EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED NUMISMATICS

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

[Venice, Paulus Manutius], 1554.

£1,950

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.

L2916

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