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Aprosio, Angelico (1607-1681)

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

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The first public library of Liguria
Aprosio, Angelico (1607-1681). La Biblioteca Aprosiana, Passatempo Autunnale di Cornelio Aspasio Antivigilmi, Trà Vagabondi di Tabbia detto l'Aggirato.... Manolessi for Giovanni Niccolò Cavanna, 1673.

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

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

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

The catalogue is interrupted at the letter 'c'; the continuation (up to the letter 'm') remained unpublished and is known only through an autograph manuscript that Aprosio had prepared for printing, preserved today at the University Library in Genoa.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

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

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

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