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Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321)

Le terze rime di Dante con sito, et forma de lo Inferno novamente in restampito [Venice, Gregorio de' Gregori, after August 1515]

€ 13.000
The first illustrated Aldine Dante counterfeited by a Venetian printer
Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321). Le terze rime di Dante con sito, et forma de lo Inferno novamente in restampito. [Venice, Gregorio de' Gregori, after August 1515]

8° (156x97 mm). Collation: [π]2, a-z8, A-H8. 248 of [250] leaves, wanting fols. H7 and H8 blanks, but including the blank l2, often lacking. Italic and roman type. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters, at the beginning of each cantica. One double-page woodcut depicting the Sito et forma della valle inferna (fols. H4v-H5r), two full-page woodcut diagrams showing the categories of sins punished in Hell (fols. H5v-H6r), and in Purgatory (fol. H6v). Seventeenth-century vellum, over pasteboards. Smooth spine, edges speckled pale blue, the head-edge darkened. A good copy, the first two leaves repaired to the gutter and re-mounted. The lower blank margin of some quires slightly waterstained. Small ink stain to the outer upper corner of the central quires, repairs to the corners of the leaves containing the woodcuts, without any loss.

Provenance: from the library of the Carmelite convent St. Teresa in Turin (early ownership inscription on the title-page, 'Ex libris Bibl. Carm. Discalceatorum Conventus Sanctae Teresiae Taurini'); the American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour (1883-1896; stamp on the upper margin of some leaves).

The rare, nearly contemporary counterfeit of the first Aldine Commedia to be illustrated, issued in August 1515, and intriguingly reflects – as evinced by the woodcut depiction of the Sito et forma della valle inferna – a historical vogue for measuring and mapping Hell.

The counterfeited volume appeared only a few months after the original Aldine edition. It was issued entirely anonymously, without date or printer's device; however, since Colomb de Batines, the printing has generally been attributed to Gregorio de' Gregori, the printer originating from Forlì who was active in Venice between 1480 and 1528, and who often worked in partnership with his brothers Giovanni and Bernardino Stagnino. The volume closely adheres to the text, layout, and illustrative apparatus of the Aldine Dante, except for the title printed on the first leaf, in which the original Dante col sito, et forma dell'inferno tratta dalla istessa descrittione del poeta is changed to Le terze rime di Dante con sito, et forma de lo Inferno novamente in restampito, recalling the title of the first Aldine Commedia printed in 1502. On fol. b4r, line 55 of Canto v of the Inferno is also incorrectly indented.

This counterfeit gives further, striking evidence of the success of the Aldine Commedia printed in the portable octavo size and set in italic type, despite the warning against unauthorized reprinting in the colophon of the Dante of 1502, or the privilege granted by the Venetian Senate. Even after Aldus' death in February 1515, the volumes produced by the printing press now run by his father-in-law, Andrea Torresano, maintained a certain level of charm and continued to be counterfeited by other printers.

STC Italian 209; Batines I, pp. 75-76; Mambelli 25; Martini, pp. 29-30; Koch 7; Sander 2322; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 61.