Bindings Italian Books I

The invention of Macaronic language

Folengo, Teofilo (1491-1544)

Merlini Cocai poetae mantuani liber Macaronices libri XVII. Non anteimpressi.. Venice, Alessandro Paganini, 1 January 1517.

16° (138x86 mm). Collation: +12, A-P8. [132] leaves. Complete with fol. P8 blank. Italic and roman type. Handsome nineteenth-century blue morocco, signed by Parisian bookbinder Antoine Bauzonnet (d. 1848). Covers framed with triple gilt fillets, spine with five raised bands, richly gilt tooled. Marbled flyleaves, gilt edges. A very goodcopy, small repair to the lower outer corner of fol. P7, not affecting the text.

$ 18,000

The very rare first edition of the first version of the celebrated Maccheronee, composed by Mantuan poet Teofilo Folengo in Macaronic Latin, and published under the pseudonym Merlin Cocaio. The 1517 publication – known as the ‘Paganini edition', after the printer's name – opens with the Libellus delaudibus Merlini Cocai, a ten-page letter written by Folengo under the pseudonym Aquario Lodola; Folengo made extensive use of pseudonyms, and here the fictional Lodola, a ‘herbalist, expert in the art of enemas' presents the figure of Merlin Cocaio, born in Cipada, the village facing the Virgilian Pietole. Nourished by a blackbird, Cocai draws inspiration from wine and dishes of gnocchi. Compared to the sentimental Limerno and the very serious Fulica, the other two pseudonyms used by Folengo during his literary career, Merlin Cocai represents the facetious and burlesque side of the author's character. This preliminary text is followed by two eclogues, and then the picaresque epic Baldus, a kind of comic continuation of the Carolingian legend. The poem consists of 6,114 macaronic hexameters divided into seventeen Books, and is considered Folengo's masterpiece. A parody of the Virgilian model and its imitators such as Sannazaro and Pontano, it is composed in an invented language blending Latin with various Italian dialects in an extraordinary linguistic mélange of high and low registers. The plot narrates the adventures of Baldus, grandson of the king of France, who was abandoned by his father at an early age and raised by a farmer named Berto. Potentially destined for the life of a knight, Baldus turns out to be a vulgar ruffian. The harsh criticism of the aristocracy, courtiers, and clergy that Folengo develops in this deeply anti-classical text, together with his strong sense of realism combined with explosive villainy, had great influence on François Rabelais, who knew and highly appreciated Folengo's work. The poem enjoyed great success, and was reprinted in Milan in 1520. An enlarged version of twenty-five Books was printed by Paganini in 1521, and frequently reissued by other printers until the mid-seventeenth century. The first edition of 1517 is very scarce, and rarely appears on the market.

Nuovo, Alessandro Paganino (1509-1538), 42; T. Folengo, Macaronee minori, a cura di M. Zaggia, Torino 1987, pp. 558-559; M. Zaggia, “L'esordio di Folengo”, T. Folengo, Merlini Cocai Poetae Mantuani Liber Macaronices Libri XVII Non ante impressi, Brescia, 1991, pp. 15-24; Idem, “Breve percorso attraverso le quattro redazioni delle Macaronee folenghiane”, Teofilo Folengo nel quinto centenario della nascita, 1491-1991, Florence, 1993, pp. 85-101.

Bound in painted vellum for Marquis Luigi Sylva

Tolomei, Claudio (1492-1555)

Il Cesano, dialogo di M. Claudio Tolomei, nel quale da più dotti huomini si disputa del nome, col quale si dee ragionevolmente chiamare la volgar lingua... (bound with:) Plato (427-ca. 347 BC). Il dialogo di Platone, intitolato il Timeo... Venice, [Orfeo Dalla Carta] for Comin da Trino, 1558. Venice, Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari & Brothers, 1555.

(bound with:) Plato (427-ca. 347 BC). Il dialogo di Platone, intitolato il Timeo, overo della natura del mondo. Tradotto di lingua greca in italiano da m. SebastianoErizzo, gentil'huomo venetiano. Et dal medesimo di molte utili annotationi illustrato, et nuovamente mandato in luce da Girolamo Ruscelli. Venice, [Orfeo Dalla Carta] for Comin da Trino, 1558.

Two works in one volume, 4° (205x143 mm). I. Collation: A-N4. [4], 97, [3] pages. Roman and italic type. Woodcutprinter's device on the title-page and fol. N4v. Woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. II. Collation: *4, A-L4, K2. [4], 41, [1] leaves. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and fol. L2r. Woodcut decorated initials. Precious and unusual eighteenth-century, possibly Venetian painted vellum binding. Covers bearing at the centre a piece of marbled paper surrounded by strips of vellum decorated with geometric and floral patterns painted in green, blackand brown watercolour. Edges decorated with coloured floral motifs. Marbled flyleaves showing the same pattern as the piece of paper pasted on the covers. A good copy. In the first work bound small hole in the blank margin of fol. A2. Wormholes to the lower margin of about ten leaves of the second edition bound, and small loss to the outer corner of fol. D2, in both cases not affecting the text, some marginal stains. Early inked shelfmark ‘J:I:10' on the front flyleaf.

Provenance: the Milanese Marquis Luigi Silva (fl. eighteenth century; his ownership inscription and armorial stamp ingilt ‘D. LVIGI SYLVA' on the first title-page, repeated on fol. A2v).

$ 3,300

A volume finely and most unusually bound in painted vellum with paper insertions, from the exquisite library of Marquis Luigi Silva, and containing two sixteenth-century first editions. The volume opens with the first edition of the dialogue Il Cesano, composed by the Sienese Claudio Tolomei in 1525-1529, but printed only in 1555, on account of censorship. This fictional dialogue offers a synthesis of all major proposals circulating in those years around the debate over the Italian language, and its interlocutors are Pietro Bembo, Gian Giorgio Trissino, Baldassarre Castiglione, Alessandro de' Pazzi, and Gabriele Cesano. Following in the volume is the first edition, in the second issue (the first is dated 1557 on the title-page) ofthe first Italian version of Plato's famous dialogue Timaeus, translated from the Greek by the Venetian Sebastiano Erizzo (1525-1585). The volume was once owned by Luigi Silva, a member of the noble Milanese family famous for its interestin bookcollecting. Luigi Silva's books, bearing his elegant stamp in gilt, are scattered among various libraries, and the volume presented here – as with others bearing identical provenance, mostly referring to editions in Italian vernacular, as with the copy of the 1549 Giolito edition of Lodovico Domenichi's Nobiltà delle donne in the Bibliothèque Municipale in Roanne (158-BOU 264) – is housed in a fine painted vellum binding, possibly executed in a Venetian workshop. The remarkable binding is a fine example of Silva's especial taste forbeautiful books.

Bongi, I, p. 460; L. Sbaragli, Claudio Tolomei, umanista senese del Cinquecento, Siena, 1939; C. Tolomei, Il Cesano dela lingua toscana, ed. O. Castellani Pollidori, Firenze 1974. II. Hoffmann III, p. 147; J. Hankins, Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance, Rome 2005, II, p. 164; F. Tomasi, “Una scheda su Sebastiano Erizzo traduttoredel ‘Timeo”', Quaderni Veneti 3 (2014), pp. 47-48; Frati, Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei bibliotecari e bibliofili italiani, p. 519; M. F. Viallon, Catalogue du Fonds italien XVIe siècle de la Bibliothèque Municipale de Roanne, Saint-Etienne 1994; M. A. Foot, Pictorial Bookbindings, London 1986.

Bound in painted vellum for Marquis Luigi Sylva

Curtius Rufus, Quintus (fl. 1st cent. AD)

Q. Curtio De' fatti d'Alessandro Magno, Re de' Macedoni,tradotto per M. Tomaso Porcacchi, con alcune Annotationi, dichiarationi, & avvertimenti, & con unalettera d'Alessandro ad Aristotele del sito dell'India, & con la Tavola copiosissima delle cose notabili. Venice, Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari, 1558.

4° (218x150 mm). Collation: *-****8, *****4, A-P8, Q6. [72], 249, [3] pages. Complete with the last blank leaf Q6. Roman and italic type. Woodcut printer's device on the title-page and fol. Q5v. Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Precious and unusual eighteenth-century, possibly Venetian painted vellum binding. Covers bearing at the centre a piece of coloured paper with painted decorations in black and green surrounded by strips of vellum decorated with floral patterns painted in green, black, and red watercolour. Vellum spine with green painted decorations and inked title. Coloured flyleaves with the same pattern as the piece of paper pasted on the covers. Some minor losses to the upper cover, one of the vellum strips on the lower cover is missing. A good copy. Small wormholes in the first leaves, only occasionally affecting the text; worm tracks to the lower blank margin of a few leaves. Some marginal staining, more prominent to the upper margin of fol. Q2. Early inked shelfmark ‘AA:III:i3' on the front flyleaf.

Provenance: unidentified sixteenth-century monograms ‘GF' and ‘CART' on fol. Q6v; on the same leaf the ownership inscription ‘Io Pietro Pavolo Byrne in Lodi 1670'; Marquis Luigi Silva (fl. eighteenth century; his armorial stamp in gilt‘D. LVIGI SYLVA' on the title-page).

$ 1,800

First edition of the Italian translation of the famous Historiae Alexandri Magni by Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus. A protégé of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, Tommaso Porcacchi (1530-1585) – the well-known author of Le isole più famose del mondo (1572) – was responsible for this version. This copy bears the armorial stamp of Luigi Silva, and is bound in painted vellum, showing similarities in material execution, decorative motifs, and colouring with the binding of the volume containing Il Cesano by Claudio Tolomei (here). Painted vellum bindings were greatly appreciated in the eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries, above all in France and England, and were especially commissioned to binderies. However, this kind of binding is rarely found in volumes owned by Italian collectors, increasing the interest and value of this copy, as well as the one previously described.

Bongi II, pp. 62-64; Frati, Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei bibliotecari e bibliofili italiani, p. 519; M. F. Viallon, Catalogue du Fonds italien XVIe siècle de la Bibliothèque Municipale de Roanne, Saint-Etienne 1994; M. A. Foot, Pictorial Bookbindings, London 1986.

Skeletons, skulls, and bones

[Funeral Bindings]

Missae in agenda defunctorum tantum deservientes. Ex Missali Romano recognito desumptae, cum Ordinario, et Canone, ut in ispis servatur: ad usum, et commoditatem omnium Ecclesiarum . Bologna, Giulio Borzagni, 1690.

(offered together with:) Missae in agenda defunctorum tantum deservientes juxta usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Ordine et Canone extensae. Bologna, Lelio dalla Volpe, 1744.

Two works in folio. I. (350x234 mm). Collation: A12. 24 pages. Text in red and black, printed in two columns. Title-page in red and black, with a large woodcut vignette depicting a corpse surrounded by symbols of ecclesiastical and monarchic power. Fullpage woodcut on fol. A4v, showing the Crucifixion. Woodcut decorated initials. Musical staves printed in black. Contemporary yellow boards, bearing on both covers a large woodcut framed within a foliate border, depicting a skeleton leaning on a spade. Covers and spine rather worn, a few minor losses to covers and spine. A good copy, traces of use, some stains. In a cloth slipcase. II. (335x230 mm). Collation: A12. 24 pages. Text in red and black, printed in two columns, rubricated. Title-page printed in black and red with large woodcut vignette depicting a skeleton. Full-page woodcut illustration on fol. A4v, showing a Crucifixion. Woodcut decorated initials. Musical staves printed in red and black. Contemporary yellow limp boards, bearing on both covers a woodcut illustration depicting a skull and bones above a mound of earth, set within an ornamental border with floral patterns. Worn and rubbed, several losses to covers and spine. In a modern cloth case. Tears repaired and margins reinforced on several pages, staining and foxing, but overall in good condition considering the fragility of the object.

$ 4,800

Two striking examples of funeral bindings made with illustrated limp boards, executed in Bologna in 1690 and 1744, respectively. Considering the fragility of the material and the practical purpose of liturgical books (the mass for the dead) contained within, these are two extremely rare survivals. These types of bindings drew upon memento mori, i.e ‘remember you must die', iconography, which became a sort of commonplace especially in the age of the Counter-Reformation, and included skeletons and skulls as well as symbols that recall the vanity of wordly goods and pleasures. Further, the boards of the 1690 publication bear a woodcut vignette clearly inspired by the iconic skeleton which first appeared in Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica of 1543, a work which had enormous influence in the visual arts as well as in medicine. These two editions are extremely rare: of the first, in the United States, there is only a single copy at Harvard University's Houghton Library that bears a similar binding (OCLC, 885161151), while the second is apparently unrecorded.

J.B. de C.M. Saunders - Ch.D. O'Malley, Vesalius. The Illustrations from his Works, Cleveland-New York, 1950, pl. 21; R. M. San Juan, “The Turn of the Skull: Andreas Vesalius and the Early Modern Memento Mori”, Art History, 35(2012), pp. 959-975.