[SMITH, Joseph (Consul).]
Bibliotheca SmithianaVenice, Joannes Baptista Paschalius, 1755
FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. (viii), xliii, (i), DXIX, (i), CCCXLVIII, (iv). Roman letter, some Italic, a little Greek. Very good, clean and well-margined copy. Smith’s bookplates engraved on t.p., t.p. in red and black, elaborate tailpieces including one of Athena and Pasquali’s device of Apollo in glory holding open book (‘Litterarum felicitas’) and elaborate ornament depicting the instruments of learning and science. Contemporary vellum, a.e.g., covers triple ruled with fleurons, central ornament, all gilt, spine with morocco lettering piece, decorated gilt, endpapers marbled. Small hole to front cover, handful of outer and lower edges uncut. Armorial bookplates of Sir Edward Sullivan (1822-1885, 1st Baronet and Lord Chancellor of Ireland), and celebrated bibliographer Anthony Hobson inside front cover; Hobson’s pencil marks within. Autograph letter from professor Stuart Morrison (author of ‘Records of a Bibliophile: Consul Joseph Smith’ in The Book Collector, Spring 1994) to Anthony Hobson included.
Joseph Smith (c.1682-1770) was the British consul at Venice (1744-1760), during which time he was a patron of artists (notably Canaletto), and a collector of art and books. Smith’s library was rich in incunabula, early printed books, Italian literature, history, art, architecture, and antiquities and was bought by George III almost in its entirety in 1765 for £10,000; it formed the nucleus of what is now the British Library. While at Venice, Smith bankrolled the Pasquali press, and enjoyed patronising lavish and limited editions, including an almost perfect facsimile of the rare 1527 edition of the Decameron. He used the coat of arms of the family of Smith of Essex and Suffolk but he never established his right to it (CERL). Goethe, on his Italian journey of 1786-88, stopped to pay his respects at Smith’s grave: “To him I owe my copy of Palladio, and I offered up a grateful prayer.” The setting of the Addenda is quite different from the copy at B10.‘Catalogue curieux, parce qu’il reproduit les préfaces des éditions du XVe siècle qui y sont décrites.’ Brunet I, 925. De Ricci 54-55.