SPLENDID AND CURIOUS BOLOGNESE BINDING
Toscolano, Alessandro Paganini, 1522.
FIRST EDITION. 4to. 223 numbered ll., t-p and ff. 13-156 missing. Printed Italic letter, occasional Roman, double column. Decorated initials. Occasional slight marginal foxing or faint water stain, some inner margins secured, last leaf a bit browned. A fragmentary copy in excellent, contemporary northern Italian dark brown goatskin over bevelled wooden boards, lacking clasps, fine brass cornerpieces with embossed fleurs-de-lis, minor loss in places. Blind-tooled to a panel design, outer border with gilt interlacing curves, rosettes and leaves, second with blind-tooled strapwork and small fleurons, third with gilt interlacing ribbons, clover leaves, open floral and lotus tools, fourth with blind-tooled vine leaves and tendrils, centre panel with gilt arms of Anne, Duchess of Brittany, semis of gilt rosettes and six fleurs-de-lis. Spine in four compartments separated by gilt single rule, gilt fleuron to each, carefully rebacked and repaired at joints and outer clasps. Label and autograph of Thore Virgin to front pastedown and ep.
The handsome blind-tooled binding was made for a bookseller by the ‘primo legatore di S. Salvatore’ (fl. 1525-55) in Bologna c.1520s (Hobson and Quaquarelli, ‘Legature bolognesi’, 22), the same binder who produced de Marinis II, 1243A and 1243B. The masterful gold-tooling, inspired by the Roman style of the 1540s-50s (e.g., de Marinis I, 920, 930), is a later addition. It was made by Vittorio Villa, an accomplished C19 Italian binder from Bologna who faked many very fine ‘Apollo and Pegasus’ bindings by adding the famous plaque and gilt decoration to handsome C16 covers tooled in blind (Hobson and Quaquarelli, ‘Legature bolognesi’, 22). The clover leaf tool on this binding appears on some of his ‘Apollo and Pegasus’ fakes; the fleurs-de-lis and vine and tendrils tools on the covers and the fleurons on the spine match those on a C16 armorial binding to which he also added the arms of Francis I (‘An Unique Exhibition’, n.4; Hobson, ‘A Central Italian Bookseller’, 216). The central panel of this binding features the arms of Anne (1457-1514), Duchess of Brittany, married to Louis XII. As with those of Francis I, Villa copied Anne’s arms from the bindings of the French royal atelier, adding gilt fleurs-de-lis to each corner of the centre panel on top of four C16 blind-tooled vine leaves, traces of which remain visible underneath.
A rare edition, only Folger copy in the US.
Graesse II, 15. Not in BM STC It., Brunet or Adams. A. Hobson, ‘A Central Italian Bookseller and Bookbinder’, Gutenberg-Jahrbuch (2010), 215-19; Charles Scribner’s Sons, Partial List of an Unique Exhibition of Historical and Famous Bookbindings (New York, 1903), n. 4; A. Hobson and L. Quaquarelli, Legature bolognesi del Rinascimento (Bologna, 1998).