 1601 Peiresc had visited Benedetti's museum or cimeliarchium in Foligno, and their late, mutual correspondence testifies not only to the exchange of learned information between the two men, but also to the number of jewels, antiques, and other art objects which Benedetti had amassed in his palace. Contemporary sources refer to Benedetti's possession of about five hundred volumes, and to the drawing-up of a 294-page catalogue of his entire art collection. After his death on 27 October 1614, his marvellous collection of books, prints, coins, jewels, sculptures, antiques, and other objects of exquisite taste, valued at approximately 5,000 scudi, was mostly dispersed. Books with his ownership inscription, many speaking to his antiquarian interests, are scattered across various libraries, in Italy and abroad, as in the case of a copy of the Antichità di Roma by Pirro Ligorio at the Stanford University Library. In 1774 the aforementioned catalogue is known to have been in the hands of Abbot Giovanni Mengoli, then rector of the Foligno seminary, who had received it as a gift from Natalizio's heirs. Unfortunately, the catalogue of Benedetti's collection is now believed to be lost; however, an interesting trace has recently been discovered in a manuscript held at the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (ms Ital. Cl. VI, cod. 214) relating to another great Italian collector of the age, Francesco Angeloni (1587-1652), who had purchased a large portion of Benedetti's antique collection, then passed in the hands of Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-1696), and now partially preserved in the State Museums in Berlin. This manuscript provides a brief summary of the items found in Natalizio's studio after his death, including the general entry “Una quantità di dissegni a penna et in stampa notabili, et altre cose diverse curiose, et belle” (see V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc”, doc. 3, p. 154). Among those 'notable drawings and prints' the anonymous compiler had perhaps had in mind the volume containing the so-called Tarots of Mantegna, a masterpiece which, in the volume presented here, provides a precious record of the history of collecting prints and drawings, along with its different practices throughout the centuries.

After Natalizio's death, the Tarots remained in the possession of the Benedetti family, and then, at the end of the eighteenth century, the collateral line of Roncalli-Benedetti (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”). In 1989, the historian Luigi Sensi provided the first information on the possible fate of Natalizio's collection, mentioning, among others, “una singolare serie di stampe del XV e del XVI secolo che ha seguito, per via ereditaria, la storia della famiglia e che ora è conservata presso i discendenti”, i.e., a “singular series of engravings dating to the fifteenth and sixteenth century which followed, by descent, the story of the family, and is now owned by its descendants” (L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, p. 634). In 1990, this 'singular series of engravings' was shown in Foligno, at the occasion of the exhibition Tarocchi. Le carte del destino (i.e.,'Tarocchi: The Cards of Destiny'), for which they were carefully described by Bernardino Lattanzi in his report “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”. Here Lattanzi described the set as being in its exceedingly rare book form, consisting of forty-nine engravings, of which forty-seven belonged to the earliest E-series, and two (Clio and Chronico) to the S-series. Only one print – the Rhetorica – was lacking, and the recto of the first leaf bore the ownership inscription 'De Natalitis Benedetti. Suoi Amici e fr.elli.': this is undoubtedly the very set presented here. Lattanzi's description does, however, add a critical detail for our reconstruction, in that it reports that the album contains – or better yet, contained, in 1990 – not only the celebrated Tarots of Mantegna, but also thirty-eight additional engravings executed by various fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian and German artists, mostly by the renowned German 'Master ES' (see B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, pp. 568-569). Evidently, along with other print collectors of the Baroque, Natalizio Benedetti had glued supplementary engravings – unrelated to the subject-matter of the Tarots – onto the blank sides of the leaves bound in his volume. Indeed, it was a tendency among collectors of the time to assemble a specific series of engravings alongside other items, thereby creating heterogeneous art objects.

But the surprises do not stop there. Although unrecorded in its provenance, in 1979 Sotheby's offered the album at auction, presenting the forty-nine Tarot plates bound exactly as they are now (forty-seven plates from the E-series, and the two aforementioned from the S-series) in one lot: they also offered close to thirty-eight fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German and Italian engravings as single lots. The Sotheby's catalogue seems to attest to the dismantling, although in 1990 Lattanzi was once again able to describe the collection as a composite album in the hands (or returned into the hands?) of Benedetti's descendants. In fact, eleven years after the Sotheby's auction, Lattanzi lists – often providing descriptions and illustrations – not only the unsold (or more probably withdrawn) Sotheby's lots which had returned to their original owners, but also surprisingly describes those that were sold! The Foligno Tarots exhibition was re-installed in Rome, Castel S. Angelo, in 1996, and the related catalogue was published in a new and revised edition; from this catalogue we discover that Bernardino Lattanzi was not only the compiler of the 1990 description of Natalizio Benedetti's album, but also the owner of it, being himself a descendant of the Roncalli-Benedetti family.

Regrettably, the album no longer exists in its original form, and only the marvellous series of Tarots survived the disassembling intact. These were eventually sold at auction by Christie's London in 2009; in the provenance, the sale catalogue indicates Natalizio Benedetti, and then “by descent to the present owners”, an aristocratic Italian family (i.e., Lattanzi family).

Despite such questions, however, it is abundantly clear that the so-called Tarots of Mantegna once owned by the distinguished antiquarian and collector Natalizio Benedetti are presented here in all their magnificence, a universally acknowledged symbol of the Renaissance in its purest expression, when art, craft, science and philosophy, were merged together in the service of humanity.

A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engravings. A Critical Catalogue, I, pp. 221-240; The Illustrated Bartsch, 24.3, pp. 1-61; G. Gombosi, “A Ferrarese Pupil of Piero della Francesca”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), pp. 66-78; K. Clark, “Letter”, Burlington Magazine, 62 (1933), p. 143; J. A. Levenson et al., Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 1973, pp. 157; C. Cieri Via, “I Tarocchi cosiddetti del Mantegna. Origine, significato e fortuna di un ciclo di immagini”, G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), I tarocchi, le carte di corte. Gioco e magia alla corte degli Estensi, Bologna 1987, pp. 49-77; E. Calandra, I Tarocchi detti del Mantegna, Pavia 1992; B. Giordano, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi del Mantegna”, R. Signorini (ed.), A casa di Andrea Mantegna, Cinisello Balsamo, Milano 2006, pp. 298-307; S. Pollack, “I cosiddetti Tarocchi di Mantegna”, M. Natale (ed.), Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa. L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Catalogo della mostra, Ferrara 2007, pp. 398-403; D. M. Faloci Pulignani, “Tre antiche stampe del Giardinetto”, Il Bibliofilo, 5 (1884), pp. 153-157; L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, L. Sensi, “Alla ricerca della collezione di Natalizio Benedetti”, Bollettino Storico della città di Foligno, 13 (1989), pp. 629-639; G. Berti, P. Marsili, A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Catalogo della mostra, Foligno 15 settembre-14 ottobre 1990, Faenza 1990; B. Lattanzi, “La mostra dei Tarocchi a Foligno”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, 14 (1990), pp. 565-572; B. Marinelli, “Delle dimore della famiglia Benedetti”, ibid., 19 (1995), pp. 581-601; G. Berti - A. Vitali (eds.), Tarocchi. Le carte del destino. Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Roma 1996, pp. 12-13; L. Sensi, “Natalizio Benedetti e la sua collezione”, Peiresc (1604-2004). Actes du colloque tenu à Peyresq du 26 au 30 août 2004, Science et Techniques en perspective, 9 (2005), pp. 153-171 ; V. Carpita, “Natalizio Benedetti e Nicolas de Peiresc. Dal gusto per le “anticaglie” agli esordi dell'archeologia”, M. Fumaroli - F. Solinas - V. Carpita (eds.), Peiresc et l'Italie, Paris 2009, pp. 105-156; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 8.

The fifth known copy

14. Leonicenus, Omnibonus (1412-1474)

Brevis et utilissimus ad scandendum tractatus [De arte metrica]. [Venice, Adam de Ambergau, ca. 1471].

4° (193x132 mm). Collation: [16, 28]. [14] leaves. Text in one column, 24 lines. Type: 112R, 112Gk. On the first leaf the initial 'P' drawn in ink, by a contemporary hand. Modern green morocco over pasteboards. Spine with five small raised bands, underlined by gilt fillets. A very fine copy, the first leaf slightly browned, some foxing. Contemporary marginalia in red ink. On the verso of the last leaf a note written in brown ink by a contemporary hand: 'pedi accedunt [?] sex eleuatio de p[re]sio n[ostr]us silabar[um] te[m]p[us] resolutionis fig[ura?]'.

The extremely rare first edition of one of the earliest books printed in Venice to contain Greek types.

This short handbook on Latin metrics by the humanist and pupil of Vittorino da Feltre Omnibonus Lonicenus (Ognibene Bonisoli, or Ognibene da Lonigo, near Vicenza) enjoyed large and enduring popularity in the fifteenth century, and is often included as an appendix to his grammar De octo partibus orationis, first issued in 1473.

The first edition of the De arte metrica presented here was published by the skilled printer Adam from Ambergau (Bavaria), whose Venetian activity can be dated to the years 1471-1472. The 'doctus Adam' – as he identified himself in the colophon of some editions – set the Greek words occurring in Leonicenus' work in the same types he had used in 1471 for the first edition of the Έρωτήματα, the famous elementary Greek grammar composed by Manuel Chrysoloras (ca. 1350-1415).

Only three copies of the De arte metrica of 1471 are recorded in institutional libraries; they are preserved in the University Library in Padua, Biblioteca Vaticana, and Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, respectively.

H 10028; GW M27811; IGI 6995 and pl. XLII; P. C. Martin, 525 Jahre Adam von Ambergau. Der Inkunabeldrucker und seine Heimat. Versuch einer Rekonstruktion. 1472-1997, Oberammergau 1997; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 14.

Astronomy in Turin. The earliest known Italian manuscript of Regiomontanus’ Calendarium

17. Regiomontanus, Johannes (1436-1476)

Calendarium and other related texts. Decorated manuscript on paper and vellum, in Latin. Northern Italy (probably Turin), last quarter of the fifteenth century (perhaps ca. 1474).

206x147 mm. iii + 56 + ii leaves. Complete. Seven quires. Collation: 1-36, 410 (first leaf a parchment insert, pasted to a singleton which forms the last leaf of the bifolium), 54 (last leaf a parchment singleton), 610, 714. Blanks: 1/1r, 6/4v, 6/5r, 7/6v, 7/10v-7/14v. Text block: 140x95 mm, one column, 35 lines. Ruled in light brown ink. Some catchwords present. Text written in a small but clearly legible hand showing the influence of humanist script. Rubrics in red, astronomical symbols in faded purple, two-line initials in simple blue, or red and blue, with contrasting penwork, blank spaces for capitals. Contemporary suede leather over pasteboards, circular marks scored into boards showing places of lost metal bosses. Rebacked. Covers worn and rubbed, a few wormholes, corners damaged. Manuscript in very good condition, slight fingermarks to the lower outer corner of a few leaves, some small stains.


Fols. 1v-36r: Astronomiae kalendarium, cum tabulis astronomicis ab anno. 1475 ad 1513;

fol. 36r: Canon de aspectibus planetarum, carmen (followed by five astronomical symbols);

fols. 37v-43r: Cognitiones naturarum secundum nativitates. Secundum Quidonem Bonactum in tractatu planetarum; apparently unrecorded;

fols. 43v-44r: Ascendentia civitatum et provintiarum [sic] atque regnorum que et feliciter et infortunate disponunt;

fols. 44v-45v: Pronostica Hesdrae;

fols. 46r-48r: Pronostica nativitatum secundum mathematicos; apparently unrecorded;

fol. 49r: Tabula Salomonis;

fols. 49v-50v: Tabula planetarum;

fol. 51r-v: Dispositio Galienis [sic] physici infirmantium; apparently unrecorded.


Ten pages of diagrams illustrating the phases of lunar and solar eclipses for the years 1475-1530, two parchment leaves with four full-page diagrams, one a volvelle (middle ring wanting), others an 'Instrumentum horar[i]um inequalium' with a list of planetary bodies, a 'Quadrans horologii horizontalis' and a 'Quadratum horarium generale' with designations for latitude and longitude. Two pages of calculatory diagrams with text in red and purple ink and two further volvelle diagrams on either side of a paper leaf, a series of near-contemporary calculation numbers added down the side of one diagram.

Provenance: The Augustinian monk Antonius de Lanceo or Lanteo, monastery of San Cristoforo, in Turin (his ownership inscription on the recto of the first leaf of the Calendar, 'S[an]c[t]i Cristofori Taurini Ad usu[m] fr[atr]is Anto[ni]i de lanteo'); Joseff Gregorio from Bologna (seventeenth-century ownership inscription on the lower cover, 'Joseff Greg[o]ri[o] da Bologna'); Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869; see Catalogue of the Extraordinary Collection of Manuscripts, Formed by M. Guglielmo Libri which will be Sold by Auction by Messrs. S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson ... 28th of March, 1859, London 1859; lot 92); Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872; his pencil note 'Ph' number and the pen note “Phillipps Ms 16242” on the front pastedown; his sale at Sotheby's, 5 June 1899, Bibliotheca Phillippica xi, lot 75; sale catalogue cutting glued to the front flyleaf); Samuel Verplank Hoffmann (1866-1942).

An important testament to the history of astronomy in Turin during the fifteenth century. This precious miscellaneous manuscript was likely written and illustrated for Frater Antonius de Lanceo, an Augustinian monk at the monastery of San Cristoforo, in Turin, as his ownership inscription attests.

The volume opens with the earliest known Italian manuscript of the Calendarium by the pre-eminent German astronomer, mathematician, and instrument maker Regiomontanus (Johann Müller of Königsberg), a pupil of Georg Peuerbach and professor of astronomy at the University of Vienna before being appointed astronomer to King Matthias Corvinus. In 1475 Pope Sixtus IV summoned him to Rome to consult on the calendar reform, which would only come into effect in 1482, six years after Regiomontanus' death in the papal city in July 1476. The Calendarium gives information on lunar and solar eclipses for 1475-1530, as well as the length of days and signs of the zodiac and planets.

Only two manuscript copies of Regiomontanus' Calendarium are known to have come on the market in living memory: the manuscript presented here, and that included in a codex dated variously between ca. 1470 and ca. 1500. The latter seems to have once been preserved in the Lambach Abbey (Austria); it was later bought by Laurence Schoenberg and since 2011 has been held at Princeton University. Neither can be definitively dated to either before or after the first appearance of the Calendarium in print in 1474, with respect to which the present manuscript differs only in the alterations to the Calendar and the later sequential placement of the Quadrans horologii horizontalis and Quadratum horarium generale diagrams. Both manuscripts might be copies of Regiomontanus now-lost original manuscript, which may have been circulated among friends or fellow astronomers. An in-depth study of the relationship between these early manuscripts and the printed text has yet to be undertaken, but it is clear that no such study can afford to ignore the present manuscript.

The additional short texts copied in the last leaves are no less interesting and include a large number of astronomical writings, tabulae, and prognostica that apparently failed to be recorded in Thorndike-Kibre or elsewhere, as with the Cognitiones naturarum secundum nativitates. Secundum Quidonem Bonactum in tractatu planetarum (fols. 37v-43r), and the Pronostica nativitatum secundum mathematicos (fols. 46r-48r), which would seem to be unique examples of these texts.

During the copying of the present manuscript, Regiomontanus' Calendar was adapted to include Augustinian saints and exclude the German and Bohemian ones usually found in the work: this feature strongly indicates that the manuscript is likely to have been assembled on behalf of Frater Antonius, a member of the medieval 'de Lanceo' family from Turin who resided at the Augustinian monastery of San Cristoforo, located near San Solutore in that same city. Inscriptions discovered in two incunables now in the National Library of Turin confirm that San Cristoforo was the first Augustinian monastery established in the town, although it was destroyed by the French in 1536. Antonio de Lanteo, or Lanceo, may well have been an acquaintance of Regiomontanus, who traveled extensively throughout northern Italy between 1461 and 1467, and later in 1472 and 1475.

In the nineteenth century, this fine volume belonged to the well-known bibliophile (or bibliomane) Guglielmo Libri, and in the 1859 sale catalogue of his library the manuscript is described as “a very important collection, with fine diagrams and numerous tables”. Later it caught the attention of Sir Thomas Phillipps – arguably the greatest manuscript collector to have ever lived – and more recently of Samuel Verplank Hoffmann, who studied and taught astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. A member of both the New York Historical Society and the Grolier Club, Verplank Hoffmann intensively collected astronomical books and scientific instruments. His collection of astrolabes was acquired in 1959 by the Smithsonian Institution, and this fine manuscript – such an illustrious monument to the history of astronomy – was probably sold on 28 July 1944, the date pencilled on the front pastedown of the volume.

L. Thorndike - P. Kibre, A Catalogue of Incipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin, Cambridge 1963; H. Größing, “Regiomontanus und Italien. Zum Problem der Wissenschaftauffassung des Humanismus”, Regiomontanus Studien, 1980, pp. 223-241; E. Zinner, Regiomontanus. His Life and Work, Amsterdam 1990; K. Mütz, “Der Kalender für Graf Eberhard im Bart und der Kalender von Regiomontanus. Zwei herausragende Werke ihrer Zeit”, Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte, 55 (1996), pp. 65-91; R. Kremer, “Text to Trophy. Shifting Representations of Regiomontanus's Library”, J. Raven (ed.), Lost Libraries. The Destruction of Great Book Collections since Antiquity, Houndsmill 2004, pp. 75-90; M. Wagner, Regiomontanus. Ein fränkischer Astronom, München 2005; M. Folkert, The Development of Mathematics in Medieval Europe: the Arabs, Euclid, Regiomontanus, Aldershot 2006; “Hans Sporer's Xylographic Practices. A Census of Regiomontanus's Blockbook Calendar”, B. Wagner (ed.), Blockbücher des 15. Jahrhunderts. Eine Experiementierphase in frühen Buchdruck. Beiträge der Fachtagung in der Bayerischen Staatsbiblithek München am 16. und 17. Februar 2012, Wiesbaden 2013, pp. 161-188; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 17.

Living in Platonic Style

30. Ficino, Marsilio (1433-1499)

De vita libri tres (De triplici vita); Apologia; Quod necessaria sit ad vitam securitas. Add: Poem by Amerigus Corsinus. Antonio di Bartolomeo Miscomini, 3 December 1489.

Folio (257x187 mm). Collation [*]2, a-d8, e6, f-k8, l6, m4. [90] leaves. Text in one column (the tables in two columns), 32 lines. Type: 112R. Four lines of gilt letterpress at the head of the text on the recto of fol. a2. Woodcut printer's device on colophon. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Eighteenth-century red crushed morocco, covers within three-line gilt-ruled border. Spine gilt tooled, with stemmed acorns, circlets, crescent handles, and stars. Gilt edges. A fine, wide-margined copy. A blind stamp touching two letters of text.

Provenance: Wigan Free Public Library, United Kingdom (embossed stamps on four leaves); deaccessioned by 2002 at the latest.

First edition, presented in a fine, wide-margined copy, of this influential medical-astrological treatise by the leading Platonic philosopher Marsilio Ficino, famous for his translations into Latin of the Corpus Hermeticum, and of Plato, first published in 1484. As the eldest son of the physician to the Medici family, Marsilio also received a professional training in medicine and natural philosophy.

The work is divided into three books (Lib. I. De vita sana; Lib. II. De vita longa; Lib. III. De via coelitus comparanda) and dedicated, at the beginning of the second Book, to the wealthy Florentine nobleman Filippo Valori, who paid for the printing. Ficino deals here with health and diet, touching on magic and astrology, especially in the short writing appended to De triplici vita – the Apologia quaedam, in qua de medicina, astrologia, ac vita mundi – addressed, on 15 September 1489, to the so-called 'three Pieros', i.e., Piero del Nero, Piero Guicciardini, and Piero Soderini. The work had a complex redaction. The first Book dates to 1480 and was originally part of Ficino's epistles, the third Book was composed between 1486 and 10 July 1489, and the second Book was written between August and October of 1489.

“He begins by advising students on relieving the melancholy, and Ficino recommends health and dietary measures to temper its influences. But it is in the third book, entitled 'De vita coelitus comparanda', that Ficino goes beyond the common medical-astrological astral influence. Building on the Platonic tripartite division of intellect, soul and body, Ficino introduces the originally Stoic concept of 'spiritus mundi' which is composed of the four earthly elements plus the divine 'aether', or cosmic spirit” (M. L. Ford, Christ, Plato, Hermes Trismegistus, Amsterdam 1990, 1, p. 179).

The De triplici vita enjoyed wide and enduring popularity. Its influence is detectable in numerous other works produced in the Renaissance, and was an important source for Paracelsus's De vita longa as well as for the famous engraving Melancholia executed by Albrecht Dürer.

The first lines of text on fol. a2r are set in capital letters and exceptionally in this copy printed in gold, a technique first introduced by the leading Augsburg printer Erhard Ratdolt, who moved to Venice in 1476, for printing the prefatory epistle in two dedication copies of his Euclid of 1486.

HC (+Add) 7065*; GW 9882; BMC VI, 639; IGI 3868; Goff F-158; Rhodes Firenze, 299; P. O. Kristeller, Marsilio Ficino and his Work after 500 Years, Firenze 1987; M. Ficino, Three Books on Life, ed. by C. V. Kashe, and J. R. Clark, Binghamton, NY, 1989; D. Laube, “The Stylistic Development of German Book Illustration, 1460-1511”, D. De Simone (ed.), A Heavenly Craft. The Woodcut in Early Printed Books. Illustrated Books purchased by Lessing J. Rosenwald at the Sale of the Library of C. W. Dyson Perrins, New York-Washington 2004, p. 55; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 30.

From the library of Franchino Gaffurio, musicus and phonascus

31. Perotti, Niccolò (ca. 1430-1480)

Cornucopiae linguae Latinae. Baptista de Tortis, 19 October 1490.

Folio (307x212 mm). Collation: A-B8, a-z8, &8, cum8, rum8, A-O6. [16], 291, [1] leaves. Complete with the last leaf blank, often lacking in the recorded copies. Text in one column, 64 lines. Type: 78R, 78Gk. On the lower margin of fol. a3r coat of arms in full colour, with extensions of acanthus leaves in maroon, green, red, and blue, and with the initials 'fg' added later. Half-vellum, boards covered with a fifteenth-century manuscript leaf, lettering-piece on upper cover. A very good copy, some pale waterstains, mostly marginal, in the first half and near end; slight, marginal wormholes in the first two quires.

Provenance: from the library of Franchino Gaffurio (1451 1522; ownership inscriptions on fol. B8v, 'Liber Franchini Gafurij laudinesis Regij musici / corteque mediolanensis phonasci/', and purchase note on fol. O5v, dated 16 January 1494).

Third edition of Perotti's Cornucopiae, presented here in a fine copy which once belonged to the renowned Renaissance music theorist, musician at the Sforza court, and choirmaster or maestro di cappella at the Duomo of Milan, Franchino Gaffurio.

Born in Sassoferrato, in the Marche region of Italy, Niccolò Perotti was a pupil of Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino Veronese, and he became secretary for Cardinal Bessarion in 1447. His Cornucopiae linguae Latinae was first published by Paganino Paganini in 1489 and enjoyed immediate success. Written as a commentary on Book I of Martial, it became a standard reference on the Latin language and a sort of encyclopaedia of the classical world. The work was later revised and expanded by Perotti's son Pyrrhus.

This precious volume comes from the library of the musicus and phonascus Franchino Gaffurio (or Gafori). Born in Lodi to an aristocratic family, the young Gaffurio entered a Benedictine monastery where he acquired early musical training. He later became a priest and lived in Mantua and Verona before settling in Milan as the local cathedral's maestro di cappella, a position he held from 1484 until his death in 1522. Gaffurio showed a strong humanist bent, and met composers from all over Europe; in Milan alone he made the acquaintance of Leonardo da Vinci (see no. 68) as well as Josquin Desprez, the greatest composer of the period.

An autograph note on fol. O5v states that Gaffurio acquired the present copy of Perotti's Cornucopiae on 16 January 1494, for a sum of 3 1⁄2 lire, possibly as an aid for the preparation of his Practica musicae, which first appeared in 1496, or his teaching. This annotation recording the purchase of the book shows the distinctive features of his youthful hand and can be compared with an autograph document dated 1495 and published by Gaetano Cesari. However, the second annotation visible here – an ownership inscription on fol. B8v, in which he describes himself as 'royal musician and singer (phonascus) of the church of Milan' – is written in the more trembling hand typical of his later life, as evinced by a letter dated 1520, also edited by Cesari. The title of the treatise by Perotti is entered in the inventory drawn up in 1518, when Gaffurio gifted his library (or a part of it) to the Church of the Incoronata in his hometown of Lodi, whose Schola had been founded in 1511. In 1694 the library of the 'Tempio dell'Incoronata' was dispersed, and partly sold to the Oratorian monastery located in the town. Only a few volumes once owned by Gaffurio have been discovered among the collections of the Biblioteca Laudense at Lodi.

H 12698; GW M31105; BMC V, 326; IGI 7421; Goff P-290; J.-L. Charlet, “Observations sur certaines éditions du Cornucopiae de Niccolò Perotti (1489-1500)”, Res Publica Litterarum, 11 (1988), pp. 83-96; G. Cesari, “Musica e musicisti alla Corte sforzesca”, F. Malaguzzi Valeri, La corte di Ludovico il Moro, IV (1923), p. 210; F. Fano, “Vita e attività del musico teorico e pratico Francino Gaffurio da Lodi”, Arte Lombarda, 15/2 (1970), pp. 49-62; E. Motta, “I libri della chiesa dell'Incoronata di Lodi nel 1518”, Il libro e la stampa, 1 (1970), pp. 105-112; A. Novasconi, L'Incoronata di Lodi, Lodi 1974, esp. pp. 19-42; R. Auletta Marrucci (ed.), L'Incoronata. Il Tempio di Lodi, Lodi 1995; M. Pantarotto, “Per la biblioteca di Franchino Gaffurio: i manoscritti laudensi”, Scripta, 5 (2012), pp. 111-118; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 31.

An incunable counterfeit

33. Petrus Ravennas (Pietro Tomai, ca. 1448-1508/09)

Phoenix seu De artificiosa memoria. Add: Verses by Antoninus Aegidius Canisius, Johannes Antonius Plebanus, Marcus Picardus, Hieronymus Butigella and C. Lycinius. [Bologna, Bazalerius de Bazaleriis, about 1492].

4° (201x141 mm). Collation: a-d4. [16] leaves. Text in one column, 28 lines. Type: 114R. Blank space for capital, with printed guide letter, on fol. b3r. Contemporary cardboard, sewing visible on the spine. A very good copy in pristine condition. Some small stains and fingermarks. Α portion of the upper outer blank margin lost, probably due to rodent damage. Marginal annotations in Greek and Latin (some slightly trimmed) in two early hands, the earliest of which added on fol. a1r the author's name, 'Thomasij', and 'Petri Thomasij Eq.s ac IC Rauenn. Προλεγομενου' on the upper margin of fol. b2r. Some early underlining; a rough drawing in ink of a human body on the margin of fol. c2r. The small letter 'R' inked on the upper cover.

The extremely rare Bolognese counterfeit of the Phoenix seu De artificiosa memoria by Petrus de Ravenna, one of the principal works on mnemonic art produced during the Renaissance.

This counterfeit is even rarer than the first edition published in Venice in January 1491/92 by Bernardinus de Choris (Goff P-531). The volume was likely printed a few months after the appearance of the Venetian edition. The printing has been attributed to Bazalerius de Bazaleriis, Caligola's brother and a native of Bologna who was active there between 1489 and 1493 and who had already published another mnemonic treatise in October 1489, the Roseum memoriale by Petrus de Rosenhaym (see no. 24). This nearly contemporary counterfeited edition closely copies both the text (with a few slight variations in orthography, abbreviations, and signature marks) and the layout of the Venetian edition, including the colophon bearing the original imprint and the name of Bernardinus de Choris (‘Bernardinus de Choris de Cremo[n]a impressor delectus impressit Venetias Die. x. ianuarii. m.ccccxci'). The only distinguishing feature concerns the large de Choris' device on the verso of the last leaf, here lacking. “Like most piracies of this kind, it presumably followed the archetype at no long interval. Type 114R. was employed continuously from 1489 onwards by both brothers De Bazaleriis, but its use in bulk seems at the time to have been confined to Bazalerius, to whom the present tract is accordingly assigned” (BMC VII, 1151).

Petrus de Ravenna, also known as Pietro Tomai or Tommai, lectured on canonical law at the Universities of Bologna, Ferrara, Pavia, and Padua. His Phoenix, which owes considerable debt to Ciceronian theory, significantly contributed to increasing European interest in the ars memorativa and greatly influenced such philosophers as Giordano Bruno and Agrippa von Nettesheim.

The small treatise was reprinted several times during the sixteenth century, and a translation into English, by Robert Copland, appeared around 1545.

According to ISTC, there are only three copies of the Bolognese counterfeit in United States (Harvard Law School Library, Library of Congress, and The Newberry Library).

GW M32696; BMC VII, 1151; IGI 7667; Goff P-532; P. Rossi, Logic and the Art of Memory. The Quest for a Universal Language, Chicago 2000, pp. 20-25; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 33.

The only known copy

42. Spirito, Lorenzo (ca. 1425-1496)

Libro de la Ventura. [Bologna, Caligola de Bazaleriis, 1498-1500].

Folio (310x250 mm). Collation: A8, B12, C8, D-E6, F4. XXXXIIII leaves (frequent misnumbering). Text on fols. C5r-F4v in two columns, 44 lines. Type: 140G (title), 1:116R (text). Elaborate full-page woodcut on fol. A2r, depicting the fortune-telling method contained within the book, with short explications. Five full-page woodcuts on fols. A2v-A4v, each depicting four seated Kings within richly decorated architectural border; on the lower panel an empty shield, on the side panel the iscription 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO'. On fols. A5r-B6v woodcut diagrams showing the different combination of throws of the dice, and one small vignette at the centre. Full-page woodcuts on fols. B7r-C4v, depicting the spheres within a frame with floral motifs and putti. Nine-to six-line woodcut animated initials. Nineteenth-century quarter-calf, boards covered with marbled paper. Early inked title on the tail-edge (faded). Spine with three double raised bands, title 'LIBRO DE LA VENTURA BOLOGNA S.A.' lettered in gilt. Minor scratches at the covers, corners slightly worn. A very good copy, the lower margin of some leaves uncut. Minor stain on title and in the margin of some leaves; repair to A2r affecting the woodcut border; the outer margin of fols. B10 and B11 slightly short; fols. C1 and C2 lightly trimmed at the time of rebinding. Bound between the front pastedown and the front flyleaf is a cutting from an English sale catalogue describing this copy.

Provenance: Jonathan Peckover of Wisbech (1835-1882; ex-libris on the pastedown); by descent to his sister Algerina Peckover of Sibalds House, Wisbech (1841-1927; ex-libris on the pastedown; her sale, Sotheby's London, 12 December 1927); purchased in 1936 by the Florentine bookseller Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969; see T. De Marinis, Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito, p. 78, “Firenze, raccolta T. De Marinis: acquistato da Sotheby & C. di Londra nel 1936”; his letter to Charles William Dyson-Perrins (1864-1958) tipped-in at the back of this copy).

The only known copy of this Bolognese incunable edition of the first fortune-telling game ever printed, extensively illustrated as are all books of this kind.

The work was composed by the Perugian poet Lorenzo Gualtieri (usually known as Lorenzo Spirito; see no. 202), no later than 1482, the date of the original manuscript preserved in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (ms 6226). The first printed edition soon followed, published in Perugia in 1482, and is known in a single copy held at the Ulm Stadtbibliothek. Only three other fifteenth-century editions are recorded, these having appeared in Vicenza, Brescia, and Milan.

“The rules of the game seem designed to interpolate as many steps as possible before and after the throw of the dice which determined which of the 56 verses shall be accepted as an 'answer'. Thus the inquirer anxious to know if he will be cured of a disease is referred first to King Pharaoh, and from Pharaoh to the sign of the Ostrich. He then throws his 3 dice, and (let us say) turns up three 'aces' (eg ones). On this he is referred to the sphere of the Leopard and the River Po. These give a reference to the prophet Jonah, Verse I, and in this he finds his answer” (A.W. Pollard, Italian Book Illustration and Early Printing, A Catalogue of the Early Italian Books in the Library of C.W. Dyson Perrins, no. 187).

This undated edition of the Libro della Ventura – not recorded in ISTC – can be positively attributed to the Bolognese printer Caligola Bazalieri, who was active in the city from 1490 to 1504, and who focused his production on popular texts in Italian vernacular. Caligola employed the same roman font for his edition of the Regula of St. Jerome, which appeared in Bologna on 28 March 1498 (see GW 12466), whereas the title on the opening leaf is set in the type 140G used by him Caligola for the Lucidario printed on 15 April 1496 (see BMC vi, 837). The printing of this book can likewise be dated to the last years of the fifteenth century.

The copy offered here of this Bolognese edition is listed in Sander, and once belonged to the Italian bookseller Tammaro De Marinis, “qui a bien voulu nous communiquer cette fiche” (see Sander 7047). The De Marinis copy was considered by Sander unique, and tentatively dated to the “début du XVIème siècle”. Another revealing clue for the possible dating of this Bolognese publication is in the inscription 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO', visible on the columnar borders framing the plates on fols. A2r-A4r, and implying that the block cutter Pietro Ciza had been responsible for the remaining illustrations as well. The name of Ciza (also known as Cisa, or Chiesa) is also found in a Bologna Calendario of 1493 and in the famous Viazo da Vanesia al sancto Jherusalem (1500). The same blocks were re-used, mostly in reduced size, in the Libro della Ventura printed in Bologna in 1508 by Justiniano de Rubeira, whose unique and incomplete copy is in the Biblioteca Marciana. “La più antica delle edizioni bolognesi note deve essere quella senza data, impressa con i caratteri di Caligula Bazalieri [...] Essa era rimasta fino ad oggi sconosciuta e l'esemplare apparso alla vendita Sotheby è probabilmente unico. L'illustrazione, rozzamente incisa, è opera di un artista che si fa conoscere; infatti ai quattro lati dei fregi che ornano le cinque tavole dei re (carte 2 verso 4 verso) si legge: 'PIERO CIZA FE QVESTO INTAIGIO'. Queste parti firmate (collocate però in senso inverso ad alcune altre figure) sono adoperate anche nella edizione di Giustiniano Ribeira del 1508” (T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, p. 72).

In addition, the copy has a tipped-in letter at the back from Tammaro De Marinis - dated on 10 August 1935, and addressed to the great collector Charles William Dyson-Perrins, asking for details about two other editions “de l'ouvrage de Lorenzo Spirito dont Vous possédez deux éditions, de 1501 et 1508 (nos. 157 et 187 de Votre catalogue)”.

Sander 7047; T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83 (describing this copy, see pp. 71-72, 78, and pls. CXI-CXV); S. Urbini, Il Libro delle sorti di Lorenzo Spirito Gualtieri, Modena 2006; A. Rosenstock, Das Losbuch des Lorenzo Spirito von 1482: eine Spurensuche, Weißenhorn 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 42.

A forerunner of poker

77. Berni, Francesco (1497-1535)

Capitolo del gioco della primiera col comento di messer Pietropaulo da San Chirico. [after 27 August 1526].

8° (137x91 mm). Collation: A-K4. [40] leaves. Roman and italic type. On fol. B1r woodcut initial with a small portrait. Eighteenth-century vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, with inked title. Red edges. A good copy, the lower blank margin of the title-page trimmed, and slightly repaired. On the front pastedown the early shelfmark 'M.I.28'. On the lower blank margin of fol. A2r the note 'à Fiesole; cioè il Berni'. Seventeenth-century hand has added the note: “Proibito” ('Prohibited'), referring to the fact that Berni's entire works had been condemned by the Roman Church and included in 1559 in the Index librorum prohibitorum.

Provenance: 'Ex Bibliotheca Card. [?]' (early stamp on the title-page); Stuart R. Kaplan (ex-libris on the front pastedown).

Rare, undated edition of this poem by the Tuscan Francesco Berni about the card game primiera, a forerunner of poker. The work first appeared in Rome in 1526, from the press of Francesco Minizio Calvo. A second edition was published in Venice in 1534. This pirated edition was probably printed immediately after the first edition of 1526. As in the Roman edition, the author disguises himself under the pseudonym of Pietropaulo de San Chirico, and the volume opens with his dedicatory epistle to his friend Borgianni Baronci da Narni, written in Rome on 27 August 1526.

The Capitolo del Gioco della Primiera is part of a long literary tradition built around card games which also includes Matteo Boiardo's early Tarot poetry, the invective against tarot games by Alberto Lollio, and verses on cards by such authors as Federico Fregoso, Gasparo Pallavicino, and Pietro Aretino. Berni praises primiera and makes of it a metaphor for courtly life; in contrast, he ridicules the tarot player, whom he considers too distracted by the many pictures and cards at stake in that game.

From the library of Stuart R. Kaplan, the well-known author of the work Tarot: Cards for Fun and Fortune-Telling, and Encyclopaedia of Tarots, both published by the press founded by him in New York, the U.S. Game Systems. A reproduction of the present copy's title-page is published in the first volume of Kaplan's Encyclopaedia, alongside a short entry devoted to Berni: “Francesco Berni, writing in Capitolo del Gioco della Primiera, makes what appears to be the earliest printed reference to tarocchi [see no. 8]. The author styles himself 'Messer Pietropaulo de San Chirico' and in the course of his mock commentary he describes the game of primiera, its laws and mode of playing” (p. 28).

Melzi II, p. 343; S. R. Kaplan, Encyclopaedia of Tarots, New York 1978, I, pp. 28-29; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 77.

The first collection of Bembo’s Latin prose

85. Bembo, Pietro (1470-1547)

De Aetna ad Angelum Chiabrielem Liber. Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio and Brothers, 1530. (bound with:) Idem. Petri Bembi ad Herculem Strotium De Virgilii Culice et Terentii Fabulis Liber. Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio and Brothers, 1530. (bound with:) Idem. Petri Bembi ad Nicolaum Teupolum De Guido Ubaldo Feretrio deque Elisabetha Gonzagia Urbini Ducibus Liber. Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio and Brothers, 1530. (bound with:): Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni Francesco (1469-1533). Io. Francisci Pici Ad Petrum Bembum De Imitatione Libellus. Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio and Brothers, 1530.

Four works in one volume, 4° (210x150 mm). I. Collation: AA-BB8. [16] leaves, the first leaf is a blank. Italic and roman type. One blank space for initial, with printed guide letter. II. Collation: a-d8, e4. [36] leaves, with the first and the two final blanks, and the extra line printed at the bottom of fol. b1r. Italic and roman type. III. Collation: A-G8. [56] leaves, with the first and final blanks. Italic and roman type. One blank space for capital, with printed guide letter. Small loss to the lower right corner of fol. E5, the first four lines of fol. B1r are only partially printed with loss of some letters. IV. Collation: aa-cc8. [24] leaves, the first and last leaf are blank. Italic and roman type. Two blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary limp vellum, title inked vertically, traces of ties. Upper joint cracked, upper cover almost detached. A very fine, unsophisticated copy, with wide margins. A few small stains, insignificant waterstain to the upper blank margin of the last leaves. On the verso of the front flyleaf a bibliographical note in an eighteenth-century hand: 'I never saw any other copy of this reprint of the Aetna of Bembus, printed by Aldus 1495 & exceptionally rare [...]'.

First edition of the Sabbio collection of prose writings by Pietro Bembo, which includes – alongside the second edition of the celebrated De Aetna – the first editions of the dialogues De Virgilii Culice et Terentii fabulis Liber and De Guido Ubaldo Feretrio deque Elisabetha Gonzaga Urbini ducibus Liber, as well as the first official edition of De Imitatione. The four works were issued as a set, but bearing a different series of signatures and separate colophons, and thus can sometimes also be found separate.

The dialogue De Aetna relates Bembo's famous 1493 stay in Sicily and his ascent of Mount Etna in that same year, and was printed for the first time by Aldus Manutius in 1495/96. The text published in 1530 differs in some points from that of the Aldine edition and was possibly revised by Bembo himself, who is known to have reworked his writings in view of new editions.

Particularly noteworthy is the fourth text bound here, representing the first authorized edition of Bembo's De imitatione, which had previously appeared in Rome around 1513 without the author's approval. Bembo's ardent Ciceronianism comes to the fore in this work, which is of the greatest significance, representing as it does the critical, and foundational position of Cicero's prose within the Latin humanist tradition. Bembo wrote this short text, dated 1 January 1513, in response to a letter from another outstanding humanist, Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, the nephew of Giovanni, which is dated 19 September 1512. A second letter from Pico della Mirandola followed, but is not included in the Sabbio edition of 1530. “One of the most popular of Pico's writings, De imitatione consists of a letter addressed to Pietro Bembo, Bembo's reply to this, and a second letter by Gianfrancesco which apparently was never actually sent to Bembo. These letters date from the years 1512-13, which Pico spent in Rome with Bembo. The originals seem to have been lost [...] The first printed edition dates from 1518 [ie c.1513] and contains all three of the letters. Many of the later editions omit Pico's second letter” (Ch. B. Schmitt, Gianfrancesco Pico Della Mirandola (1469–1533) and His Critique of Aristotle, The Hague 1967, p. 199).

Adams-B, 583-586; Sandal, Il mestier delle stamperie dei libri, pp. 155 - 156, nos. 2, 3, 5, 6; C. F. Bühler, “Manuscript Corrections in the Aldine Edition of Bembo's De Aetna”, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 1951, pp. 136-142; R. M. Mariano, “Il De Aetna di P. Bembo e le varianti dell'edizione 1530”, Aevum, 65, 1991, pp. 441-452; L. Quaquarelli-Z. Zanardi, Pichiana: bibliografia delle edizioni e degli studi, Firenze 2005, p. 284; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 85.

A bibliographical puzzle

87. Castiglione, Baldassarre (1478-1529)

Il libro del cortegiano del conte Baldesar Gastiglione [sic]. Florence, Benedetto Giunti, 1531 [probably Rome, 1537].

8° (155x96 mm). Collation: A-Z8, AA-BB8. 200 leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and on the verso of the last leaf. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary limp vellum with yapp edges. Traces of ties, title inked by a contemporary hand on the tail-edge. Smooth spine, with inked title. A good copy, title-page slightly soiled, foxing in places; a few spots, stains, and fingermarks. Loss to the upper outer corner of the front flyleaf. minor wear to the upper board-edge and joint, a few stains. The price notice '2:10' inked by an early hand on the title-page. Some maniculae, and reading marks. Pencilled bibliographical annotations on the pastedowns and flyleaves.

Provenance: 'Joanne Caligario' (ownership inscription on fol. A2r, possibly Giovanni Andrea Calegari (1527-1613), Bishop of Bertinoro, and secretary to the Nuncio in Poland).

The extremely rare Cortegiano bearing the colophon 'In Firenze per Benedetto Giunti MDXXXI', and the misspelling of Castiglione – printed as 'Gastiglione' – on the title-page: a fascinating case study for bibliographers.

The first edition of the famous treatise by Castiglione was published by the Aldine press in April 1528 (see no. 80). The first Giuntina appeared a few months later, in October. Second and third editions were issued by the printing house run by the heirs of Filippo Giunta – his sons Bernardo, Giovanni, Benedetto, and Francesco – in April 1529 and April 1531, respectively. The Giuntina press subsequently “entered a severe decline [...] following the fall of the Republic, although the firm continued in its bookselling and stationery business” (Pettas, The Giunti of Florence, p. 43). Benedetto Giunti was admitted to the stationer's guild on 15 October 1532, and his activity as an independent printer started officially in 1533, after the return of political stability in Florence. Five books were published in 1533; however, Benedetto's activity ceased until 1536/37, mainly owing to financial difficulties.

The present edition is the only known publication pre-dating 1533 to feature his name as a printer, although it is generally believed that the Cortegiano might have been printed – as Camerini has suggested – in 1537, possibly in Rome. The colophon bears the fictitious imprint 'Florence 1531', suggesting an intent to show the Giunti press was still active in the city, despite the unfavourable political situation. This edition is apparently a reprint of the aforementioned Cortegiano, actually printed in 1531 by the heirs of Filippo Giunta, along with some relevant variants such as the misspelling of Castiglione as 'Gastiglione' on the title-page, and the use of a different printer's device. Further, there are two groups of four leaves in which the setting of type is different, including on the title-page and colophon: fols. A1, A4, A5, A8, 2B2, 2B3, 2B7, and 2B8.

The paper used throughout is watermarked with an anchor inscribed within a circle, a watermark frequently found in paper from Veneto.

In his correspondence with the British Library (which also preserves a copy of the rare Cortegiano bearing the colophon 'In Firenze per Benedetto Giunti MDXXXI'), Conor Fahy suggested this mysterious edition might have been printed in Venice, where Benedetto's brother, Bernardo Giunti had moved in 1533/34. In 1537, an edition of the Cortegiano was 'really' printed in Florence, in which the misprint 'Gastiglione' on the title-page is corrected.

Camerini Annali 236; Pettas 235-236; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 87.

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

115. Doni, Anton Francesco (1513-1574)

I Marmi del Doni, Academico Peregrino. Al Mag.co 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.

The crabbed Latin of the German Dominican is transformed into elegant Italian dialogues — F. A. Yates —

130. Dolce, Lodovico (1508-1568)

Dialogo... Nel quale si ragiona del modo di accrescere et conseruar la memoria.... Giovanni Battista & Melchiorre Sessa, 1562.

8° (152x104 mm). Collation: *4, A-P8. [4], 119, [1] leaves. Roman and italic type. The first word of the title 'Dialogo' is set within a woodcut decorated cartouche. Sessa Pegasus device on the title-page. Twenty-three woodcuts varying in size, six of them printed as plates on recto and verso of fols. G5-G7. Contemporary limp vellum. Covers somewhat stained and darkened, small portion of the front lower outer corner lacking. A good and genuine copy, slightly browned, a few small marginal stains.

Provenance: 'Fr.is Antonij Francisci de Betinij liber 1626' (ownership inscription on the front flyleaf).

The first edition of this dialogue on memory, a substantial translation into Italian of the Congestorium artificiosae memoriae by German Dominican Johannes Romberch, which first appeared in Venice in 1520 and was elegantly adapted for the Italian rhetorical tradition by the Venetian 'polygraph' Lodovico Dolce. “The crabbed Latin of the German Dominican is transformed into elegant Italian dialogues, some of his examples are modernised, but the substance of the book is Romberch. We hear in the dulcet tones of Dolce's 'Cicerorian' Italian the scholastic reason why image may be used in memory. And Romberch's diagrams are exactly reproduced; we see once again his cosmic diagram for Dantesque artificial memory, and the antiquated figure of Grammar, stuck over with visual alphabets” (F. A. Yates, The Art of Memory, p. 163).

For the twenty-three illustrations in the volume, the printers Giovanni Battista and the younger Melchiorre Sessa re-used – with the unique exception of the woodcut stamped on fol. H6r, which was replaced – the blocks already cut for the Congestorium printed by Giorgio de' Rusconi in 1520, and which came into the possession of the Sessa press in 1533, when Romberch's treatise was reprinted by the older Melchiorre. The illustrative apparatus of the Dialogo thus also includes the famous visual alphabet formed with instruments and animals first printed by Erhard Rathold in the Publicius of 1482.

Dolce's publishing initiative was an immediate success, and the small treatise was reprinted in Venice in 1575 and 1586.

Adams D-732; Mortimer Italian, 157; Young 91; Wellcome, 1828; L. Dolce, Dialogo del modo di accrescere e conservar la memoria, ed. A. Torre, Pisa, 2001; F. A. Yates, The Art of memory, Eadem, Selected Works. III, London-New-York 2001, pp. 163-164; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 130.

The first Elzevier book

160. Drusius, Johannes (1550-1616)

Ebraicarum Quaestionum, sive, Quaestionum ac Responsionum libri duo, videlicet secundus ac tertius. Leiden, Lodewijk Elzevier [and Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583. (bound with:) Idem. Quaestionum ac responsionum liber. In quo varia scripturae loca explicantur aut emendantur. Indices tres. [Jan Paets Jacobszoon], 1583.

Two works in one volume, 8° (158x102 mm). I. Collation: A-H8. 126, [2] pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and coat of arms of the city of Leiden on fol. A8v. II. Collation: A-D8, E4. 72 pages. Roman, Greek, and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Contemporary vellum, traces of ties. Smooth spine with inked title. A very good, unsophisticated copy. Wormhole in the outer margin, partially restored, and occasionally slightly affecting the text; some light browning.

The first book published by the leading printer and bookseller Lodewijk Elzevier: the first edition of the Ebraicarum quaestiones by the Flemish Hebraist Johannes van den Driesche, better known as Johannes Drusius, professor of Oriental languages at Oxford, Louvain, and later active as a professor of Hebrew at the universities of Leiden and Franeker. The volume also contains a copy of another edition by Drusius, printed contemporaneously. Both works are usually found bound together in the recorded copies.

Lodewijk or Louis was the founder of the famous Elzevier dynasty of publishers, printers and booksellers; throughout the seventeenth century, the Elzevier house represented the most important publishing house in Europe, and it remained active until 1791. Lodewijk began his career as a bookbinder at the workshop of Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. In 1580 he settled in his hometown of Leiden to serve as bookbinder and bookseller at the new university. Three years later he published his first book using the presses of Jan Paets Jacobszoon, in Academia Lugdunensi.

The copy presented here is complete with the often lacking errata and colophon leaf, which, according to Pieters was added much later, probably after 1 May 1587, as attested by the mention in the colophon of the New School (“e regione Scholae novae”), the place which Elzevier started building within the Academy after that date. Pieters' suggestion was however contested by Willems, who states that “le feuillet d'errata fait corps avec le feuiller signé Hij; le papier est de même qualité et a les mêmes pontuseaux que le reste du volume” (Willems 22).

Drusius's career in the Dutch Republic was however affected by “the pressure to maintan orthodoxy in the church [...] In Franeker, Johannes Drusius was repeatedly forced to answer the accusations and insinuations of colleagues on the theological faculty [...] concerning his own theological soundness” (S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era, p. 63), whereas in Rome the works of the Reformed Drusius were condemned by the Congregation of the Index, and included in the Index of Prohibited Books issued in 1596, “a powerful tool in forbidding the spread of heresy in general and of heretical books of Christian Hebraists in particular” (ivi, p. 231).

Adams D-936; Pettegree-Walsby, Netherlandish Books 10350, 10351; Copinger, The Elzevier Press, 1461; Pieters 1; Rahir 14; Willems 22; S. G. Burnett, Christian Hebraism in the Reformation Era (1500–1660). Authors, Books, and the Transmission of Jewish Learning, Leiden 2012, passim; J. L. North, “Johannes van den Driessche, 1550-1616 and the Study of the Old Testament in the New”, B. Koet et al. (eds.), The Scriptures of Israel in Jewish and Christian Tradition, Leiden 2013, pp. 409-423. II. Adams D-935; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 160.

A new discovery in the print tradition of the Songes Drolatiques Allemands

173. [Custos, Dominicus, attributed to]

Songes Drolatiques Allemands. Set of twenty-six engravings. [Augsburg, after 1597].

A complete suite of twenty-six plates (108-121x77-90 mm), in the second state of three. Each plate with 4-9-mm margins on all four sides. Plates numbered I-XXVI, at the bottom centre of each plate. Plate XII is signed with the unidentified monogram 'SBR' in reverse, and with the letter 'A' on the left side of the Roman number. Good impressions, very fresh.

Exceptionally rare and complete suite of engravings attributed to the Flemish printer and engraver Dominicus Custos (1560-1612), active in Augsburg from 1590, here in their second, previously unrecorded state. A precious survey of the ornamental grotesque in late sixteenth-century-German graphic art, and an unusually playful testimony to the charm of some of the most imaginative and remarkable 'translations' of sixteenth-century French illustration.

Until the discovery of this second-state set, only one copy of the first state (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cabinet des Estampes, Res. Tf-1-Fold, Marolles N° 222), and only an incomplete copy of what is now considered to be the third state (held at the Schloss Wolffegg, Kupferstichkabinett, but possibly now lost) were known.

The Parisian, first-state edition of the Songes Drolatiques Allemands contains a proper printed title-page – Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel ou sont continues plusieurs figures de l'invention de Maistre Francois Rabelais... Imprimé en Augustae Vindelicorum par Iean Pretoir, en despens du Dominique Custodis. M.D.XCVII – based on which art historians have attributed the role of the publication's engraver, or at least its financial backer, to the Flemish artist and printer Dominicus Custos.

Apart from the printed title-page, this first state consists of fifteen single oblong sheets (measuring 154-169x105-121 mm) and mounted by Abbé Marolles (Michel de Marolles, 1600-1681) in a large album, including also a copy of Lucini's Caramogi (see no. 193). Of these, nine sheets contain only one horizontally oriented copperplate, while the remaining six each contain two vertically oriented engravings. The first five plates bear Arabic numerals on the left sides (only the number '4' is still visible in the second state, pl. XI); the subsequent plates 6-9 bear respectively the Arabic numbering 1-4 (with only the numbers '1' and '2' still visible in the second state, pls. V and IV, respectively). These nine engravings of the first state are evidently a new invention by the artist, whereas the remaining six sheets, with two engravings each, are unnumbered, and inspired by the woodcuts included in the Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel, a work attributed to Jean Rabelais and published in 1565 by François Desprez (see the woodcuts on fols. E4r, C4v, D4v, A4v, B7v, C5r, B8r, D8v, C7v, C8r, A5r, and D5r, corresponding to plates XV-XXVI of the second state). These new plates show brilliant combinations of fantastical elements, demonstrating the influence of themes of the so-called 'world upside down' (die verkehrte Welt), and the iconographical tradition known as Schnacken (dragonflies).

For the second state, presented here, the printmaker re-used the first eight copperplates from the first state, each of which contained two figures and was horizontally oriented; he divided these approximately into halves, making an effort to respect the entirety of a given engraving's two figures. He did not use the two small, off-centre images on the fifth and eighth plates, nor that on the ninth, owing to the fact that this was integral to – and thus 'inseparable' from – the original composition. In this way, the printer was able to obtain fourteen vertically oriented, single-figure copperplates. He then used all twelve of the vertically oriented single-figure copperplates from the first state (which had been printed in twos), to arrive, finally, at the total twenty-six single plates.

Each of the second and third state 'vertical' copperplates are set within newly engraved line-border, and are numbered at the bottom with Roman numerals (I to XXVI) which do not correspond to their 'original' placement in the first state.

In the third state – the sole surviving copy of which contains only plates I-II and IV-XXVI – each plate is supplemented by a German moralising quatrain variously engraved in the spaces left empty by the figures.

This newly discovered second-state set is a true testament to the wit and imagination of the Songes drolatiques as well as a critical piece for understanding the evolution of its legacy following the initial Rabelais publication. In this way, it is also a powerful lens into the creative process, offering tangible evidence of the way artists engage with art and its dynamic, multi-layered history.

J. Porcher, “L'auteur des Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel”, Mélanges offert à A. Lanfranc, Paris 1936, pp. 229, 232; Idem, Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel et l'imagerie en France au XVIe siècle, Paris 1959; J. Baltrusaitis, Réveil et prodiges. Le gothique fantastique, Paris 1960, pp. 348-351 ; E.-M. Schenck, Das Bilderrätsel, Hildesheim 1973, pp. 86, 303; C.-P. Warncke Die ornamental Groteske in Deutschland, 1500-1650, Berlin 1979, I, pp. 71-4, and pls. 628-52; S. Laube, “Songes drolatiques and die Realität der Dinge bei Rabelais and Bruegel”, H. Bredekamp et al. (eds.), Imagination und Rapräsentation, Paderborn 2010, pp. 259-276; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 173.

The first Italian translation, by the author himself

175. Possevino, Antonio (1533-1611)

Coltura de gl’ingegni... Nella quale con molta dottrina, & giuditio si mostrano li doni che ne gl’ingegni dell’huomo ha posto Iddio, la uarietà, & inclinatione loro, e di doue nasce, & come si conosca, li modi, e mezi d’essercitarli per le discipline, li rimedij a gl’impedimenti, li coleggi, & università, l’uso de’ buoni libri, e la corretione de’ cattiui. Giorgio Greco, 1598.

4° (207x147 mm). Collation: a-b4, A-N4, O6. [16], 115, [1] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Traces of ties to the fore-edges. Smooth spine with remains of two paper labels. A good copy, a few leaves uniformly browned; fols. O3 and O4 partly loose. Short tears to the lower outer corners of fols. L2-L4 and M1, not affecting text. Early shelfmark on the front pastedown.

Provenance: Theological Institute of Connecticut, East Windsor Hill (now defunct; blind stamps on the first and last quires, and fol. b1); the well-known Italian librarian and bibliographer from Parma Luigi Balsamo (1926-2012; ex-libris on the front pastedown).

First Italian translation of the first twelve chapters of Possevino's ambitious bibliographical treatise, Bibliotheca selecta, which had appeared in Rome in 1593. The present copy comes from the library of Italian scholar Luigi Balsamo, author of the two-volume work La Biblioteca selecta di Antonio Possevino S.I. ovvero l'enciclopedia cattolica della Controriforma (Firenze 1999).

The translation was made by Possevino himself and is divided into fifty-six chapters, each given an individual title to facilitate reading and the finding of various topics. The Jesuit had passed the manuscript on to Mariano Lauretti, who published the work with a dedicatory epistle to Baron Oswald Trapp.

In his Coltura de gl'ingegni ('Cultivation of the Intellectual Faculties') Possevino offers a detailed curriculum, describing several European universities and brilliantly illustrating the teaching in the Collegio Romano, while also discussing printing, book selling, and censorship.

M. Cristofari, “La tipografia vicentina nel secolo XVI”, Miscellanea di scritti di bibliografia ed erudizione in memoria di Luigi Ferrari, Firenze 1952, no. 233; A. Anichini - P. Giorgi, 100 immagini di libri di scuola. Il fondo antiquario del Museo Nazionale della Scuola di Firenze, secoli XVI-XVIII, Firenze 2013, pp. 58, 183; L. Balsamo, “Venezia e l'attività editoriale di Antonio Possevino (1553-1606)”, La Bibliofilia, 93 (1991), pp. 65-66; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 175.

The correct eyebrow length

180. Olmo, Marco Antonio (fl. 16th-17th century)

Physiologia Barbae Humanae. In tres sectiones divisa, hoc est de fine illius philosophico, & medico. Giovanni Battista Bellagamba, 1601.

Folio (286x198 mm). Collation: †4, ††6, A-I4, L-Y4, Z1 (singleton), Aa-Rr4, Ss2. [20], 1-72, 81-317, [1] pages. The book is complete: quire K omitted by the printer. Roman and italic type. Title-page printed in red and black with woodcut coat of arms of Pietro Aldobrandini, the dedicatee of the work. Woodcut on fol. Y1r. Contemporary limp vellum. Smooth spine, title inked vertically. Covers lightly stained, minor wear to the upper board edge of the lower cover. A very good copy, title-page slightly browned, a few stains and spots. Fol. Y1 mounted on onglet.

Provenance: the Count Arthur Dillon (d. 1893; ex-libris on the front pastedown).

Rare first edition of this curious treatise by the Paduan Marco Antonio Olmo, which provides a medical as well as philosophical point of view on the true nature of beards and hair. It is an expanded version of a pamphlet that the author had published on these topics a few years earlier: the Opinio de fine medico barbae humanae, which appeared in Modena in 1599.

The Bolognese edition of 1601 is dedicated to Pietro Aldobrandini and divided into three books. For this work, Olmo relied on sources from Antiquity, such as Crisippus and Diogenes, as well as later authorities, including Augustinus and Lactantius. The volume is illustrated with a woodcut depicting the correct proportions of the face and eyebrows necessary to not obstruct the viewing angle (fol. Y1r). The 1601 publication is recorded in only four Italian institutional libraries.

A second, enlarged edition of the work was printed in 1603 by the same Bolognese printer.

STC 17th century, 926; Bruni-Evans 3713; Krivatsy 8425; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 180.

Giordano Bruno’s philosophical lexicon

183. Bruno, Giordano (1548-1600)

Summa terminorum metaphysicorum... Accessit eiusdem praxis Descensus, seu applicatio Entis ex manuscripto, per Raphaelem Eglinum Jconium Tigurinum. Rudolph Hutwelcker, 1609.

8° (155x95 mm). Collation: A-P8, Q4. [16], 229, [3] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcut ornament on the title-page; woodcut headpieces and decorated initials. Some diagrams in the text. Contemporary limp vellum; smooth spine with running stitches, and traces of inked title, in a contemporary hand. Traces of ties. Binder's waste from a printed seventeenth-century German almanac. Covers slightly stained, text block detached from the spine. A good, unsophisticated copy. A small section from the outer blank margin of the title-page cut and restored, without any loss. Some spots, a few stains, especially on the first leaves, with marginal foxing. On the recto of the front flyleaf, the inked annotation 'Prima Aprilis', and the number '519', pencilled in red by a more recent hand.

Provenance: given by a certain Reiter to Rev. Leib in 1773 (ownership inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf, ‘Ex libris R.d Leib à R.D. Leibn à R D: Reiter dono oblatus anno 1773', and on the title-page, 'Ex Libris Rd Leib').

The rare second and definitive edition of this work by the celebrated philosopher from Nola, Giordano Bruno. After several years wandering between Geneva, Paris, London, Prague, and several cities in German-speaking areas, Bruno returned to Venice in August 1591 but was ultimately deemed a heretic and burned at the stake in Rome at Campo de' Fiori in 1600.

Bruno's Summa terminorum metaphisicorum relays a series of lectures given by him in Zurich; he compiled the text in 1591, while still in the Swiss city. The work aims to provide a lexicon of philosophical terms, which have been divided here into fifty-two concepts according to the model of Aristotelian Metaphysics, among other systems of logic.

The book was edited posthumously by the theologian Raphael Egli (1559-1622), who had become acquainted with Bruno in Geneva, and who later attended his lectures in Zurich. Egli had published a first edition of the Summa terminorum metaphysicorum in Zurich in 1595, while the Nolano was imprisoned at the Sant'Uffizio in Rome. This text was produced on the basis of a manuscript owned by Egli himself which contained only the first part of the work, the De Entis descensus. The enlarged edition of 1609 is introduced by the unchanged dedicatory epistle to Friedrich Salis which had previously been appended to the Summa of 1595, but also includes the significant addition of the Praxis descensus seu applicatio Entis. Bruno's texts are followed by the Tractatus de definitionibus – then erroneously attributed to Athanasius – and the Terminorum quorundam explicationes by Rudolf Goclenius, professor of logic and moral philosophy at the University of Marburg.

Of this Marburg edition two versions of the title-page are known, with and without mention of Egli's affiliation and reference to Goclenius's Terminorum quorundam explicationes. The copy presented here is one of only seven copies known to bear the title-page in the shorter form, and is considered in first issue. There are also variants in the tabula of the errata.

For other works by Bruno in this catalogue see nos. 154 and 161.

I. Salvestrini, Bibliografia, no. 210; Sturlese, Bibliografia, no. 29; E. Canone, “Nota” to G. Bruno, Summa terminorum metaphysicorum. Ristampa anastatica dell'edizione Marburgo 1609, Roma 1989, pp. XI-XXII; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 183.

A journey to the City of Truth

184. Del Bene, Bartolomeo (b. 1514)

Civitas veri sive morum... Aristotelis de moribus doctrinam, carmine et picturis complexa, et illustrata commentariis Theodori Marcilii.... Ambroise and Jérôme Drouart, 1609.

Folio (343x214 mm). Collation: A4, 2A-Z4, Aa-Hh4, Ii6. [8], 258, [2] pages. Complete with fol. A4 blank. Roman, italic, and Greek type. Engraved title-page and thirty-three engraved plates by Thomas de Leu, including a double-page plan of the City of Truth. Woodcut initials, head-and tailpieces. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Spine with title in gilt on lettering-piece. Some wear. A fine and tall copy, slightly browned, pale waterstain at the upper margin. A manuscript note in French on the front flyleaf.

Rare first edition of this remarkable utopian work, a poetic meditation in Latin hexameters, based on the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. The Civitas veri sive morum was written in 1585 by the diplomat and poet Bartolomeo Del Bene, and posthumously edited in 1609 by his nephew Alfonso, bishop of Albi, who dedicated the publication to Henri IV. The text is accompanied by a commentary by Théodore Marcile (1548-1617).

The poem describes a journey to the City of Truth (Civitas veri) which begins at the Palace of Strength and takes us to the Palaces of Moderation and Excess; we then arrive at the Temples of Glory and Generosity, and finally at the Labyrinth of Vices. The Basilica of Magnanimity and Modesty is a dignified structure, and so too is the House of Courtesy. The contrast is quickly apparent: arrogance, falsity, and injustice are present in the forms of buildings. The edifices of Heroism, Abstinence, and Justice, represent the goal of a virtuous life.

The work is divided into thirty days, starting from the canonical description of the five senses, following by a listing the traditional virtues and vices in hierarchical fashion, and culminating in a discussion of the philosopher's wisdom. The edition is supplemented with a marvellous series of engravings, executed by the publisher and print dealer Thomas de Leu (1560–1620), mostly representing allegories and figures on a pilgrimage to the City of Truth. One double-page plate shows a map of this city.

“Like so many Renaissance allegories, the 'Civitas veri' grows from a medieval root. The commentator Marcile points out its indebtedness to St Augustine's 'City of God', and indeed the plan of the City of Truth recalls illustrations in medieval manuscripts of the City of God. The allegorical dream in the architectural setting has a strong hold on the Renaissance imagination, as exemplified by the 'Hypnerotomachia Poliphili' (see nos. 43 and 103), to which work the 'Civitas veri', though of a different temper, has a certain relationship”. (F. A. Yates, The French Academies of the Sixteen Century, p. 112).”

Duportal, Livres à figures du XVIIe siècle, p. 155; French Emblem Books F.212; Landwehr 255; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 184.

A German emblem book

187. Flittner, Johann (fl. 1st half of the 17th century) - Murner, Thomas (1475-1537)

Nebulo Nebulonum; hoc est, Iocoseria Modernae Nequitiae Censura; qua Hominum Sceleratorum fraudes, Doli ac versutiae aeri aërique exponuntur publice: Carmine Iambico Dimetro adornata a Joanne Flitnero, Franco, Poëta Laureato. Jakob de Zetter, 1620.

8° (156x98 mm). Collation: [π]4, A-K8, L4. [8], 164, [4] pages. Complete with fol. L4 blank. Roman and italic type. Engraved title-page. Thirty-three engravings in the text (91x72 mm). Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary blind-ruled vellum, over pasteboards. Spine with inked title. A very good, unsophisticated copy. Outer margin of the title-page slightly trimmed. Minor browning, wormholes in the inner margin not affecting the text.

Provenance: given as a gift by 'Petr. Mock.' to a certain 'Doctor Frederice' (address on the recto of the front flyleaf); modern, unidentified ex-libris on the front pastedown.

First edition of the free Latin adaptation by the German poet laureate Johann Flittner of the Schelmen Zunft by Thomas Murner, a collection of satirical poems first published in 1512 and strongly influenced by Brant's famous Narrenschiff. Flittner's adaption enjoyed great popularity: subsequent editions of the Nebulo Nebulonum were published in 1634, 1636, 1644, and 1663, while a translation into Dutch appeared in Leeuwarden in 1634 and 1645.

The work is dedicated to the brothers Joannes Jacobus, Dominicus and Joannes Porsch, and contains thirty-three poems, each of which is illustrated by an allegorical engraving and accompanied by two captions, one for the poem and one for the plate, as well as an explanation in prose. Particularly for its age, the Nebulo Nebulonum is a very curious emblem book, which makes fun of the customs of Flittner's time, sparing no social class. If the clergy is the most heavily and frequently attacked, all professions are taken into account, especially those who use words to deceive and seduce other people like jurists, councillors, clerics, and preachers.

The lively illustrations – likely designed by the publisher Jakob de Zetter – show the daily life of the time, depicting costumes, the interiors of homes, and indoor and outdoor activities.

VD17 1:029198C; H. Hayn-A.N. Gotendorf, Bibliotheca Germanorum Erotica, München 1913, v, 248; Landwehr 283; Wellcome 4490; M. Praz, Studies in 17th century imagery, Roma 1975, p. 337; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 187.

'Les Incroyables'

193. Lucini, Antonio Francesco (1605/10-1661)

Compendio dell’Armi de’ Caramogi D’Ant. Fran. Lucini. Florence [i.e., Paris?], F. L. D. Chartres excud. [i.e., François L’Anglois, dit Chartres], 1627.

Twenty-three of twenty-five numbered etchings and engravings, including the title image (78-81x117-120 mm), all with large margins (each leaf measuring 198x141 mm). Lacking plates nos. 13 and 24. Unidentified blason watermark. Loose sheets, matted and preserved in a modern half-calf box. Minor fingermarks and other stains in outer blank margins of some leaves; pale waterstain or discolouration at the outer margin of some prints; minor bleeding at outside border of print no. 18, not affecting image; print no. 6 includes very minor staining within image. Most prints have a very slight amount of wash colour – always at the headgear and often barely noticeable – the casual 'doodling' of an early collector. Plate no. 2 includes the inked inscription, in an early hand, 'Les Incroyables', now slightly faded, in margin above image.

Exceedingly rare suite of prints showing armed caramogi, i.e., dwarfs, engaged in duels or carrying a variety of weapons, a satire of the macabre jousts held in seventeenth-century Florence during Carnival, and a 'little known' (Viatte) addition to the corpus of Florentine caricature or grotesques which Baldinucci termed “invenzione bizzarrissima”. Lucini (or Luccini) is said to have been in the circle – perhaps as a disciple – of the outstanding French engraver Jacques Callot, first in Florence (1616), and subsequently in Nancy. He is famous for his engravings after Stefano della Bella, and for all the engravings in the great sea atlas Arcano del Mare, (1646-1647), an immense undertaking of twelve years' duration which very likely contains the most beautifully engraved and calligraphed maps ever executed.

“The Compendio dell'armi de' caramogi (Compendium of caramogi weapons) of 1627 is a rare edition of 25 prints [...] Without a doubt, Luccini was familiar with the Gobbi series and other dwarf imagery by Callot, under whom he had studied [...] Luccini's combination of bizarre costume, ugly physique and grotesque violence produced an amusing parody of dueling. The prints illustrate dwarfs using a variety of weapons (several operate diverse types of cannons). Many of the images feature pairs of doughy-looking dwarfs battling with swords, knives and lances. The dwarfs wrestle ferociously, often stabbing and slicing the limbs off one another. The contrast between the appearance of the lumpish dwarfs and the brutal nature of the fighting created a paradox – small creatures exhibiting excessive carnality – that would have been highly entertaining for the early modern audience” (S. Cheng, “Parodies of Life”, pp. 132-133).

The suite was published by the Parisian printer and occasional engraver Francois L'Anglois (or Langlois; 1588-1647), dit Chartres. His signature – 'F. L. D. Chartres excud.' - appears only the title, as none of the other plates are signed. Accordingly, it may be an error to consider 'in Firenze An. MDCXXVII' the place of publication, which would more likely be Paris, while the Tuscan city would have been the place where Lucini invented his Caramogi.

In this set, an early French hand has written, in the upper margin of plate no. 2, 'Les Incroyables', a feature which could suggest – alongside the mention of François L'Anglois on the title-page at least a French circulation, if not its Paris publication. We have located only three copies of this series: one complete copy is in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, in the Marolles album devoted to caricature and ornament (BnF, Cabinet des Estampes, Res. Tf-1-Fold, Marolles N° 222; reproduced in its entirety by Viatte); a second one, lacking one plate, is at the Biblioteca Civica Bertoliana, in Vicenza; and a third set containing only twelve plates in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. If it was ever more widespread, the survival rate of such engraved suites is tenuous indeed, whether because they were so antithetical to the main currents of Florentine art, or because of their hypothetically 'popular' character – notwithstanding some of the towering names associated with it. One could well imagine that the pleasure they offered was ephemeral, and that only they began to be collected from the seventeenth century onwards. In fact, one of the greatest print collectors of all time, Michel de Marolles (1600-1681), included Lucini's Compendio dell'Armi de' Caramogi in the same album as his series of Songes Drolatiques Allemands (see no. 173) as outstanding examples of pieces facétièuses et bouffonnes; it is with great pride that we are able to offer both such outstanding examples in the present catalogue.

F. Viatte, “Allegorical and Burlesque Subjects by Stefano della Bella”, Master Drawings, 15 (1977). pp. 347-365; S. Cheng, “Parodies of Life: Baccio del Bianco's comic drawings of dwarfs”, D. R. Smith (ed.), Parody and Festivity in Early Modern Art. Essays on Comedy as Social Vision, Farnham 2012, pp. 127-142; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 193.

The Colbert-Heber-Beckford copy

195. Maccio, Paolo (1576-1638)

Emblemata. Clemente Ferroni, April 1628.

4° (203x140 mm). Collation: A-Z4, AA-TT4. 331, [5] pages. Roman and italic type. Engraved title-page within typographical border; dedicatory plate showing the Madonna and Child in a landscape; eighty-one emblematic engravings. Eighteenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within a triple gilt fillet. Spine with five raised bands, title in gold on morocco lettering-piece. Marbled flyleaves, gilt edges. Joints and top of spine partially restored. A very good copy, small repair to the lower margin of fol. Q1r, without any loss.

Provenance: from the library of French politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683; ownership inscription on the title-page 'Bibliothecae Colbertinae'); by descent to Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Torcy (1665-1746), Jacques Nicolas Colbert, Archbishop of Rouen (1655-1707), and Charles Eléonor Colbert, Comte de Seignelay (d. 1747; see the sale catalogue Bibliotheca Colbertina, seu Catalogus librorum bibliothecae quae fuit primum Ill. V.D. J. B. Colbert, Regni ministri, deinde Ill. D. J. B. Colbert. March. de Seignelay; postea Rev. et ill. D. J. Nic. Colbert, Rothomagensis Archiepiscopi, ac demum D. Caroli-Leonorii Colbert, Comitis de Seignelay, Paris 1728, Pars Secunda, Continens Libros in 4.); the English book collector Richard Heber (1773-1833; his stamp on the front flyleaf); the English writer and patron of the arts William Beckford (1760-1844); his younger daughter, the Duchess of Hamilton (pencil note on the front flyleaf, dated 20 December 1882; see the sale at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, The Hamilton Palace Libraries. Catalogue of the Second Portion of the Beckford Library, Removed from Hamilton Palace, London 11-23 December 1882).

First edition of this lively and richly illustrated emblem book by the Modenese Paolo Maccio (Macchi, or Mazzi), which presents an interesting iconography of contemporary life in Bologna.

The engravings were executed by various artists who were active in Bologna. Oliviero Gatti (1598-1646), a disciple of Giovanni Luigi Valesio, drew and engraved the dedication plate and fifty-two emblematic plates. Giovanni Battista Coriolano (1590-1649) was responsible for engraving twenty-six emblematic plates, while the remaining three engravings are the work of Agostino Parisini (fl. 1625-1636) after drawings by Florio Maccio, a disciple of Lodovico Carracci.

A further point of interest in this copy lies in its provenance, as it once belonged to the great book collector Jean-Baptiste Colbert, chief minister to the King of France Louis XIV from 1661 to 1683 (for another book from the Colbertina see no. 150). The notable library assembled by Colbert passed by descent to other members of this French family, and was largely sold in Paris on 24 May 1728. Later the book came into the possession of one of the most refined English bibliophiles, Richard Heber, founder of the Roxburghe Club of bibliophiles, whose collection of 105,000 volumes was sold by auction in London in 1835. On this occasion, the copy from the Colbertina was purchased by another outstanding English book collector, William Beckford, and until 1882 was preserved in his family's great library at Hamilton Palace.

Cicognara 1913; Frati 7447; Landwehr 496; A. Sorbelli, Storia della stampa in Bologna, Bologna 1929, p. 140; L. Bolzoni - B. Allegranti, Con parola brieve e con figura: libri antichi di imprese e emblemi, Lucca 2004, p. 48; D. Bloch, “La bibliothèque de Colbert”, Histoire des bibliothèques françaises, II, pp. 157-179; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 195.

The Renaissance fortune-telling book goes baroque

202. [Stefano della Bella, after]. Spirito, Lorenzo (ca. 1425-1496)

Libro della Ventura. Manuscript drawn and calligraphed in brown ink, in Italian. Italy (possibly Florence?) ca. 1650.

295x284 mm. I + 48 + I leaves. Complete. Six quires. Collation: 110, 26-1, 36, 44, 510, 616-3. Beautiful allegorical title leaf, surrounded by a cornucopia in the form of a garland, with richly festooned garlands draped over the upper portion of the frame. On the verso of the title leaf, introductory text held by three putti and a bust labelled 'Lorenzo In', an homage to the inventor of the game (the bust reappears at a slightly different angle bearing the full 'Lorenzo Inventi' on fol. 22r). The following leaves are finely illustrated with full-page and double-page ink drawings within elaborate frames, depicting – according the widespread iconography of fortune-telling books – kings, wheels of fortune, and prophets (see below). Calligraphic text in a single hand, drawings most likely in two. Each leaf has been 'tabbed' and labelled in the outer right margin to facilitate game playing. Seventeenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt frieze, spine divided into seven compartments by gilt fillets. Later endleaves, the original flyleaves preserved, bearing some essays with a compass. Manuscript in good condition, three leaves (including the title leaf) extended to fit the size of the volume, several others with repairs to the lower and outer margin, occasionally affecting the drawings and/or labels.


The manuscript contains:

-ten full-page drawings of busts of kings placed upon pedestals and within decorative rectangular frames; twenty full-page tables of dice bearing at the centre a small drawing showing each figure of the game (real or imaginary animals, zodiac signs, emblems, etc.);

-twenty full-page drawings of wheels of fortune, again with each figure placed at the centre, set before largely pastoral landscapes. Under each wheel is a vignette with scenes of travellers, putti, castles, etc.; twenty double-page spreads dedicated to the prophets, featuring the prophet's portrait on the first page set within a garland, extensive calligraphic text in terzine that carries through both pages, and a highly inventive 'carpet' drawing at the bottom of the second page.

All drawings included here are within elaborate ornamental frames, surmounted by banderoles that identify the passage or figure depicted below.

Provenance: ownership inscription inked out, and almost illegible, on the front flyleaf, 'Venne alla [...] di detto libro in Venezia dal Signor G[...] D[...] go'.

A very refined seventeenth-century manuscript containing the Libro della Ventura by Lorenzo Spirito, first printed in Bologna in 1482 – one of the most popular printed fortune-telling books of the Renaissance and here profusely embellished with high-quality ink drawings that beautifully exemplify the organic ornamentality of the Baroque.

The manuscript text is copied from the printed edition nearly verbatim, as are the major figures and motifs (kings and fortune wheels, for example) thus allowing for standard game play. However, the illustrations themselves are far more embellished and in the manner of the prominent Italian draughtsman and printmaker Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). A prolific artist, della Bella was particularly well known for the vastness of his subject matter which ranged from wittily inventive ornamental plates, frontispieces, and illustrations for theatre productions, to present-day and historically bent scenes of the military arts and the royal court, to metaphoric representations of skeletons during the plague and a plethora of capricci. Indeed, so varied was della Bella's work that he was even commissioned to produce four sets of educational playing cards for the young Louis XIV covering history, mythology, and geography.

The breadth of figures, motifs, scenes, and ornament that permeate the pages of the manuscript presented here is equally impressive, particularly given the overall coherency and unity of form established throughout. This careful balance also points up an important feature of della Bella's style: in his youth, the Florentine artist had been an ardent follower of the technically exquisite Jacques Callot (ca. 1592–1635), but his stay in Paris between 1639 and 1650 witnessed the development of his own unique style suffuse with supple, lyrical lines and almost mannerist figuration. The artist was also keen to work en plein air as much as possible, imbuing his rhythmical forms with a marked sense of spontaneity that is certainly to the fore in the present illustrations. In more particular details, too, the master's style is everywhere evident; thematically, for example, in the small, elaborately costumed figures in fancy headdresses that recall his interest in Rembrandt, or in the array of animals that enliven the page as they scamper across imaginative landscapes (in fact, della Bella was undertaking a series of etched animal portraits right around the date we propose our manuscript was produced, and certain animals, such as the deer and eagles, demonstrate remarkable similarity to those included in his series). Formally, too, the remarkable sense of luminosity and texture evident in the hair, feathers, grass, leaves, and sky – achieved through sure, painterly yet delicate strokes economically and efficiently employed to let the white ground come through – is practically signature della Bella. A further point to the level of creativity demonstrated in this manuscript: the 'carpet' drawings mentioned above bear no evident relation to the illustrations in any printed edition of the book.

The visual coherency of this manuscript is strengthened still by the unity of 'disegno' between the drawings and the three columns of calligraphic text, such that one may infer that artist(s) and calligrapher worked in close collaboration. This is nowhere more evident than in the magnificent title leaf or the drawing on the following verso. The opening leaf gives the title in Roman capitals, beneath which are some introductory verses, not present in the received text. The text proper begins on the verso of the same leaf ('Qui comincia il libro'), and is neatly disposed on a curtain, a common feature of Baroque, held at the top by three putti.

While there were at least twelve Italian editions of Spirito's text – all now exceptionally rare (see no. 42) – the source for the present manuscript remains unknown. Comparison with the printed editions nonetheless suggests the basic trajectory: schematic woodcut figures (with frequent re-uses of the same block) are replaced by the individuation of figures, often with orientalizing, 'a l'antica', or historicizing detail, and by fine modeling and minute cross-hatching. Artistically, the 'carpet' drawings, which occupy a quarter to half of the lower margin, are among the most inventive in the album. Subjects include capricci, pastoral scenes of animals, seascapes, landscapes, fortified cities, and putti at play. A few are emblematic: one in which three putti seem to be playing a game involving a certain number of coins hidden under a hat (fol. 29r), with one of the three (the loser?) in tears; or another in which a small putto appears to be suckling an antlered deer (fol. 32r).

We suggest the motive for the present manuscript was the production of a luxury object, probably for presentation, rather than simply a 'copy' of an increasingly rare printed text. The carefully cut tabs in the right margins make it clear that it was to be played as a game, and minor defects suggest other signs of use. The drawings were clearly made on individual sheets and then bound; although the paper stock is uniform, the sizes of the individual leaves are not, hence some irregularity in the fore-edges, a few of which are gauffered.

The manuscript ends with what, in retrospect, seems a joke: in a later hand is written a colophon imitating that of a printed book and stating that the text was written and personally copied by Lorenzo Spirito and illustrated by his countryman Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), followed by a date which is sheer nonsense.

A. de Vesme - P. D. Massar, Stefano della Bella. Catalogue raisonné, Milano 1906 (New York 1971); T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83; A. Blunt, The Drawings of G.B. Castiglione and Stefano della Bella in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, London 1954; P. D. Massar, Presenting Stefano della Bella, Seventeenth-Century Printmaker, Greenwich, CT 1971; L. Hartmann, “Capriccio”. Bild und Begriff, Nürnberg 1973; C. Limentani Virdis, Disegni di Stefano della Bella, Sassari 1975; M. Catelli Isola (ed.), Disegni di Stefano della Bella 1610-1664. Dalle collezioni del Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Roma, Villa della Farnesina alla Lungara, 4 febbraio – 30 aprile 1976 (exhibition catalogue), Roma 1976; Le carte da gioco di Stefano della Bella (1610-1664), Firenze 1977; T. Ortolani (ed.), Stefano della Bella. Aggiornamento al “Catalogue raisonné” di A. de Vesme e Ph. D. Massar, 1996; L. Nadin, Carte da gioco e letteratura fra Quattro e Ottocento, Lucca 1997; D. Klemm, Stefano della Bella (1610-1664). Zeichnungen aus dem Kupferstichkabinett der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2009; D. Klemm (ed.), Von der Schönheit der Linie. Stefano della Bella als Zeichner. Hamburger Kunsthalle 25. Oktober 2013 bis 26. Januar 2014, Petersberg 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 202.

Ex dono Auctoris

219. Meyer, Cornelius (1629-1701)

Nuovi ritrovamenti divisi in due parti con trè Tavole in lingua Latina, Francese, & Ollandese. Parte prima. Delli ordegni per cavar pali. Armature della calamita. Del modo di levare i sassi sott’acqua, e trovar la lega dell’oro, e dell’argento... Rome, Giovanni Giacomo Komarek, 1696. (bound with:) Idem. Alla Santità di N.S. Papa Innocentio XI. Beatissimo Padre. [Rome, Giacomo Antonio de Lazzeri Varese, 1679]. (bound with:) Idem. Nuovi ritrovamenti dati in luce dall’Ingegneiro [sic] Cornelio Meyer per eccitare l’ingegno de’ virtuosi ad aumentarli, ò aggiungervi maggior perfettione... Rome, Giovanni Giacomo Komarek, 1689. (together with:) Idem. L’Arte di restituire à Roma la tralasciata Navigatione del suo Tevere. Divisa in tre parti.... Giacomo Antonio de Lazzari Varese, 1685.

Two volumes containing four works, in near uniform bindings.

First volume. Three works bound together, folio (411x261 mm). I. [28] unsigned leaves, including title-page with a large engraved vignette showing a dragon with the caption 'Drago come viveva il primo di Decembre 1691 nelle paludi fuori di Roma'; dedication to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III dated Rome, 22 June 1696; 22 leaves consisting of plates with letter-press explanatory text, all of them half-page (except two full-page and three double-page); 4 leaves of indices in Latin, French, and Dutch. Roman and italic type. II. Collation: A14. [14] leaves. Issued without title-page, opening with dedicatory epistle to Innocent XI. Twelve numbered half-page engravings accompanied by explanatory text below, printed on recto only. Roman and italic type. The plates are partly dated between 1677 and 1679, engraved by Giovanni Battista Falda and Jacques Blondeau, after Meyer. III. Collation: [π]2-1, A-D2, 2D2, E2-1. [12] leaves. Roman and italic type. Typographical ornament on the title-page. Fifteen engravings in the text, two of which are double page. Most of the plates signed by Meyer as designer, and sometimes as both designer and engraver. The double-page astronomical engraving is signed by Ioannes Baptista Honoratus Polustinus.

Contemporary limp vellum. Extremities of the spine damaged. Fine, unsophisticated copy. Worm-tracks on the upper margin of several leaves not affecting the text, some leaves somewhat loose.

Second volume. Three parts, folio (401x265 mm). [92] leaves, 15, [1] pages. All leaves are unsigned, except for fols. [9-10] signed A-A2 and the final 8 leaves signed A-D2. The edition includes: two additional titles with dedication to Innocent XI and a large allegorical engraving present here in two states (one variant has the caption title 'Fluminis Fluctus Letificant Civitatem' written on a cartouche on top of the engraving, while the second version has 'D.O.M.' instead); a letter-press title with a woodcut ornament; sixty-eight engraved illustrations and maps (six double-page, one full-page and the rest half-page). The final 15 pages contain the relations of the Sacra Congregatio riparum Tyberis, and end with the colophon 'Romae, ex Typographia Rev. Cam. Apost., 1685'. The first illustration of part two, a double-page map showing the Delineatione del stagno di Maccarese, is captioned: 'In Roma, nella stamperia di Nicol'Angelo Tinassi, 1681'. The comet plate referred to in the list of plates is absent, in keeping with all other copies. At the bottom of the figura quarta in Part one are two contemporary ink drawings of technical structures. Roman and italic type. Woodcut head- and tailpieces.

Contemporary vellum, over thin boards. Spine with inked title, partly damaged and with a few losses. A genuine copy, with good margins. Some browning and foxing, double-page map of Delinatione del stagno di Maccarese heavily browned.

Provenance: I. Meyer's own inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris' on the verso of the front flyleaf; on the front pastedown nineteenth-century armorial ex-libris of the Odescalchi family, bearing the motto 'per servire s'acquista servi quando poi', and engraved by Michelassi. II. Meyer's own inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris' on the verso of the front flyleaf.

Two-volume set containing four rare first editions by Cornelius Meyer (Cornelis Meijer), both volumes bearing the author's inscription 'Ex dono Auctoris'. Dedication copies of these already rare works are extremely hard to come by separately, and even more so bound together, and in copies complete with all their parts. This is the case of this set, in which the first volume also bears the ex-libris of the Odescalchi family, and it is especially noteworthy that Pope Innocent XI Odescalchi was the patron of Meyer as well as the dedicatee of the second edition bound in this volume.

I. The first work bound – Nuovi ritrovamenti divisi in due parti... Parte prima – though printed seven years later, in 1696, forms the first section of a two-part work, which gathers some of the author's technical inventions and scientific experiments. The second part, Nuovi ritrovamenti dati in luce, was issued first, in 1689, but both texts are clearly related insofar as the index to both parts is printed at the end of the Part one.

The plates show inventions and experiments undertaken by Meyer in Rome and other places like Livorno and Civitavecchia: among others, the large magnet of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, instruments and technical tools to raise cannons and poles from below the sea and to break stones underwater, methods for melting metals, canalization and other hydraulic works, a plan of the harbor of Livorno, fortification works, spectacles, games and curiosities including how to break a glass with a musical instrument, the eclipse of Jupiter's first satellite, a map of the mouth of Po river, chariots, the design of a room, the orbit of a comet, and fountains. One of the plates included here shows the Civitavecchia harbor, where the author recovered the hull of a sunken vessel.

The third work included in the first volume – the one bound in the middle – is the rarest of all three. It was issued without a title-page and opens with a dedication to Innocent XI Odescalchi. Meyer's name appears at the end of the dedication, while the imprint is at the bottom of the last two leaves. As stated in the notice to the reader, with this publication Meyer intended to show to the general public how he so brilliantly completed the first task assigned to him by Clement X upon his arrival in Rome.

Born in Amsterdam, Cornelius Meyer left his country in 1674 for Venice, then a popular destination for Dutch engineers seeking employment. He moved to Rome one year later. Pope Clement X put Meyer in charge of a major project aimed at protecting the Via Flaminia against the flooding of the Tiber. Meyer, whose plans were less expensive than those proposed by the project's former head engineer, Carlo Fontana, constructed a passonata, i.e., a row of piles, in the Tiber, which deflected the river's current away from the Via Flaminia.

II. First edition of Meyer's important work on the restoration of the Tiber River for navigation, L'arte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere, which is considered his masterpiece, and is presented here in its second issue (the first issue is dated 1683 on the title-page).

After this first successful work on the Tiber, Clement X and his successor Innocent XI hired Meyer to improve navigation on the river with the purpose of increasing commerce. Meyer came up with revolutionary solutions to expedite travel along the river and in 1683, with the help of artist Gaspar van Wittel, he published his projects in L'arte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere. The book, which is divided into three parts, was both a record of Meyer's engineering skills as well as a form of self-promotion for seeking further commissions. It includes a beautiful series of etchings by Meyer himself as well as by Giovanni Battista Falda, Gaspar van Wittel, Jacques Blondeau, Barend de Bailliu, Balthasar Denner, Gomar Wouters, Johannes Collin, and Ioannes Baptista Honoratus Polustinus. It was with his designs in L'arte di restituire that Meyer consolidated his reputation among the artistic and scientific elite of Rome.

Michel & Michel V, p. 161; Cicognara 3791-3792; Olschki 17589; Poggendorff II, 134; Rossetti 7022-7023c; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 219.

Poetry, fortune, and gambling. The Spello-Game.

220. [Spello?]

Vago e diletteuole giuoco della diuitia di Spello. Illustrated manuscript on paper, in Italian. Spello (?), end of the seventeenth century- beginning of the eighteenth century.

273x205 mm. 34 leaves. Complete. Four quires. Collation: 18 (the first blank leaf used as front pastedown), 2-38, 410. Blanks: 1/1, 1/2r, 4/10. Contemporary inked foliation in the upper outer corner (used here). Written in brown ink in a unique hand, in neat cursive. Twelve vignettes drawn in brown ink; twelve full-page ink drawings within rectangular frames, partly coloured in brown, red, and greenish wash; some details in red- and brown-pencil heightening. Contemporary cardboards, smooth spine. Covers rather abraded and stained, corners and spine worn. In a marbled cardboard box, leather spine with title and the note 'M.S. XVII SEC.' lettered in gilt. An unsophisticated manuscript, some stains and spots, numerous traces of use. On the recto of the first leaf the note 'Perugia', in a different early hand.


The first section of the manuscript contains twelve vignettes, drawn in brown ink in popular style, depicting views and monuments of Spello and supplemented with captions, mainly in Italian vernacular. The subjects are as follows, as indicated by the inked captions:

fol. 3r: 'Colonia Iulia di Spello detta di Giulio Cesare' (below a Latin note 'Vel Hijspellum fuit prima Ciuitas per Ianum, id est Noè, Vmbria aedificata Vel Gornualia Hijspellum vocaretur – cornu Vallis per translationem');

fol. 3v: 'Antica Porta Venere. descritta con tre porte, e due Torri dalle bande, dall'Architetto Sebastiano Serlio Bolognese nel loco 3.° dell'Antichità';

fol. 4r: 'Carcere di Orlando Vicino alla Porta Venere di Spello, come ne scriue il detto Serlio Bolognese nelle sue Antichità';

fol. 4v: 'Misura di Orlando Nipote di Carlo Magno Imperatore, come nelle Mura di Spello nella publica Strada, che ua uerso Assisi';

fol. 5r: 'Antico Campo da Combattere Nel Territorio di Spello uicino la Via Flaminia, della cui antica virtù bellica ne fa anco mentione Silio Italico libro terzo Belli Punici';

fol. 5v: 'Antico Vocabolo Poeta al Colle uicino à Spello detto da Propertio Poeta, doue egli aueua la sua Villa Suburbium Propertij';

fol. 6r: 'Bagno del Fiume Clitunno dato à Spellani da Augusto Imperatore Oggi detto le Vene di Pissiniano';

fol. 6v: 'Nobile Antico Mausoleo uicino Spello circondato de Fenestrelle, doue Erano i lumi perpetui, oggi fatto Tempio alla Virgine Maria';

fol. 7r: 'Cerere Dea Rappresentata in Spello Con due Cornucopij per dimostrare l'abbondanza dell'antico Spello';

fol. 7v: 'Antiche tre Statue Gradi Consolari Poste nella uia Flaminia sopra la Porta principale di Spello';

fol. 8r: 'Antico Anfiteatro di Spello Colonia amplissima de Romani posto in mezzo alla gran Valle Spoletana, doue conueniuano tutti i Popoli dell'Umbria ai Spettacoli';

fol. 8v: 'Portone ò Arco uicino à Spello nella publica strada che ua uerso Assisi, doue con bel gioco uedrai se sei legitimo, ò no'.

The second part of the manuscripts contains twelve full-page drawings, in the same technique and style, depicting poets originating from Spello, with the indication of their names. The subjects are as follows:

fol. 9r: 'Il Poeta Mauro'

fol. 11r: 'Il Poeta Propertio'

fol. 13r: 'Il Poeta Vetruuio'

fol. 15r: 'Il Poeta Olorino'

fol. 21r: 'Il Poeta Dandola'

fol. 23r: 'Il Poeta Angelini'

fol. 25r: 'Il Poeta Gentile'

fol. 27r: 'Il Poeta Barbagnacca'

fol. 29r: 'Il Poeta Cecchi'

fol. 31r: 'Il Poeta Marcorelli'

fol. 17r: ‘Il Poeta Sforza'

fol. 19r: ‘Il Poeta Venantio'

An unrecorded, and extremely interesting variant of fortune-telling book, a genre that enjoyed wide popularity during the Renaissance. Manuscript versions of this game are all of the greatest rarity, owing to the fragility of supports and their extensive use at social occasions.

This manuscript is an adaption of the structure and rules of the game as developed in the Libro della Ventura of Lorenzo Spirito (ca. 1425-1496; see nos. 42 and 202) from Perugia, the first fortune-telling book produced in Italy which served as a source of inspiration for numerous later compilations, in print as well as in manuscript. Here the readers wandered not among celestial spheres, prophets, kings or philosophers, but rather among the history and cultural tradition of Spello in Umbria, the ancient Roman colony known as Hispellum. In fact, the anonymous author who produced – according to the title inscribed on the verso of the second leaf – this Vago, e diletteuole giuoco della diuitia di Spello sought to celebrate the ancient monuments of Spello, as well as the numerous poets born in this small Italian city over the centuries, such as the illustrious Propertius.

The game rules are explained in the preliminary pages. The players were to choose one of the questions listed ('Partiti da Proponersi dal Signore') pertaining to health, wealth, career, business, travel, and happiness in love and marriage. They then threw two dice and proceeded to locate the cast result in the following twelve tables of diagrams, each bearing, at the centre, a drawn vignette showing views or monuments of Spello. The diagrams would guide players to twelve sections of quatrains which provided answers to the chosen questions, each of them introduced by a full-page drawing depicting a poet born in Spello. Remarkably, the Spello-game – which doubles as a gambling game – also involves a stake with pecuniary value (called in the preliminary instructions Tesoro, and managed by a Tesoriere, or banker): in the quatrains the prediction of future events is therefore supplemented, in the final verse, with the notice of an amount to be payed or cashed out.

The last drawings portray poets active in the seventeenth century, a feature that allows us to date the execution of the present manuscript to the end of that century. In particular, the drawing on the recto of fol. 31 depicts the poet and musician Giovanni Francesco Marcorelli, who was an organist in the Collegiata Santa Maria at Spello between 1627-1634, and then active as maestro di cappella in the oratory of the Church of Santa Maria Nova in Rome. He also composed some oratories – in the present manuscript he is even shown writing a musical score – and he died around 1656.

T. De Marinis, “Le illustrazioni per il Libro de le Sorte di Lorenzo Spirito”, Idem, Appunti e ricerche bibliografiche, Milano 1940, pp. 67-83; M. Sensi – L. Sensi, “Fragmenta hispellatis historiae. 1. Istoria della terra di Spello, di Fausto Gentile Donnola”, Bollettino storico della città di Foligno, 8 (1984), pp. 7-136; A. Tini Brunozzi, “Appunti sulla toponomastica spellana”, ibid., 19 (1995), pp. 299-329; L. Nadin, Carte da gioco e letteratura fra Quattro e Ottocento, Lucca 1997; G. Proietti Bocchino, Spello città d'arte, Perugia 2011; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 220.

A very scarce 1710 re-issue of the first edition (1687)

223. Hope, William (1660- 1724)

The Compleat Fencing-Master: in which is fully describ’d all the guards, parades and lessons belonging to the small-sword; as, also the best rules for playing against either Artists or others, with blunts or sharps. Together With Directions how to Behave in Single Combat on Horse-Back: Illustrated with Figures Engraven on Copper-Plates, representing the most necessary Postures... The third edition. W. Taylor, [1687]-1710.

Small 8° (152x90 mm). [22], 197 [i.e. 167], [17] pages. Title-page is a cancel. Twelve engraved folding plates. Nineteenth-century English calf, covers within double blind-ruled frame. Spine with five raised bands, title on morocco lettering-piece. Red edges. A good copy, some light browning throughout, margins somewhat trimmed.

Provenance: John Whitefoord Mackenzie (1794-1884; engraved armorial ex-libris on the front pastedown). He was a member of the Society of Writers to His Majesty's Signet.

The exceedingly rare 1710 re-issue – after the editions which appeared in 1687, 1691 and 1692 – of this treatise by Sir William Hope, indicated on the title-page as 'Lieutenant Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh'. Hope is the author of many works on fencing, but the The Compleat Fencing-Master is undoubtedly his most complete and important treatise, as well as the first book on this topic to be published in Britain. A true manual for fencers, the text clearly epitomises the body of practical knowledge surrounding the discipline and remained the standard textbook until the end of the eighteenth century.

This 1710 publication is basically a re-issue of the first 1687 edition, the only one bearing the title The Scots Fencing-Master. The title-page was recomposed with a new title and imprint, while the rest of the book – as the running title 'The Scots Fencing Master' attests – belonged to the 1687 edition, whose unsold copies were thus offered for sale with a new title after twenty-three years. The first quire is composed of eleven leaves, owing to the fact that in the 1687 edition the title had been printed on two leaves, and are replaced here by only one.

The 1710 re-issue is unknown to most of the specialised bibliography. Over his lifetime, John Whitefoord MacKenzie, the former owner of the present copy, assembled a fine collection of early Scottish books, most of which are distinguishable by his bookplate. His library was sold by Thomas Chapman & Son in two sales in 1886. A good number of his books are now in the National Library of Scotland.

ESTC N27837; Pardoel 1282; C. A. Thimm, A Complete Bibliography of Fencing and Duelling, London 1896, p. 138; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 223.

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