Bibliography and Bibliophily Philobiblon

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

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

3. Doni, Anton Francesco (1513-1574)

I Marmi del Doni, Academico Peregrino. Al 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.

A bio-bibliographical survey on surgery and surgeons, by the Father of Bibliography

4. Gessner, Conrad (1516-1565)

Chirurgia. De Chirurgia Scriptores optimi quique veteres et recentiores, plerique in Germania antehac non editi, nunc primum in unum coniuncti volumen.... Andreas and Jacob Gessner, March 1555.

Folio (321x205 mm). Collation: †6, *4, A-Z6, a-z6, Aa-Yy6, α-β6, γ8. [10], 408 [i.e. 406], [21] of 22 leaves. Lacking the final blank leaf, but complete with blank *4. Roman, italic, and Greek type. Printer's woodcut device on the title-page and fol. Yy6v. 260 woodcut illustrations in the text (some full-page) cut by Jos Murer. Seventeenth-century half-vellum, boards covered with decorated paper. Spine with four raised bands. Title inked on the spine and tail edge, in an early hand. Covers somewhat rubbed and worn. A good copy, title-page slightly stained with a short tear not affecting the text; second leaf remargined, pale waterstain to the upper margin of the final leaves.

Provenance: early ownership inscription ('Ego Gabriel [?]', barely legible) and small old stamp on the title-page.

First edition of this collection of works on surgery selected and edited by Conrad Gessner, who also included his own treatise, De medicinae chirurgicae praestantia et antiquitate.

The book can rightly be considered both a history and a bio-bibliography of surgery and surgeons, one of the first of its kind. It covers 150 authors, including Guido Guidi, Jean Tagault, Jacopo Dondi, Mariano Santo, Angelo Bolognini, Michelangelo Biondo, Bartolomeo Maggi, Alfonso Ferri, Jacques Houllier, and Joachim Lang, to mention just a few.

The woodcut skeletal illustrations were taken from Vesalius, the field surgery scenes from Gersdorff (see no. 98), and the depictions of surgical instruments mainly from Guidi.

Conrad Gessner was a polymath: one of the leading Hellenists of the sixteenth century, he was also a physician, botanist, zoologist, bibliographer, prolific editor, and professor of philosophy. He was a native of Zurich and studied classical languages and theology in Strasbourg, followed in 1533 by studies in medicine undertaken in Bourges, Paris, and Montpellier. In 1537 he was appointed professor of Greek at the Academy in Lausanne. In 1541 he settled in Zurich, where he practiced medicine. In 1546, in addition to his medical activities, he also became professor of physics, natural philosophy, and ethics. In 1565 the plague – which has been identified, based on Gessner's description, as a form of pulmonary bubonic – came to Zurich, and he succumbed to it on 13 December.

Besides the Chirurgia, three other major projects preoccupied Gessner in his life. The first was the Bibliotheca universalis (1545), which earned him the title of the 'father of bibliography'. The second project was the Historia animalium (four volumes between 1551 and 1558), a monumental encyclopaedia of animals. The third was the Historia plantarum (1541), a magnificent herbal, for which Gessner worked to produce a significantly augmented edition up until his early death in 1565 at age 49.

Adams G-520; Durling 960; Garrison-Morton 5562; Waller 1959; Wellcome 1460; L. Pinon, “Conrad Gessner and the Historical Depth of Renaissance Natural History”, G. Pomata - N. S. Siraisi (eds.), Historia: Empricism and Erudition in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge, MA 2005, pp. 241-268; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 119.

The first bio-bibliography of Florentine authors, used for writing Ciriaco Strozzi’s biography

5. Poccianti, Michele (1536-1576)

Catalogus scriptorum Florentinorum omnis generis, quorum, et memoria extat, atque lucubrationes in literas relatae sunt ad nostra usque tempora... Florence, Filippo Giunta, 1589. (bound with:) Monti, Zaccaria (fl. 16th-17th century). Vita Kyriaci Strozae. Auctior. Paris, Adrien Périer for the Officina Plantiniana 1604. . Filippo Giunta, 1589.

Two works in one volume, 4° (231x156 mm). I. Collation: *2, A-L8, M4. [4], 172, [12] pages. Roman and italic type. Giunti's device on the title-page. Woodcut animated and decorated initials. II. Collation: A4. 7, [1] pages. Roman, and Greek type. Plantin's device on the title-page. Contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties. Smooth spine with inked title. A very good, tall copy.

Provenance: Zaccaria Monti (fl. 16th-17th century; annotations in his own hand in the margin of some pages, and on two leaves bound between Poccianti's Catalogus and the Vita Kyriaci Strozae); 'Moreau Mod. Paris' (old ownersphip inscription on the title-page); Theological Institute of Connecticut, East Windsor Hill (now defunct; blind stamps on the first three and the last three leaves).

The miscellany contains the first edition of Poccianti's famous Catalogus and the Vita Kyriaci Strozae by Zaccaria Monti, nephew of Ciriaco Strozzi and the earliest recorded owner of the present volume. Zaccaria wrote in the margin of Poccianti's entry dedicated to his uncle, annotations and emendations in his own hand. Further, the volume contains two leaves bound between the two printed texts: The first leaf bears some observations on Ciriaco Strozzi, “‘Hoc elogium reponendum est pag. 104 in littera K. Kyriacus Strozza Patritius florentinus, Zachariae filius, Graecarum litterarum cultor exactissimus ac omni disciplinarum genere instructissimus, Aristotelicae philosophiae defensor acerrimus”. The note on the second leaf regards Ciriaco's learned sister, the Dominican nun Lorenza Strozzi (d. 1591): “Hoc elogium reponendum est pag. 105 in litterar L. Laurentia Strozia, Kyriaci Strozae, summi peripatetici soror [...] scripsit in singula totius anni solemnia hymnos [...]”. Both quoted passages are taken from Poccianti's Catalogus scriptorum Florentinorum, a circumstance that might explain why Monti let these two editions be bound together for his library.

The Catalogus scriptorum Florentinorum by the Servite Poccianti, professor of philosophy and theology at the Florentine Studio, was published posthumously by one of his pupils, fra' Luca Ferrini, and dedicated by him to the Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici. The work is the first bio-bibliography of Florentine authors to appear in print, and is also considered one of the first bibliographies devoted to a single town and its territory. The Catalogus lists and describes the works of about six hundred authors arranged in alphabetical order, followed by a classification of them as theologians (including philosophers), doctors, lawyers, poets, etc.

The second edition bound here is the extremely rare pamphlet issued from the Parisian Officina Plantiniana, of which apparently only four copies are known. This is the first separate edition of the biography of Greek scholar Ciriaco Strozzi (1504-1565), the first having appeared in the Opera by Aristotle printed in Lyon in 1581.

I. Adams P-1677; Camerini Annali,157; Pettas 644; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 164.

The first Italian translation, by the author himself

7. 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.

A fine association copy of the earliest work to contain a bibliographical entry devoted to Galileo

8. Allacci, Leone (ca. 1586-1669)

Apes Urbanae sive de viris illustribus, qui ab anno MDCXXX per totum MDCXXXII Romae abfuerunt, ac typis aliquid euulgarunt. Grignani Lodovico [Lodovico Grignani], 1633.

8° (176x115 mm). Collation: A-R8, [χ]2. 276 pages. Roman and italic type. Large engraved vignette with the Barberini coat of arms on the title-page. Woodcut decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, with inked title on spine, and the number '31'. A good copy, slightly browned and waterstained (more prominant at the beginning), the last leaf of the index has a tear in the lower blank margin, without any loss. Later notes on the rear flyleaf and pastedown.

Provenance: gifted by the author himself to Giacomo Filippo Tomasini (1595-1655; address in Allacci's own hand on the title-page 'Jacobo Philippo Tomasino Roma misit Autor').

An exceptional presentation copy – given as a gift by the author to Giacomo Filippo Tomasini – of the first edition of the Apes Urbanae, the famous 'who's who' of men of letters, philosophers, and scientists living in Rome during the pontificate of Urban VIII, and perhaps the first such register of contemporary intellectuals ever published.

The leading Greek scholar Leone Allacci – a teacher at the Greek College in Rome who later became librarian for Cardinal Francesco Barberini and then custodian of the Vatican Library in 1661 – dedicated his work to the Pope's nephew Cardinal Antonio Barberini. The Apes Urbanae – literally 'Pope Urban VIII's bees' – represents a celebration of the Barberini family's multi-faceted cultural and artistic patronage and contains several hundred entries, arranged in alphabetical order by first name, as was customary for the time. The entries give short biographical information about the authors and provide a list of their writings. This is the earliest work to contain a bibliographical entry devoted to Galileo Galilei. The entry includes a list of his works, along with other figures who were influenced by him, such as Giulio Cesare Lagalla. As the preface is signed 13 February 1633, the entry could well have included the Dialogo (1632), although it does not. A manuscript of the Vatican Library (Vat. Lat. 7075) containing an earlier version of Allacci's work allows us to trace the significant changes that the entry on Galileo underwent before publication. These changes clearly reflect the ambiguous attitude of Maffeo Barberini towards Galileo, on whose celestial discoveries he had written a eulogy before distancing himself from the scientist and his heliocentrism. Allaccis's report turns from an initial exaltation of Galileo in the manuscript to an ambiguous and mutilated version in which the final eulogy was cut and the list of works left incomplete.

The volume was gifted by Allacci to Giacomo Filippo Tomasini (1595-1655), Bishop of Città Nuova, near Padua, and author in 1635 of the well-known Petrarch biography, the Petrarcha redivivus. Tomasini was a refined collector of portraits with a great interest in the long-established tradition of illustrated biographies, and in Padua in 1630 he had published the first volume of his Illustrium virorum elogia iconibus exornata (the second and a third volumes appeared in 1644 and 1647, respectively).

The personal and intellectual relationship between Allacci and Tomasini is evinced by their correspondence and collaboration for the publication of Cardano's Opera, edited by Gabriel Naudé (1661).

STC 17th Century, 21; Carli-Favaro, 134; T. Cerbu – M.-P. Lerner, “La disgrâce de Galilée dans les Apes Urbanae. Sur la fabrique du texte de Leone Allacci”, Nuncius, 15 (2000), pp. 589-610; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 198.

The first public library of Liguria

9. Aprosio, Angelico (1607-1681)

La Biblioteca Aprosiana, Passatempo Autunnale di Cornelio Aspasio Antivigilmi, Trà Vagabondi di Tabbia detto l’Aggirato.... Manolessi for Giovanni Niccolò Cavanna, 1673.

Two parts in one volume, 12° (137x69 mm). The two parts with running collation and foliation. Collation: a-b12, c6, A-Z12, Aa-Ee12, Ff6. [10], 733 [i.e. 683, pp. 337-386 omitted], [1] pages. Roman and italic type. Frontispiece engraved by Giovanni Mattia Striglioni after Domenico Piola, showing the inside of a library, surmounted by the coat of arms of the dedicatee, Giovanni Niccolò Cavanna. On fol. C12r, a half-page woodcut illustration depicting an Egyptian stele. Contemporary green morocco, over pasteboards. Covers within gilt frame. Spine with four raised bands richly gilt tooled, title in gold on red morocco lettering-piece. Marbled flyleaves. Reference notes on the front flyleaves, in an English eighteenth-century hand. A fine copy.

Rare first edition of the catalogue of holdings in the first public library of Liguria, the Aprosian Library, named after its founder, the Augustinian Friar Angelico Aprosio, and established in 1648 at the Augustinian monastery of Ventimiglia. The catalogue was financed by the work's dedicatee, Aprosio's friend Giovanni Niccolò Cavanna, and edited by Lorenzo Legati. Aprosio's name is concealed within the pseudonym Cornelio Aspasio Antivigilmi, an anagram of his real name along with that of his hometown, Ventimiglia.

The Biblioteca Aprosiana, also the most important source of information we have about Aprosio's own life, consists of a list of the collection's supporters – the so-called 'Fautori' – arranged alphabetically by first name. For each fautore, Aprosio provides bio-bibliographical information; the individuals in question tend to have been writers or scholars who gifted the library with some of their own works, the descriptions of which have been included as well.

The catalogue is interrupted at the letter 'c'; the continuation (up to the letter 'm') remained unpublished and is known only through an autograph manuscript that Aprosio had prepared for printing, preserved today at the University Library in Genoa. The second part of the volume contains the Biblioteca Aprosiana cantata by Pier Francesco Minozzi, which is introduced by a separate title-page on fol. Cc9r.

The Aprosian Library housed over ten thousand volumes and was officially recognized in 1653 by Pope Innocent X, who issued a ban prohibiting the sale of any of its books and opened it to the public. In the following years, Aprosio dedicated himself to expanding the library, enlarging the monastery to hold its volumes, and compiling this catalogue.

The Aprosian Library was partly dispersed in 1798 upon the arrival of French troops and the suppression of the Augustinian order. Part of the collection ended up in the National Library of Genoa.

Melzi I, p. 69; Brunet II, 325; L. Gavazzi, Angelico Aprosio, la Biblioteca Aprosiana e il complesso di Sant'Agostino a Ventimiglia, Ventimiglia 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 215.

Une des plus belles bibliothèques de l’Europe — Peignot

10. [Bibliotheca Pinelliana]

Bibliotheca Maphaei Pinellii Veneti magno jam studio collecta, a Jacopo Morellio... descripta et annotationibus illustrata. Tomus primus [-sextus]. Carlo Palese for Lorenzo Baseggio, 1787.

Six volumes, 8° (230x156 mm). I. LIV, 377, [3] pages. Maffeo Pinelli's portrait as a frontispiece, engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi (1827-1815). II. V, 468 pages. III. IV, 367, [1] pages, one folding plate, showing a specimen of papyrus owned by Pinelli. IV. LVI, 471, [1] pages. V. VIII, 360 pages, with five engraved plates. VI. XVI, 365, [3] pages. The last three volumes are in Italian and introduced by the title La libreria già raccolta con grande studio dal signor Maffeo Pinelli Veneziano, descritta e con annotazioni illustrata da don Jacopo Morelli. Contemporary marbled cardboards with lettering-piece on the spines. A beautiful, uncut copy.

A fine copy of the catalogue of one of the most significant private libraries in eighteenth-century Europe: the celebrated book collection assembled by the Venetian Maffeo Pinelli (1735-1785).

The catalogue was privately printed and edited by Jacopo Morelli (1745-1819), librarian of the Marciana Library in Venice, for the purposes of selling its contents. Pinelli's collection was actually purchased from Maffeo's heirs soon after – for the sum of 6,000 pounds – by the British bookseller James Edwards together with his partners Robson and Clarke, who intended to sell it at auction in London. The sale took place in two sessions, in 1789 and 1790.

The Bibliotheca Pinelliana is one of the most important private Italian library catalogues ever to be published. The first three volumes contain Classical and 'Oriental' books (7,953 titles); the fourth and fifth volumes include entries of Italian literature, manuscripts, and incunables, along with French, English, and Spanish publications, books on vellum, medals, etc. (comprising 4,610 items in all). The final volume provides the essential indices.

Maffeo Pinelli was born into a wealthy family whose members were the official Ducal printers to the Republic of Venice for almost two centuries. Beside the family business, Maffeo assembled a valuable collection of coins, medals, books, prints, statues, and paintings over the course of his life. In 1785 his fellow student and friend Jacopo Morelli compiled a catalogue of his paintings (Catalogo di quadri raccolti dal fu Signor Maffeo Pinelli ed ora posti in vendita) and, upon the request of Maffeo's stepfather, Daniele Zanchi produced this catalogue of his library.

“Ce catalogue est un des meilleurs qui existent, tant par la valeur et le nombre des ouvrages curieux qui le composent, que par la manière dont il est redigé, et par les notes savants dont l'a enrichi le célèbre M. Morelli. Maphée Pinelli, directeur de l'imprimerie ducale à Venise, avoit l'une des plus belles bibliothèques de l'Europe” (Peignot, p. 118).

Cicogna 4380; S. De Ricci, English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts, p. 89; L. Borean - S. Mason (eds.), Il collezionismo d'arte a Venezia. Il Settecento, Venezia 2009, p. 289; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 250.

A small catalogue for bibliophiles

11. Bodoni, Giambattista (1740-1813)

Catalogo di alcune edizioni bodoniane. Giambattista Bodoni, 1793.

Small 8° (147x103 mm). XXIII, [1] pages. Recased in old boards. A fine copy.

Very rare catalogue issued by the celebrated printer and publisher Giambattista Bodoni outlining his production. The booklet opens with an explanatory letter written by the great printer and addressed to a collector: “io ho pensato di non poter meglio soddisfare alla erudita di lei inchiesta, che trasmettendole non solo l'elenco di tutto ciò che entro il corrente anno verrà da me riprodotto, ma altresì di quanto, ajutatemi Dio, ho divisato d'intraprendere nell'anno vegnente” (“I thought the best way to reply to your request was to send you a list of everything I have printed in the current year and, with the help of God, all that I will print next year”).

The catalogue lists forty-six titles published between 1791 and 1794, along with the different issues of each edition. In a final note addressed 'to bibliophiles' and dated 15 October 1793, Bodoni announces that in 1794 he will publish four classics – Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto and Tasso – that “will end his career”. Luckily, the printer would go on producing his masterpieces up until his death some twenty years later.

Born in Saluzzo (Piedmont), Bodoni learned the rudiments of his profession in the modest workshop of his father. At eighteen he moved to Rome, where he began working at the Apostolic press De Propaganda Fide, which specialised in exotic alphabet publications. Bodoni left Rome in 1766 with the intent of relocating to England, but was forced to stay in Piedmont due to a severe illness. In 1768, he was appointed director of the Royal Press in Parma, which had been founded shortly before. In 1791, he obtained permission from the Duke of Parma to open his own atelier and run a parallel business. In 1806, he took part in the Exposition de l'Industrie Nationale in Paris, and after his death in 1813 his wife, Ghitta, maintained his legacy by continuing to run the business for many years. As Valerie Lester remarks, it is very likely that no other printer experienced – in life and in death – quite as many material and moral recognitions as the celebrated Bodoni.

Brooks 517; V. Lester, Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World, Boston 2015; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 255.

With an early bibliography on artificial memory and the game of chess

12. Cancellieri, Francesco (1751-1826)

Dissertazione... intorno agli uomini dotati di gran memoria ed a quelli divenuti smemorati. Con un’Appendice delle Biblioteche degli scrittori, sopra gli eruditi precoci, la memoria artificiale, l’arte di scegliere e di notare, ed il giuoco degli scacchi. Francesco Bourlie, 1815.

8° (193x105 mm). XI, [1], 168 pages. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine. A very good, uncut copy. Minor foxing in places, the lower blank margin of the title-page slightly soiled. A few pencilled bibliographical notes on the rear pastedown.

Provenance: Marco Mazzoni (ownership inscription on the title-page).

First and only edition of this curious work by the Roman Jesuit Francesco Cancellieri. After the suppression of the Order, Cancellieri became librarian to Cardinal Leonardo Antonelli (1730-1811), whose library was at the Palazzo Pamphili in Piazza Navona, a post he held until the Cardinal's death. In addition to this position, Cancellieri was also superintendent of the Propaganda printing press.

The first, and by far longest, part of the work is devoted to men and women with exceptional memories – people who were able to memorise the entire Bible, like the Italian humanist Isotta Nogarola, or, in general, people who have displayed extraordinary mnemonic capacities: famous philosophers, historians, and poets are quoted here, including, among others, Onofrio Panvinio, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Torquato Tasso, and Ludovico Antonio Muratori, to mention only a few. The second part deals with precocious, learned men like Ermolao Barbaro and Giacomo Leopardi, who was able to learn Greek without a teacher at the age of sixteen. Two bibliographical appendices follow, one on artificial memory, the other on the game of chess. The last part relates to people who have lost their memory owing to age, disease, or trauma (which, in Malebranche's case, was also a means of recovering it).

A. Chicco - A. Sanvito, Lineamenti di una bibliografia italiana degli scacchi in Italia, Roma 1987, 138; Young 57; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 262.