One Thousand Years of Bibliophily from the 11th to the 21st Century
We are very pleased to present our new catalogue, celebrating five years since the 2013 opening of PrPh Gallery in New York by Italian booksellers Umberto Pregliasco and Filippo Rotundo, with an inauguration speech by the master of Italian culture Umberto Eco, who sadly passed away two years ago.
The title Philobiblon is doubly significant: above all, it is a tribute to Richard de Bury's Philobiblon, the most celebrated early manifesto on book collecting, a copy of which is proudly presented here. It also recalls the catalogue, published ten years ago, of our eponymous founding-partner bookshop, Philobiblon: Mille anni di bibliofilia dal x al xx secolo (2008). This was a marvellous tour through ten centuries of bibliophily, and just like its predecessor, the present catalogue offers a fascinating journey into the world of books. The coverage is wide and varied, ranging from an eleventh-century manuscript of Cicero's Rhetorica to international Street art produced in the 2000s, testifying to the multifarious lines of our activity and the broadness of our interests. Many precious books have passed through our hands over these years; new collaborations have been initiated, above all with Govi Rare Books, which recently opened in New York; and stimulating projects have been undertaken. Throughout these activities, our focus remains on what makes an object unique and the distinctive features of individual copies, all of exceptional value in some way: the rarity of an edition, the magnificence of its illustrative apparatus, the preciousness of its binding, the eminence of its provenance.
The catalogue is divided into three chronologically-organized volumes and includes numerous books ‘canonized' in the renowned Printing and the Mind of Man and landmark Grolier Club exhibitions like One Hundred Influential American Books Printed Before 1900. The third volume is also supplemented with a series of indexes (authors and anonymous works; provenances; binders; artists, designers, and engravers; subjects) which we hope, alongside cross-references inserted into the catalogue itself, will facilitate both research and discovery.
The first volume (From the 11th to the 15th Century; items nos. 1-44) includes, among others, the aforementioned Cicero written in late Carolinian; two early codices of Dante's Commedia; a Florentine zibaldone of the 1450s; a finely illustrated fifteenth- century miscellany containing William of Saliceto's Chirurgia; and Regiomontanus' Calendarium, supplemented with diagrams and volvelles. The series of incunables offered here is remarkable: editiones principes of milestones in literature, history, and science; impeccable volumes with extraordinary provenances; copies embellished with illuminated pages, or exquisite woodcut illustrations; and the marvellous and enigmaticTarocchi del Mantegna in its original book form.
The second volume (The Sixteenth Century; items nos. 45-178) is entirely devoted to the Cinquecento and offers a vast survey of the period's immense book production, including the celebrated Aldine series of Greek and Latin classics in portable octavo format; books printed in modern Greek, Aethiopic, Hebrew, and Arabic; finely illustrated chivalric literature; magnificent scientific works like Schöner's Opera Mathematica, complete with working volvelles; an astonishing number of editions printed on blue paper, including such masterpieces as Dante's Commedia, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and Euclid's Elementa; and a true testament to iconographic invention in the form of an engraved series of the Songes drolatiques.
It is similarly difficult to summarize the great range contained in the third volume (From the 17th to the 21st Century; items nos. 179-290), which features works from the Seicento to the present day, including Shakespeare's legendary First Folio and such modern literary classics as Don Quijote, Moby Dick, Pinocchio, The Great Gatsby, and Se questo è un uomo. The history of illustration is also highlighted here through, among others, sumptuous festival books, etchings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, and Piranesi, Goya's Caprichos, and luxury artist books illustrated by Bonnard and Picasso. Among the great science books one finds such wonders as the Saggiatore by Galileo, a copy of Bacon's De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum gifted by Peiresc to Gassendi, rare offprints signed by Babbage, and a ‘dream set' of Darwin's Narrative inscribed by Darwin himself along with Beagle Captain FitzRoy. Great attention has been paid to provenance across the selection, with a large number of copies from exceptional libraries of the early modern age, including those amassed by Giovanni Battista Grimaldi, Markus Fugger, the Pillone family, and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, often housed in precious bindings by leading ateliers and without regard to expense. The great bibliophily of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is likewise well represented with copies once owned by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Sir Thomas Phillipps, Antoine-Augustin Renouard, Charles Fairfax Murray, John Roland Abbey, and Giacomo Manzoni, to name but a few. Many of these books have also passed through the hands of outstanding figures in the history of antiquarian bookselling, such as Bernard Quaritch, Ulrico Hoepli, Leo S. Olschki, Giuseppe Martini, Tammaro De Marinis, Hans Peter Kraus, Martin Breslauer and Bernard M. Rosenthal.
Finally, many of the works included in our selection are enriched with highly important marginal annotations. One example is especially significant in this regard: John Dee's copy of Apollonius of Perga's Conics, copiously annotated by Dee himself. In 1631, this copy was acquired by John Winthrop Jr. who brought it with him on his ocean crossing that same year, along with the rest of his notable library; upon arrival in Massachusetts Bay, this volume became the first recorded scientific book to reach the New World, bearing on its title-page Winthrop's sigil, the hieroglyphic monad invented by Dee.
You can have access to each of the three volumes by clicking on the links below or you can scroll all the books arranged by subjects by opening the sections below.
PRPH Books, New York, in collaboration with:
Libreria Pregliasco, Turin
Govi Rare Books, New York
- Art and Architecture
- Association Copies and Great Provenances
- Bibliography and Bibliophily
- Books on Blue Paper
- Economics, Politics and Sociology
- Festival Books, Music, Theater
- Gastronomy, Agriculture and Botany
- Geography, Travels and Cartography
- History and Archeology
- Illustrated Books and Prints
- Medicine and Natural History
- Theology and Philosophy
- Volume I: From the 11th to the 15th Century
- Volume II: The 16th Century
- Volume III: From the 17th to the 21st Century