ADRICHEM, Christian van


Theatrum Terrae Sanctae et Biblicarum Historiarum.

Cologne, Mylius, Hermann (I.), 1628.


Folio. pp. (xii) 286 (xxviii). Roman letter, with Italic, 12 maps (double-page or fold-out). Attractive engraved architectural t-p with allegorical figures and biblical scenes; 7 fold-out and 5 double maps of Palestine and the allotments of the tribes of Israel; decorated initials and grotesque tailpieces. Light browning in places, intermittent light marginal oil stains, occasional spots, small paper flaw to blank section at p. 93, tiny marginal loss at p. 125, gutter of first fol. repaired. Maps generally in very good condition, occasional light spotting, slight marginal soiling or fraying with minor loss mainly at folds to 1, 8, 9 and 12, light browning to 6, 7, 8 and 11, slight offsetting to 4 and 5. A good, well-margined, very large copy in contemporary vellum over pasteboards, spine in five compartments, raised bands, contemporary inked lettering, early shelfmark label at foot, upper joint a bit loose. C17 pasted printed ex-libris ‘Ex Biblio. Miss. Sti Josephi Lugdun.’ and later red library stamp of Seminary Le Puy (Lyon) to t-p, autograph ‘Gaspar Gyrod em[ps]it sibi viginti francis. anno 1681. die 9 februarii’.


A good, lavishly illustrated and unusually complete copy, in fine impression, of this superb biblical atlas. Christian van Adrichem (or Adrichomius, 1533-85) was a Catholic theologian who was forced to flee from the Convent of St Barbara in Delft to Cologne to avoid Protestant persecutions. In addition to an historical account of the life of Christ, he published his very successful ‘Theatrum Terrae Sanctae et Biblicarum Historiarum’ (1590), of which this is the sixth edition. ‘Theatrum’ brought together theories dating back to medieval times and late antiquity—i.e., world history as sacred history; maps as texts where history and geography, time and space, coexist—as well as more recent disciplines like chorography, i.e., the illustrated study of the topography and history of specific regions. The first part provides a description of ancient Palestine and the antiquities of Jerusalem, with the visual guidance of handsome depictions of the Holy Land, the allotments of the tribes of Israel (with hundreds of cities) and a bird’s-eye-view plan of Jerusalem. The first and last of these maps are frequently missing in recorded copies but finely preserved in this one. Produced in 1584, the plan of Jerusalem is a magnificent scholarly reconstruction of the city at the time of Christ, which remained unrivalled in accuracy until the archaeological discoveries of the C19. It names walls, gates and buildings, also discussed in the text, and was also the first map to chart the location of the 14 Stations of the Cross. Inspired by ancient historiographic works like Eusebius’s ‘Chronicon’, the second part provides a chronology of world history shaped by the succession of empires and popes, from Adam to Rudolph II of Habsburg and Sixtus V. A masterpiece of Renaissance antiquarian culture.


Gaspar Gyrod was professor of theology at the Seminary of St Joseph in Lyon, where this copy was preserved.


BL STC Ger. C17, A165. Not in Brunet or Graesse. K. Nebenzahl, Maps of the Holy Land (New York, 1990).


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FRANCHI, Guglielmo


Šemeš lešon ha-qadoš, cioè Sole della lingua santa.

Bergamo, Comino Ventura, 1591.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xxiv) 415 (i), fold-out table. Italic letter, with Roman and Hebrew, occasional Greek. Printer’s device and architectural headpiece with caryatids to t-p, decorated initials and headpieces. Light age browning to first few ll. and intermittent light foxing, oil stain to upper outer corner of pp. 37-57, light water staining to last few gatherings, outer edges a bit dust-soiled, occasional thumb marks. A good, well-margined copy, untrimmed, in old carta rustica, casemark on spine, ex-libris ‘Biblioteca Cravenna’ and bookplate of Antonia Suardi Ponti to front pastedown. In slipcase.


A good, very well-margined copy of the first edition of the first Hebrew grammar in Italian. Guglielmo Franchi (1563-98) was a converted Jew and Vallombrosan monk. Reprinted in 1599 and 1603, Franchi’s work provided the first accessible introduction to Hebrew grammar which used the Italian vernacular as a linguistic reference point instead of Latin or even Hebrew. The Reformation had encouraged the development of a new systematic study of Hebrew among Christian scholars as a fundamental philological tool for biblical exegesis based on traditional knowledge derived from the ancient Masorah and Midrash. Franchi’s grammar was however addressed to the Jews of Italian communities, very few of whom were by then versed in Latin or could read or speak Hebrew. Whilst rabbis opposed the vernacular translation of ancient Hebrew texts for fear of misinterpretation, anti-Jewish polemicists—often converted Jews like Franchi—published their works in the vernacular to reach a broader audience. Franchi begins with the consonantic nature of Hebrew, its orthography and pronunciation, explaining in plain words how, for instance, the Daghès sounds like our ‘b’, but ‘when it has no dot inside’ it sounds like a ‘v’, or the Nghàin is pronounced ‘using the nose down to the end of the throat, almost as if one were choking’. He then moves on to the aspects and conjugations of verbs, declensions, methods to find the root of words and how accents may signify punctuation, concluding with notes on non-biblical Hebrew poetry and metrics. An uncommon edition of this ground-breaking work for Renaissance Hebrew studies in the vernacular, still recorded in the libraries of major C19 Italian intellectuals like the poet Giacomo Leopardi.


Only Hebrew Union College copy recorded in the US.

USTC 830767; BM STC It., p. 277; Fürst, Bibliotheca Judaica I, 287. Not in Brunet or Adams.



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ARIOSTO, Lodovico


Orlando furioso di Messer Lodovico Ariosto. (with) Cinque canti di un nuovo libro di M. Ludovico Ariosto.

Venice, in casa haer. Aldo I Manuzio, 1545.


FIRST EDITION of second part, and first Aldine edition of first. 4to. 2 works in one, ff. 247 (i) 28, separate t-ps. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Printer’s device to t-p and last of each. Light browning and marginal spotting to first t-p, small clean loss to blank lower outer corner, upper margins slightly short. An excellent, clean copy in splendid C19 green crushed morocco by Roger Storr, stunning floral silk brocade eps, loose silk bookmark. Gilt to a triple-ruled panel design, outer border with gilt dentelles, roll of lilies, and suns to corners, centre panel bordered with blind-tooled tendril and attractive gilt Aldine device, gilt floral roll to outer and gilt palmettes to inner edges, a.e.g. Spine triple gilt ruled in four compartments, roll of palmettes at head and foot, design with single rule squares to first and last, gilt lettering, raised bands gilt. Bookplate of Syston Park with arms and monogram of Sir John Hayford Thorold to front pastedown, bookplate of William Henry Smith to recto and ex-libris of Pierre Bergé to fly, label ‘Bound by R[oger] Storr Grantham’ to rear pastedown. The odd annotation in red crayon or black-brown ink.


The splendid binding was made by Roger Storr of Grantham for Sir John Hayford Thorold of Syston Park, Lincolnshire. Four similar bindings by Storr, dated post-1825, are recorded on Aldines bound for Sir John as nos. 50, 391 and 680 (352, 404, 420 and 941 unsigned) in the Ahmanson-Murphy collection.


Excellent copy of these scarce Aldine editions together comprising for the first time Ludovico Ariosto’s complete ‘Orlando furioso’. One of the greatest authors of the Italian Renaissance, Ariosto (1474-1533) studied law and classics at Ferrara before entering the service of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este and later of Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara. For his patrons, he fulfilled diplomatic and political functions, including emissary to Pope Julius II, whilst composing poems, comedies and satires mostly in the Italian vernacular. His masterpiece—‘Orlando furioso’—is a chivalric poem in ottava rima intended as a continuation of Matteo Maria Boiardo’s ‘Orlando innamorato’ (1483). In Ariosto’s poem, Orlando’s love for Angelica, as narrated by Boiardo, turns into ‘fury’; at her rejection, the paladin loses his mind and abandons the battlefield. The very complex plot interweaves narratives of the paladins’ war against the Turks, Angelica’s flight from the furious Orlando and their adventures, and the love story between the Christian Bradamante and the Saracen Ruggiero. ‘Orlando furioso’ became an instant classic and was extensively reprinted in Italy and France in the C16. The first 40 cantos were published in 1516; the final version in 46 followed in 1532, joined here by five further cantos. Animated by darker overtones, they narrate the destruction of Charlemagne’s army by the sorceress Alcina. Allegedly given to Aldus’s press by his son, Virginio, the ‘Cinque Canti’ appeared for the first time in this edition.


Only Pierpont Morgan, Colorado and UCLA copies recorded in the US.

Rénouard 133:13: ‘très bonne et l’une des plus rares parmi les éditions Aldines’; Brunet I, 433: ‘bonne et fort rare’; Gamba 54.  Not in BM STC It.


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Annotationes in Sophoclem et Euripidem

[Geneva, Henri II Estienne,] 1568.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xvi) 207 (i). Roman letter, with Italic and Greek. Printer’s device to t-p, floriated initials. Light age browning, t-p lightly thumbed, lower outer blank corner of third fol. torn, very faint water stain to lower gutter of a few gatherings, the odd thumb mark. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary dark brown English calf, C14 ms vellum strip on spine and front pastedown, double blind-ruled border, oval centrepiece gilt, interlacing ribbons, curvy tendrils, leaves and fleurons in contrasting blind, spine in five compartments, raised bands, gilt lettering, some loss at joints and lower edge of rear cover. C18 armorial bookplate of Beilby Thompson of Escrick to front pastedown, early autograph ‘Geo: Seignior’, casemark (?) ‘m/1’, monograms ‘GHS’ (Seignior’s?) and ‘SWF’, little annotations ‘2’ and ‘of’ (?) to t-p, contemporary autograph of William Harrington (?) and monogram ‘TG’ to eps, modern bookplate to rear pastedown. In box.

The exquisite binding bears the same centrepiece as fig. 3.37 in Nixon and Foot, ‘English Bookbinding Styles, 1450-1800’, produced in Cambridge in the 1570s. An early owner of this copy was George Seignior (d. 1678), reverend, classical scholar and fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, to which he donated part of his books in 1676.

Very good, well-margined copy of the FIRST and ONLY EDITION of Henri Estienne’s commentary on the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. Estienne (1528/31-98) was a French printer—the eldest son of Robert—and scholar of Greek and Latin. After being entrusted with his father’s presses in 1559, he published numerous new or revised Latin translations of Greek authors like Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle and Aeschylus, as well as editions of the Greek New Testament. This commentary was intended, as shown by cross-references, as a companion volume to his editions of Sophocles and Euripides’s tragedies of the same year. It begins with a learned ‘tractatus’ on Greek orthography discussing the use and printed reproduction of diacritics like accents and breathings, and word alterations like crasis and elision. In the ‘annotationes’, Estienne makes continuous references to the codex tradition and editions like those of Rancoretus and Turnebus, seeking to redress major ‘lectiones depravatae’—mistranscriptions and philological misinterpretations—made by his predecessors. He also provides sophisticated brief studies of Sophocles’s lexicon and Euripides’s appropriation of Homer’s poetics. A nicely bound and finely printed jewel of classical scholarship.  

Beilby Thompson (1742-99) of Escrick, Yorkshire, was a British landowner and politician.

Rénouard 131:4; Brunet II, 1082; mentioned in Dibdin II, 411.


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VAIRO, Leonardo


De fascino libri tres.

Venice, Aldus, 1589.


8vo. pp. (xvi) 375 (xlv). Italic letter, with Roman. Aldine device to t-p, floriated and decorated initials, grotesque headpieces. T-p slightly dusty, original edges untrimmed, slight browning or marginal foxing to a couple of ll. A very good, large, clean copy in early C19 probably French blue straight-grain morocco, gilt ruled to a panel design, outer border with blind-tooled rolls of floral tendrils and ropework, gilt cornerpieces to centre panel with feathery curls, gilt rosette within a circle, and pointillé lunettes in blind outlining corners, gilt Greek-key decoration to inner edges, gilt pointillé to outer corners, and additional vellum eps. Bookplate of Frédéric and Anne Max to front pastedown.


A very good copy, with edges uncut in an elegant binding, of this remarkable work on witchcraft by Leonardo Vairo (1523-1603), a Benedictine monk and bishop of Pozzuoli. This is the second edition, originally published in Latin and French in 1583, and the first Aldine. It is entirely devoted to ‘fascinum’ (‘fascination’ or ‘charm’), a ‘pernicious quality summoned through intense imagination, sight, touch, voice, together or separately, as well as the observation of the sky, or inflicted through hate or love’. With the help of authorities like Aristoteles, Plutarch and Heliodorus, Vairo addresses the nature of fascination caused by external action (moral) or inherent qualities (natural). The work seeks to set apart the natural from the supernatural whilst discussing subjects like monstrous births, werewolves, the sabbath, the nature of daemonic powers, basilisks, the faculty of divination pertaining to some animals, supernatural prophecy and daemonic possession which may more frequently affect melancholic people. ‘De fascino’ was still mentioned in C18 theological debates on witchcraft and the supernatural. The edition concludes with a priced catalogue of the ‘libri di stampa d’Aldo’ available for purchase in 1589.


BM STC It., p. 706; Brunet V, 1029; Caillet, 10964: ‘Traité fort rare’; Rénouard 242:8.


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D. Basilii Magni…Omnia sive Recens Versa.

Basle, ex officina Hervagiana, 1540.

Price on request

FIRST EDITION. Folio. Two works in one, (xl) 581 (i) + 438. Roman letter, occasional Greek. Printer’s device to t-p and last, decorated initials. Light age yellowing to a few ll., slight foxing, centre of t-p expertly restored, blank except for printer’s device, probably either supplied or in facsimile. An excellent copy, crisp, clean and wide-margined, in contemporary (possibly Swiss) polished calf, lacking clasps, fore-edge painted in black-brown ink with author and title within fine architectural cartouche with foliage and masques. Richly blind-tooled to a double-ruled panel design, first border with two rolls of urns and fleurons, second and third with phoenixes, interlacing cranes and male heads in roundels, central panel with stamped mosaic-style mozarabic corner and centre pieces. Spine in six compartments, raised bands, later repairs to head and foot. Early red ‘P’ stamp and casemark to upper margin of t-p, a few early marginalia and small drawings.

The handsome binding with phoenixes and interlaced cranes, the detail of which remains very crisp, reprises early C16 exemplars produced in Lyon (e.g., BL, C66g11). They were based on a t-p produced by the Flemish artist Guillaume II Leroy for the Lyonnaise printer-bookseller Simon Vincent. As proved by a copy of Paulus Venetus’s ‘Summa philosophiae naturalis’ (Lyon, Antoine Du Ry for Simon Vincent, 1525)—present in our web catalogue— where the t-p and matching binding appear together, the latter was probably Vincent’s ‘marque de libraire’. In 1561, Antoine II Vincent (1500-68), one of Simon’s grandsons, was entrusted with the establishment of a branch of the press-bookselling business in Basle. Seen the peculiarity of this binding design, it was probably still in use in Antoine II’s shop. The mozarabic corner and centrepieces were probably added; they resemble the binding on BL, Add. MS 28751, produced in Spain in the C16.

The fine painted fore-edge with foliage and masques follows the mid-C16 fashion in Switzerland, where this kind of decoration lingered longer than in the rest of Europe (e.g., Davis II, 224, 225, 226).

Excellent, clean copy of the first edition of St Basil’s complete works, edited by the Reformed humanist Wolfgang Musculus, professor of theology at Bern. Basil the Great (d. 379AD), Bishop of Caesarea, was one of the most influential Byzantine Church Fathers, admired for his theological arguments against heresy, his preaching and exegetic skills, theorisation of communal monasticism and ideas on the value of classical education. The ‘Omnia sive Recens Versa’ opens with his key works against heresy, with particular attention to the confutation of Arian theories on the differentiation of the nature of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit. His sermons on psalms, capital sins, drunkenness, luxury and the lives of the early martyrs illuminate his moral exegesis and desire to provide practical guidance for good Christian life. The homily on the usefulness of the study of ‘gentile authors’ like Homer and Hesiod was a landmark in the debates of late antiquity and the early middle ages concerning the spiritual value of classical readings for the education of Christian youth. The last part of the volume is devoted to his numerous works on monasticism and asceticism, with admonitions on the regulations and sacrifices required by communal and solitary life. To this revised edition, based on Erasmus’s Greek editio princeps of 1532, Musculus added a long table of ‘loci communes’ listing key theological and exegetic ‘commonplaces’ for meditative reading and textual interpretation—e.g., ‘the devil’s ways to lure the wealthy’, ‘those who sin by ignorance do not go unpunished’ and ‘the solitude of the soul curbs passions’. For their profound appeal to an all-embracing spirituality and Christian morality, St Basil’s works played a fundamental part in post-Reformation theological controversy.

Only Harvard and Washington copies recorded in the US.

USTC 679608; BM STC Ger., p. 69; Graesse I, 306. Not in Dibdin.


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CALEPINO, Ambrosius



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).


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Collectorum medicinalium libri XVII.

Paris, apud Bernardinu Turrisanum…sub officina Aldina, 1555.


8vo. ff. 332. Roman letter, occasional Italic, little Greek. Printer’s device to t-p, decorated initial and headpiece. T-p and first a bit dusty with minor loss to fore-edge, faint water stain to upper margin of first gathering, the odd ink spot, upper margin of last leaf a bit dust-soiled. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary polished vellum, yapp edges, fragments of C14 ms to rear pastedown, rear joint a bit loose but sound. Bookplate of Milltown Park Library SJ and ex-libris Soc. Iesu Prov. Hib. to front pastedown.

Very good, well-margined copy of the Latin translation of Oribasius’s fundamental Greek work on medicine by Giovanni Battista Rasario, professor at Pavia and Padua, renowned physician and translator of medical texts. After studying at Alexandria, Oribasius (320-403) was appointed physician to the Emperor Julian the Apostate. At Court, he compiled excerpts from Galen’s work and the ‘Collectiones medicae’ in 70 books, 17 of which appear in Rasario’s translation. ‘Collectiones’ is a monumental compendium of ancient medical authorities—e.g., Archigenes, Agathinus, Philotimus, Possidonius and Xenocrates—whose wisdom would have been otherwise lost forever. The work encompasses the composition and physical effects of specific foods (e.g., polenta, figs, palm dates and lentils), vegetables and herbs (e.g., nettles, asparagus, edible and poisonous mushrooms), meat and fish (e.g., sheep, ostrich and whale); treatments for sundry conditions (e.g., a long study of the benefits and administration of clysters); sleep and physical exercise, including sexual intercourse; bodily functions like the expulsion of faeces or menstrual blood; healing baths; ointments; and an index with hundreds of herbs and stones, their appearance, diffusion and benefits. ‘Collectiones’ famously features the first mention of a string figure used to create a solid knot to recompose dislocated or broken bones.

BM STC Fr., p. 330; Brunet IV, 226; Wellcome I, 4647; Durling 3406; Bernoni 414; Rénouard 292:2. Not in Garrison and Morton.


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BEMBO, Pietro


Rime di Pietro Bembo.

Venice, per Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio & fratres, 1530.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. 54 unnumbered, A-D8 F10 A-C4, first and last blank. Italic letter, occasional Roman. Slight age browning and marginal foxing in places, light oil stain to first couple of gatherings, occasional thumb marks. A very good, well-margined copy, on thick paper, in C18 crimson morocco, gilt double-ruled border with dots and palmettes, gilt arms of Doge Marco Foscarini to covers, roll of palmettes to edges, comb-marbled pastedowns, a.e.g. Spine double gilt ruled in six compartments, roll of fronds, cornerpieces and acorn tool to each, raised bands, a couple of minor cracks to joints, expert repair to upper outer corner of front cover, and joint of lower at head and foot. The odd early annotation. In folding box.

The very handsome binding was produced for the bibliophile Marco Foscarini (1696-1763), a poet and diplomat who served as 117th Doge of Venice between 1762 and 1763, when his office was cut short by illness and death. It is an almost exact match with BL C47d10, probably made in Rome where Foscarini was ambassador for Venice between 1736 and 1740 (‘BL Bookbindings Database’).

Very good copy of the first edition of Pietro Bembo’s ‘Rime’. Born in Venice, Bembo (1470-1547) was a scholar, poet, critic and later cardinal. After his studies at Messina and Padua, he travelled extensively in Italy; his love for the Tuscan vernacular, which he considered the perfect language for Italian literature, developed during a stay in Florence. In 1525, he published ‘Le prose della volgar lingua’, a ground-breaking work of philology and literary criticism celebrating the cultural value of the vernacular versus Latin and electing Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio—masters of the Tuscan vernacular whose works he also edited—as the highest models for Italian poets. Bembo followed his own advice in ‘Rime’, a collection featuring sonnets and longer poems. A jewel of Renaissance literature, ‘Rime’ pays tributes to the ‘Three Crowns’, especially celebrating the half-angelic/half-earthly ‘gentile’ lady of Dante’s ‘dolce stil novo’, who gives ‘vigour’ to the flowers around her, as well as Petrarch’s fleeting muse Laura, whose look can make the poet feel ‘burning and tied’ and experience ‘joy mixed with torment’. The light-hearted stanzas at the end of the work, focusing on love and its effects, were originally composed to be read at a masquerade organized by the Duchess of Urbino. This first edition of the ‘Rime’ includes the introductory letter to Ottaviano Fregoso dropped from later ones.

BM STC It., p. 81; Graesse I, 332; Gamba 141 (only mentioned): ‘prima rara ristampa’. Not in Brunet.


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Petrarca, Francesco.

Il Petrarcha con l’espositione d’Alessandro Vellutello

Venice, appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari, 1547


4to. ff. [viii], 215, [i]. [*⁸, A-2D⁸.] lacking quire S and T1, the Babylonian sonnets, censored as often, text in Italic, commentary in Roman. Fine woodcut architectural title with Giolito’s phoenix device, portraits of Laura and Petrarch on a woodcut funerary urn surmounted by the Giolito phoenix, full page map of the Vaucluse, six woodcuts in the Trionfi, fine historiated initials, woodcut ornaments, Giolito’s woodcut device on recto of last, bookplate of Maurice Burrus on pastedown. Light age yellowing, offsetting and slight smudging to the text at the beginning and towards the end, perhaps partly washed. In a magnificent contemporary Bolognese red morocco binding, covers double gilt ruled in an highly intricate interlaced strap-work border around a central panel with a diapered strap-work design, semé of small tools within borders, four large rose tool to central panels, “Il Petrarcha” gilt lettered at centre of upper cover, cupid device with crossed arrows on lower cover, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, large fleurons gilt in compartments, all edges richly gilt and gauffered to a geometric design, head and tail of spine very expertly restored, end leaves renewed.

In many ways the epitome of the Italian Renaissance book; the poetry of Petrarch in a magnificent Bolognese Renaissance binding, beautifully printed with fine woodcut illustration and decoration. The stunning contemporary morocco binding is undoubtedly made by the same binder who made bindings for Nicolas von Ebeleben and his cousin Damian Pflug. De Marinis illustrates two examples, one (Marinis 1372, illustration A17) a three volume set of Pietro Aretino’s letters, bound for Ebeleben, which uses identical tools in a very similar design, and has very similar geometric gauffering of the gilt edges. The second is De Marinis 1368 illustrated on plate CCXXXIII that also has identical tools, and a similar but more simple strap-work design, that belonged to Cardinal del Monte. This binding however is more densely and richly worked than either of those two bindings; the cupid device and the choice of Petrarch’s love poetry perhaps suggest that it was given as a wedding gift. For further information on a similar Bolognese binding made for Ebeleben held at the Landesbibliothek Stuttgart see Isabelle Reichherzer ‘Die Erschließung ausgewählter Einbände aus der „Einbandsammlung“ der Württembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart.

One of a hugely popular series of Petrarca editions with the commentary by Vellutello on the Italian works of the great author. This is an almost identical reprint of the first edition printed entirely by Giolito with Vellutello’s commentary printed in 1544. When Vellutello undertook to prepare a new commentary on the Italian Poems of Petrarch he decided to write, as prefatory material, a new life of Petrarch and an essay on the dwelling place and identity of Laura and the place their love story occurred. He visited Avignon twice and explored the surrounding region. His commentary was first published in a quarto Canzoniere printed in Venice by Sabbio in 1525. The results of Vellutello’s topographical investigations appear chiefly in a full-page pictorial map of Vaucluse and the surrounding region, the map in this edition is a copy of the double-page woodcut map of the 1525 Da Sabbio, which, being the pride of Vellutello’s heart was placed immediately after the table of contents. The site of ‘Valclusa’ [i.e. Vaucluse], the lovely town of Provence, not far from Avignon, is where Petrarca, sitting by the spring of the river Sorgue, wrote his famous ‘Chiare, e fresche e dolci acque’. The work is divided by Vellutello into three parts. His commentary and ordering of the text differ sharply from that of the Bembo-Aldine edition. “As Vellutello’s misgivings about the ordering of the Aldine-Bembo production grew, so did the animosity of those in Bembo’s circle who found Velutello’s rearrangement less authoritative. One can trace Vellutello’s disaffection with Bembo and Aldus in the prefaces to the second and third edition of his Petrarch commentary. Whereas Vellutello had acknowledged Bembo’s authority in the first edition of his Petrarch commentary, by the third edition (1532) Bembo has been edited from the preface altogether. Although Vellutello’s reordering of the Canzoniere is largely seen as a misguided enterprise today, it represented a significant intervention in the Renaissance. By 1568 Vellutello’s Petrarch commentary had been republished twenty two times.”. His commentary was hugely influential not least on English authors, including Shakespeare; see “Commentary into Narrative: Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Vellutello’s commentary on Petrarch.” William J. Kennedy. Shelley describes Petrarch’s verse perfectly as “spells which unseal the inmost enchanted fountains of the delight which is the grief of love”.

The “Babylonian Sonnets”, critical of the decadence of the Papal Courts at Avignon and Rome (entitled “Flames from Heaven”, “Greedy Babylon”, and “Font of Sorrow”) were placed on the index of books banned by Pope Clement VIII in 1595. These poems were ordered to be erased in all prior editions of Petrarch’s Canzoniere. This self censorship often took various forms. In some copies they were pasted over or entirely erased, or even torn out. In this copy the entire quire in which they occurred has been removed,doubtless prior to presentation to Clement VIII.

A masterpiece of Italian Renaissance binding.

BM STC It. C16th p. 504. Adams P 813. Bongi Giolito I p. 200. Brunet IV p. 548.


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