WITH VALUABLE MANUSCRIPT INDEXES
In veterum numismatum Romanorum miscellanea explicationes [with manuscript indexes]Lyon, Jean Raisin apud Sébastien de Honorat, 1560
FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. (viii) 148 [i.e. 142] (i) + 80 manuscript ll. Roman and italic letter, occasional Greek, woodcut floriated and historiated initials. T-p within attractive architectural border with putti, grotesques, standing allegorical figures and a central vignette depicting an amphora pouring water on a plant with motto “poco a poco”. Manuscript pages in dark brown ink in a fluent, contemporary, humanistic cursive script. Slight age yellowing, very light waterstain to lower blank margins of one gathering, light ink splash to one fol., crude early repair to colophon leaf blank. A very good, clean and wide-margined copy in contemporary vellum, covers a bit soiled, little loss to lower corner of upper cover, yapp edges, ms. ‘204’ to upper cover and to fly, traces of ties. Two different watermarks with initials ‘IM’ to manuscript ll.
A very good copy of the first edition of Landi’s popular numismatic treatise, bound with 80 manuscript pages of indexes in a beautiful and clear humanistic cursive script.
Count Costanzo Landi (1521-1564) was an Italian scholar, poet and numismatist. Born in Piacenza, he completed his studies of classical literature and law in Bologna, under the great jurist Andrea Alciati. With a passion for numismatics, Landi spent the majority of his life in Rome, and travelled to Milan, Padova, Ancona and Como for his antiquarian researches. This work on Roman coins is the result of 15 years of studies, in which the author examines the symbolism, historical and cultural background of numismatic artefacts, discussing his own and Alciati’s collections. The treatise is divided into a series of chapters on coins portraying different subjects: we find Roman emperors, Gods and personifications, including Nature and Virtue. “Although no woodcut illustrations were used in the work, the author’s comprehensive comments sought to elucidate selected visual themes. […] The subject of Landi’s considerations are various images embedded in a rich cultural background. The Italian scholar ventures to discuss ancient customs, quotes both classical and modern authors, refers to the opinions of other renowned scholars.” (Czarski)
Four manuscript indexes with page numbers, elegantly designed and written in a calligraphic contemporary hand, are appended at the end. The first two are related to Landi’s treatise: a list of the most important contents (‘rerum insigniorum’) and a shorter alphabetical index on two columns. The third and fourth indexes contain detailed references to the contents of two influential contemporary works on numismatics: ‘Le Imagini delle donne Auguste’ (Valgrisi 1557) by Enea Vico and ‘Discorso sopra le medaglie antiche’ (Valgrisi 1559) by Sebastiano Erizzo. Aimed at facilitating the consultation of long treatises, these indexes do not simply list titles of chapters and page numbers. They are detailed summaries of the relevant subjects and themes that can be found in the books, often quoting word by word from the authors. There are useful notes in margins, and capital letters are alternated to cursive to highlight titles and texts of Latin inscriptions. Interestingly, constellations are referred to using the respective zodiac symbols. Two different watermarks with the initials “IM” appear on the pages: these were applied by the paper maker as a signature. One is recorded by Briquet (Briquet 1985, Vol.3 n. 9795), which dates it to 1575 and indicates the Isère region in France, particularly Grenoble, as the possible provenance: this is not far from Lyon, where the book was printed.USTC 152937; Adams L111; BM STC Fr. 16th century, p. 251; Brunet III, p. 810; Graesse IV, p. 94; Cicognara 2902, “Edizione senza le tavole, ma da pregiarsi per la descrizione, e provenienza di ciascuna edaglia, e poiché piena di cognizioni intorno agli studi numismatici di quell’età che non erano molti”. B. Czarski, Coins of Alciato. Remarks on the Reception of Classical Numismatic Iconography in the 16th-Century Emblem Books (2017).