De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis, libri quattor

Antwerp, Christopher Plantin, 1584.


FIRST EDITION, 4to, pp (ii) 3-264 (viii). Roman letter, some Italic, woodcut initials, printer’s device on title page. Light age yellowing, very slight foxing, a good, clean, wide margined copy in mid 19thC olive morocco, spine and edges gilt.

FIRST EDITION of Stanihurst’s interesting and controversial history of Ireland. Opening with a dedicatory epistle to his brother-in-law, Patrick Plunkett, Baron Dunsany, Stanihurst, writing in Latin, gives a detailed description of Ireland’s geographical and enthnological features; one of his aims, he tells Plunkett, is to dispel Ireland’s obscurity and raise continental awareness of the country. The next three chapters narrate the Normans’ invasion of Ireland in 1169 (in support of Diarmait Mac Murchada, the ousted King of Leinster) and their subsequent settlement there, with extended descriptions of the arrival of Richard of Clare, Earl de Pembroke, known as Strongbow. The account ends at the beginning of the 13th century and the accession of King John. One of Stanihurst’s main sources was the 12th-century Welsh historian Giraldus Cambrensis, and the work ends with an annotated appendix of extracts from his Expugnatio Hibernica, from which Stanihurst’s numerous errors, pointed out by later editors, are believed to have derived. Stanihurst positions himself as a descendant of the Norman Irish settlers, rather than a ‘true’ Celtic Irishman, and is credited with coining the term ‘Anglo-Irish’. He was later criticised for his ‘want of sympathy with the native Irish and his prejudiced misrepresentations’ and his ignorance of the Irish language (DNB).

Born in Dublin in 1547, the son of the Recorder of Dublin and Speaker of the Irish Parliament, Stanihurst went to Kilkenny Grammar School and thence to University College Oxford and both Furnivall’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn. His tutor at Oxford was Edmund Campion, the Jesuit martyr, and Stanihurst accompanied him on research trips for Campion’s own history of Ireland. Raphael Holinshed asked Stanihurst to finish the Irish chapter of his Chronicles, but the result incurred the disapproval of the Privy Council.

Due to political unrest and his association with Campion, Stanihurst was arrested and imprisoned in 1580. On release, he fled to Leiden, known for relative religious tolerance, where he published an innovative – and widely mocked – translation of the Aeneid, attempting to preserve Virgil’s original hexameter scansion. He also worked as an alchemist and advisor in Spain, under Philip II, but never returned to Britain, dying in Brussels in 1618.

BM STC C16  Dutch p. 192. Voet. V 2228A “The work was actually printed at Leiden, but a number of copies received a title page with Plantin’s Antwerp Imprint.”. Shaaber S 292. Adams S 1633. Brunet V 508. “livre peu commun, et qui est recherché en Angleterre.”



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Fasti et triumphii Rom[ani].

Venice, Giacomo Strada, 1557.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (18), 228 (i.e. 240), (200). Roman letter, often capitals, much double column and red and black; large allegorical printer’s device on title, a few historiated initials, 262 fine woodcut illustrations of coins, mostly with white-on-black portraits of consuls, generals and emperors; small hole in blank outer margin of title probably due to erasure of old library stamp, light marginal damp stain to first gathering, four browned leaves in the second, clean marginal tear to blank outer upper corner of 2M2. A very fine, well-margined copy in contemporary alum-taw pigskin signed by the German bookbinder M. G., active about 1562 (see Einbanddatenbank, r002340 and r004560), blind-tooled with five elaborate panels, alternating floral decoration with two rolls of neat biblical figures, one with Christ, David, Paul and John the Baptist, the other with Christ, Peter, Paul and John the Baptist surmounted by the four Evangelical symbols; a couple of small stains at front, rear very lightly rubbed; early inked manuscript shelf mark and later label on spine, early title inked on fore-edge in the same hand as the purchase inscriptions ‘Urbanus Ep[iscop]us Gurten[sis] me emit’ on front pastedown and title, dated 1559/ 1561; his large hand-coloured printed armorial bookplate on front pastedown.

Fine copy of the first edition, second and improved issue including privileges printed on χ2 and bound here straight after title, of a landmark in the historiography of ancient Rome. The Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio (1529 – 1568) was a giant of the ecclesiastical and antiquarian scholarship of the late Italian Renaissance. An indefatigable writer, he obtained fame with the sequel of Platina’s Life of the Popes and many treatises on Roman history. Amongst them, the Fasti were the most important. This edition, probably supervised by Panvinio himself, shows a highly original and beautiful page layout, resembling the Roman epigraphic design.

Relying on written sources as much as on material evidence drawn from coins and epigraphs, the book describes in a condensed Latin the events that took place from the foundation of Rome to 1555. The narration proceeds according to the succession of Roman kings, consuls, generals, tribunes, high priests, and emperors. It follows the west-east division of the empire from 405 on, recording the Byzantine suzerains on the one hand, the Franck and Germanic Emperors and other European rulers on the other. The book goes on up until the early modern times, thus registering the change in power in the East, with the Muslim sultans taking over from the Byzantine emperors after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This copy belonged to Urban Sagstetter (c. 1529 – 1573), Austrian bishop of Gurk from 1556 (as pointed out in his armorial bookplate) and later administrator of the diocese of Vienna. A selective book collector and Hebraist, Sagstetter bought his Fasti at the Diet of Augsburg (‘in comitiis Augustanis’) of 1559. The two detailed purchase notes, evidently inscribed some years after the acquisition by Sagstetter or perhaps his secretary, were first incorrectly dated 1561, when there had been no gathering in Augsburg. Indeed, the same hand corrected the inscription at the foot of the title to read 1559. The confusion may have arisen from the unusually high number of diets held in the mid-sixteenth century in Augsburg and elsewhere in order to tackle (unsuccessfully) the Protestant issue. Still, the incorrect date remains a rather surprising mistake by the owner of Panvinio’s Fasti, a book famous for its accurate chronology.

Not in BM STC It. or Brunet. Adams, P 195 ; Graesse, V, 123; Mortimer, Italian, 355.


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Lawes and orders of warre, established for the good conduct of the seruice in Ireland.

London, Christopher Barker (?), 1599 (?).


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. 10. (lacking last blank). Roman letter. A large historiated woodcut initial and woodcut headpiece. Recto of A1 and last leaf dusty, the odd marginal spot or mark, minor repair to upper outer corner of first and last leaf. A good copy in modern three-quarter calf over marbled paper boards, spine with gilt title.

Extremely rare and most interesting pamphlet published by Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, on the eve of his campaign in Ireland in 1599, the largest expeditionary force ever sent to Ireland with over 16,000 troops. Essex had orders to put an end to the Irish rebellion and departed London to the cheers of crowds. It was expected that the rebellion would be crushed instantly. Essex had declared to the Privy Council that he would confront O’Neill in Ulster. Instead, he led his army into southern Ireland, where he fought a series of inconclusive engagements, wasted his funds, and dispersed his army into garrisons, while the Irish won two important battles in other parts of the country. Rather than face O’Neill in battle, Essex entered a truce that some considered humiliating to the Crown and to the detriment of English authority. The Queen herself told Essex that if she had wished to abandon Ireland, it would scarcely have been necessary to send him there.

The thirty seven orders given in this pamphlet are of great interest for military historians, and are designed specifically for troops in Ireland. Essex prefaces the work with a short introduction, stating ‘And military discipline cannot bee kept where the rules or chiefe partes thereof bee not certainly set downe and generally knowen.’ The first orders include directions requiring troops to attend sermons, morning and evening prayer, to respect the ‘holy and blessed Trinitie.’ Many of the orders have a specific Irish connection and reflect the difficulties facing an invading force that needs both to maintain good relations with and simultaneously to discourage sympathy or collusion with the local population.

“No Souldier of the Armie shall do violence to the person, or steale, or violently take, or wilfully spoyle the goods of any Irish good subject, upon paine of death,” and “No man wether hee be souldier or other, English or Irish, shal have conference or intelligence with any enemy or Rebell, that is in open action against her Maiestie.” Many of the orders are of great social interest and concern such things as drunkenness and adultery; “No man shall ravish or force any woman, upon paine of death. And adulteries or fornications shal be punished by imprisonment,’ or “No Souldier serving on Foote, shall carrie any Boy, nor no Woman shall bee suffered to follow the Armie.”

This work is particularly rare. ESTC lists only one copy held in libraries in the USA, at the Huntington Library and ABPC records no copy at auction.

ESTC S107432. STC 14131. USTC 513940. Not in Cockle.


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CAREW, Thomas


Itinerarium R.D. Thomae Carue Tripperariensis …. cum histori facti Butleri, Gordon, Lesley & aliorum – (with) Itinerarium, Pars Altera.

Mainz, Nicolaus Heyll, 1640 and 1641.


12mo. Two volumes. 1) pp. (xxxii), 328, (vi). 2) (xxiv), 370, (xiv) (last two leaves blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Floriated initials, woodcut and typographical ornaments, “Ad Biblioth; aul; Eystettensem” in early hand on half title of first volume. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. Very good copies in C19th dark blue, fine grained, morocco, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, vine leaf fleurons gilt to outer corners, large central fleuron gilt of vase and flowers, spine with raised bands richly gilt in compartments with large ‘holy dove’ tools to centers, all edges gilt, extremities rubbed.

Very rare, second issue of the first part, and first edition of the second part of Thomas Carew’s most interesting and important work, a first hand description of his travels and experience as Chaplain to Walter Butler and Walter Devereux of the Scottish-Irish regiment in Germany, of capital importance for the history of the Thirty Years’ War.

Carew “took priest’s orders and appears to have been stationed in the diocese of Leighlin. He left Ireland for Germany, and having stayed as chaplain for four years with Walter Butler (d. 1634), a kinsman of the Marquis of Ormonde, then serving as colonel of an Irish regiment in the army of Ferdinand II of Austria, he returned to his native country. In 1630 he again set out on his travels, and at this date his curious and valuable ‘Itinerary’ was begun. He remained with Walter Butler for two years, and returned at the period of the battle of Lützen; but after a short visit to his friends in Ireland he started again for Germany in 1633. On arriving at Stuttgart about September 1634 he heard of the death of his patron Walter Butler, and he transferred his services as chaplain to Walter Devereux, formerly the chief officer and now the successor of Butler. He accompanied the army of Charles III, duke of Lorraine, in its incessant movements, and afterwards joined the main forces under Gallas.

In April 1639 he finished the first part of his ‘Itinerary,’ and had it printed at Mainz, with a dedication to the Marquis of Ormonde, in which he says: ‘Not in the quiet chamber of study has it been composed, but beneath the tents of war, where my busy pen found no peace from the ominous clangour of the hoarse trumpet and the loud roll of the battle-drum; where my ear was stunned by the dreadful thunder of the cannon, and the fatal leaden hail hissed round the paper on which I was writing.’ In 1640 he was appointed chaplain-general of all the English, Scotch, and Irish forces, and in that capacity continued to serve with the army after the death of Devereux. It is probable that about 1643 he went to reside at Vienna in his character of notary apostolic and vicar-choral of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in that city. All his works are extremely rare.” Catholic Encyclopaedia. He published a fourth part of his Itinerary in 1646 which is mythically rare.

The provenance ‘ad Bibliothecam aulicam Eystettensem’ refers to the Library of the Dominican Monastery in Eichstaat, founded in the thirteenth century, which had an important collection of early printings. An excellent copy of this rare and most interesting work.

BM STC Ger C17 Vol I C304 and C306.


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BASSI, Martino


Dispareri in materia d’architettura e perspettiva.

Brescia, Francesco e Pietro Maria Marchetti, 1572.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. 53, (1) plus 12 numbered plates. Roman letter, little Italic; printer’s device on title and verso of colophon, woodcut initials, foliated or historiated, 12 finely engraved architectural plans and perspective drawings; light water stain occasionally in lower margin and in upper corner of last four plates, title and couple of leaves slightly dust-soiled. A very good copy in nearly contemporary vellum, recased, early title inked on spine; early shelf mark on title.

Fine copy of a rare first edition of Renaissance architecture. Martino Bassi (1542 – 1591) was an architect involved in the restyling and construction of many Milanese churches. Dispareri, the only work written by him, consists of the correspondence he had with, i.a., Palladio, Vignola, Vasari, and Bertano concerning a personal controversy with Pellegrino di Tibaldo Pellegrini about the plans for the Duomo in Milan. Vignola, Vasari, and Palladio endorsed Bassi’s point of view. Nevertheless, Bassi was able to take over the Duomo construction site only in 1585, when Tibaldi moved to Spain.

The first four engravings show the perspective drawings of a huge marbled relief by Pellegrini, representing the annunciation of St. John the Baptist, while the remainder focuses on the parts of the Duomo under reconstruction, i.e. the crypt and the baptistry, with a final plan of the whole building. The device of Marchetti brothers, which appears on title and on the colophon verso, clearly emulates the famous anchor and dolphin logo of the Aldine press.

Rare. No recorded copy in the US.

BM STC It., 76; Adams, B371; Brunet, I, 694; Graesse, I, 308; Berlin Kat., 2600 ; Fowler, 40 ; Cicognara, 423 (‘fra i libri rari d’arte’) ; Mortimer, Italian, 46.


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BOAISTUAU, Pierre and BELLEFOREST, Francois de, etc.


Histoires Prodigieuses Extraictes de plusieurs fameux autheurs.

Paris, Chez la Vefue Guillaume Cauellat 1597-98.


16mo. Six volumes in three. 1) ff. (x) 191 (iii); 2) pp. 120 (viii) (last two leaves blank); 3) pp. 372 (iv); 4) pp. 80 (vi) (last leaf blank) 5) pp. 159 (i); 6) pp. 91 (v) (last leaf blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Cavellat’s woodcut printer’s device on each title, a larger version repeated on verso of last of volumes IV and VI, numerous nearly 1/2 page woodcuts in text, generally at the beginning of each tale, one fold out woodcut of a knife (often missing) in volume VI, floriated woodcut initials and headpieces. Light age yellowing, minor marginal spotting in places, light water stain to volumes II, V and VI, the odd marginal spot. Good copies, a bit short, finely bound in early C18th red morocco, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spines with gilt ruled raised bands, compartments gilt ‘a la grotesque,’ inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt. 

A lovely set of this beautifully printed and illustrated popular work, a collection of stories of Monsters and extraordinary events. The original 40 stories by Boaistuau in volume I of this set were first published in 1560 and were hugely popular, leading to many further editions with additions by other authors, culminating in this set, with the addition of 15 stories in volume II by Claude de Tesserant, 17 in volume III by Bellesforest, 11 in volume IV by Rod Hoyer, 8 stories in vol V translated from the Latin of Arnauld Sorbin by Belleforest, and 6 anonymous stories (by I. D. M.) in the final volume.

Boaistuau and Belleforest’s popular reworking of these tales, and their other translations, had tremendous influence in England, especially on the playwrights of the Elizabethan period, Shakespeare included, who often used their stories as the basis for their works. The first manuscript of this work, now in the Wellcome Library, was dedicated and presented to Elisabeth I by Boaistuau.

“In the winter of 1559/60 Pierre Boaistuau, a French popular writer, set off for England bearing a book that he hoped to lay before the young Queen Elizabeth, newly installed on the throne of England. This book, later entitled Histoires Prodigieuses – which can be loosely translated as ‘Wondrous Tales’ – had not yet been published. It had been handwritten by a professional scribe in a fine Italic script, and was dedicated to ‘The Most Illustrious, Most Excellent and Most Virtuous Princess Elizabeth, by the grace of God Queen of England. …

Histoires Prodigieuses is an example of a genre of literature that was immensely popular in the 16th and 17th centuries: tales of an admonitory or educative nature, drawn from biblical, classical or other reputable sources, that were nonetheless intended to astonish and delight the reader. It is not so much an original creative work of literature as a compilation and retelling of stories that derive largely from earlier authoritative sources and thereby gain added credibility and value. Boaistuau, whose final work it proved to be, had already published several such compilations before Histoires Prodigieuses in a brief flurry of activity from 1556, and indeed he helped establish the genre as his works continued to be expanded, reissued and translated by others after his death.’ Dr. Richard Aspin, Wellcome Library.

This famous collection of tales of a prodigious nature, describe natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, floods, storms), freaks of nature (e.g. Siamese twins), fantastic occurrences of spectres and phantoms, tritons, sirens and other marine monsters, and gruesome instances of excesses (e.g. of eating and drinking, corpulence, fertility, torture and cruelty, avarice, famine, and violent death). In the ‘Advertissement au lecteur,’ Boaistuau tells us that his stories are taken from many authors, and indeed he clearly identifies his sources from Plato and Aristotle, to Josephus and Saints Jerome and Augustine, to Polydorus Vergil and Sebastian Munster.

He pretends that he has compiled his little book to show how the anger of God and the violence of his justice are manifested in abominations of nature, so that men might search their consciences and be horrified at their misdeeds. Volume VI contains a story of a woman (undoubtedly possessed by the devil), who was stabbed in the side and lived for a year with the knife protruding from her until it was removed by a German doctor. The story is illustrated with a folding plate of a life size portrait of the knife as it was once removed from her body. One suspects that his real motivation was sensationalism, always a best seller.

The text is extensively illustrated with woodcuts of monsters and prodigies, which suggests the popular market. Pierre Boaistuau, called Launay (d. 1566) is described by the Nouv. Biog. Gén. as “un bon parleur et non sans une certaine érudition.” A most interesting, readable work. “The subject was a popular one and the blocks were well designed.” Harvard C16th. Fr. 103 on the first edition with illustrations. These later editions mention America, cf. Alden 595/9.

BM STC FR. C16th p. 70. Brunet I 982-3. Wellcome 898 (earlier edition).


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Historie fiorentine.

Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1554.


12mo., ff. 157 (i.e. 257), (1). Italic letter. Large printer’s device on title and last recto, historiated initial including S with Saturn and E with Europa; small ink spot to extremities of outer margin of first few leaves. A fine copy in very early seventeenth-century Italian (Roman?) calf, gilt panel with double fillet, spine with six gilt compartments decorated with foliage and pine-cones, title gilt on red morocco label, all edges gilt, original pastedowns, endpapers and flys; early price note at verso of rear endpaper.

Second 12mo. and correct edition of a masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, first published posthumously in March 1532 in Florence and Rome. A humanist, diplomat and politician as well as witty playwright, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) is regarded as one of the most influential political thinkers of all times. His highly debated Principe changed forever the notion and management of power, subordinating rulers’ moral conduct to the achievements of their own aims. In line with the scholarly tradition of Florence, he was also a passionate historian.

The Historie of Florence, starting from the fall of the Roman Empire and ending with the death of Lorenzo il Magnifico (1492) and the Italian campaign of French King Charles VIII (1494), is the outcome of a brilliant mind. Facts are not only presented very clearly and without bias, but are also examined with the political pragmatism typical of Machiavelli.

The book was dedicated to Pope Clement VII (Giuliano de’ Medici), which had commissioned it to Machiavelli in 1520 before succeeding to the throne of St. Peter. Like many of Machiavelli’s works, the Historie was reprinted year after year throughout the sixteenth century. Such an impressive pace was considerably slowed down by the ban of the Catholic Church over his Principe, and by the general negative light cast upon the author’s supposedly unethical theories of government.

Not in Brunet or Gamba. BM STC It., 400; Adams, M 30; Graesse, IV, 324.


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Historiarum sui temporis.

Paris, Michel de Vascosan, 1558-1560.


Two volumes. Folio: 1): ff. (20), 236, (2), with final index in gatherings a-c4 bound after preliminaries; 2): ff. 349, (19). Roman letter, little Italic; large ornamental initials and fine decorative headpieces; first title a bit soiled, small marginal damp stains to first gathering and occasionally to lower outer corner, small white mark to t4r and C5r affecting one or two letters in volume I; small marginal light red water stain on endpapers, fly, and first gatherings, and light marginal damp stains in places in volume II. A very good set of wide-margined copies, both in contemporary French limp vellum, panelled and gilt with fleuron to corners and large elegant Arabesque central piece, flat spines with gilt compartments and floral decoration, original silk ties alternately dyed yellow and red, all edges contemporary gilt, gauffered and red (oxidised) painted with foliate design, both dated 1561, in the style adopted in Geneva by the King’s binder, and a few years later by the Goldestat Meister (M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, numbers 224-226, 228-229); very slightly soiled, lacking four of eight ties; small crack to spine and minor light red stains to front and small loss to rear of volume II; contemporary red ruling throughout; original spine wrapper from a folded late fourteenth-century legal manuscript commentary, probably Northern France, volume I.

Sumptuous copy of an early edition of a famous contemporary account of Italian political history in the first half of the sixteenth century, first published in Florence in 1550. A physician, historian and high-ranking Catholic prelate, Paolo Giovio (1483-1552) was a highly respected Renaissance scholar, linked to the Medici and later the Farnese family. In his famous villa in Como, he gathered a vast amount of ancient and contemporary statues and portraits, forming his beloved Museum. His works range from ichthyology, science and occultism, to philosophy, history, biography, iconography and ethnography, including a description of the British Isles and a very famous collection of imprese.

The Historiae was his lifework, meant to leave an indelible trace of his scholarship. Giovio focuses on the Italian wars, sprung from the invasion by King Charles VIII in 1494, up to the late 1540s. A sharp mind, he foresaw the disastrous outcome of the conflict between France and the Holy Roman Empire for the control of Italy on the cultural and political life of the peninsula. The work is dedicated to Giovio’s close friend, Andrea Alciato, and each volume closes with verses by Benedetto Varchi.

This two volume set retains a very interesting contemporary binding. Gauffering of such a remarkable quality – certainly the work of a very skilled artisan in Geneva anticipating the style of Goldast Meister, such as the King’s Binder (see I. Schunke, Der GenferBucheinband, 1937) – is usually combined with lavish tooled-blind and painted calf over pasteboards rather than gilt limp vellum on books as large as these ones. It is likely that the copies, gauffered in Geneva in 1561, were completed by another local binder, following afterthoughts of the patron. Even so, the bicolour silk ties were matched with the gauffering, formerly painted red.

BM STC Fr., 202; Adams, G654; Brunet, III, 583; Graesse, III, 490.


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Laberinto d’amore … con una epistola a Messer Pino de Rossi confortatoria.

Florence, [heirs of Filippo Giunta], 1525.


8vo. oblong, ff. 72. Italic letter; capital spaces with guide letters; title a bit dust-soiled, intermittent soiling and foxing, particularly to margins; marginal paper flaw in f. 22, two leaves loosened in final gathering, a few tiny worm holes in margins of first and final leaves. A wide-margined copy in contemporary Venetian brown morocco, gilt panel with four apple leaves at corners, in the elegant style of the ‘Venetian Apple binder’ (M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, III, nos. 297-298); gilt title ‘Corbacio’ on front cover and initials ‘M. [faint s or decorative piece?] M.’ on rear, all edges gilt; skilfully re-backed, outer corners restored. In slipcase.

The elegant binding provides a good example, unusual in shape, of the essential Venetian style of the second quarter of the sixteenth century (gilt external panel with apple leaves at internal or external corners, central title in capitals), which was brought to perfection by the so-called Mendoza Binder, recently identified as Andrea di Lorenzo. Though not his work, this was executed by a capable binder, probably pre-dating Andrea by a few years. The gilt initials on the rear cover appear to be those of the owner, perhaps pointing towards a member of the Venetian noble families of Mocenigo or Morosini, bearing the traditional names of Marco or Michele.

Early and accurate imprint of Boccaccio’s Corbaccio (or Labirinto d’amore) and his epistle to Pino de’ Rossi, both first published in 1487 in Florence. With Petrarch, Boccaccio laid the foundations for the humanism of the Renaissance and raised vernacular literature to the level and status of the classics of antiquity. His vivid prose was taken as a model by the sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars in their attempts to create a common written language for the Italian peninsula. Corbaccio (The Crow) recounts the dream of a young man, suffering from his unrequited love for a widow. It is essentially a misogynist invective, contradicting Boccaccio’s sympathies for the fairer sex expressed in many others works.

It is still not clear whether Corbaccio should be read as autobiographical or as a literary exercise adopting the anti-feminist point of view but ultimately dealing with torment of love. Written after the political crisis of 1360 in the Commune of Florence, the letter of consolation to Pino de’ Rossi, an exiled Florentine statesman, reflects Boccaccio’s disillusion with politics and his faith in the rise of a new cultural era opened up by Petrarch’s studies of classical literature. The preface by the publisher Bernardo Giunta is of particular interest. It addresses ‘gli amatori della Lingua Toscana,’ i.e. the humanists writing in Italian vernacular, who were praised for their constant effort to re-establish this style as a literary language, as it used to be in the time of Boccaccio.

Not in BM STC It. Adams, B 2182; Gamba, 67; Renouard, xlviii:79; Brunet, I, 1016 (‘assez rare’).


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DEL MIGLIORE, Ferdinando Leopoldo


Senatori Fiorentini.

Florence, Stamperia di S.A.S. alla Condotta, 1665.


FIRST EDITION, first issue. 8vo., 45 leaves, (*1), +2, A-E8, F2. Roman and Italic letter; fine engraved title with the dedicatee’s arms, decorated initials and decorative head- and tail-pieces, woodcut armorial devices throughout; one line and one coat of arms with printer’s pasted correction slips. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum, elegantly tooled in gilt with green morocco pieces inlaid, central panel with Florentine fleurs-de-lys surrounding hand-painted arms of the dedicatee, gilt spine with interlacing floral decoration; original endpapers, all edges red; three tiny wormholes on front; armorial bookplate of the Walpole family and Annual International Exhibition label, 1874, on front pastedown; small stamp of the Selbourne Library on blank title verso and lower margin of D2r.

Fine dedication copy – first issue of the first edition – of this rare work of heraldry devoted to the senatorial families of Florence, in a lavish contemporary binding including the arms of Filippo Niccolini (1586-1666), Marquis of Ponsacco and Camugliano, ambassador, maestro di camera to Cardinal Gian Carlo de’ Medici and dedicatee of this edition. Ferdinando Leopoldo Del Migliore (1628-1696) was a voracious collector of material related to Florence and its past, which, at his death, took up over 120 volumes. He acquired some notoriety with an illustrated history of the Tuscan city (1684), incomplete.

Senatori fiorentini, Del Migliore’s first work in print, lists about 150 local noble families holding a seat in the Senate of Forty-Eight, the highest institution of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany since 1532. The book is alphabetically arranged and includes useful depiction of the families’ arms. One can find the prominent lineages which gave birth to great statesmen (de’ Medici, Pazzi, Pitti, Soderini, Strozzi, Valori), renowned scholars (Acciaiuoli, Cavalcanti, Doni, Guicciardini, Machiavelli, Vettori) and high-ranking prelates (Aldobrandini, Capponi, Corsini, Gaddi, Pucci, Ridolfi, Salviati). Many of these families acquired vast collections of books, so this little and instructive work can be of great help in identifying armorial bookplates, ex libris and other ownership marks.

This is the first issue of the first edition with two correction slips, consisting of one line at Aviiiv and the coat of arms of the Corsi family at Bivv, both pasted in straight after printing. Only the first slip is present in the British Library copy, which appears to be a second issue, since the Corsi arms were correctly printed with the rest of the text after the re-setting of the whole page.

This unique copy comes from the library of the Walpoles of Orford, of which Horace (1717-1797), antiquarian, man of letters and Whig politician, was the most illustrious member. Although the bookplate on the front pastedown is not his own, the contents suggest that he may have acquired this book in Florence during his stay in 1742. An alternative hypothesis is that he received it from Horace Mann (1706-1786), the British envoy in Tuscany and a close friend.

Very rare. No recorded copies in the US. Not in Brunet or Graesse.

BM STC It. 17th, 574 (incomplete, 2nd issue); ICCU SBN, IT\ICCU\TO0E\056337.


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