[CONTARINI, Ambrogio, et al.]
RUSSIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Viaggi fatti da Vinetia, alla Tana, in Persia, in India, et in Costantinopoli.Venice, [nelle case haer. Aldo I Manuzio], 1543
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. 7 parts in 1, ff. 180. Italic letter, little Roman. Aldus device to t-p and recto of last. Light marginal oil stain to few ll., occasional very minor marginal spotting or thumbing, tiny worm trail at gutter of last two ll., last loosening but sound. A very good copy in C19 vellum over boards, yapp edges, marbled eps, triple gilt ruled, raised bands, spine in five double gilt ruled compartments with gilt large fleurons and lettering, a.e.r., minor loss to upper edge. C19 bookplate of Conte Arese Lucini to front pastedown.
Very good copy of the first Aldine and first collected edition of seven C15 and C16 Venetian travel narratives to the East, with a preface by Antonio Manuzio. ‘This volume of 1543 is rare…and it is much more difficult to find fine copies of this than the second edition of 1545’ (Renouard 128:8). The work contains accounts written by Giosafat Barbaro, Ambrogio Contarini, Aloigi di Giovanni and anonymous authors. Barbaro (1413-94) was a merchant based for sixteen years at the Tana, a major commercial emporium of the Serenissima near the Sea of Azov. His accounts told of travels in Crimea, the lower Volga and Dnepr, Constantinople, Trebisond, down to Tiflis, as well as Persia. Ambrogio Contarini (1429-99) wrote his narratives as a complement to those of Barbaro, whom he met in Persia, after travelling through Eastern Europe, Russia, the Tartar desert, Crimea and Caucasia. As ambassador, he told not only of adventurous passages and exchanges with peoples like the Tartars, but also meetings with important figures like the Persian king Usuncassan and the Grand Duke of Muscovy. Little is known of Aloigi di Giovanni (fl. early C16) who, after reaching Egypt on board of the Bernarda, travelled through Ethiopia, Arabia and Persia to India in 1529, which, together with Turkey, is also the subject of the anonymous narratives. Engagingly written, these accounts included descriptions of the culture and rites of local peoples, of expeditions—such as that of Barbaro with 120 men to dig up an alleged treasure in Transcaucasia—mercantile adventures involving fine gemstones and the sight of the 50,000 richly harnessed horses of King Sophi, so tall Aloigi di Giovanni could not reach their back by stretching his hand as far as it would go. A delightful epitome of the adventurous spirit of the Renaissance Serenissima.Renouard 128:8; Brunet V, 1166; Cordier, Bib. Sin., 2052; Göllner 822. Not in BM STC It.