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

[Venice, Paulus Manutius], 1554.


4to. 66 unnumbered ll, A6 [*]6 C-F6 [*]6 [*]8 A-D4. Roman letter, with Italic. T-p within woodcut architectural border with cherubs, allegorical female figures standing, arms of Antonio Zantani and foliage; 12 ornate engraved frames surmounted by emperors’ portrait busts, cherubs and grotesques; 67 engravings of coins (blank spaces properly filled with ms description of the missing images); decorated initials and headpieces. Light age yellowing in places, outer margins a bit thumbed, oil stain to some lower margins, heavier at end, ink spots in places. A good, crisp, well-margined copy on thick paper rebound in half vellum over marbled boards, c.1900. Extensive Latin and occasional Italian marginalia throughout, early inscription ‘E’ to front pastedown.

Very uncommon 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. This Latin translation was published by Paolo Manutio in 1553 and again (without the dedication to Julius III) in 1554, with no information on its publication being provided, except for St Mark’s lion. This copy is a re-impression, with matching content and plates and a few minor variations, of the 1553 edition: like the 1554, it lacks the dedication; however, the text is mostly set in Roman letter and the t-p bears Zantani’s shield for St Mark’s lion. It includes a 16-leaf expanded index, which is not present in all copies, 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 in the late C17. The thorough annotator of this copy made ample use of the thematic index, as he cross-referenced in the margins numerous entries including the depiction of the Nile and a hippo on an Augustan coin and that of ‘Victoria Britannica’ on a coin produced under Nero. He also filled blanks with descriptions of missing coins and added sundry others discovered in the subsequent century. The source for these descriptions (or possibly vice versa) appears to be Jean Foy-Vaillant’s ‘Numismata imperatorum romanorum’, first published in 1674. The annotator included observations in Italian, sometimes inspired by comments in Vaillant’s work, on the rarity of numerous coins, according to their metal and size. 

USTC 864193; Mortimer, Harvard, 557n. Cf. Renouard 158:21 and 164:25.


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