Volume I: From the 11th to the 15th Century Philobiblon

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

Ce Manuscrit est écrit sur beau vélin blanc, à très grandes marges... — Leo S. Olschki (1914)

6. Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE)

Georgica. Aeneis. With argumenta . Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Florence, ca. 1460-1470.

275x180 mm. i + 238 + ii leaves. Complete (with the replacement leaves, see below) but the volume evidently originally included at the beginning sixteen leaves with the Eclogues (an erasure on fol. 1r was probably the end of the Eclogues). Twenty-five quires (one quire of 10 leaves presumably lost). Collation: 110 (1-6 lost), 2-810, 910 (1-2 and 9 missing, replaced and numbered 74A, 74B, 80A), 10-2310, 248, 258 (most of 6, blank except for the colophon, cut away; 7-8 canc.). Blanks: 1r, 44v, 235v. Text block: 170x90 mm, one column, 26 lines. Ruled with dry point. Catchwords written vertically from top to bottom in the inner margin of the last page of each quire (a system of catchwords which the scribe Nicolaus Riccius used in his earliest manuscripts). Text written in brown ink in a formal humanist script, signed in the colophon on fol. 238r 'Nicolaus riccius spinosus vocatus scripsit'. At the beginning of each work titles in red capitals (fols. 1v, 45r). Fols. 74rA, 74B, 80A written in 1925 in a skilful imitation of Florentine humanist script by the English calligrapher William Graily Hewitt (1864-1952). On fols. 1v and 45r large gold and vinestem initials with small borders to the left, with clusters of gold-rayed discs and penwork at bottom; vinestem washed in yellow, grounds in brownish red, blue-green and darkish blue, dotted in white or yellow. Thirteen smaller gold initials on square panels of vinestem decoration, and (for the argumenta) fifteen three-line gold initials on blue, green and pink grounds patterned with white and yellow, and with curly outside edges in ink. On the replacement fol. 74A two initials – a vinestem initial and a smaller one on a blue and green ground – copied from the originals. Contemporary Florentine dark brown goatskin over wooden boards, panelled in blind with fillets and borders of small knotwork tools and roundels, star-shaped central panel of intersecting squares. Spine cross-hatched; four original metal clasps, leather straps replaced; edges with traces of gilding and gauffering. Some skilful repairs. In a modern slipcase. A fine, wide margined manuscript. Outer blank margin of fol. 18 cut away, the ink slightly rubbed on a few pages. Some cursive page headings, additions and corrections written by the scribe, a few notes in a later humanistic hand (e.g., fols. 3r, 54r, 54v, 89r). On fol. 70v the first line of the Helen episode 'Iamque adeo super unus eram, cum limina veste' (Aen., ii 567) was first written, then cancelled by the scribe with 'va-cat'.


The manuscript contains the complete text (with the replacement leaves, see above) of Virgil's Georgica, and Aeneis. The volume evidently originally included at the beginning sixteen leaves with the Eclogues (an erasure on fol. 1r was probably the end of the Eclogues):

fols. 1v-44r: Vergilius, Georgicorum Libri; inc.: 'Quid faciat letas';

fols. 45r-234v: Vergilius, Aeneidos Liber; inc.: 'Arma virumque cano'.

Provenance: Leo S. Olschki (1861-1940; Le livre en Italie à travers les siècles, Firenze 1914, no. 108; “Ce Manuscrit est écrit sur beau vélin blanc à très grandes marges. Le dernier f. ne contient que ces lignes: “Liber uirgilii eneidum explicit Nicolaus riccius spinosus uocatus scripsit [...] la marge blanche au-dessous de ces 2 lignes surnommés a été decoupée”); Tammaro De Marinis (1878-1969; see the sale of his collection by Hoepli, Vendita all'asta della preziosa collezione proveniente dalla cessata Libreria De Marinis, Milano 1925, no. 211, pl. xliv, “Magnifico codice fiorentino”); Sir Sidney Carlyle Cockerell (1867-1962; bought for 30,000 lire; in his hand the note dated 27 June 1925, regarding the scribe and the replacement leaves written for him by Graily Hewitt); Charles Harold St John Hornby (1867 1946); John Roland Abbey (1896-1969; ex-libris dated 1933; Sotheby's, Catalogue of the Celebrated Library of the late Major J. R. Abbey. The Eighth Portion: The Hornby Manuscripts, Part i, London 1974, lot 2930, and pl. 40); William Salloch, Catalogue 353. The Classical Heritage, Ossining, NY 1978, no. 39.

A fine illuminated manuscript of the works of Virgil. It contains the four books of the Georgica, with the four-line argumenta to each book, and the twelve books of the Aeneis with an argumentum consisting of ten to twelve lines before each book except the first.

The codex was written by the scribe who in the colophon signs himself 'Nicolaus riccius spinosus vocatus' (the epithet 'spinosus' means 'prickly' in English; 'Riccio' is the Italian for hedgehog), i.e., Nicolò di Antonio di Pardo de Ricci (1434/1435 - ca. 1490), active in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century; according to Albinia de la Mare, sixty-four manuscripts are attributable to him, and a number of them are signed with the same formula as here. Riccius was one of the humanist scribes most closely associated with the pre-eminent bookseller or cartolaio Vespasiano da Bisticci (ca. 1422-1498), by 1460 the main provider of books to princes, popes, cardinals, and scholars across Europe. Riccius copied twenty-four manuscripts for Vespasiano, and his hand is found in several classical manuscripts transcribed for the Medici – among them the famous, and almost contemporary Vergilius Riccardianus 492 – and for Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, as the codex of Bracciolini's Opera, copied in about 1470 (Biblioteca Vaticana, Urb.Lat. 224). The quality of the parchment used for the present Vergilius and the exquisite white-vine initials decorating the volume – closely resembling those executed in the Florentine workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni for the ms Riccardianus – indicate that this manuscript was commissioned by an important patron. The handsome blind-tooled binding is characteristically Florentine, and very similar to some of those made by Vespasiano da Bisticci for the Duke of Urbino.

In 1914 this volume – one of only two manuscripts included, as “preuves de ressemblance des caractères des premiers livres imprimés avec l'écriture des manuscrits” – was chosen by the renowned bookseller Leo Olschki to represent Italian humanistic manuscript production in the Leipzig exhibition Le livre en Italie à travers les siècles.

G. Turati, “L'Esposizione mondiale del libro a Lipsia. ii. La partecipazione italiana”, Emporium, 40 (1914), pp. 221-237; M. Levi D'Ancona, Miniatura e miniatori a Firenze dal XIV al XVI secolo, Firenze 1962; J. Wardrop, The Script of Humanism. Some Aspects of Humanistic Script, Oxford 1963; A. Graham - A. de la Mare, The Italian Manuscripts in the Library of Major J. R. Abbey, New York 1969, no. 15; R. D. Williams - T. S. Pattie, Virgil. His Poetry through the Ages, London 1982; L. D. Reynolds (ed.), Texts and Transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford 1983; A. C. de la Mare, “New Research on Humanistic Scribes in Florence”, A. Garzelli (ed.), Miniatura fiorentina del Rinascimento 1440-1525. Un primo censimento, Firenze 1985, i, pp. 395-574; Eadem, “Vespasiano da Bisticci e i copisti fiorentini di Federico”, G. Certoni Baiardi - G. Chittolini - P. Floriani (eds.), Federico da Montefeltro. Lo stato, le arti, la cultura, iii, Roma 1986, pp. 81-96; G. C. Alessio, “Medioevo. Tradizione manoscritta”, Enciclopedia Virgiliana, 3, 1987, pp. 432-443; A. C. de la Mare, “Vespasiano da Bisticci as Producer of Classical Manuscripts in Fifteenth-Century Florence”, C. A. Chavannes-Mazel - M. McFadden Smith (eds.), Medieval Manuscripts of the Latin Classics: Production and Use. Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500. Leiden 1993, Los Altos Hills, CA 1996, pp. 166-207; M. Venier, Per una storia del testo di Virgilio nella prima età del libro a stampa (1469-1519), Udine 2001 (mentioning this manuscript, p. 3, note); A. Labriola, “Repertorio dei miniatori fiorentini”, M. Peruzzi (ed.) Ornatissimo codice. La biblioteca di Federico di Montefeltro, Milano 2008, pp. 227-234; L. Nuvoloni, “Bartolomeo Sanvito and Albinia C. de la Mare”, R. Black-J. Kraye-L. Nuvoloni (eds.), Paleography, Manuscript Illumination and Humanism in Renaissance Italy: Studies in Memory of A. C. de la Mare, London 2016, pp. 251-277; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 6.

A luxurious 'Vrelant Book of Hours'

7. Book of Hours

Book of Hours. (Use of Rome); Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475. Illuminated manuscript on parchment, in Latin. Bruges, ca. 1460-1475.

168x115 mm. 182 leaves. Complete. Quires generally of 8 leaves (except 1-26, 156, 182) with the major part of the full-page miniatures added on single sheets. Blanks: fol. 122 and the last one. Early pencilled foliation on the upper right corner (used here). Text block: 88x59 mm, one column, 17 lines. Ruled in red ink. Written in black ink in a regular letter bastarde. Rubrics in red. Capitals touched in yellow, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, panel borders on every page in designs of flowers and fruit with gold leaves and acanthus sprays, fourteen full borders and large initials, thirteen small miniatures with full borders comprising twelve seven-line miniatures and one five-line historiated initial, fourteen full-page miniatures with full borders, the miniatures in arched compartments. Contemporary Flemish blind-stamped panels, two on each cover, depicting the Annunciation beneath a gothic canopy with a border of flowers and figures of dragons, eagles, etc., skilfully inset into calf over wooden boards, the outer edges stamped with crosses. Rebacked, baroque silver clasps added, and engraved with the initials 'D.M.' and the date 1818 (one clasp partly broken). Gilt edges. Manuscript in fine fresh condition, with very wide margins. Minor scratch across part of the miniature on fol. 96, slight marks on fol. 1 offset from pilgrims' badges formerly sewn on flyleaf (two circular, one lozenge-shaped).


Fols. 1r-13r: Calendar;

fols. 14r-20r: Hours of the Holy Cross;

fols. 21r-26r: Hours of the Holy Spirit;

fols. 27r-36v: Mass of the Virgin;

fols. 37r-42v: Obsecro te; O intemerata;

fols. 43r-52r: Suffrages to different saints;

fols. 53r-123r: Hours of the Virgin, Use of Rome: Lauds (fol. 70r), Prime (fol. 81r), Terce (fol. 86r), Sext (fol. 91r), None (fol. 96r), Vespers (fol. 101r), Compline (fol. 109r);

fols. 124r-142r: Seven Penitential Psalms;

fols. 143r-181v: Office of the Dead, Use of Rome.


The subject of the fourteen full-page miniatures are as follows:

fol. 13v: The Crucifixion;

fol. 20v: The Pentecost;

fol. 26v: The Virgin and Child enthroned between two angels, one with a lute;

fol. 52v: The Annunciation in a tall gothic church;

fol. 69v: The Visitation, city and landscape beyond;

fol. 80v: The Adoration;

fol. 85v: The Annunciation to the Shepherds;

fol. 90v: The Adoration of the Magi;

fol. 95v: The Presentation in the Temple;

fol. 100v: The Massacre of the Innocents;

fol. 108v: The Flight into Egypt;

fol. 114v: The Coronation of the Virgin;

fol. 123v: David in prayer before his throne;

fol. 142v: A funeral service in a chapel.

These are the subjects of the seven-line illuminated initials (the initials on fol. 37r is on five lines):

fol. 37r: The Pieta; fol. 43r: St. John the Baptist; fol. 43v: St. Peter; fol. 44r: St. James; fol. 45r: St. Sebastian; fol. 45v: St. Christopher; fol. 46v: St. Nicholas; fol. 47r: St. Anthony; fol. 47v: St. Francis; fol. 48r: St. Anne; fol. 49r: Mary Magdalene; fol. 49v: St. Catherine; fol. 50v: St. Barbara.

Provenance: Catalogue of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures including the Bible of Justemont Abbey... which will be sold by auction by Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London 11 July 1978; purchased by Clifford E. King (1924-2010).

A luxurious Flemish Book of Hours, in exceptional condition: a fine example of a so-called 'Vrelant Book of Hours'.

The manuscript was likely produced in Bruges, as suggested by the style of illumination and the prominent Calendar inclusions of the major feasts of St. Donatian (14 October), the patron saint of Bruges, to whom the city's cathedral is dedicated, and St. Basil (14 June), whose relics were venerated in the church of St. Basil in Bruges, now the Chapel of the Holy Blood.

The manuscript is decorated with fourteen full-page miniatures, inserted at relevant sections of the Hours, mostly accompanying the Hours of the Virgin and based on well-established iconography.

The miniatures are especially notable for their delicately posed human figures; the sense of depth in the landscape backgrounds; the townscapes painted in blue, green, red, grey and pink; the height of the architectural compositions; and the careful execution of floral motifs and borders. The style, along with the intense, distinctive colouring, closely recall the work of one of the most successful and prolific manuscript painters of the Low Countries: Willem Vrelant, a native of Utrecht who was active in Bruges from 1454 until his death in 1481. Vrelant also worked for the Burgundian Court – and especially for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1468 and 1469 – and specialised in the production of Books of Hours. “Willem Vrelant was one of the most successful painters of manuscripts in the Low Countries. Even today we still have some hundred manuscripts decorated by him or his close associates [...] many were made for the highest circles of the Burgundian Court. Their decoration is splendid; their images clear, bold, and naturalistic and the style easy to recognize” (A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant”, p. 3). It is not easy, however, to distinguish between the work of Vrelant, the apprentices and collaborators (including Vrelant's daughters) who were active in his workshop, and his numerous followers and imitators. In the present manuscript, the major scenes tend to be placed above a polyhedral platform covered with white tiles; a similar compositional framework is found in ms KBR 9270 of the Bibliothèque Royale in Bruxelles, which contains the Salutation Angelique by Jean Miélot, painted for Philippe le Bon and attributed to Vrelant himself.

From a textual point of view, the present manuscript also bears similarities to the Hours of Mary of Burgundy, preserved in the National Library in Vienna (cod. 1857) and ascribed to Vrelant as well. Both manuscripts include a section for the Mass of the Virgin, in which the text is illustrated with a full-page miniature depicting the Virgin and Child enthroned against a cloth-of-honor and flanked by two angels, one of whom carries a lute (for a description of the Livre d'heures de Marie de Bourgogne, see B. Bousmanne, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”, pp. 306-307).

G. Dogaer, Flemish Miniature Painting in the 15th and 16th Centuries, Amsterdam 1987; B. Bousmanne, Guillaume Wielant ou Willem Vrelant, miniaturiste à la cour de Bourgogne au XVe siècle, (exhibition catalogue), Brussels 1997; Idem, “Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur”. Willem Vrelant. Un aspect de l'enluminure dans le Pays Bas méridionaux sous le mécénat des ducs de Bourgougne Philippe le Bon et Charles le Téméraire, Turnhout 1997; A. H. Van Buren, “Willem Vrelant: Questions and Issues”, Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 68 (1999), pp. 3-30; Th. Kren - S. McKendrick (eds.), Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Los Angeles 2003; T. Delcourt - B. Bousmanne (eds.), Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, (exhibition catalogue), Paris and Brussels 2011; S. Hindman - J. H. Marrow (eds.), Books of Hours Reconsidered, London 2013; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 7.

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.

A Typographical Monument

9. Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)

De Civitate Dei. Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, in the house of Petrus de Maximo, 1468.

Folio (400x280 mm). Collation: *8, **8, a-m10, n12, 710, cum8, rum8. 273 of [274] leaves, lacking the last blank. Complete with the other blank leaves, fols. *1, **8, and rum7. Text in one column, 46 lines. Type: 115R. Fine illuminated white vinestem border on fol. a1r, including two large initials 'I' and 'G' illuminated in gold, and in lower panel the arms of Cardinal Niccolò Fieschi, with the manuscript inscription 'nic. car. de flisco.'. Twenty-one illuminated initials in gold on white vinestem panels; capital letters touched with red in text, and with yellow in the Tabula. In the first half of the volume the numbers and headings of the chapters have been supplied in contemporary script, in the second half the numbers only have been written in the upper margins. Nineteenth-century English vellum over pasteboards; covers within double border of gilt fillets, with yapp edges. Spine richly gilt tooled, title in gilt on hazel morocco lettering-piece. Vellum pastedowns and flyleaves. A large and fine copy.

Provenance: Cardinal Niccolò Fieschi (1456-1524; coat of arms and ownership inscription on the recto of fol. a1, 'nic. car. de flisco'); from the library of the St. Wenceslas cathedral in Olomouc, North Moravia (ownership inscription on the recto of the first leaf); the British publisher John Murray III (1808-1892), from the London booksellers Frederick Startridge Ellis & David White in 1882 (their letter offering the book to Murray is inserted); Murray's sale at Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Valuable Printed Books Autograph Letters, Literary and Musical Manuscripts comprising... a finely illuminated Copy of St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, Sweynheym and Pannartz, 1468, London 1963; sold to John Francis Fleming (1910-1987); the collector and bookseller Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach (1876-1952).

Remarkable wide-margined and illuminated copy of the rare second edition of De Civitate Dei – the first printed in Rome –, one of the most influential works of Western thought, completed by the bishop Augustine of Hippo in the year 426.

The book was printed by the German clerics Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, who had worked for Johann Gutenberg in Mainz and had introduced printing to Italy in 1465 through their first press at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, some forty miles east of Rome.

The first edition of the treatise appeared on 12 June 1467 in Subiaco by the two proto-typographers, who in the same year moved to Rome at the behest of Cardinal Bessarion and the bishop of Aleria and papal secretary Giovanni Andrea Bussi. The De Civitate Dei is one of their first printed books, issued from the new press in Rome – 'In domo Petri de Maximo', as stated in the colophon – established in the house of Pietro de' Massimi near Piazza Navona. In Rome, Sweynheym and Pannartz published a long list of classics and Church Fathers, handsome folio editions with a print run of 250-300 copies. Fifty-one editions, including a third edition of the De Civitate Dei in 1470, are recorded from this Roman press, which remained active until 1473. The volumes are set in a new roman type, replacing the gothic font used by the German printers in Subiaco.

The exquisite white vinestem decoration in the present copy is in a style often seen in manuscripts and incunabula produced in Rome in the late 1460s, and would thus appear to have been executed by a Roman artist, possibly working in the same atelier that often collaborated with Sweynheym and Pannartz. As shown by the coat of arms painted on the opening leaf of text, the earliest recorded owner of this volume was Niccolò Fieschi (1456-1524), who came from a prominent Genoese family. He was appointed Cardinal by Pope Alexander VI in 1503, and died as Archbishop of Ravenna in 1524. In 1882, the volume was bought by the renowned British publisher John Murray.

A letter from the London bookseller Ellis to Murray, dated 20 January 1882, is inserted in the volume:

Dear Sir
As you said some time ago that you would like to secure from time to time fine specimens of Early Typography I send a volume for your inspection. It is a magnificent specimen of the Early Roman press being the 4th book printed in that city by Sweynheym & Pannartz the introducers of printing there. By the Arms on the 15th leaf you will see that it belonged to Cardinal de Flisco, who was Cardinal during the Pontificate of Paul II.
Subsequently it belonged to the Cathedral of Olmutz in Bohemia, whence it was lately purchased. The illumination of the first page & the initial letter of each book will I think commend themselves to you as extremely beautiful examples of Italian design. At the Sunderland sale a very inferior copy sold for £ 101 - & is since priced by Quaritch at £ 150 – and some years since the late M.r Huth gave for a copy in fine old binding no less than £ 400. You can give this volume for £ 80. [...] P.S. I have ascertained that not only is it perfect, but it contains two more leaves than Brunet describes and one more than mentioned in Hain's Repertorium, besides the two original blank leaves.

HC 2047; GW 2875; BMC IV, 5; IGI 967; Goff A-1231; M. Palumbo - E. Sidoli (eds.), The Books that Made Europe, Bruxelles 2106, pp. 24 25; M. Miglio - C. Frova, “Dal ms Sublacense all'editio princeps del De Civitate Dei di sant'Agostino (Hain 2046)”, C. Bianca, P. Farenga et al. (eds.), Scritture, biblioteche e stampa a Roma nel Quattrocento. Aspetti e problemi. Atti del Seminario 1-2 giugno 1979, Città del Vaticano 1980, pp. 245-273; E. Hall, Sweynheim & Pannartz and the Origins of Printing in Italy, German Technology and Italian Humanism, McMinnville, OR 1991; P. Farenga, “Le vie della stampa: da Subiaco a Roma”, Subiaco, la culla della stampa. Atti dei Convegni Abbazia di Santa Scolastica, 2006-2007, Roma 2010, pp. 39-52; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 9.

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.

The first printed book on the astrolabe

18. Andalus de Nigro (1270-1342)

Opus astrolabii. Ed. Petrus Bonus Advogarius. Johann Picardus, de Hamell, 8 July 1475.

Small folio (281x218 mm). Collation: [1-210]. 19 of [20] leaves, lacking the last blank leaf. Text in one column, 40 lines. Type: 1:101G. The first page decorated with a five line vinestem initial 'S', illuminated in red and blue on a silver background with extension in half of the margin; sixty-nine three-line initials alternately in red or blue, rubricated throughout. Eighteenth-century speckled boards, possibly recased. A tall copy, still attractive in spite of a waterstain in the lower right corner, heavier on the last quire, not affecting the text apart from the last two leaves. On fol. [2]/8v one initial was lost and a few words of lines of text retouched in ink. A portion of the right side of the last leaf was missing and skilfully laid on an ancient leaf; along the right side some words of twenty-one lines neatly supplied in brown ink. Some other waterstains or spots, old repairs to the penultimate leaf.

One of the earliest printed astronomical texts, and one of the rarest scientific incunables to have appeared in Ferrara: the first and only edition of the Opus astrolabii, here exceptionally presented in the unique copy known with an illuminated initial. Only ten copies of this Ferrarese edition – a landmark in the history of astronomy, especially in the theorica planetarum – are recorded among the institutional libraries (four in Italy and two in the United States).

The famous astronomer and traveller from Genoa Andalo de Nigro succeeded Cecco d'Ascoli to the chair in Florence, and, in about 1330, became the teacher of Giovanni Boccaccio. Geoffrey Chaucer (who, some seventy years later, wrote the first work in English on a scientific instrument – the Treatise on the Astrolabe – and was inspired by Boccaccio for his Tales) may have known Andalo's Opus astrolabii through either the Genealogiae Deorum, which first appeared in 1472 (see no. 16) or the De casibus virorum illustrium, printed in 1474-1475. In the latter, Boccaccio calls Andalo a 'venerable' man, and compliments him on his vast knowledge of the stars, gained 'by direct vision' during his travels around the world; indeed, in 1314, the Genoese was appointed Ambassador to the Emperor of Trebisonda (Trabzon), and Giovanni Battista Ramusio – in his preface to the Viaggi di Messer Marco Polo (which opens the second volume of his Navigationi et viaggi of 1559) – identified Andalo, instead of the Pisan Rustichello, as the prisoner to whom Marco Polo dictated his memoirs.

Andalo's treatise describes the use and construction of the astrolabe, an instrument indispensable for compiling astronomical tables and for solving computational problems in spherical astronomy as well as in astrological predictions. The work also exerted great influence upon Western medicine, with Andalo being considered a theorist of astrological medicine, a discipline which claims to use the study of planetary positions to predict whether a patient would recover or to determine the best times for bleeding or operating.

The Opus astrolabii was edited by the physician and astrologer Pietro Bono Avogario (d. 1506), active – as the colophon states – 'in foelici gymnasio ferrariensi', and was printed by the Frenchman Jean Picard de Hamell who “is not known to have issued at Ferrara any book besides the Nigro” (BMC vi, 608).

HR 967; BMC VI, 608; IGI 456; Goff A-573; Lalande 12; Sarton III, 647; Stillwell, Awakening, 808; Thorndike IV, 465; A. M. Cesari, “Theorica planetarum di Andalò Di Negro. Questioni di astronomia. Indagine delle fonti astronomiche nelle opere del Boccaccio. Edizione critica”, Physis, 27 (1985), pp. 181-235; D. Blume, “Andalo di Negro und Giovanni Boccaccio: Astrologue und Mythos am Hof des Robert von Anjou”, T. Michalsky (ed.), Medien der Macht. Kunst der Anjous in Italien, Berlin 2001, pp. 319-335; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 18.

A Landmark of Geographical Knowledge

19. Ptolemaeus, Claudius (ca. 100-168)

Cosmographia. Tr: Jacobus Angelus. Ed: Angelus Vadius and Barnabas Picardus. Hermann Liechtenstein, 13 September 1475.

Folio (304x205 mm). Collation: aa10, bb8-1, a10, b-g8, h10, A-F8, G10. 142 of [143] leaves, lacking fol. aa1 blank. Text in one column, 39 lines. Type: 102R. Finely painted initials alternately in red or blue, the one on fol. aa8v with extension. Seven-line blank space on fol. aa1r. Rubricated in red and blue, the capital letters touched with yellow. Four woodcut diagrams on fols. bb5v, bb6v, bb7v, and F3r. Contemporary wooden boards, one (of two) original oyster clasp preserved. Spine covered in calf, with three raised bands. A few wormholes to the upper cover, loss to the upper outer corner; joints slightly abraded. In a black morocco box, title and imprint in gilt lettering on the spine. An exceptional, and unsophisticated copy, with wide margins. Two small wormholes to the blank outer margin of the first leaf repaired, without any loss. The front and rear flyleaves both reinforced at an early date with a fragment from a manuscript. Pencilled bibliographical notes on the rear pastedown. A typewritten French description of this copy tipped in on the front pastedown, '142 feuillets, sans le premier blanc. Le F. bb8 ne fait pas partie du cahier. Reliure de l'époque en ais de bois, un fermoir HC 13536. Klebs 812.1 Rarissime'.

Outstanding copy – still in pristine condition – of the first Latin edition of the most celebrated geographical treatise of classical antiquity. An edition of the greatest rarity, and a monumental achievement of geographical knowledge and a cornerstone of the European tradition.

The Latin Ptolemy of 1475 was issued from the printing house established in Vicenza by the German printer Hermann Liechtenstein, also known by his surname 'Leuilapis'. A native of Cologne, he began his career as a printer in Vicenza, publishing the undated Historiae by Orosius in 1475, as well as the first edition of Ptolemy, completed on 13 September. Ptolemy's Geographia is one of the first books ever printed in Vicenza, where printing was first introduced in the spring of 1474 by Leonardus Achates de Basilea. The text was set in a roman type, which seems to derive from the font used by Achates.

The present work, divided into eight books, was produced by Ptolemy in the second century AD and describes the known inhabited world (or oikoumene), divided into three continents: Europe, Libye (or Africa), and Asia. Book i provides details for drawing a world map with two different projections (one with linear and the other with curved meridians), while Books ii-vii list the longitude and latitude of some 8,000 locations, Book vii concluding with instructions for a perspectival representation of a globe. In Book viii, Ptolemy breaks down the world map into twenty six smaller areas and provides useful descriptions for cartographers.

The work was brought to Italy from Constantinople around 1400, and its translation into Latin was made by Jacopo Angeli (or Angelo da Scarperia) in Florence between 1406 and 1409. He was a pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras (ca. 1350 1415), the exiled Byzanthine scholar who had possibly begun the translation himself, on the basis of a hitherto unidentified Greek manuscript. Angelo's translation is mainly based on a composite text deriving from two different manuscripts.

This volume was edited by Angelus Vadius and Barnabas Picardus and contains only the text of Ptolemy's Geographia. No maps were issued in this first edition of 1475, which were probably not present in the manuscript which served as copy-text, and the only illustrations included are the three diagrams in chapter xxiv of Book i (fols. bb5v, bb6v, and bb7v), showing the ‘modus designandi in tabula plana', and that on fol. F3, depicting the Polus antarcticus. The first illustrated edition of Ptolemy appeared in Bologna in 1477, under the title of Cosmographia and supplemented with copperplates drawn and engraved by the famous illuminator Taddeo Crivelli.

The Latin edition of this landmark geographical text enjoyed wide and enduring popularity. The editio princeps in Greek appeared in Basel only in 1533, and the circulation of the Latin text throughout Europe in the fifteenth century greatly influenced (both directly and indirectly) the shaping of the modern world. As Angeli writes at the end of his dedication: “Now, I repeat now, let us listen to Ptolemy himself speaking in Latin”.

HC 13536*; GW M36388; BMC VII, 1035; IGI 8180; Goff P-108; Flodr Ptolomaeus, 1; Sander 5973; F. Mittenhuber, “The Tradition of Texts and Maps in Ptolemy's 'Geography'”, A. Jones (ed.), Ptolemy in Perspective. Use and Criticism of his Work from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century, Dordrecht 2010, pp. 95-120; B. Weiss, “The Geography in Print. 1475-1530”, Z. Shalev - C. Burnett (eds.), Ptolemy's “Geography” in the Renaissance, London 2011, pp. 91-120; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 19.

The first book with a title-page

20. Regiomontanus, Johannes (1436-1476)

Kalendarium. Bernhard Maler, Peter Loeslein and Erhard Ratdolt, 1476.

4° (270x203 mm). Collation: [18, 210, 314]. [32] leaves. Text in one column, 37 lines. Type: 109R, 50G (for a few words and the letters in the plates). Title-page printed in red and black, within three-sided woodcut border consisting of symmetrical floral and foliate designs, in this copy lavishly illuminated on gold ground. The shield included in the lower panel of the border filled in with a small coat of arms, a standing lion painted in blue; the same coat of arms in larger size and painted on silver ground in the lower margin, within laurel wreath and flanked by two cornucopias. On the same leaf the large initial 'A' printed in red. Fourteen large illuminated initials with acanthus leaves on gold ground. The twenty-four-page Calendar with initials, names of the saints and figures printed in red. Sixty woodcuts depicting the various stages of lunar and solar eclipses (fols. [2]/6-[2]/8; some repeated), many of which are hand coloured in yellow. Four hand-coloured instruments printed on two double sheets glued together: the 'instrvmentvm horarvm inaeqvalivm' (fol. [3]/1r) and the 'instrvmentvm veri motvs lvnae.minve' (fol. [3]/1v) are lacking two moveable volvelles (only a piece of string with a small black pearl and one of silk survive), while both the 'qvadrans horologii horizontalis' (fol. [3]/14r) and the 'qvadratvm horarivm generale' (fol. [3]/14v) include a brass pointer (a portion is missing). Late seventeenth-century calf, over pasteboards. Covers within blind-tooled border. Spine with five small raised bands, with title 'kal 1476' lettered in gilt. A handsome, wide-margined copy. Minor loss at the outer blank corners of the first leaf and at upper outer corner of the opening border; very tiny holes at the margins of first fifteen leaves, partially affecting the opening border and text, decreasing towards the second half of the volume; the gold illumination showing through slightly on the verso. Traces of red wax seals on four leaves, including the verso of the first plate; some fingermarks. The ninth line of text on the title-page bearing the name of the author – “Hoc Ioannes opus Regio de Monte probatum” – has been censored but is still readable. Early inked foliation in the upper margin. A few contemporary marginalia.

Provenance: Blue lion coat of arms, on the recto of the first leaf, possibly relating to the Sforza family; the Alsatian mining entrepreneur Edouard de Turckheim (1829-1909; his rich library was kept at the Turckheim castle in Dachstein, in the Lower Rhine region).

An extraordinary illuminated copy of the Calendar by Regiomontanus, first issued in Latin in 1474 from the Augsburg press of Erhard Ratdolt, who moved to Venice in 1476. It is the first book he printed there, in partnership with Bernhard Maler, also of Augsburg, and Peter Löslein, of Langencen (in Bavaria), and represents – to borrow the words of Gilbert R. Redgrave – a 'marvellous improvement' upon the Kalendarium printed by Regiomontanus himself in Nuremberg in 1473.

This Venetian publication is rightly famous for bearing the earliest known example of an ornamental title-page in the history of printing: even if in verse, it gives date, place and the names of the printers responsible for the publication:

Aureus hic liber est: non est preciosior ulla / Gema kalendario: quod docet istud opus./ [...] Hoc Ioannes opus Regio de Monte probatum / Composuit: tota notus in Italia. / Quod Veneta impressum fuit in tellure per illos / Inferius quorum nomina picta loco. 1476. Bernardus Pictor de Augusta, Petrus Loslein de Langencen, Erhardus Ratdolt de Augusta.

Further, this Venetian Calendar is the first Italian book to feature extensive use of woodcut initials.

Regiomontanus was one of the first to realize the impact printing would have in disseminating scientific knowledge and in 1472 he established his own private press in Nuremberg for the production of the Calendar and other mathematical and astronomical works. The German astronomer “incorporated in his productions the first solutions to a host of typographical problems: tabula data [...]; pioneering printed geometrical diagrams, illustrations of eclipses and planetary models (some systematically coloured by hand under the supervision of the press); the first volvelles and sundials with built-in brass arms in a printed book” (M. H. Shank, “The Geometrical Diagrams”, p. 27). In Venice, Ratdolt replicated Regiomontanus' pioneering results and simultaneously produced a Latin and an Italian edition of the Calendar for the years 1475-1530, a veritable instrument-book for calculating moon phases, eclipses, and other astronomical events. The publication included charts for daylight hours and seasonal locations of the sun in the sky, phases of the moon, and conversions of planetary hours to equal hours, an essay on the true date of Easter, and a table indicating its incidence for each year up to 1531.

The border framing the title-page is designed in the purest Renaissance style. As Goldsmith states, the floral and foliate motifs recall the ornaments carved in relief by Lombardi in the marble pilasters of the Venetian church Santa Maria dei Miracoli. In the copy presented here, the border is illuminated. In this Ratdolt's Venetian edition “one recognizes an undeniable Italian Renaissance influence in both the borders and initials [...] Here, a new harmony is achieved by Ratdolt's congruous design in both initials and borders, which seem to have been executed by the same cutter, resulting in some of the most beautiful borders ever included in a printed book” (D. Laube, The Stylistic Development of German Book Illustration, p. 54).

In 1476, probably after this Latin edition, the Calendar was also issued in Italian by Ratdolt. The Italian edition omits the disquisition on the true date of Easter and table of its incidence from 1488 to 1531, and thus has thirty leaves instead of thirty-two. Both editions have the same border pieces, and the first ornamental frame bestowed on a title-page.

While the Latin Calendarium is not so rare among public libraries, it is scarcely seen on the market and a copy in this condition is unique. It is extremely unusual to find a scientific book – or, better still, an instrument-book – with illuminations of such high quality, clearly executed for a very distinguished patron: as suggested by the blue lion coat of arms, the as-yet-unidentified original owner of this copy may well have been a member of the Sforza family.

Hain 13776*; GW M37455; BMC V, 243; IGI 5310; Goff R-93; Essling 247; Sander 6400; G. R. Redgrave, Erhard Ratdolt and His Work at Venice, London 1899, pp. 6-9, and no. 1; E. Ph. Goldsmith, The Printed Book of the Renaissance, Amsterdam 1974, pp. 63-66; 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, DC 2004, pp. 54-55; M. H. Shank, “The Geometrical Diagrams in Regiomontanus's Edition of His Own Disputationes (c. 1475). Background, Production, and Diffusion”, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 43 (2012), pp. 27-55; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 20.

An extraordinary set, in its contemporary uniform binding

22. Livius, Titus (59-17 BC)

Historiae Romanae decades [Italian]. apud Sanctum Marcum (Vitus Puecher), 30 May - 20 July 1476.

Three volumes, folio (372x260 mm). I. Collation: [*8, 1-310, 46, 510, 68, 7-910, 108, 11-1410, 15-168, 1710, 188]. [174] leaves, first and last leaves blank. II: Collation: [*12, 1-510, 612, 76, 814, 9-1210, 138, 146, 1512, 1610, 176]. [176] leaves, first and last leaves blank. III: Collation: [*10, 1-310, 48, 5-610, 7-88, 9-1410, 158]. [152] leaves. Text in two columns, 55 lines. Type: 98R. On the opening leaf of each volume contemporary white vinestem two-side border on green, blue and crimson ground with clusters of gold-rayed discs at the extremities, including a five-line illuminated initial in gold on vinestem ground; on the lower panel laurel wreath with empty shield, surrounded by gold- rayed discs. Numerous penwork initials alternately in red or blue, with extensions in red, blue or violet. Contemporary, possibly Florentine, uniform binding, with light variants in tooling of the covers. Hazel brown goatskin over wooden boards, panelled in blind with fillets and borders of foliate motifs. The central spaces filled with small tools in geometrical pattern. At the centre of the covers of the third volume an eight-point star, decorated with knotwork motif. Brass clasps preserved (four in the first two volumes, three in the third one), cornerpieces. Spines with four large raised bands, title inked on parchment label. Parchment pastedowns and flyleaves. Minor losses to the spines. In modern brown boxes. A very fine set, printed on strong paper. Light foxing and browning in places; a few pale fingermarks.

Provenance: from the library of the Florentine Serzelli family; Jacopo Serzelli (sixteenth-century ownership inscription 'Jacopo Serzelli' on the recto of the first leaf in each volume); Biblioteca Bardi-Serzelli (nineteenth-century ex-libris on each pastedown).

Rare first edition of the Italian translation of Titus Livius' Roman History (Ab urbe condita), presented in a splendidly illuminated three-volume set in its original uniform binding. This is the fourth book issued from the printing house established in the palace of San Marco in Rome, which was active in the papal city between 1475 and 1477/78. This press seems to have been led by Vitus Puecher and used fonts similar to those employed by Jacobus Riessinger.

The text of Livius' History survives in ten books referred to as Decade, but only three of the original fourteen were known in the late Middle Ages, with the first, third, and fourth books eventually circulating together.

This Roman edition is of the greatest importance for the history of Italian literature, combining the names of two of the so-called 'Three Crowns', Giovanni Boccaccio and Francesco Petrarca. In fact, the translation into Italian vernacular of the third and the fourth Decade has been attributed to Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), who would likely have had the opportunity to work on a manuscript owned by his close friend Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374). Boccaccio met the great poet from Arqua for the first time in Florence in 1350, and it was Petrarca who encouraged him to study the Greek and Latin classics, transforming him into a great classical scholar and quintessential Renaissance Man. However, the identity of the translator for the first Decade, who worked from a manuscript containing the French version of Livius' text, remains unknown to this day.

Boccaccio's translation contributed significantly to Livius' renewed popularity during the Italian Renaissance, and the Historiae Romanae decades became a model for humanist historiography.

The first volume of the set presented here is complete with the dedicatory epistle from the 'Cartolaio fiorentino' Giovanni Bonaccorsi to Giovanni Bernardo di Nicolò Cambini, often lacking in the recorded copies.

Complete sets of this Roman edition are very scarce in the libraries, and rarely appear on the market. An additional noteworthy feature in the set presented here is in its original uniform binding, finely blind tooled with a geometric pattern, and in all likelihood executed in Florence. The central star-shaped tool used for the covers of the third volume is in fact a characteristically Florentine element, of mudéjar inspiration. Further, the style of the illumination recalls that of artists active in the late Quattrocento for the leading Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci.

HR 10144; GW M18508; BMC IV, 65; IGI 5782; Goff L-251; Flodr Titus Livius, 17; M. T Casella, Tra Boccaccio e Petrarca. I volgarizzamenti di Tito Livio e di Valerio Massimo, Padova 1982; G. Tanturli, “Il volgarizzamento della quarta Deca di Tito Livio”, in T. De Robertis, C. M. Monti et al. (eds.), Boccaccio autore e copista, Firenze 2013, pp. 125-127; B. Casini, I “Libri d'oro” della nobiltà fiorentina e fiesolana, Firenze 1993, pp. 25-26; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 22.

From the library of Benedetto Varchi

23. Dionysius Halicarnaseus (ca. 60–after 7 BC)

Antiquitates Romanae. Bernardinus Celerius, 24 or 25 February 1480.

Folio (289x196 mm). Collation: [110, 2-78, 8-96, 10–238, 24-378, 386]. [300] leaves, complete with the final blank. Text in one column, 37 lines. Type: 1:113R. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Early nineteenth-century vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine attractively gilt tooled, title and imprint in gilt on double lettering-piece. A good copy, marginal soiling and staining to opening leaves. The outer blank margin of the last quires waterstained.

Provenance: the Florentine humanist Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565; ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf, marginalia and underlining in the first two quires in his own hand); the Florentine diplomat Pandolfo Attavanti (sixteenth-century ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf); the Tuscan scholar Alemanno Orsucci (eighteenth-century ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf); Kenneth Rapoport (ex-libris on the front pastedown).

First edition of Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus' narrative of the history of Rome from its beginnings to the First Punic War, in a precious copy once owned by the Florentine humanist Benedetto Varchi.

In his postscript, the translator, Lapus Biragus of Milan (the suffix 'Flor'[entinus] was erroneously added to his name in this edition), states that he based his Latin translation on two manuscripts from the library of Pope Paul II, to whom the edition is dedicated. The translation was probably carried out in 1469 as the papal archives record that during that year the Pope paid a scribe to make a copy of a manuscript by Dionysius.

This edition was the first dated book to be issued from the Treviso press of the itinerant printer Bernardinus Celerius from Lovere; it was his third press overall, set up after brief printing stints in Venice and Padua. He printed only a few books at Treviso (Goff and Hain-Copinger list four, Rhodes five), where he was active between 24 February and 18 September 1480, before returning to Venice at the end of 1480. At least six variant issues of Dionysius' colophon and the paragraph preceding it have been recorded, but no priority of issue has been established.

The present copy is enriched by a highly interesting provenance, as it comes from the library of the distinguished humanist Benedetto Varchi, one of the leading sixteenth-century Florentine scholars, whose intellectual interests varied from lyrical, pastoral, and spiritual poetry to Dante studies, history to philosophy, linguistic theory to aesthetics, and even alchemy and Pythagorean numerology. He assembled a great book collection, whose inventories are today preserved in the National Library of Florence (ms II.VIII.142; Filze Rinuccini 11, fols. 266-343). For other books from Varchi's library see nos. 81 and 104 in the second volume of this catalogue.

HC *6239; GW 8423; BMC VI, 895; IGI 3484; Goff D-250; Rhodes Treviso, 79; Flodr Dionysius Halicarnaseus, 1; M. Prunai Falciani, “Manoscritti e libri appartenuti al Varchi nella Biblioteca Riccardiana di Firenze”, Accademie e biblioteche d'Italia, 53 (1985), pp. 14-29; A. Sorella, “La Biblioteca Varchi”, B. Varchi, L'Ercolano, ed. A. Sorella, Pescara 1995, pp. 155-166; R. Norbedo, “Alcuni libri posseduti da Benedetto Varchi”, Lettere italiane 56 (2004), pp. 462-467; P. Scapecchi, “Ricerche sulla biblioteca di Varchi con una lista di volumi da lui posseduti”, V. Bramanti (ed.), Benedetto Varchi 1503-1565, Roma 2007, pp. 309-318; Autografi di letterati italiani. Il Cinquecento, Roma 2009, pp. 337-351; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 23.

The Biblical Art of Memory

24. Petrus of Rosenhaym (1380-1432)

Roseum memoriale divinorum eloquiorum. [Southern Germany, probably Cologne, Ludwig von Renchen (?), ca. 1480-1490].

4° (210x142 mm). Collation: [1-68]. [48] leaves. Text in one column, 32 lines. Type: 80G. Initials painted in red, rubricated in red ink throughout. Late eighteenth-century quarter-vellum, covers backed with marbled paper. Smooth spine with title inked on paper label. A very good copy, old repair to the first blank leaf, a few spots, pale stain at the lower blank corner of the first quires. A contemporary hand has inked the title on the recto of the first leaf, 'Rosaeum sup[er] bibliam'; two blind impressions on the same leaf. Leather leaf-tabs on the outer margins of the first and last leaves, suggesting the copy was originally bound in a composite volume.

Provenance: Wigan Free Public Library, United Kingdom (bookplate on the front pastedown, and embossed stamps on fols. a2 and f8; small label on the upper cover, with shelfmark 'Case 13:2'; the note on the recto of the front flyleaf 'Bought January 1908', and a signature now barely legible, probably in the hand of the librarian Henry Tennyson Folkhard (1850-1916); deaccessioned by 2002 at the latest.

One of the earliest printed books on the ars memorativa or mnemotechnic: the rare first edition of the Roseum memoriale composed by the German Benedictine monk Petrus of Rosenhaym (Upper Bavaria), written between 1423 and 1426 for Cardinal Giulio Branda di Castiglione. Petrus of Rosenhaym composed numerous treatises, sermons, and verses: the Roseum memoriale is surely his most famous work, enjoying wide popularity during the fifteenth century and first half of the sixteenth century. It is a poem composed of 1, 194 verses followed by an epilogue of seventy-three hexameters, in which every chapter of the Bible (excluding the Psalms) is summed up in a distich. The mnemotechnic method here employed is extremely complex: the hexameters of each section of the summary form an acrostic of the letters of the alphabet.

After studying at the University of Vienna, Petrus de Rosenhaym, along with his friend Nikolaus Seyringer, moved to Subiaco, where he entered the Benedectine order. In 1413, he was appointed prior to the cloister of Rocca di Mondragone near Capua. In 1416, he took part in the Council of Konstanz, and later he was prior in Melk (Lower Austria). After 1423, he was appointed 'cursor biblicus' and 'magister studentium'.

The edition is assigned by Proctor to the printer Ludwig von Renchen, active in Cologne from 1483 to ca. 1495, while ISTC gives Southern Germany between 1480-1490 and GW tentatively suggests Oberrhein, 1483.

HC(+Add) 13988*; GW M32724; BMC I, 312; IGI 7668; Goff R-336; Young 278; S. Tiedje, “The Roseum Memoriale divinorum Eloquiorum Petri de Rosenheim: A Bible Summary from the Fifteenth Century”, L. Dolezalová – T. Visi, Retelling the Bible. Literary, Historical, and Social Contexts, Frankfurt a.M.-Berlin et al. 2011, pp. 335-353; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 24.

The first Italian translation of Valturio

27. Valturio, Roberto (1413-1484)

De re militari [Italian]. Opera dell’arte militare. Tr: Paolo Ramusio. Boninus de Boninis, de Ragusia, 17 February 1483.

Chancery folio (302x208 mm). Collation: [*]6, a-d8, e6, f–g8, h10, i-u8, x-y6, z8, &8, cum6, rum6, A-B6, C-E8, F-G6, H-I8, K10, L-N8, O10. 312 of [314] leaves, lacking fols. [*]1 and O10 blanks, whereas the blank a8 is present. Text in one column, 36 lines and headline. Type: 2:114R, 1:90G. Two- to nine-line blank capital spaces, a few with printed guide letters. Ninety-five woodcuts, many full-page (including one repeat). Sixteenth-century limp vellum, inked title on the spine. A fine, wide-margined copy, repair to the lower gutter of the first five leaves. Numerous marginalia in a sixteenth century hand; the same hand has annotated an index of subjects on four added leaves.

A fine copy of the very rare first Italian translation of the most famous treatise on military art ever written. It is the first vernacular edition of one of the earliest scientific works ever printed, and the earliest to contain technical illustrations, showing in detail the equipment necessary for ground and naval warfare. “The historical importance of the De Re Militari lies in the fact that it is the first book printed with illustrations of a technical or scientific character depicting the progressive engineering ideas of the author's own time. The woodcuts illustrate the equipment necessary for the military and naval engineer [...] The Verona Valturius and its reprints were the handbooks of the military leaders of the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci, when acting as chief engineer to Cesare Borgia, possessed a copy and borrowed some of its designs” (PMM).

The De re militari was composed between 1455 and 1460 by Roberto Valturio, a military engineer and technical adviser at the Rimini court, on behalf of his patron Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468). The treatise enjoyed immediate success and was widely circulated in manuscript form (see no. 178). The work first appeared in print in 1472, from the Verona press of Johannes Nicolai: this was a splendid volume supplemented with eighty-two woodcuts illustrating an astonishing array of tools and war machines. These illustrations were likely executed after designs by the medalist Matteo de' Pasti (ca. 1412 - after 1467), who had been a pupil of Leon Battista Alberti, and was also in the service of Sigismondo Malatesta. A second edition appeared on 13 February 1483, followed four days later by the first Italian translation; both these editions were likewise printed in Verona. Their printing may have been financed by the Veronese Bassano Medici, son of Niccolò, the wealthy patron of the arts. The edition in Italian vernacular is rarer than both Latin publications.

The volume opens with a dedicatory epistle by the editor and translator from Treviso Paolo Ramusio – active as a magistrate 'ad banchum Regine Leone' at Verona, and father of the more famous geographer Giovanni Battista – to the well-known condottiero Roberto di San Severino (1418-1487). The text is illustrated with reduced copies of the woodcuts used in the first edition of 1472, apart from one woodcut on fol. r1r, which is entirely new and depicts two soldiers seated in a tent; their sequence does however differ slightly from that first Veronese edition. The woodblocks were likely cut by one of the artists then active in the city, such as Fra' Giovanni Olivetano, Giovanni Zebellana, or a member of the Golfino dynasty.

The Italian Valturio was skilfully printed by Bonino de Boninis from Ragusa (Dalmatia), who was active in Verona between 1481 and 1483. It is the last of the seven books printed by him in Verona, before his move to Brescia, where he printed the famous illustrated edition of Dante's Commedia.

HC 15849; GW M49416; BMC VII, 952; IGI 10116; Goff V-90; Rhodes Verona 19; Norman 2127; Sander 2483; PMM 10; T. Radakiewicz, “The editio princeps of R. Valturio's De re militari”, Maso Finiguerra, 18-19 (1940), pp. 15-82; A. Campana, “Felice Feliciano e la prima edizione del Valturio”, ibid., pp. 211-222; S. Ricossa – P.L. Bassignana (eds.), Le macchine di Valturio nei documenti dell'Archivio Storico AMMA, Torino 1988; A. Brumana, “Nota su Bonino Bonini”, Commentari dell'Ateneo di Brescia, 1991, pp. 95-121; A. Contò, “Da Rimini a Verona: le edizioni quattrocentesche del De re militari”, P. Delbianco (ed.) Roberto Valturio, De re militari. Saggi critici, Rimini-Milano, 2006, pp. 95-104; D. Frioli, “Da Rimini a Verona: Roberto Valturio, Domenico Foschi e Felice Feliciano”, R. M. Borraccini – G. Borri (eds.), Virtute et labore. Studi offerti a Giuseppe Avarucci per i suoi settant'anni, Spoleto 2008, pp. 1073-1109; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 27.

A very rare illustrated Libro da Compagnia

28. Confraternity Rosary, Florence

Compagnia ovvero Confraternita del Psalterio ovvero Rosario della gloriosissima Vergine Maria. Ordinazioni, istitutioni, capitoli, regole, privilegii ed indulgentie. [Florence, Antonio di Bartolomeo Miscomini, after 4 May 1485].

4° (250x136 mm). Collation: a12. [12] leaves. Text in one column, 25 lines. Type: 112R. Title on fol. a2r printed in red. Headings, initial letters and section marks printed in red throughout. On fol. a1v large woodcut within octagonal border, containing a rose garland framing a crown and a rosary with the letters 'rsm', at the bottom the inscription 'Questo e el segno della compagnia del Rosario della Vergine Maria'. On fol. a2r half-page woodcut vignette depicting the Annunciation. Old vellum, over paperboards; inked title on spine. A good copy, slightly washed, foxing in places. Repair to the outer blank margin of the first two leaves; some wormholes restored, some of them affecting the woodcuts on fols. a1v and a2r, and a few letters of text.

First and only edition of this exceedingly rare Florentine illustrated incunable, of which only four copies are recorded among institutional libraries, these being held in the Biblioteca dell'Archiginnasio in Bologna, the Biblioteca degli Intronati in Siena, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (incomplete).

This booklet, printed in red and black and supplemented with two fine woodcuts, belongs to the popular genre of so-called Libri da Compagnia, which includes statutes, bulls, privileges, and indulgences regarding the numerous religious confraternities or sodalities established in Italy during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as a distinctive form of piety and devotion encouraged by mendicant orders. It contains the text, in Italian vernacular, of the statutes of the Florentine Compagnia del Rosario – the Rosary sodality being closely associated with the Dominican cloister of San Marco, where the Compagnia had obtained the privilege of the altar of the Annunciation in 1480/81. The practice of rosary has a Dominican origin, with the tradition claiming that this devotion would have been revealed by the Virgin Mary to St. Dominic, founder of the order.

The present edition – the printing of which was commissioned by the friars of San Marco – was issued entirely anonymously and without any date, although it is generally attributed to the Modena printer Antonio Miscomini, who was active in Florence between 1481-1485 and 1489 1495. Miscomini's production was focused both on 'high' Florentine humanist works – he published several by Marsilio Ficino, including the first edition of the De triplici vita in 1489 (see no. 30) – as well as popular texts in Italian vernacular, including statutes, sacre rappresentazioni, and devotional writings. The volume contains two woodcuts, whose subject is deeply related to the Rosary confraternity. On the verso of the first leaf is a large woodcut within an octagonal border showing the 'segno della compagnia del Rosario della Vergine Maria', a crown bearing a rosary and the inscription 'rsm' surrounded by a rose garland. The half-page vignette on the recto of fol. a2 depicts the Annunciation, recalling the privilege obtained by the Florentine confraternity. Both images contributed to the development of rosary iconography and of the Marian cult more generally. An identical crown symbolizing the Virgin is found in the Dichiaratione della Chiesa di Sancta Maria del Loreto, printed by Francesco di Dino in Florence in about 1483, in the printing press of San Jacopo at Ripoli.

GW M43809; IGI 3112; Goff S-758; Rhodes Firenze, 213; Sander 6574, and pls. 497-498 (the printing attributed to Francesco Bonaccorsi); A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550. A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 143; R. Rusconi, “Pratica culturale ed istruzione religiosa nelle confraternite italiane del tardo Medioevo: 'libri da compagnia' e libri di pietà”, Le mouvement confraternal au Moyen Age. France Italie, Suisse, Rome 1987, pp. 133-153; C. Dondi, “Libri da compagnia Printed in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century in Italy”, Quaerendo, 41 (2011), pp. 183-192; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 28.

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.

As book jackets do today — Paul Needham

34. (Benali’s wrappers)

Monte de la oratione. [Venice, Bernardinus Benalius (?), before June 1493].

4° (204x145 mm). Collation: [18, 2-84]. [36] leaves. Text in one column, 32-33 lines. Type: 130G, 85G. Full-page woodcut on fol. a2v. Woodcut decorated initial on fol. a3r, Lombards throughout. Original pictorial paper wrappers, now cased in transparent plastic material, black morocco spine, with title and 'Benali's wrappers' in gilt lettering. In a black morocco box. A good copy, slightly waterstained and spotted.

This vernacular edition, printed in Venice and bound in attractive and scarce pictorial paper wrappers, is generally attributed to the printer Bernardinus Benalius. The publication has also been ascribed to Paulus Fridenperger.

Examples of early paper bindings with woodcuts are very rare, and of the greatest value and import for the history of engraving. These wrappers “were meant to function not as permanent binding, but rather as eye-catching advertisements for the books they covered, precisely as book jackets do today” (P. Needham, Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, New York 1979, p. 117). The woodcuts designed for the upper and lower cover, which probably belonged to Benalius himself, were used as cheap coverings for different books, independent from their content. In the present edition, the woodcut on the upper cover depicts St. John the Baptist and St. Peter in a desert landscape supporting circles formed of intertwined foliage symbolizing the Trinity; on the lower cover, the woodcut shows St. John the Evangelist with his eagle and St. Francis standing before a church and supporting the foliage circles, along with the name and virtue of Maria. The full-page woodcut on fol. [1]/2v with the inscription 'Mons or[ati]onis' was executed for this book, and re-used in the edition of the Zardino de Oration by Nicolaus de Ausmo (see no. 35), and later in the Fioretti by Francesco d'Assisi, printed on 11 June 1493. “Nous croyons devoir assigner à ce livre la date de 1493, attendu que la gravure qui orne le verso du 2me f., se retrouve, en 1494, dans le Zardino de oratione, s.l. & n.t.m mais privée de l'inscription gothique: mons orationis, qui se voit ici dans l'angle supérieur de gauche, et qui, étant gravée sur le bois même, suffit pour établir la priorité de cet état” (Essling 728).

Bernardinus Benalius, active in Venice since 1483, is well known for the illustrated books and popular devotional vernacular editions he produced. Between 1490 and 1491 he worked in partnership with Matteo Capsaca, and continued to print as late as 1524.

HR 11576; GW M25328; BMC V, 378; IGI 6712; Goff M-847; Essling 728; Sander 4879; A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550). A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 303; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 34.

A Masterpiece of Venetian Woodcut

37. (Benedetto Bordone). Lucianus Samosatensis (125–after 180 BC)

Vera historia. Tr: Lilius (Tifernas) Castellanus. Add: De asino aureo; Philosophorum vitae; Scipio; Tyrannus; Scaphidium (Dialogus de funerali pompa); Palinurus; Charon; Diogenes; Terpsion; Hercules; Virtus dea; In amorem; Timon; Sermo de calumnia; Laus muscae. Ed: Benedictus Bordonus; Maephus Vegius: De Felicitate et miseria. Simon Bevilaqua, for Benedetto Bordone, 25 August 1494.

4° (216x155 mm). Collation: a8, b4, c-g8, h4, i-p8. [112] leaves. Text in one column, 29 lines. Type: 5:110R. White on-black woodcut candelabra border on fol. a2r, by Benedetto Bordone. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Later vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine, title written vertically 'Lucianus Venice Woodcut title-border'. Binding somewhat bumped. A good copy, first leaf lightly soiled, with old repair to the outer blank margin, without any loss. A few small stains, some spots and fingermarks. The lower blank margin of fol. g7 slightly trimmed. A few early marginal and interlinear notes. On the rear pastedown, a cutting taken from an old sale catalogue describing this copy: “Fol. a2 is surrounded by a magnificent woodcut border [...] Such borders are very rare in books of small format. A very fine copy of a rare book, save for the first page, skilfully repaired”. Bibliographical notes on the front pastedown (among these '217x153. BM copy only 204x143'), and on the recto of the front flyleaf. On the rear pastedown, pencilled collation by Bernard Quaritch.

Provenance: the bibliographer Gilbert Richard Redgrave (1844-1941; ex-libris on the front pastedown, and the inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf ‘Ex libris. Gilbert R. Redgrave Thriffwood, Sydenham, London. Sept. 9th. 1914'); Wynne Rice Hugh Jeudwine (1920-1984; ex-libris on the front pastedown; see sale Bloomsbury London, 18 September 1984 Catalogue of the Important Collection of Printed Books formed by the Late W. R. Jeudwine, lot 18); Kenneth Rapoport (ex-libris on the front pastedown).

A fine copy of the rare first book edited by famous Paduan artist Benedetto Bordone (1450/55-1530). This edition represents the first official appearance of Bordone's name in Venice.

On 3 May 1494, Benedictus miniator applied for permission to print a book edited by himself, a Latin translation of Lucian's dialogues. The book was published on 25 August by Simone Bevilaqua (active in Venice between 1492 and 1506) at Bordone's expense, and his name is mentioned in a final address, composed in verse, on fol. p6r, and in the statement of privilege printed on the verso of the same leaf. In the four-verse address, Bordone invites the reader to take this book and relax among the collected stories of Lucian. It is indeed an enjoyable book, featuring widespread texts without scholarly commentaries or notes, printed in a roman type that is easy to read, and in a small quarto format, a practical prelude to the well-known Aldine octavos. The title page is framed within an exquisite woodcut all'antica border on black ground whose design is attributed to Bordone himself. This delicately refined candelabra border is a compendium of decorative motifs from classical antiquity: vases, vine leaves, and foliate branches, with the head of a 'leafy old man' at top and a Roman eagle, horns, and winged animals down below.

This woodcut border was first used, with some variants, in the 1494 Herodotus (see no. 36), and later in the Commentaria in Bibliam by Hieronymus (see no. 40). Single elements of Bordone's decorative vocabulary also find close parallel in headpieces and initials used by Aldus in the years 1495-1498.

This copy was bought in 1914 by Gilbert Richard Redgrave, son of the famous British artist Richard Redgrave and president of the Bibliographical Society of London, as well as co-editor, with Alfred W. Pollard, of A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. A note on the front flyleaf written in his own hand states: 'All writers on book ornament agree in attributing the splendid border on f. a2 to the same designer as the border of the Herodotus of 1494. These two borders are the most splendid works on the early Venetian press'.

HC 1026; GW M19059; BMC V, 519; IGI 5842; Goff L-329; Flodr Lucianus, 4; Essling 747; Sander 4037; L. Armstrong, “Benedetto Bordon, 'Miniator', and Cartography in Early Sixteenth-Century Venice”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 2, pp. 591-643; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 37.

The Painted Page

38. Lucianus Samosatensis (ca. 125-after 180)

Διάλογοι. Lorenzo de Alopa, 1496.

Folio (330x235 mm). Collation: Α-Β8, α-ω8, αα-ηη8. 262 of [264] leaves, lacking the first and last blanks. Text in one column, 41-44 lines. Type: 5:IIIGk. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Opening page framed in a fine and lavishly illuminated full-border, with small flowers, acanthus leaves, fruits, birds, and gold-rayed discs. At the top two cornucopias, the lower panel containing a large cartouche including a blue lion coat of arms, flanked by the gold initials 'IO' and perhaps 'M' (smudged). The right panel exquisitely painted, depicting a scholar, quite surely Lucianus himself, with long curly hair, sitting and reading a book. On the same leaf a ten-line gold initial 'a' with interlaced branches on black ground, and a portion of a portico supported by a cherub. Seventeenth-century limp vellum. Spine with five raised bands underlined by gilt fillets, compartments decorated with floral tool, title in gilt on red lettering-piece. Edges slightly speckled purple, A very good copy, with wide margins. A few early ink stains, foxing and browning in places. In the last quires pale waterstain to the lower blank margins, a few minor stains to the gutter of the two final leaves. Early inked foliation, and marginalia in Greek and Latin, in the same hand. On the front pastedown the early inked shelfmark 'A. 58.', and an erased, not legible annotation.

A magnificent example of a Florentine incunable receiving a high-quality illumination: the rare editio princeps of Lucianus' Dialogues edited by Ianos Laskaris, an absolute chef d'oeuvre of early Greek typography. It is one of the three dated editions published by Lorenzo de Alopa, the first Florentine printer to produce books in Greek, the others being the Anthologia Graeca of 1494 and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, which appeared in 1496. The text of Lucianus was set in the third Greek type cut for Alopa, a lower-case with accents and breathings, used also for the commentary surrounding Apollonius' Argonautica.

The opening leaf of the sumptuos copy presented here represents a highly original artwork, and was executed by an artist of considerable skill. The decorative pattern of the border, the particular palette of colours and tones, the illusionistic three-dimensional composition, the hair- and beard-style of the figure reading a book on the right panel – doubtless a depiction of Lucian himself – have many similarities to illuminations attributed to the miniaturist known as 'Petrus V', possibly originating from Lombardy. This artist was also active in Padua and Venice in the 1470s in the production of illuminated incunables, creating masterful illustrations for a distinguished clientele, as demonstrated by the magnificent Glasgow copy of the Breviarium Romanum printed in 1478 by Nicolaus Jenson (Glasgow University Library, B.f.1.18). From Veneto he moved to Rome, where he worked in the 1480s and 1490s, receiving several commissions from prestigious patrons for illuminating printed books.

A refined work for a refined patron: the smudged coat of arms included in the border is similar to that of the famous and wealthy Sforza family, while the capital letters painted in gold may be read as 'IO' and 'M', suggesting the possible identity of the first owner of the present copy: Giovanni Maria Sforza (d. ca. 1520), the son of Francesco, Duke of Milan. As a Protonotary Apostolic he was a member of the Roman curia, and in 1498 was appointed Archbishop of Genoa. The Elmer Belt Library of the University of California at Los Angeles preserves a single leaf from Book II of the Nicolaus Jenson edition of Pliny the Elder's Historia naturalis of 1476, whose border and first initial were possibly illuminated for Gian Galeazzo Sforza (1469-1494). In this leaf the inscription, only partially legible, 'OPVS PETRI V M' supports “the Lombard origins of this intriguing artist. The letters of Petrus' surname suggest Vimercate, the name of a town midway between Milan and Bergamo, earlier the patria of another illuminator, Guinifortus de Vicomercato” (The Painted Page, p. 178).

HC (+Add) 10258*; GW M18976; BMC VI, 667; IGI 5834; Goff L-320; Rhodes Firenze, 416; Flodr Lucianus, 1; Hoffman III, pp. 29-30; Legrand I, 19; Staikos, Charta, pp. 277-278; J. J. G. Alexander (ed.), The Painted Page. Italian Renaissance Book Illumination, London-New York 1995, pp. 178-180 (catalogues entries nos. 86-88 by L. Armstrong); M. Conway, “The Early Career of Lorenzo Alopa”, La Bibliofilia, 102 (2000), pp. 1-10; L. Armstrong, “Opus Petri: Renaissance Book Illuminations from Venice and Rome”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 1, pp. 339-405; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 38.

A spectacular illuminated copy

39. Hieronymus, Sophronius Eusebius (347-420)

Epistolae [Italian]. Add: Lupus de Oliveto (Olmeto): Regula monachorum ex Epistolis S. Hieronymi excerpta [Italian] De la observatione del culto de la vera religione (Tr: Mattheo da Ferrara). Laurentius de Rubeis, de Valentia, 12 October 1497.

Folio (300x206 mm). Collation: a10, b-m8, n-o6, p-r8, s6, t8, u6, x8, y-z6, &6, cum6, rum6, A-N6. [1], CCLXIX, [1] leaves. Text in two columns, 46-50 lines. Type: 6:105R. Xylographic title-page. Full-page woodcuts on fols. a2v and K3v, two four-sided borders on fols. a3r and K4r, and 161 woodcut vignettes, all illuminated by a contemporary Ferrarese artist. Vinestem illuminated initials throughout, on gold, pink, blue or green ground. Rubricated in red, blue, green, or gold. Eighteenth-century gilt-tooled calf, over pasteboards. Covers within two gilt floral friezes, large foliate tool at each inner corner of the central space. Spine with five raised bands, compartments decorated with floral motifs in gilt, title in gold on green morocco lettering-piece. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves. Edges painted green. Extremities of the spine, and joints slightly rubbed. A very good copy, slightly foxed and spotted in places, the first two leaves somewhat browned. The gold illumination showing through slightly on the verso.

Provenance: possibly from the Ferrarese clarissan monastery of the Corpus Domini (the illuminated device in the border of fol. K4r, see below).

One of the highest achievements in print of the tradition of Ferrarese illustration, in a spectacular illuminated copy. It is also the only illustrated edition of St. Jerome's Epistolae of the fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries, and the only fifteenth-century edition in Italian vernacular. All the woodcuts are original to this edition. “The most attractive of all the Ferrarese illustrations are contained in the Epistles of St. Jerome, printed by Laurentius de Rubeis [...] Their author is evidently inspired by the 'popular' designer at Venice [...] The artist is a most conscious humorist in the wonderful variety of facial expression he gives to St. Jerome's lion, offering its naive comment on the various episodes of the saint's life. As illustrations of contemporary custom, the woodcuts in the last section of the book, dealing with the rules of monastic life, are peculiarly interesting” (A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut II, p. 510). The architectural borders include elements recalling the style of the Venetian artist konwn as the Pico Master. Three hundred copies of the book were printed, 294 of which were shared by the printer and Giacomo Albertini, a Carmelite friar of the monastery of St. Paul, who paid 40 gold ducates for the paper; the six remaining copies were presentation copies, given to the court of Ercole I d'Este. In the present copy, all the borders as well as the 161 woodcuts were illuminated by a contemporary Ferrarese artist, and there are more than two hundred vinestem initials.

Further, the lower panel of illuminated border on fol. K4r – introducing the Regula monachorum ex Epistolis S. Hieronymi – includes, in a circular frame, a device depicting a calix surmounted by the holy bread: this device might be referred to the Ferrarese clarissan monastery of the Corpus Domini (also called Corpus Christi), which was of the greatest importance for the House of Este, having been over centuries the burial-place of the family, including Ercole I, while members of the house were nuns there, e.g., Eleonora, a daughter of Ercole. The Duke himself could possibly have gifted this magnificently illuminated copy to the monastery, as a sign of religious patronage.

The present copy is in the issue without – like the greatest part of the copies known – the four added preliminary leaves containing the life of St. Jerome. It also include, on fol. a2v, the large woodcut of St. Jerome writing, in some copies replaced by printed dedications respectively to Duke Ercole I, dated to 1494 (e.g., the copy, bound for Duchess of Urbino Eleonora of Aragon, passed in the Rahir sale of 1931, while another copy is now located in the Pierpont Morgan Library), to Duchess of Ferrara Eleonora and her daughter Isabella (as in the copy owned by the State Library in Munich), and to the Doge Agostino Barbarigo, both dated to 1495.

HC 8566; GW 12437; BMC VI, 614; IGI 4746; Goff H-178; G. Antonelli, Ricerche bibliografiche sulle edizioni ferraresi del secolo XV, Ferrara 1830, no. 82: A. Nuovo, Il commercio librario a Ferrara tra XV e XVI secolo, Firenze 1998, pp. 57-82; Sander 3404; A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, London 1935, 2, pp. 509-512; L. Armstrong, “The Pico Master: A Venetian Miniaturist of the Late Quattrocento”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, 1, pp. 233-338; D. De Simone, “The Woodcut in Ferrara in the Late Fifteenth Century”, R. H. Jackson - C. Z. Rothkopf (eds.), Book Talk: Essays on Books, Booksellers, Collecting, and Special Collections, New Castle, DE 2006, pp. 57-68; T. Lombardi, Gli Estensi ed il Monastero del Corpus Domini di Ferrara, Ferrara 1980; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 39.

A re-use of the magnificent Herodotus’ border

40. (Benedetto Bordone). Hieronymus, Sophronius Eusebius (347-420)

Commentaria in Bibliam. Ed: Bernardinus Gadolus. Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, 1497 - 25 August 1498.

Three volumes, folio (341x223mm). Collation: I. A8, <2-3>6, <4-6>6, a-c8, d10, e8, f6, g-h10, i8, k6, l-u8, x-y6. Fol. o3 signed m3. II. A-R8, S10, T-Z8, AA-BB8, CC6, DD-HH8, DDD-EEE8, FFF-HHH6, DDDD-GGGG6, HHHH4, II8, KK-LL6. III. Collation: aa-ff8, ll-ss8, tt10, vv-zz8 (yy8 blank), &&12-1, a8,b-c6, AA6, aAA8 (fol. aAA blank), BBb-PPp8, QQq6. In all 839 of [845] leaves, lacking, as usual, quire BB6, including the registrum. Text in one column, 48-61 lines. Type: 20:170G, 32*:83G, 39:82R. Large woodcut printer's device on fols. PPp8r and QQq6r. White-on-black woodcut candelabra border and fourteen-line animated initial depicting St. Jerome on fol. aAA2r. Woodcut decorated, and animated initials throughout, mostly on black ground. Late nineteenth-century quarter-mottled leather, over pasteboards. Boards covered with marbled paper. Spines with three raised bands, title lettered in gilt. Covers abraded in places; spines lightly damaged at the top. A good copy, some stains, spots, and waterstains. A few fingermarks, old repair to the upper blank leaves of the first leaf of the first volume, without any loss. Contemporary marginalia in the third volume. Modern, pencilled foliation in the upper corner of the leaves, bibliographical notes on the pastedowns and flyleaves.

Provenance: Giovanni di Maffio, San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo (ownership inscription dated 1532 'Di giouannj di maffio di ualdarno di sopra', on the recto of the first leaf of each volume); from the library of the Franciscan monastery St. Bonaventura al Bosco, Tuscany (ownership inscription, partly erased and dated 1545, 'Della libraria del bosco di mugello [?] da Biagio [?]', on the recto of the second leaf of the first volume, and on the first leaf of the second and third one).

This Venetian edition of Jerome – edited for the de Gregoriis brothers by Bernardinus Gadolus – contains on fol. aAA2r, around the first text-page of the Expositio in Psalterium, a re-use of one of the finest woodcut borders of the fifteenth century: the white-on-black woodcut border drawn and cut by Benedetto Bordone (1450/55-1530) for the Herodotus issued by the same printing house in 1494 (see no. 36). The latter publication contained a large woodcut depicting the Greek historian crowned by Apollo, which is replaced here with a fourteen-line animated initial showing St. Jerome at his desk. There are numerous other ornamental initials throughout the text, some of them with paired dolphins and mostly on black ground.

The present edition is a handsome example of the extraordinary imagery and inventiveness of Benedetto Bordone. He was a great protagonist of the multi-faceted world of the Venetian book; a skilful miniaturist from Padua, he learned to profit from the Venetian printing industry and was capable of re-defining and developing his artistic talent, adapting it to the newly produced printed books, and becoming, in the early sixteenth century, one of the most esteemed and sought-after designers among all the printers active in the Venetian calli and campi, with a special link to the Aldine Press (see no. 43). An erudite and versatile artist, he shared with Aldus clients, friends, and patrons, but above all a life-long passion for the ancient world and its artful transmission to their contemporaries.

H 8581*; GW 12419; BMC V, 350; IGI 4729; Goff H-160; Essling 1170; Sander 3386; L. Armstrong, “Benedetto Bordon, 'Miniator', and Cartography in Early Sixteenth-Century Venice”, Eadem, Studies of Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, London 2003, 2, pp. 591-643; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 40.

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.

Bonfire of the Vanities

44. Benivieni, Girolamo (1453-1542)

Canzoni e sonetti dell’amore e della bellezza divina, con commento. Antonio Tubini, Laurentius (Francisci) de Alopa, Venetus and Andrea Ghirlandi, 7 September 1500.

Chancery folio (281x212 mm). Collation: [π]4, a-n8, o6, oo10, p8, q10, r-s6. [4], CL leaves. Text in one column, surrounded by commentary, 44-45 lines. Fols. r1-s6 in two columns, shoulder notes. Type 2:107R (text), 1:86R (commentary). Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. Contemporary blind-tooled brown calf, over wooden boards. Covers within three fillets, and filled with diagonal blind lines. Spine early rebacked, renewed clasps and flyleaves, upper headcap slightly damaged. A very large copy, a few stains and wormholes towards the end, repairs to the corner of the first two leaves. Interesting contemporary marginalia throughout.

Provenance: the Certosa at Casotto, near Cuneo, in Piedmont (ownership inscription on the title-page, 'Cartusia Casularum mihi a M. de ducibus donato'; in the same hand the annotations on the margins); 'Jo. iac. salomonius' (ownership inscription on the title-page, with five Latin diptychs in praise of Benivieni's poems written in the same hand); Leo S. Olschki (1861-1940; pencilled note on the recto of the front flyleaf, 'L. S. Olschki. Firenze, 30 Ag. 1917, £120.00'; see Monumenta typographica. Cat. LIII, Florence 1903, no. 1805, and Choix de livres anciens, rares et curieux, I, Florence 1907, no. 1965, 'Ais de bois rec. de veau, dos refait'); Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944; his collation and bibliographical notes on the front pastedown).

First edition, in first issue, of Benivieni's Neoplatonic verse summary of the Libro dello amore, a commentary on Plato's Symposium that was strongly influenced by the Ficinian theory of love. The work is famous for containing the first eye-witness account ever printed of Savonarola's famous Bonfire of the Vanities, held in the Piazza della Signoria during the Carnival on 7 February 1497.

Benivieni, a prolific versifier of conventionally Petrarchian love poems, was a close friend of both Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and Giovanni Francesco Pico (1469-1533), nephew of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola whose only work in Italian was a prose commentary on Benivieni's Canzone, at the time still unpublished but paraphrased by the latter, and inserted into the present edition. The volume was printed by Tubini, Alopa, and Ghirlandi during their short partnership in 1499-1500, and the publication is one of only three stating their names. The preliminary leaves contain Benivieni's dedicatory epistle to Giovanni Francesco Pico, while his dedication to Niccolo Vicecomite da Coreggio is printed on fol. r5v.

The Florentine humanists Benivieni, Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola were all contemporaries of Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) and ardent admirers and supporters of his reform ideas, as were the three printers Tubini, Alopa, and Ghirlandi. It was in this cultural and social context that the present edition appeared. In 1496, Benivieni translated Savonarola's De simplicitate, and one of the most remarkable inclusions of this collection is the first printed eye-witness account of the famous 'bruciamento' at the bequest of Savonarola, the Bonfire of the Vanities held in the Piazza della Signoria during the Carnival on 7 February 1497. This Canzone (fols. oo6r-oo7r) offers a detailed list of the 'lascivious, vain and detestable objects' that were thrown on the fire, including paintings, musical instruments, feminine ornaments, dice, cards, and other such works of Satan.

The edition is known in two variants: the copy presented here belongs to the first issue with the colophon dated 7 September, and has the lines 24-25 of the table on fol. [π]3r.

H *2788; GW 3850; BMC VI, 693; IGI 1481; Goff B-328; Rhodes Firenze, 106; A. Jacobson Schutte, Printed Italian Vernacular Religious Books (1465-1550). A Finding List, Genève 1983, p. 72; R. Ridolfi, “Girolamo Benivieni e una sconosciuta revisione del suo Canzoniere”, La Bibliofilia, 66 (1964), pp. 49-62; R. Leporatti, “Canzone e Sonetti di Girolamo Benivieni fiorentino. Edizione critica”, Interpres, 27 (2008), pp. 144-298 (esp. pp. 156-161); A. Giaccaria, “I libri della Certosa di Casotto alla fine del Cinquecento”, R. Comba - G. Comino (eds.), Dal manoscritto al libro a stampa nel Piemonte sud-occidentale, pp. 169-199; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 44.