Evangelisch prognostic.

Munich, Adam Berg, 1589.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. 4to. ff. 8. Gothic letter. Woodcut of a man holding an almanac with his family. First and last a bit dusty, minor repair to margins and gutter of a couple of ll., small tear with no loss to gutter of third and outer margin of last, second gathering lightly browned with faint dampstaining. A very good copy in C19 floral paper over pasteboards.

A remarkably clean copy of this German astrological almanac—a rare survival of C16 ephemera. A former Lutheran preacher, Lorenz Albrecht (1540-1606) was the author of German and Latin religious works and re-converted to the Catholic faith in 1567. ‘Evangelisch Prognosticon’ testifies to his disillusionment with the Protestant Reformation—‘the Gospel of Luther’—and his intent to oppose this heresy through the popular genre of the almanac, imitating Johannes Nas’s ‘Practica Practicarum’. As usual in astrological almanacs, it discusses planets, constellations, zodiacal signs and the seasons and their influx on humans with references to ancient authorities like Pliny and Manilius; but the tone is grim and planets are seen as harbingers of vices. The ominous statement by which the seat of the devil is at the centre of the earth and heresy is at the centre of the universe shows how Albrecht’s almanac presented the influence of the cosmos as something that Catholics should resist through will and spiritual exercise so as not to succumb to the Protestant heresy.

 Only Concordia Seminary Library copy recorded in the US.

USTC 349262; VD16 A1594. Not in Cantamessa or Houzeau-Lancaster. R.B. Barnes, Astrology and Reformation (Oxford, 2016).


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[Alcalá de Henares, Juan de Brocar, 1546.]


FIRST EDITION. 4to. Three works in one, ff. (xii) 69 (i) (xiv) 80, 53 (i). Large Gothic letter. Red and black titlepage to each, acanthus leaf border, red and black fleurons at foot; attractive printer’s device to last of each; decorated initials. Light age browning, a little foxing, a couple of minor marginal tears, A12 (blank) and lower outer blank corner of one leaf torn, small stain and minor fraying to lower margin of last gathering. A good, well-margined copy in early limp vellum, yapp edges, traces of ties, early inked lettering and painted red library mark (?) on spine, minor loss, spine somewhat loose but sound, rear eps from later theological work. Early inscriptions ‘m n III al m muy mado(?)’ and one illegible to t-p margins and monogram ‘AC’ to blank sections of t-p, marca de fuego ‘GA’ (Convento de san Pedro de Alcántara, Guanajuato, Mexico) to upper fore-edge.

A good, well-margined copy of this scarce first edition of Francisco Cervantes de Salazar’s works. Cervantes (1514?-75) was a humanist from Toledo who studied at the University of Salamanca and was acquainted with scholars like Juan Luis Vives. In 1550 he moved to Mexico where he wrote on its local geography and history and taught at the newly-founded university. This edition features his Spanish translations with commentaries on three works concerned with the epistemology of ethics and morality seen through the lens of Christian humanism. Cervantes added glosses to the first two texts. Luis Mejia’s ‘Apólogo de la ociosidad y el trabajo’—a moralised narrative—uses the Sybarites, inhabitants of an ancient Greek town famously prone to luxury and pleasure, as the basis for a discussion of idleness versus work in the life of social communities. Of Stoic inspiration, Vives’s ‘Introducción y camino de la sabiuduría’ presents wisdom as judgement which leads to virtuous choices. Cervantes edited and completed Pérez de Oliva’s ‘Diálogo de la dignidad del hombre’, a study of the relationship between rational understanding and human passions. It is dedicated to Hernan Cortes, praised as a model of prudence, liberality and humanity during his conquest of the New World. The works have separate pagination and t-ps, each of which lists all three parts beginning with the work it is prefacing; the parts may be found bound in different order.

The provenance of this copy can be traced to the Convento de san Pedro de Alcántara, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Only Dartmouth and Indiana at Bloomington complete copies recorded in the US. NYPL contains part 1 only, Harvard lacks final printer’s letter to the reader.

USTC 335632; BM STC Sp., p. 51; Brunet I, 1746; Palau 54065; Palau y Dulcet (2nd ed.) 3:471; Sabin 75567; Alden 546/8: ‘Author’s dedication to Hernan Cortés includes references to latter’s exploits in the New World’.


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LICETI, Fortunio


Hieroglyphica sive antiqua schemata gemmarum anularium.

Padua, Sebastiano Sardo, 1653.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. Folio. pp. (xx) 440 (xx). Roman letter, little Italic. Engraved vignette to t-p, engraved author’s portrait to ∫4, 65 c.½-page engravings of emblematic gemstone signets, decorated initials and tailpieces. Occasional light age browning, minimal marginal foxing, small tear with no loss at gutter of p. 397, touching one letter. A very good copy, on thick paper, in roughly contemporary vellum, yapp edges, morocco label, all edges green.

Very good copy of the FIRST and ONLY EDITION of this handsomely illustrated work on the emblematics of ancient gemstone signets. Born and raised in Rapallo, Fortunio Liceto (1577-1657) was a philosopher, physician and natural scientist who taught at Bologna, Pisa and Padua. His wide-ranging writings influenced by Aristotelianism include works on the movement of comets, teratology and the soul of animals. ‘Hieroglyphica’ was an excursion into the world of antiquarianism—a study of the iconography of ancient sculpted ‘gemmae anulariae’ (gemstones on signet rings). Traced back to the Egyptians, such gemstone emblems—e.g., three Cupids, a girl kidnapped by a Triton, a crow, Roman quadrigae, a skull with a moth—were popular in classical antiquity; moral and philosophical messages were communicated through their iconography, beautifully portrayed and learnedly explained by Licetus with the help of classical sources, the humanist methodology of numismatics, and the assistance of fellow scholars. For instance, the ‘Smithia gemma’, which represents a cross on a hill flanked by two fish, came from the collection of the famous Dutch antiquarian Johannes Smetius. The scholar Nicolaus Heynsius, who sent it to Liceti from Leiden in 1651, confirmed it to be a very precious relic of early Christianity, which Liceti read as a mystical representation of the apostles as ‘fishers of men’ who preached about the crucified Christ. An incredibly erudite and handsomely produced work of antiquarian scholarship.

BL STC It. C17, p. 487; Brunet III, 1069; Landwehr, French, Italian … Books of Devices and Emblems, 486.


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Diversorum veterum poetarum in Priapum lusus.

Venice, in aedibus haer. Aldo I Manuzio & haer. Andrea I Torresano, 1534.


8vo. ff. 79 (i). Italic letter, little Roman. Printer’s device to t-p and last. Marginal foxing to a couple of ll., paper flaw to lower outer blank corner of fol. 12, verso of last a little bit soiled. A fine, clean copy in slightly later polished calf, single gilt ruled border, gilt acorns to corners, outer and inner edges with rolls of fronds and fleurons, a.e.g. Rebacked, spine with large gilt fleurons, some minor repair to extremities. Bookseller’s label and printed ex-libris to front pastedown, earlier shelfmark ‘7 B 22’ to fep.

A fine, clean copy of a famous collection of pseudo-Virgilian poems followed by ‘argumenta’ (or short verse commentaries), first printed by Aldus in 1517. Believed in antiquity to be the work of young Virgil and later attributed to a circle of poets from the first century AD, these compositions included the racy ‘Priapeia’, the ‘Appendix Virgiliana’ and ‘Aetna’. The ‘Priapeia’ was a florilegium of 95 compositions dedicated to the god of fertility Priapus. It featured bespoke verse and alleged epigraphs found on votive statues for the ‘Rigid God’, which allowed readers to peep through the secret prayers and offers of worshippers—including young women praying for their husband’s virility and toothless matrons ‘older than Hector’s mother’. Within the ‘Appendix Virgiliana’ were some of the most unconventional poems of late Latinitas, like ‘Culex’—a shepherd’s dream of a gnat he had killed who tells him about the underworld—and ‘Moretum’, which narrates a poor man’s preparation of his meal. ‘Aetna’ was devoted to the namesake Sicilian volcano, with scientific observations, vivid descriptions and anecdotal digressions.

Rénouard 110:1; Brunet II, 772; Bernoni 310:328; Gay III, 848; BM STC It., p. 539.


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MENGHI, Girolamo

Flagellum daemonum exorcismos terribiles, potentissimos, et efficaces… [with] Fustis daemonum, adiurationes formidabiles, potentissimas, et efficaces in malignos spiritus fugandos de oppressis corporibus humanis.

Venice, ad signum Charitatis, 1587.


4to (in eights). 2 vols. in one. pp. [xii], 172, [iv] ; pp. [xii], 160. (a6, A-L8. ; ✝6, A-K8.). Roman letter. First title in red and black, woodcut printers device representing Charity on both titles, large historiated woodcut initials, woodcut ornaments, head and tailpieces, early ex-libris with shelf mark crossed out on blank portion of first t-p, library stamp (smudged) beneath. Light age yellowing. Very good copies, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, a little soiled and creased, remains of ties, early ink casemark on spine.

Excellent editions of two of the most important and influential works on exorcism of the sixteenth century by the most authoritative exorcist of Renaissance Italy, the Franciscan, Girolamo Menghi. Both these works were later included in the authoritative collection on exorcisms the ‘Thesaurus exorcismorum’. Menghi was born in Viadana in the province of Mantua. At the age of 20 he joined the Fransciscan order, rising to the level of provincial superior in 1598. A theologian and exorcist, he practised in Bologna, and was known as ‘the father of the exorcists’ art’. His best known work, ‘Flagellum Daemonum’ was translated into Italian and published in 1576, as ‘Compendio dell’arte essorcisica’ so it would reach the widest audience possible.

“Girolamo Menghi’s Flagellum Daemonum (the Devil’s Scourge), (was) originally published in Venice in 1576. This was a collection of seven rites of exorcism with detailed instructions on the preparation of the priest and the victim and what sorts of gestures or paraphernalia the priest should employ. No magic wands are mentioned, but the priest could make the Sign of the Cross with great frequency and drape the victim with his stole. He could use his book of exorcism, holy water, fire, or images of the devil. Various herbs or minerals burnt in smudges could help drive out the devil. Various sacramentals had to be specially blest – in essence, purified to make sure they had no diabolic residue – and there are rites of blessing given in this manual as well” Jane Davidson, ‘Early Modern Supernatural: The Dark Side of European Culture, 1400-1700.’

Girolamo Menghi prefaces the Flagellum with a vehement defence of exorcism. Dedicating the work to Cardian Gabriele Paleotto, Menghi advocates a much more aggressive promotion and publication of books of exorcisms. He states it is impossible to extirpate this plague unless the art of performing exorcisms is fully known and appreciated throughout the Catholic world.

“Worried about the perceived chaos that characterized exorcismal activities in Italy and the unorthodox practices employed by many exorcists, Menghi set himself the goal of compiling all of the existing authorized rituals into a manual for the use of parish exorcists. His books instruct exorcists on how to diagnose a genuine diabolic possession, how to confront the demons, and how to cast out evil spirits, and they contain numerous exorcismal liturgies. This concrete and practical approach was due partly to the events of the recent past. A certain ‘aegritudo’, a mysterious and deadly infection, was threatening innumerable victims, Menghi stated… [he] also intended to prove that demons possessed human beings and animals, and .. argued that ‘medicina celeste,’ as it was practised by ecclesiastical exorcists, was the only appropriate means to overcome diabolic power” Moshe Sluhovsky. Menghi was well acquainted with demoniacal literature; the authors he quotes range from Avicenna to Michael Psellus, from Lull to Sprenger. Despite his contemporary fame his works were placed on the index of forbidden books by the Sant’Uffizio in the C18th. “Girolamo Menghi articulated a philosophy of evil that reflected the social and religious culture of his time. …. He tried to arrange devils according to their function, spheres of action and bad habits – just as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite had arranged angels in his ‘Celestial Hierarchy’”. Gaetano Paxia. Very good copies of these rare and influential works.

BM STC IT C16th. p. 434. Caillet 7378. “Curieux recueils d’exorcismes tardivement mis a l’index en 1709.” Thorndike VI pp. 555-8.


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IVO, Episcopus Carnotensis


Liber decretorum, sive Panormia.

[Basel]: Michael Furter, 6 & 7 Mar. 1499.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv) 178. Gothic letter. Verso of t-p with fine full-page woodcut of Bishop Ivo within an elaborately framed arch in the Gothic style with figures of apostles and saints; woodcut printer’s device with shields and dragons to last; white on black decorated initials. T-p recto a little soiled, scattered worming affecting woodcut and some letters, light marginal waterstaining or slight foxing in places, couple of ll. slightly browned. A remarkably well-preserved, clean copy, on thick, high-quality paper, in contemporary quarter pigskin over wooden boards, lacking clasp, paper waste with printed German astrological text to rear pastedown, double blind ruled to a panel design, large rosettes in blind, raised bands, little worming. Erased inscription ‘F[rati] Bertholdi Lindmani s[um] coenobij Paderborn[ensis] anno 1500’ to front pastedown, ex-libris of Monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg and inscription ‘Hu[n]c lib[rum] dono accepi à v[ener]ando D[omino] Bertholdo Lindmano [illegible] Obersandj an 1552 die 26 octobr[is] [illegible]’ at foot of t-p.

In 1500 this copy was in the library of Berthold Lindman, then probably a monk in one of the monasteries at Paderborn, Westphalia. His name is absent from major German national biographies and the provenance index of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. In 1552, Lindman gave this copy to a new owner whose autograph is illegible; towards the end of the C16 it was at the monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, the ex-libris of which appears on the t-p in a later hand.

A remarkably well-preserved, clean copy of the first edition of this extremely influential work on canon law—the first printed legal collection before Gratian’s ‘Edict’ (Rolker, ‘Canon Law’, 31). Ivo (later St Ivo, c.1040-1115) was bishop of Chartres and a major canon law scholar. He had ties with key centres in medieval Europe: the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, where he probably met St Anselm of Canterbury, the Abbey of St Quentin at Beauvais and, as bishop, Chartres. In 1499, ‘Panormia’—his major scholarly effort —was printed for the first time. It was edited by Sebastian Brant, a doctor ‘in utroque’ (civic and canon law) best remembered for his influential, magnificently illustrated satire ‘Das Narrenschiff’ (‘Ship of Fools’, 1494). Brant first identified the ‘Panormia’ with the ‘summa decretorum Ivonis’ mentioned in Vincent of Beauvais’s ‘Speculum historiale’; the ‘Speculum’, however, also mentioned a ‘liber decretorum’ referring to a larger epitome, hence the ambivalent title of this edition. In the prologue, Ivo explained he had gathered in a single corpus norms coming from ecclesiastical exceptions, papal decrees, episcopal concilia, works by the Church Fathers and the regulations of religious institutions and orders. Greatly influenced by the works of St Augustine and St Paul rather than those of his contemporaries, Ivo’s theological stance focused on the view of ‘caritas’ as ‘magistra boni’ (teacher of the good); justices should induce contrition in the guilty by exercising their ‘caritas’ rather than resorting directly to severe punishment. In the first section, ‘Panormia’ addressed the difference between the procedures of admonition (an initial reproach with no immediate legal consequences but which stayed on record), indulgence, prohibition, dispensation or remission, addressing discrepancies between sources. The second part presented summaries of major theological points (e.g., Christ’s nativity) to be used as guidelines in arguments against heretics, as well as regulations on ecclesiastical matters (e.g., the election of the Pope), crimes (e.g., homicide perpetrated by a cleric and when homicide is or is not a sin) and canon law questions concerning lay people (e.g., what should be done when a husband is impotent or if he beats his pregnant wife). As the ex-libris on this copy shows, this work became indispensable reference material for religious houses, like the monastery of St Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, and for religious and laymen.

ISTC ii00223000; Goff I223; Bod-inc I-050; BMC III 785; BSB-Ink I-698; GW M15936. C. Rolker, Canon Law and the Letters of Ivo of Chartres (Cambridge, 2009).


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STRAPAROLA, Gianfrancesco


Le tredici piaceuolissime notti.

Venice, appresso Zanetto Zanetti, 1608.


8vo. ff. 309 (vi), missing final blank. Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut cartouche to t-p, 58 woodcut scenes from Straparola’s stories, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. T-p a bit dusty, light stain to some upper edges and a few to lower, one leaf a bit browned, small tear to blank margin of fol. 57 touching running title, larger repair to outer margin of fol. 233 touching one letter. A good copy in reused early vellum over pasteboards, yapp edges, recased. Early casemark (?) ‘G. 203’ to t-p.

Scarce, beautifully illustrated edition of this incredibly successful, influential and entertaining florilegium of novellae, first published in 1551 in the wake of Giacomo Morlini’s collection of 1520. Very little is known of Gianfrancesco Straparola (1480-1557), except that, in half a century, his literary talent led to the publication of over 20 editions or reprints of ‘Piacevolissime notti’ in Italian and French. As in Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’, the stories are presented as the pastime of a group of aristocrats who have gathered in the Venetian island of Murano for leisure, during ‘thirteen pleasant nights’. The stories are illustrated with fine woodcuts and follow accidents typical of traditional fairy and folk tales. They often narrate the difficulties of protagonists who are poor or unfortunate and eventually rise to become rich and powerful, as in the story of Costantino Fortunato, impoverished by his brothers but assisted by his magical female cat—the seed of Perrault’s ‘Puss in Boots’. Plotline themes like the subdivision of inheritance between siblings, the wrongdoings of stepmothers against their stepdaughters, the assistance of talking animals, unpleasant pranks which lead to undeserved prison and the consequences of lies provided the basic structure by which Straparola reinvented and brought to print the oral heritage of European folklore. His stories influenced authors of the likes of Shakespeare (Gillespie, ‘Shakespeare’s Books’, 474) and provided fresh material for innovative theatre practitioners like Robert Armin—the famous ‘clown’ and ‘fool’ of Shakespeare’s Jacobean plays—who published the English adaptation of one of Straparola’s ‘thirteen pleasant’ stories in 1609.

Only Princeton, Mississippi State and UCB copies recorded in the US.

BL STC It. C17, p. 881; Brunet V, 260 (mentioned). Not in Gamba.


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Libro de los secretos de agricultura.

Zaragoza, Pascual Bueno, [1625].


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. (viii) 512 (A3-4 misplaced before C1), 1 large fold-out plate. Roman letter. T-p with typographic border and woodcut vignette of Saturn surrounded by Gemini, Aries and four dragons, 18 ¼- or ½-page woodcuts of schemas, agricultural activities, animals and buildings, 1 fold-out woodcut plate with ‘perpetual wheel’ identifying fertile seasons, decorated initials and headpieces. T-p dusty with scattered light damp spots, slight age browning, small marginal oil splashes to one gathering, repair to blank lower outer corner of 5 ll. and small section of fold-out plate at gutter. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties, library stamp of Rothamsted Experimental Station to front pastedown, illegible early inscription to lower blank margin of t-p, the odd annotation.

A good copy of the FIRST EDITION of the first Castilian translation of this extremely popular agricultural manual. Miguel Augustín (or Miquel Agustí, 1560?-1630) was prior of the order of St John of Jerusalem in Perpignan and a renowned agronomist. Originally written in Catalan, the ‘Libro de los secretos’—informally known as ‘El llibre del prior’ or ‘El prior’—was first published in Barcelona in 1617; in 1625, it was first translated into Castilian and published in Zaragoza, with the addition of a fifth book and an agricultural dictionary in Castilian, Catalan, Latin, Portuguese, Italian and French. The work blends the structure of the successful C16 genre of ‘books of secrets’—which provided information and recipes for herbal medicine and the combination of everyday substances useful for domestic management—with the content of classical ‘De re rustica’ florilegia featuring texts by Columella and Cato. Augustín provided thorough instruction to the ‘padres de familia’ engaged in agricultural activities, including ways of acquiring the necessary knowledge of seasons, medical herbs, weather warnings, agricultural skills and lore, and the proper behaviour to be held in public places and in the running of the country house. The fine woodcuts illustrated techniques for the division of the land into lots with a crosier (‘Baculo de Geometria’), distillation and wall construction, as well as figures of farming animals with lines pointing to body parts most prone to illnesses, and a superbly drawn beekeeper’s hive with bees buzzing around. The remarkably well-preserved fold-out plate provided the user with a ‘perpetual wheel’—with zodiacal signs and planets and blank sections to write down specific years of interest—for the identification of past and future fertile and infertile periods, beginning from 1625-26. An incredibly useful work so popular in the Iberian world as to make J.-C. Brunet confidently state in his C19 ‘Manuel du libraire’ that it was ‘still consulted today by Catalan farmers’ (I, 557).

Founded in 1843, Rothamsted Experimental Station is one of the oldest institutions for agricultural research in the world.

Only Columbia and NYPL copies recorded in the US.

USTC 5004923; Palau 4123; Wilkinson 20163; Brunet I, 557 and Graesse I, 46 cite the 1626 and 1617 eds. respectively. Not in Ferguson, Simon, Bitting or Oberlé.


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VICO, Enea; ZANTANI, Antonio


Omnium Caesarum verissimae imagines ex antiquis numismatis desumptae […] libri primi, editio altera.

[Venice, Paulus Manutius], 1554.


4to. 62 unnumbered ll.: engraved t-p, 46 ll. of engraved plates and 14 ll. of text (A-D4). Roman letter, with Italic. T-p within woodcut architectural border with cherubs, allegorical female figures standing, lion of St Mark and foliage; 12 ornate engraved frames surmounted by emperors’ portrait busts, cherubs and grotesques; 72 engraved plates of coins (last 7 mounted); decorated initials and headpieces. T-p a bit dusty, marginal thumbing, light glue stains and ancient repair to margin of last four plates, glue touching last at lower outer corner. A good copy in vellum over pasteboards c1900, all edges sprinkled blue, bookplate of Oskar Rewell to front pastedown.

Second edition of this handsomely illustrated early work on ancient numismatics. Enea Vico (1523-67) was an engraver and renowned numismatist who worked in Rome, Venice and at the Court of Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara. With Antonio Zantani (1509-67), he produced the ‘Immagini con tutti i riversi trovati et le vite degli imperatori’ (Venice, 1548), a successful collection of engravings of all extant coins from Julius Caesar to Domitian. A Latin translation was published by Paolo Manutio in 1553 and again (without the dedication to Julius III) in 1554. No information on its publication was provided, except for St Mark’s lion, and the text was reset in italic. Copies differ in the number of plates and leaves; in some cases, as here, the verso of plates was used to print further plates or movable type text, whilst in others they were left blank. This copy does not contain the letter ‘ad lectorem’ and the one-page summaries of the lives of the emperors at the start of each section as the Pierpont Morgan and National Library of Austria copies. The plates match in content and order the layout of the Pierpont Morgan. It includes however a most important 16-leaf expanded index, not always present, grouping the coins according to their subject or iconographic elements (e.g., Victoria, Quadriga, etc.). Scholarly interest in the codification of the visual symbolism of ancient coins gained momentum among numismatists only in the late C17, hence the scholarly importance of this edition in the development of this discipline, the study of iconography, and the material knowledge of antiquity in the Renaissance. 

USTC 863200; Rénouard 164:25. Cf. Mortimer, Harvard, 557n.


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OBSEQUENS, Julius, VERGIL, Polydore, CAMERARIUS, Joachim


De’ Prodigii. Polidori Vergilio de’ Prodigii Lib. III, [La Norica overo degl’ ostenti libri II.]

Lyon, Per Giovan di Tournes, 1554.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. 340 (xviii). Italic letter, with Roman. Foliated woodcut frame to t-p, woodcut oval portrait of Damiano Maraffi to verso of t-p, 44 ¼-page woodcuts of prodigies and monstrous creatures, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Occasional very minor ink spotting at fore-edge. An excellent copy, on high-quality paper in fine impression, in C17 mottled calf, marbled endpapers, a.e.r., raised bands, spine gilt, gilt-lettered morocco label, small loss to foot of spine, small repair to head, upper joint cracked. Bookplate of François Rabut to front pastedown, ‘Ex Libris L. Benigni [illegible] 1672’ and casemark (?) to t-p.

An excellent copy of the first Italian translation of this illustrated collection of three treatises on prodigies translated by the Florentine scholar Damiano Maraffi. Julius Obsequens (fl. 4th century?) was a Roman writer of whom little is known, uniquely renowned for his ‘Book of Prodigies’ first published in the complete, original Latin version by Jean de Tournes in 1550. In his letter to the reader, de Tournes wrote that this work would bring ‘great pleasure and delectation for the very curious matter and variety thereby discussed’ whilst generating serious reflection on questions benefitting body and soul. Covering the years 249-12BC, the work is divided into brief sections marked by the period in office of a specific Roman emperor or consul; each provides an annalistic account of prodigies, many probably drawn from the lost books of Livy’s ‘History’. They included rains of stones and blood, the apparition of three moons and a naval army in the sky, a talking ox, a 120-feet snake, the monstrous birth of a child with an elephant’s head and of a lamb with two heads and five hoofs. The handsome woodcuts opening each section provide dramatic illustrations with surreal and apocalyptic overtones. They were produced by the influential French artist Bernard Salomon, a follower of the Mannerist School of Fontainebleau and the author of most illustrations in de Tournes’ books. The last two treatises are of a theoretical nature and analyse, with the help of ancient sources, the philosophy and physics of prodigies. Polydore Vergil (1470-1555) was an Italian scholar, historian and diplomat who spent many years in England and is most famous for his influential ‘Anglica Historia’ (1513; 1534). Originally written in 1526, printed in 1531 and widely translated, ‘Dialogus de Prodigiis’ was structured as a philosophical conversation on the natural and supernatural between Vergil and his friend Robert Ridley, touching on human, animal and demonic divination, necromancy, chiromancy, visions and oracles. Joachim Camerarius (1500-74) was a German classicist. His ‘La Norica overo degl’ ostenti’ is concerned with the causes and effects of physical phenomena which may pass as supernatural, e.g. comets, ignes fatui and fires in the sky.

François Rabut (1819-93) was an historian, archaeologist and bibliophile from Chambery.

Brunet IV, 147; Caillet III, 8132 (French ed. of 1555): ‘livre rare recherché pour les jolies gravures sur bois’ [the same as in this edition]; Dorbon-Ainé, Bibliotheca esoterica, 3300 (French ed. of 1555).


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