ALDROVANDI, Ulisse [Complete Works]

Bologna, Nicola Tebaldino & Clemente e Giovanni Battista Ferroni per Marco Antonio Bernia, 1640-1652, 1668


13 volumes, fol.: 1): pp. [4], 893, [57], without final blank; 2): pp. [6], 862, [62], without final blank; 3): pp. [10], 560, [24]; 4): pp. [10], 767, [45]; 5): pp. [6], 593, [29]; 6): pp. [6], 732, [28], without final blank; 7): pp. [6], 495, [29]; 8): pp. [6], 1040, [12]; 9): pp. [4], 718, [16]; 10): FIRST EDITION: pp. [6], 427, [29]; 11): FIRST EDITION: pp. [8], 748, [28], 159, [9], without final blank; 12): FIRST EDITION: pp. [8], 979, [13]; 13): FIRST EDITION, second issue: pp. [12], 660, [52]. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic and Greek; engraved architectural and allegorical titles by G. B. Coriolano, G. B. Cavazza, A. Salmicius and L. Tinti, all featuring the dedicatees’ coat of arms and, occasionally, oval portraits; numerous historiated or floriated initials and decorative or typographical head- and tail-pieces, over 2500 woodcut illustrations of animals, plants and gems in text, full- or double-pages; printers’ device on most final or penultimate leaves; occasionally light foxing, mostly in margins, a few leaves age yellowed; small marginal waterstains in places in vols 4, 6-8, 10 and 13, tiny wormholes at foot of first gathering in vol. 1, couple of ink spots, mainly on blanks, to title of vol. 5, first loosening gatherings in vol. 11, worn lower margin of last three leaves in vol. 13. Fine uniform set of good, well-margined copies in contemporary mottled calf, darker in vol. 13, consistently gilt with double-filled border, spine charmingly gilt with elaborate floriated decoration and title directly lettered on one or two of the seven compartments; a. e. sprinkled; minor old repairs to head and tail of most spines, light scratching and rubbing occasionally on covers, a few tiny wormholes on vol. 12, some corners and edges very slightly bumped; contemporary autograph of ‘Le Vignon’ inscribed on all titles but in vol. 13, with variant ‘Le Vignon m. Par.’ in vol. 11; bookcase number ‘97’ in his hand consistently at foot of each front pastedowns, his price note ‘Emputs 220 ff.’ at head of title in vol. 10.

Exquisite complete set, bound in contemporary France, of the massive corpus of Aldrovandi’s scientific works, the last four in the first edition, the remainders in the most accurate editions published in Bologna by Ferroni and Tebaldino in the mid-seventeenth century. Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) is regarded as the father of modern natural history due to his pivotal contribution to zoology, botany and geology. An erudite scholar of wide-ranging interests, he was the first professor of natural science at Bologna university. There, he established a renowned botanical garden and gathered a steady amount of specimens and detailed drawings of faunal and floral rarities in his private museum. Everything was later bequeathed to the City Senate. The majority of his extensive scientific essays was published posthumously by his pupils with the support of the Bolognese Commune. This set embraces all his body of work, comprising: the three famous volumes on birds; the single tomes on insects, crustaceans & shellfish, fish & cetaceans; the ground-breaking investigation of quadrupeds spread over three volumes; the two fascinating works on reptiles (including dragons) and on any sort of monsters; the rare treatise on metals; the late survey on trees. Vol. 5 (De animalibus exanguibus) retains the initial dedication to the Bolognese senators; vol. 11 (Monstruorum Historia) has the Paralipomena, often missing; vol. 13 (Dendrologia) exceptionally bears the frontispiece with the crude printed title. All volumes are extensively illustrated, often providing the first depiction of a rare animal, plant or stone from Africa, Asia and Americas. Amongst the editors of the vast collection was the Scottish scholar Thomas Dampster (1579-1625), at the time professor of humanities at the University of Bologna.

This extraordinary set was put together in the 1650s by a wealthy French collector who marked every volumes with the number 97 and signed each title but that of vol. 13 as ‘Le Vignon’. In vol. 11, he adds to his surname ‘m. par.’, which should be intended as ‘medicus Parisiensis’. This helps to identify the owner as the physician François Le Vignon, dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris as well as personal physician of the Duchesse of Lorraine since 1656 and of the Swiss Guards of Louis XIV, died 1675. Le Vignon must have commissioned the binding of the first 12 volumes soon after 1652, i. e. the year of the latest imprint. Although the calf employed is darker and somewhat less luxurious, the binding of the 13th one, published in 1668, was worked at a later stage by the same binder, as the gilt decoration of the spine makes clear.

1-3) Ornithologiae, 1652: Not in Nissen, Zoologische. BM STC 17th It., 16 (only 2 and 3); Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 189 (vol. 2 only); Wellcome, I, 172.4) De animalibus insectis, 1644: Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 180; Nissen, Zoologische, 66.5) De reliquis animalibus exanguibus, 1642: BM STC 17th It., 15; Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 68; Wellcome, I, 172.6) De piscibus ... et de cetis, 1644: BM STC 17th It., 14-15; Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 70; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 644/5.7) De quadrapedibus solidipedibus, 1648: Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 72.8) Quadrupedum omnium bisulcorum, 1641-1642: Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 190 (imperfect); Nissen, Zoologische, 76; Alden, 642/3.9) De quadrupedibus digitatis viviparis, 1645: Not in BM STC 17th It. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 183; Nissen, Zoologische, 77; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 645/1. 10) Serpentum, et draconum historiae, 1640: BM STC 17th It., 16; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 191; Nissen, Zoologische, 78; Wellcome, I, 172.11) Monstrorum historia, 1642: BM STC 17th It., 15; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 187; Nissen, Zoologische, 74; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 642/2.12) Musaeum metallicum, 1648: BM STC 17th It., 16; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 188 (imperfect); Nissen, Zoologische, 75; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 648/5.13) Dendrologiae, 1667-1668: BM STC 17th It., 15; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 186; Nissen, Botanische, 14; Wellcome, I, 172.

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