Libri Omnes. De octo partibus orationis…

Venice, Aldus, 1527


4to. [xiv] 299 [i] [ii]. Italic letter, Aldine printer’s device to t-p and verso of last. A very good copy in attractive English 18th C Harleian style crimson morocco gilt, lozenge-shaped centre ornament of many small but ornate tools, triple-gilt ruled with corner fleurons, inner dentelles gilt, spine richly gilt in 6 compartments, olive morocco lettering piece, marbled endpapers, one corner slightly bumped,  joints repaired at head. Armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on front pastedown, Shirburn castle blindstamp to first few ll.

Only Aldine edition of the complete works of Priscian (fl. 500 AD), including some works now attributed to pseudo-Priscians (indicated by *). Priscian was the last of the great grammarians of the Roman world. The collection begins with his most famous and substantial work, “the most comprehensive and significant Latin grammar” (Von Albrecht p1475) “Institutiones grammaticae,” the first 16 books of which deal i.a. with word-formation, parts of speech and sounds, and the last two with syntax. As well as systematically approaching Latin grammar, the text also preserves many fragments of earlier classical authors, many of whom would otherwise have been lost. Secondly is “Partitiones xii. versuum Aeneidos principalium”, which thoroughly dissects the first twelve lines of the Aeneid for teaching purposes, discussing the metre, scanning each verse and conducting a careful analysis on a word-by-word basis. Then come an 8th C treatise ‘On Accents’*, a song ‘On Weights and Measures’* (c.500), and Priscian’s translation of a treatize on rhetoric by Hermogenes, concluding with one on comic verses, accompanied by Rufinus’ commentary. Priscian’s text was one of the most widely admired and circulated of the Middle Ages. A schoolbook and therefore often heavily used, our present copy is in remarkably clean condition.

This striking binding of high quality crimson morocco with a delicate pointille gilt centrepiece is similar in concept to the bindings from the library of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, (1661-1724), Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Treasurer and great bibliophile.

1) BM STC Ger. 38; Adams, A 1344; Graesse, I, 169.

2) BM STC Ger. 310; Adams, F 719; Brunet, II, 1339-1331; Graesse, II, 612; Göllner, 278; Atabey, 445. Hartfelder, 199.

3) BM STC Ger. 848; Adams, T 47; Graesse, VII, 12.


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AGRIPPA, Henrich Cornilius

Militiae Equitis Aurati…[I]n Artem Brevem Raymundi Lullii, Commentaria

Solingen, Joannes Soter, 1538


8vo. pp [284] a-r8 s6. Roman letter, occasional Italic. Woodcut initials, t.p. with printer’s device of cherub within wreath, 8 woodcut diagrams of Lullian circles. Contemp. ex libris Antonius Dachselhof of Berne to fly. Very minor damp stain and spot to t.p, woodcut circle on b5 just shaved at outer margin. A very good, clean and well-margined copy in contemporary limp vellum with 14 original blank unnumbered ll in front and 31 at end, contemp ink title to upper cover and spine, original kid ties.

Second edition of Agrippa’s (1486 – 1535) commentary on Raymond Lull’s (1232-1316) Ars Magna or ‘Ultimate General Art’, a system of logic blending influences from Arabic mysticism, Egyptian hermeticism, and Lull’s missions to Jews and Muslims. In his preface Agrippa praises Lull’s art ‘as easy to learn for students young and old’: in fact it is based on a confusing series of paper ‘machines’ Lull had developed to do his reasoning for him, comprising of circles with symbols representing key topics. When rotated together in any combination they yield only theologically ‘true’ statements, such as ‘Angels are Wise’, and ‘God is Eternal’. These so-called ‘Lullian Circles’ were intended as tools for debating faith with Muslims: ironically they were based from an Arabic astrological tool used to cast horoscopes known as the zairja.

Agrippa breaks down each circle and its function: there are nine main subjects including God, Angels, and Man, each assigned a letter B-K. The same letters are assigned to characteristics: Goodness, Greatness, Duration, Power, Wisdom, Will, Virtue, Truth, and Glory. The relationship between these sets of terms is determined by three triangles that highlight their differences, similarities, and magnitudes of importance to one another. There is a detailed discussion of the meaning of each circle’s constituent terms, including how it is possible to reduce all of philosophy to so few qualities from so many. The work concludes with the rules for using the Lullian Circle, and lists of all possible letter combinations that consider the meanings of some combinations, essentially meditating on the nature of goodness. The work ends with a final breakdown of Lull’s terms into tables showing how each relate to the other. An ambitious and strange book irrespective of Agrippa’s success in actually explaining Lull’s system: Jonathan Swift thought it ridiculous enough to feature in Gulliver’s Travels, but Borges credits him as the inventor of the ‘thinking machine’: what information scientists call the earliest type of computer.

Rare. The only other copy traceable at auction is the Broxbourne copy, Sotheby’s 1978.

BM STC Gr. p. 11. Index Aureliensis I 101.866. Palau I 3333. Caillet II 6864 “Edition originale”.


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LICETI, Fortunio

De monstrorum Natura, Caussis, et differentiis

Padua, Paolo Frambotto, 1634


4to. pp. [xvi] 262 [xxvi]; [viii] 115 [xxv]. i) Roman letter, woodcut headpieces and foliated initials, fine engraved frontispiece by Paduan artist Giovanni Battista Bissoni depicting monsters. 58 mostly half-page finely executed engravings of similar subjects, some repeated. Marginal foxing, otherwise very good and clean. ii) Roman letter, woodcut printer’s device to t-p, woodcut initials and ornaments, full-page woodcut of an African effigy, repeated. Slight age-yellowing, marginal foxing, else a very good copy. In contemporary vellum over boards, paper lettering piece to spine. Contemp. autograph to foot of printed t-p, a.e.r.

i) FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of a fascinating and exhaustive treatise on monsters of nature, amply illustrated with remarkably detailed and frequently disturbing engravings, with dates and locations to add authenticity. Beginning with an explanation of what it means to be a monster, the work then progresses through monsters of various different kinds. Book One contains those that have supposedly actually existed, in living memory or in history. While some are relatively conventional, suffering from congenital abnormalities, such as lacking or gaining limbs, or born with extra digits, others are more unusual, born with an extra face or torso in the stomach, one child was born in Rome with the head of Anubis. Others are more fantastical, with human heads attached to equine bodies and a cat with human legs growing ‘e parte posteriore.’ Ancient authorities are cited, i.a. Plutarch claiming to have witnessed the birth of a centaur. Purely animal abnormalities are also discussed and illustrated, with multiple limbs, heads and even tongues described as remarkably commonplace for every species from pigs to hens. The reasons for deformation being less common in plants than animals are pondered, describing ears of corn with 15 heads and trees which grow countless different flowers. It concludes with a breakdown of the ten different sorts of monsters: lacking, contorted, headless, conjoined, oversized, undersized, many-limbed from its own species, many-limbed from different species, of combined species, and half-demons. Book Two focuses on abnormalities, looking at those born without faces and lips or limbs and necks, with outsized or single eyes and deformed limbs. Various different pairs of conjoined twins are also illustrated, a remarkable achievement considering the extreme rarity of such a condition. Contribution to early scientific knowledge assured, Licetus then moves on to more imaginary creations, with limbs sprouting at all angles, ears on shoulders, eyes in backs and vertically amid the hair of heads, with hooves and horns and trunks. Finally an examination of the mythical monsters of various cultures is made, with raven-child hybrids and lizard men. The work is the earliest to address malformations of the embryo and acknowledging chance and heredity as probable causes, Liceti pioneers science over divine retribution.

i) BM STC It. 17th C p.486. Wellcome I-3786. Osler 3235 [Meyer 236..] Not in Riccardi.

ii) BM STC It. 17th C p.487. Wellcome I-3787. Osler 3236: “containing a plate (in two states) of the effigy.” Wheeler Gift 106: “Tract on lightning and thunder consisting mostly of quotations of classical writers”. Not in Riccardi.


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Instructions for Mvsters and Armes, and the use thereof.

London, Bonham Norton and John Bill, 1623.


FIRST EDITION. ff. 8 (xix). Large 4to. Italic letter. Royal arms woodcut on title page, floriated ornament woodcut with ‘A’ (misbound from first leaf), 19 leaves of woodcuts depicting 43 musket and 32 pike positions, arranged four per leaf. Woodcuts window mounted on thick C19 paper. Minimal marginal foxing, very good copy in C19 half calf over marbled boards. Bibliographical manuscript annotations to ffeps, bookplate of Henry B.H. Beaufoy (1786-1851), F.R.S. on inner cover.

This rare work, one of only five copies in the UK, provides instructions for the correct techniques and layout of musters. Musters were a means to gather together and quantify the amount of armed battle-ready men in localised areas of England. As well as this, the work contains 19 exquisite leaves each of four plates demonstrating a variety of positions and techniques for handling muskets and pikes. This book offers a fleeting insight into a time the army was undergoing immense change. By the end of the 17th century pikes had gone out of use in favour of bayonets and traditional muskets were being gradually replaced by weapons which were significantly more powerful and accurate. The intensely detailed instructions demonstrate the organisation and central control of the English army. Muskets were unruly and dangerous, necessitating a careful guide to handling gun powder and powerful weaponry. In Cockle (99): “An official publication, corresponding to our drill book. The instructions for the musket are confined to directions for the delivery of volleys, both in attacking and in retreating; for the manual exercise or ‘postures’ ‘His Excellencies Booke’ is named as the standard. The rest refers to the drill of Pikemen, and to the exercising and arming of the Infantry generally, and of the Cavalry, who are divided into Cuirassiers, and Harquebusiers and ‘Dragons;’ ‘the two terms seeming interchangeable’.”

Corresponding with textual commands are the numbered images with detailed descriptions written below designed to teach the reader about military discipline. Detailed guidelines teach the reader how to march, unshoulder, prepare, aim and shoot their muskets. Following on from this is a similar step by step guide demonstrating the correct usage of a pike. This publication “was a significant step toward bringing about the codification and standardization of militia training that had been debated since the Elizabethan period” (David Lawrence, The complete soldier, 2009, p. 136). The publishers, working on behalf of King James I, were the Privy Council of England. They advise the monarch on interdepartmental matters at select Privy Council Meetings.

Henry Beaufoy, the previous owner, was a Member of Parliament from 1783 to 1795. Educated at Edinburgh University, Beaufoy went on to join the Royal Society as a Fellow prior to his stints as Member of Parliament for Minehead and Great Yarmouth. He consistently pressed for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, which denied the civil rights of Roman Catholics and other non-conformists.

ESTC S117602; Cockle 99; Not in Lowndes.

Four copies in the UK and only one in the US, at Harvard.


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Super Posteriora Aristotelis.

Venice, Ottaviano Scoto, 1548.


Folio. Pp. (viii) 80. Roman letter, double column. Portrait vignette of author on title page, quasi-geometrical diagrams interspersed in text, printer’s device on verso of last. Upper edge dusty in places, occasional water stains mostly to margins, a little yellowing. In contemporary binding, reused vellum from a C15 ms, title on upper cover, spine and lower edge. Autograph of Hieronimus Tattus on upper cover and tp. Vellum loss from lower cover, head of spine and a little from corners. Medieval Latin manuscript used as binding, stubs in miniscule and majuscule hand.

This rare posthumous edition by Renaissance philosopher Augustino Nifo (C1473-1538/45) demonstrates the scholar’s in depth knowledge of ancient philosophy. Nifo was born in Naples and studied philosophy at the University of Padua, where he developed his taste for Aristotelian thought. He undertook lectureships in Padua, Naples, Rome and Pisa, eventually gaining the good favour of Pope Leo X. He was enlisted to defend the Catholic doctrine of immortality against Pomponazzi and the Alexandrists, ultimately becoming Count Palatine. He debated the division between body and soul, and maintained that the soul is everlasting and indestructible, though bodies perish. He published a great many commentaries on the works of Aristotle, which were widely popular and underwent several reprints.

The Analytica Posteriora is a text from Aristotle’s Organon – the fourth of six works on logic which introduces his syllogistic method. This method utilises deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions. The aim of such a method was to produce accurate and true scientific knowledge, assuming the premises are truthful in themselves. Aristotle states that for this reason the examples must utilise principles which are already proven to be known or that can be demonstrated to be such. One could use a table – it is not possible to argue that a table is not a table. The fact of a table’s existence is not an opinion. The method has to be undertaken in a linear as opposed to a circular fashion, therefore arriving at a new final conclusion. When the method proves that things are a certain way, it is deemed to be perfect. It denies the existence of opinion and knowledge simultaneously. Aristotle employs this methodology on different examples and concludes that both scientific knowing and intuition are only considered as universally ‘true’ where the latter is the originative source of scientific knowledge. Nifo takes this approach and critically analyses it by applying it to geometrical principles, as demonstrated in the extensive diagrams showing mathematical calculations with shapes of varying complexity.

Hieronimus Tattus was a philologist and erudite of whom scant information is recorded. Tattus is known to have owned and corrected a manuscript of Pliny’s Natural History, written by Hieronymus Baliocus of Novara in 1479 for Gian Matteo Bottigella of Pavia and his wife Bianca Visconti, later owned by Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727-1805) and bought in 1817 by the Bodleian Library, Oxford (now Canon. Class. lat. 295).

Not in BMSTC It. C16; Riccardi 113; This edition not in Cranz.


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CRESCENZI, Pietro de’.


De agricultura vulgare.

[Venice, Alessandro Bindoni, 9 July 1519.]


Small 4to. ff. 235 [i.e., 234] (vi). Roman letter, title in Gothic, double column. Woodcut of Justice (printer’s device) to recto and large woodcut from Alexander Grammaticus’s Doctrinale (1513) to verso of t-p, 38 small woodcuts of agricultural scenes, decorated initials. First and last three ll. a little thumb-marked, upper edge trimmed a little close, slight yellowing, the odd marginal spot, light water stain at foot of n2, two gatherings slightly browned, small tear at upper edge of &1-2 affecting book number, tear to lower outer blank corner of C1 repaired. A good copy in c.1700 vellum, raised bands, gilt-lettered morocco label, all edges blue. C19 autograph ‘G.[aetano] Nicolis’ (i.e., F. Aegidius a Verona) to front pastedown, C19 ms. ‘Bibliothecae Capuccinorum Tridenti F. Aegidius a Verona assegnavit’ (washed out) and C19 stamp ‘Bibiothecae Cappuccinorum (?)’ to t-p (partly erased) just touching woodcut, final table with early ms. page numbers.

A very good, handsomely illustrated, copy of the Italian translation of Pietro de’ Crescenzi’s famous writings on agriculture, printed in over 50 editions in several languages between 1471 and 1600. Crescenzi (or Crescentius, c.1230/30-1320) studied law, medicine and natural science at Bologna. After retiring from a long legal career, he spent much time at his estate in the Bolognese countryside. There he was inspired to write ‘De agricultura vulgare’ (c.1304)— first printed as ‘Ruralia commoda’ in Nuremberg in 1471—a treatise on agriculture based on classical and medieval sources and his direct experience. Like its most important models—Columella’s ‘De re rustica’ and Palladius’s ‘Opus agriculturae’—‘De agricultura’ was fundamental for the humanist re-elaboration of the rustic values of landownership so dear to the elites. The work presents an ideal ‘holistic’ landowner who is knowledgeable about all aspects of estate management, from the architecture of buildings to the caretaking of gardens and meadows, wine-making, bee-keeping, hunting, farming, and the use of trees and plants for medicinal and nutritional purposes. The superb woodcuts, many of which were drawn from the Venetian edition of 1495, depict a variety of rural subjects, from techniques for distilling river water and planning gardens to ways of ensuring that oxen ‘cooperate’ whilst pulling the plough—a tongue-in-cheek vignette, this, in which the artist inserted, behind the customary peasant figure, that of Hercules carrying out his tenth labour of bringing back from the end of the world the uncooperative cattle of Geryon.

This copy was in the private library of Friar Aegidius à Verona (1804-1887)—‘al secolo’ Gaetano Nicolis—a bibliophile and art expert. He was professor of canon law, provincial superior, and a historian of Trento. He bequeathed it to the Capuchin monastery of Trento, which it probably left during WWII.

Graesse II, 299: USTC 824568; BM STC It., p. 203; Essling, 845; Sander, 2238; Simon 162. Not in Bitting, Vicaire or Oberlé.


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LUTHER, Martin.


Geystliche Lieder. [with] Psalmen und Geystliche Lieder.

[Nuremberg, Gabriel Heyn, 1558].


8vo. 2 parts in 1, separate t-ps, 200 unnumbered ll., A-Z8 a-b8; 144 unnumbered ll., A-S8. Gothic letter, with Roman and Italic, musical notation. First t-p in red and black, all pages within lovely woodcut border of floral garlands, birds, grotesques and columns (signed VA), 32 full-page woodcut biblical scenes (some repeated), armorial woodcut to last rectos, decorated initials. First t-p and last verso of second a little soiled, small repair at head of first t-p touching woodcut border, tiny worm hole to first four ll., light water stain from upper and outer edge of first four gatherings and last, slight yellowing, the odd marginal spot, couple of ll. slightly browned, lower blank margin of last cut away. A good copy in C19 crimson shagreen, boards and spine gilt, corners, and head and foot of spine a bit rubbed, C20 bookplate of Alfred Cortot to front pastedown, his small initials stamped to lower margin of t-ps, early ms. ‘92’ to upper margin of first t-p.

A good, crisp copy of this scarce collective edition of Luther’s hymns and psalms, beautifully printed and illustrated, with woodcut music notation—’the most influential Lutheran hymnal of the sixteenth century’ (Fisher, 67). This is a posthumous and definitive edition; the first of 1545 was also Luther’s (1483-1546) last lifetime edition. It was based on the ‘Geystliche Lieder’ first published in 1529, which, although it has not survived, was frequently reprinted, revised and enlarged. Unlike his predecessors, Luther stated that ‘except for theology there is no art that could be put on the same level with music’; throughout his Reformed years, he devoted much time to the composition or translation into German of church music. In this edition, the first part comprises 89 hymns, and the second 14 psalms and 56 hymns (not present in the first), some on events of the liturgical year, others scriptural (Lord’s Supper) or theological (law, faith). Luther’s view was that ‘the reforming movement hymns were not only meant to be liturgical, but also expressly catechetical’ (Leaver, ‘Lit. Music’, 110). Their catechetical function was indeed enhanced by the handsome woodcuts designed for books of private devotion.

From the library of Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), famous Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor, especially praised for his interpretations of musical classics of the Romantic era.

No copies recorded in the US.

BM STC Ger., p.553; VD16 G863. Not in Fairfax Murray. A.J. Fisher, ‘Lutheranism and Calvinism’, in The Cambridge History of Sixteenth-Century Music, ed. I.A. Fenlon (2019), 56-91; R.A. Leaver, Luther’s Liturgical Music (2017).


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PEPIN, Guillaume.


Rosarium aureum mysticum.

Paris, Jehan Petit, [1521].


8vo. [268] unnumbered ff. Gothic letter, double column. T-p in red and black, woodcut printer’s device, decorated initials. T-p a little soiled, occasional yellowing, slight foxing along a few outer and lower edges, a handful of gatherings browned, very small tear from upper edge of b7. A good copy in lovely contemporary English calf, remains of one tie, double blind ruled, centre panels with parallel rolls in blind of saints’ full figures within gothic arch (signed SC), raised bands, cross-hatching in blind to compartments, title inked to two edges, upper joint cracked but firm, small repairs to corners and at foot of spine. C16 ms. ‘Ex libris Dominici Laureae’ and C17 ms. ‘us. de ff. Capucins du Con.[vent] de Grasse’ to t-p, occasional C16 annotations.

The lovely Gothic binding was produced by the S.G. binder in England. The blind rolls which occupy the centre panel, with full-length figures of St John the Evangelist, St Barbara, St Katherine and St Nicholas, are a variation on his usual tetrapartite panel design c.1520 in Weale, ‘Bookbindings and Rubbings’, 158. We have not traced the rolls in any major bibliography. S.G.’s style is also reminiscent—or vice versa—of the panel design used by the G.R. binder in London c.1530 (Goldschmidt, ‘Goth. & Ren.’, 149). Oldham records a roll used by S.G. in 1530 (‘Eng. Blind-Stamped Bind.’, FL6). In the C17, this copy was in the Capuchin convent of Grasse, in Navarre.

Exquisitely bound Jehan Petit edition—his second of this work—with his trademark elegant Gothic letter. Guillaume Pepin (d.1533) was professor of theology at Paris and a Dominican from the convent of St Louis at Évreux. Entirely devoted to the Virgin Mary, ‘Rosarium’ gathers 55 sermons corresponding to the 55 beads of the rosary—a practice he endeavoured to promote—plus 5 sermons on the Passion, for private piety. ‘The elegant style of his writing, his outstanding erudition and the doctrinal richness of his message earned him great fame in France, which he travelled extensively to preach’ (‘Testi mariani’, 103). The 50 Marian sermons celebrate the Virgin as Rosa Mystica and all the virtues associated with her, such as faith, patience, compassion, martyrdom, charity, and so on. Every ten sermons is one on the suffering of Christ, during circumcision, his prayer in Gethsemane, flagellation, the wearing of the crown of thorns, and crucifixion. The letter to the reader introduces the Rosa Mystica with a bewitching garden scene, imbued with the rhetoric and physicality of medieval mysticism; there the faithful can yield in their senses, heart and soul to prayer, surrounded by the scent of flowers and a fragrance more enticing than Arabic incense. The second part comprises a shorter ‘Rosarium’ with seven sermons. The early annotator of this copy—probably Dominicus Lauria—highlighted passages on Mary’s ‘duplex virginitas’ and the meaning of the bigger beads, and glossed Pepin’s sources, especially Jerome and Augustine.

Only Dayton copy recorded in the US.

Not in French Books, BM STC Fr. or Brunet.


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De consolatione philosophiae.

Nuremberg, Anton Koberger, 12 Nov. 1476.


FIRST EDITION. Royal folio. 2 parts in 1, 137 of 140 unnumbered and unsigned ll., lacking 3 blanks. Gothic letter, second part double column. First 6-line initial with naturalistic illumination of Boethius in prison in green, grey, blue and red, bordered with red penflourishes, others decorated with penflourishing, 3- and 2-line initials rubricated in alternating red and blue, start of paragraph and sentences highlighted in red. Recto of first leaf and verso of last a little dust-soiled, oil stain to upper margin of first few and final gatherings, light water stain to outer blank margin of d5-6, couple of tiny marginal worm holes at beginning and end. A very good, fresh, very tall copy, on thick paper, in C18 English crimson morocco, marbled eps, bordered with gilt roll of fleurons, acorns and rounded dentelles, large gilt lozenge-shaped centrepiece with gouges, floral decorations and small fleurs-de-lis to corners, raised bands, each of seven compartments gilt with acorn and spiral stamps, spine gilt-lettered, outer and inner edges gilt, joints and corners repaired, spine restored at head and foot, edges a little rubbed, few blemishes to covers. Contemporary interlinear annotations to first two ll., occasionally elsewhere.

The illuminated C follows a frequent ms. tradition portraying Boethius in prison. Unlike most, however, Boethius is shown half-figure, alone, behind bars. The rubrication and overall style are reminiscent of German-speaking Central Europe. Boethius’s hat, remote from usual representations, looks vaguely Slavonic. Whilst the smaller initials and decorative layout of the C were produced by a professional, the portrait may be by the rubricator himself. Boethius’s unusual blue hair and beard suggest the artist did not have lead white, useless for rubrication.

An excellent, fresh, very tall copy, in a handsome Sunderland binding, of this milestone of Western philosophy—the first edition to feature a long commentary here attributed to Thomas Aquinas, but probably written by the Oxford Dominican Thomas Waleys (1287?-1350?). One of the most influential early Christian philosophers, Boethius (477-524AD) was a Roman politician at service of Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths. He probably studied in Athens where he became fluent in Greek and acquainted with important Hellenic philosophers. Imprisoned by Theodoric upon charges of high treason, he famously wrote ‘De Consolatione philosophiae’ in 523-24 during a one-year imprisonment, eventually leading to his execution. The work reflects on the negative turn of events in Boethius’s hitherto very successful career. In this fictional dialogue, Lady Philosophy consoles him, as they discuss the evanescent nature of worldly fame and riches, virtue, the ills of fortune, human folly, passion, hatred, free will, justice and predestination, with Boethius’s Christianity heavily tempered by Hellenism. Waleys’s commentary was one of the most successful and most reprinted. Boethius’s work was taught at grammar schools for its elegant Latin and educational content, and lectured on at universities for its philosophical value. The contemporary annotator provided interlinear paraphrases of the first four pages, with Boethius’s verse complaint, the apparition of Lady Philosophy, and her initial arguments. In addition to turning everything to the third person, glossing ‘ego’ with ‘Boethius’, the annotator provided synonyms of most words or phrases, seeking to follow the original meaning whilst slightly altering the lines.

The binding is typical of Charles (1674-1722), third Earl of Sunderland’s collection (e.g., BL IB30218), though this copy is not present in the sale catalogue. His collection comprised ‘some 20,000 printed books: it was particularly strong in incunabula […], in Bibles, in first editions of the classics and Continental literature of the C15 and C16. A small portion of the volumes were bound in morocco, the bulk in calf’ (de Ricci, 38).

Harvard, Chicago, Folger, NYPL Pierpont Morgan, Princeton, Huntington (imperfect), Smithsonian, UCLA, Illinois, WU and Yale copies recorded in the US.

Goff B771; HC 3370*; BMC XV II, 413; GW 4526.


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Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum.

Venice, per Bernardinum Venetum de Vitalibus, [after 1500?].


4to. 60 unnumbered ff., a-p4. Roman letter. Splendid large woodcut portrait of physician at his desk surrounded by astrological instruments. T-p dusty, traces of oval stamp in lower blank margin, minor repairs on verso, slight yellowing, a few ll. a little thumbed, occasional very minor marginal foxing, small ink mark to foremost edge of n3-4, light water splashes to verso of last. A good copy in modern polished calf antique, decorated to style, old paper eps, blind tooled, two faded early ms. ‘Loci Ale’ (?) [monastic ownership] to t-p, the odd C16 marginal ms. note.

A rare Venetian edition of this most influential medieval medical work. First published in Louvain in c.1480, after an extensive medieval ms. circulation, it was reprinted hundreds of times and translated into several vernaculars. It is a Latin poem on the preservation of good health composed for the king of England in the early C12. The authorship was attributed to physicians of the School of Salerno, the most important medical establishment in the early middle ages, where the Greek tradition of Hippocrates, Galen and Dioscorides met the novelties of newly translated Arabic medical treatises. ‘[It is] a catch-all of advice and instruction on how to preserve health, rules of hygiene and diet, simple therapeutics, and other instruction intended more for the laity than for the medical profession. It was committed to memory by thousands of physicians’ (‘Heirs of Hippocrates’, 43). The very extensive commentary was written by the Catalan physician and alchemist Arnaldus de Villa Nova (1240-1311), who studied at Montpellier and was in the service of three Aragonese monarchs. Advice on virtuous behaviour include tooth brushing, a short post-prandial nap, and small meals; further on food and drink, the poem explains, for instance, the medical virtues of wine and practical ways of determining whether a wine is good quality (smell, colour, taste, transparency), as well as the healthier kinds of meat. It discusses the properties of herbs and provides recipes for preparations, and instructions on purgation and phlebotomy. Arnaldus’s commentary expands on the concise verse, adding detailed physiological explanations and quoting Greek and Arabic authorities.

This is one of five editions by Vitali recorded in ISTC, dated c.1500 to c.1505. (Vitali worked in Venice c.1498-1508.) This is the same as ISTC ir00080000 / GW M37390, except for a different title subdivision, a printed Greek cross just above the t-p woodcut, and the absence of a few printed paragraph headings in the first gathering. This appears to be much scarcer than the above. The lovely astrological woodcut was also used in another two Vitali editions and another without date or imprint.

These bibliographies only list different editions/issues: ISTC ir00080000; Goff R80; Essling 610; Sander 6389; GW M37390; Durling 3807; Wellcome I, 5371; Vicaire 308; Oberlé 314; Simon pp.71-2; Heirs of Hippocrates 43. Not in Harvard C16 It.


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