Dominican Use, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[southern Germany, 1476]


Sm 4to, 160 by 120mm, 197 leaves (plus 3 paper at each end), complete. Collation: i-xvii10, xviii9 (viii a cancelled blank), xix10, xx8, single column of 18 lines in a professional late gothic German bookhand, extensive music in square notation on 4-line red staves, a few capitals touched in red. Simple red or dark blue initials throughout, larger initials often with human faces skilfully picked out in penwork, one very large ornately decorated initial in blue heightened with white penwork on burnished gold grounds opening the first Psalm, borders of delicately scrolling coloured foliage terminating in pointed flowerheads. The remaining Psalms with similar sized initials in red or blue with contrasting geometric penwork, some with drollery animals (often with dog-like faces) left in blank parchment within their bodies, or in blue or pink on burnished gold with pink tessellated squares or coloured foliage within their bodies and acanthus leaf sprays in margin. Occasionally annotated by a sixteenth-century hand giving German names for festivals and holidays, markers at numerous leaf edges in form of simple folded tags to allow easy finding of certain readings, occasional flaking, in robust and good condition, on good and heavy vellum. In sixteenth-century German binding of ornately tooled calf over wooden boards, probably by Thomas Drechsler of Frankfurt, scuffed and bumps in places, a few small holes to boards and losses to spine, wanting one brass clasp, in folding box.


  1. 1.Most probably written for use by a Dominican from southern Germany, with SS. Dominic and Catherine of Siena repeated in the Litany, and Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Cunigunde pointing towards Bamberg, Sebald towards Nuremburg and Elizabeth of Hungary or of Thuringia towards Marburg. The volume is dated boldly in red medieval Arabic numerals “1476” at foot of text on last leaf.
  2. 2. As with many portable-sized Dominican books the volume seems to have travelled with an itinerant preacher, and by the mid-sixteenth century was in Frankfurt, where it was rebound with toolmarks of repeating rolls of saints above cartouches holding the text “Tu es Petrus et” (Matthew 16:18), “Apparuit benignitas” (Titus, 3:4), “Ecce Agnus Dei” (John 1:29) and “Data est mihi o[mnis]” (Matthew 28:18) identical to those on an Avicenna owned by Adam Lonicer bound by the Frankfurt master-binder Thomas Drechsler in or after 1560 (now Sibbald Library, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; see also article on this binding in Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, 41, 2011, pp. 278-80) and a Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum published in Frankfurt by the heirs of Christian Egenhoff in 1582 (Princeton, RA775 .xR4 1582). It was likely in the possession of a Dominican of that city, and part of the library of the Dominikanerkloster there. That house was founded in 1233, and by the fourteenth century was the largest ecclesiastical presence in the city, serving as the site for royal coronations in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was significantly expanded in the fifteenth century with the construction of an enclosed cloister. It was suppressed in 1803, and its goods and library dispersed by the city authorities over the next decade or so. The remaining medieval structures were destroyed by bombing in 1944.
  3. 3.The present volume seems to have remained in ecclesiastical use until at least the eighteenth century (when a small slip with a liturgical reading in a hand of that date was inserted, and with contemporary ex libris marks of “101” and “H” added to its front endleaves). It was in English-speaking private hands by the early twentienth century (it includes a typed description in English on a slipped in card of that date).

Text and decoration:

The volume comprises: Prayers, including the Our Father, Hail Mary and Credo, and doxologies and invitatories (fols. 1r-4r); a Psalter (fols. 4r-167v), with noted responses, verses and antiphons, ff. 4-167v; the Ferial canticles (including Benedicite, Te Deum and Benedictus) and a Litany (fols. 167v-186r); a set of 9 oration prayers (fols. 186r-187r); and hymns and antiphons (fols. 184v-197r).

The wealth and variety of decoration here, as well as the charming motif of leaving grotesque drolleries suspended in blank vellum within the bodies of the initials are Germanic monastic features of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, seen also in a dispersed Austrian antiphoner once in the collection of Jakob Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck (1811-1903; see Semenzato auction, 25 April 2003, lot 197, and more recently Bloomsbury Auctions, 2 July 2019, lot 57) and another Dominican Psalter probably from Nuremberg (sold in Bloomsbury Auctions, 8 July 2015, lot 87, £28,000 hammer).

A handsome and particularly charmingly decorated monastic choir book of the later Middle Ages.


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Musical bifolium from an early noted Missal, decorated manuscript on vellum

[Italy, or perhaps southern France, early 13th-century]


Folio, each leaf 380 by 268 mm, recovered from reuse in a later binding, with most of single column of 9 remaining lines of text in a good angular liturgical hand, with pronounced fishtailing to ascenders and descenders, many extending these with hairline penstrokes for ornate visual effect, with accompanying music in neumes arranged around a red clef line, red rubrics, capitals in ornate penstrokes and touched in red, one large blue initial enclosed within red penwork, reused folded around boards of later binding, with staining and scuffs on outside, one large tear to edge of one leaf, overall fair and legible.

Containing readings for Palm Sunday, a prayer for the preservation of the Pope and a hymn, all to be chanted, with full musical notation for doing so.


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Lilium musice plane.

Augsburg, per Johannem Froschawer, 1498.


Small 4to. 15 unnumbered ll., lacking final blank. Gothic letter. Handsome half-page woodcut vignette to title with Pythagoras and Lady Musica holding scrolls, printed music notation, decorated initials. Faint water stain to upper or outer blank margin of last gathering, tiny worm trail to lower edge of three ll., lower outer blank corner of b 6 minimally torn. An excellent, remarkably clean but unwashed copy in C19 navy blue crushed morocco by Zaehnsdorf, double gilt ruled, raised bands, spine gilt-lettered, bookplate of pianist Alfred Cortot to front pastedown, his small stamped monogram on lower outer blank corner of t-p and b 1 .

An excellent, fresh copy of the rare third edition—not in Goff, Hain or BMC—of this handsome music incunabulum. It was first published in Basel in 1496, and reprinted in Ulm the following year. Michael Keinspeck (c.1451-c.1516), from Nuremberg, studied under Josquin de Près and was later professor at Basel. In the introduction to ‘Lilium’, he provides a short account of his early career. ‘Lilium’—a plainchant manual—was conceived for the use of students. It was only the second such manual published in Germany, after Hugo von Reutlingen’s (1488). Plainchant (‘cantus planus’), of which Gregorian is a subcategory, refers to the monophonic chant, with a single melodic line, used in Catholic liturgy. After a definition of music, the work proceeds to discuss types of music (choralis, mensurata, rigmica), scales, cantus (durus, mollis, naturalis), single and double clefs, toni, modi and key change, with a section on intonations for psalms, for ferial and festal use, in eight modes. Extensive musical notation, including a table illustrating Boethius’s ‘scala vera et recta’, provides illustrative examples in four-line staffs, and were printed on woodblocks. ‘Based on the consistent style of the design and the cutting, it is likely (but not certain) that one designer or workshop produced all the woodcuts, including the diagrams, music and title vignette’ (Giselbrecht & Savage, ‘Printing Music’, 91). A rare incunabulum, beautifully printed.

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.

Only 4 copies recorded (1 fragmentary), none in the US. (No copies of first ed. recorded in US, the second only at LC and Rochester.)
ISTC ik00009200; Klebs 571.3; IBP 3328; Schr 4443; GW M16240. Not in Goff, Hain or BMC. E. Giselbrecht and E. Savage, ‘Printing Music’, in Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands, ed. A. Lindmayr-Brandl (London, 2018), 84-99.


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WILBYE, John [with] YONGE, Nicholas



WILBYE, John. The first set of English madrigals to 3.4.5. and 6. voices: newly composed by Iohn Wilbye. [Bassus] London, Printed by Thomas Este, 1598.


YONGE, Nicholas. Musica transalpina. Madrigales translated of foure, five and sixe parts, chosen out of divers excellent authors, with the first and second part of La Verginella, made by maister Byrd, upon two stanza’s of Ariosto. [Bassus] London, By Thomas East, the assigné of William Byrd, 1588.


FIRST EDITIONS. Two works in one. 4to. 1) [ii], XXX. A-D. 2) ff. (ii) LVII (i) A² A-G (without last blank). Woodcut type notation, Roman letter. Both titles within typographical border with small woodcut ornaments, floriated and historiated woodcut initials in second work, full page woodcut arms of dedicatee Gilbert, Lord Talbot on verso of second title. Light even browning in both works, first t-p and verso of last dusty, small waterstain to blank lower outer corner of first few leaves, minor waterstain in places, rare mark or spot. Very good original copies, entirely unsophisticated in original limp vellum, upper cover with BASSUS stamped in black, lower cover stamped with B above with monogram WR separated with a heart at centre, holes for ties, a little soiled and stained, a little loose in binding, in fldg. box.

Very rare first editions of these madrigals, both of them bass parts, remarkably, and exceptionally rarely, preserved in their original vellum; this is of particular importance as it shows exactly how the work would have been used at the time. If you sang bass you would only have needed the bass parts. Most extant copies of such works have collected various parts together and have been rebound for reference, not for use. The first work is the first collection of Madrigals by Wilbye and the second is an important collection of madrigals that include works by Byrd, Donato, Lassus, and Palestrina amongst many others.

“It is through his madrigals that Wilbye (1574–1638), who spent most of his life in comparative obscurity as a domestic musician, is known. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001) describes him as ‘one of the finest English madrigalists’. Meanwhile, the Tudor music specialist Edmund Horace Fellowes yet more superlatively stated that Wilbye was ‘regularly acknowledged to be the greatest stylist of the Elizabethans’ (introduction to his edition of the First Set of Madrigals). He also asserted him to be ‘one of the greatest figures in English Music’ (The English Madrigal Composers, 2e, 1948, p. 221). Wilbye wrote in all styles to a high standard. Yet more importantly, he established the serious madrigal as a recognised form of composition. Wilbye published 64 madrigals in all, the 30 here (1598) and the rest in his Second Set of Madrigales (1609). They are written for between three and six voices. .. For the book historian, the volume is also interesting for its publisher, Thomas Este, or East (1540–1608). From 1587 onwards, East specialised in music printing and publishing. He edited music carefully and was faithful to the intentions of the composers. He was ‘the’ madrigal printer of his time, having printed the Musica Transalpina in 1588 (the first printed collection of Italian madrigals with texts translated into English), most of the following collections of ‘Englished’ Italian madrigals of the time, and the works of many of the Elizabethan madrigalists. Both William Byrd and, later, Thomas Morley sometimes employed him. As well as printing the work of established composers, East invited young, up-and-coming composers to his press – one of who was Wilbye.” Dr Karen Attar ‘Senate House Library.’

“The most important formative influences on Wilbye’s music were Morley’s canzonet manner and, to a lesser extent, the madrigalian idiom of Alfonso Ferrabosco… The most marked influence of Morley is to be heard in the three-voice pieces that open Wilbye’s First Set of English Madrigals (1598). Here Wilbye already shows a firm command of Morley’s facile canzonet style, generating fluent little paragraphs that are as polished as they are unenterprising. Signs of Ferrabosco’s influence may be most clearly discerned in certain of the five-voice works of this collection, with their more staid expression and counterpoint. Lady, your words doe spight mee actually uses a text already set by Ferrabosco (in Yonge’s Musica transalpina, 1588), and is the only example of Wilbye’s borrowing some musical material from an earlier setting. The best of the five-voice pieces is Flora gave mee fairest flowers, a far more canzonet-like piece, whose clearcut paragraphs and specially sprightly conclusion contrast sharply with the amorphous counterpoint and relatively neutral expression of its companions.” David Brown in Grove Music Online.

“Yonge was the editor of two anthologies of Italian madrigals published, with English texts, as Musica transalpina in 1588 and 1597. The first contains 57 pieces (including an English version of La verginella by Byrd with a new second part, and four settings of French texts) by 18 composers, of whom the most liberally represented are the elder Ferrabosco and Marenzio. In 1583 and 1585 Pierre Phalèse of Antwerp had issued three madrigal anthologies which not only provided the model for Yonge’s venture, but also afforded him a quantity of Italian madrigals by minor Flemish composers (19 pieces came from these three sources). Yonge’s 1588 collection was a direct result of the growing English enthusiasm during the 1580s for Italian madrigals. He explained that most of the English translations had been made in 1583 by ‘a Gentleman for his private delight’. ..Yonge’s 1588 volume was the most influential of the five volumes of Italian madrigals in translation to appear in England between 1588 and 1598.” David Brown in Grove Music Online.

1) ESTC S101316 STC 25619. Hirsch III, 1150. RISM W1065. 2) ESTC S120284 STC 26094. RISM Recueils Imprimés XVIe-XVIIe Siècles 1588-29.

1) Folger (4 copies), Princeton, Illinois (2 copies).

2) Folger, Harvard, Huntington, Lib Congress, Texas


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OCTOECHOS, tones 1-4.

Moscow, Pečatnyj dvor, 1618.


Folio, 476 ff.  23 ll./p., 10 ll. Old Cyrillic type in black, with red for titles, initials, running titles, rubrics and marginalia. 14 headpieces from 7 blocks; decorative initial Б on f.474. Zernova gives the foliation as 1–227, 224, 230–443, 445–477, [478].  In this copy the foliation on the five leaves following f.227 has been corrected by hand, the printed sequence beginning again on f.234 (which is actually the 233rd leaf).  In addition, the number of f.73 has been corrected by hand (from 75), and there are further corrections on ff.245–250 (it is no longer possible to see what was originally printed). First leaf mounted, some marginal repairs, not affecting the text.  Wax-spotting throughout, dust and finger soiling, generally good. In contemporary calf, sewn on four cords, over wooden boards, blind tooled on the upper cover with large central medallion between four cornerpieces, all within a border of fillets and a small repeating motif, and on the lower cover with nine vertical rows of the same small motif between bands at the top and bottom of lozenges with a different small motif, one clasp renewed to match, rebacked, spine remounted, edges blue.

Inscription on f.2: сиꙗ кн҃га данилова мнⷭ҇трѧ, “This book belongs to the Danilov Monastery”. Inscription on ff.3–19:  Лѣта ҂зр҃кз авгꙋстъ єі дн҃ь в переславль в залѣскои вданиловъ мнⷭ҇трь живоначалныѧ трⷪ҇ца вхрамъ далъ вкладꙋ коньстѧⷩтинъ іваноⷡ сн҃ъ лихачевъ книги гл҃емыѧ охтаи на осмь гласовъ печаⷮ московъска, “On 15th August 7127 [1619] Konstjantin son of Ivan Lichačev gave these books, the Octoechos, in the eight tones, Moscow printing, to the Danilov Monastery of the Holy Trinity, to the church, in Pereslavl’ Zalesskij.”

The Octoechos in Church Slavonic contains the variable portions of the services for each day of the week, according to the eight tones (ἤχοι): the services for the week beginning on the Sunday after Easter are conducted in the First Tone, the next week in the Second, and so on, and the cycle is repeated for the rest of the year.  Since this eight-weekly cycle is combined with the yearly cycles of fixed and movable feasts, the material from the Octoechos may be replaced in part or even completely when a festival or other commemoration falls upon a particular day.

Like other aspects of Russian life, printing was seriously disrupted during the Time of Troubles, and for over four years no books were printed at all.  After peace was restored, the first Romanov tsar, Michail Fedorovič, established the Moscow Printing House (Pečatnyj dvor), which was to have a virtual monopoly of printing in Russia until the eighteenth century.  This is the fourth book to be printed there, “by Master Ianikita son of Fedor Fofanov, of Pskov”.  The Octoechos was issued in two volumes, of which this is the first.  The inscription indicates that both volumes were presented to the monastery.

The celebrated Danilov Monastery at Pereslavl’ Zalesskij was founded in the 13th century by the son of Alexander Nevsky and has often played a central role in Russian history. It is the resting place of many celebrated intellectuals including Gogol and Rubinstein. It is now a spiritual and administrative centre of the Russian church. The numerous Lichačev family of minor gentry were prominent in state service in the seventeenth century.  Among their descendants was the famous collector and scholar Nikolaj Petrovič Lichačev (1862–1936).

Zernova 33.  Karataev 244.


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BUTLER, Charles

The Feminine Monarchie.

Oxford, Joseph Barnes, 1609.


FIRST EDITION, 8vo. 90 unnumbered ll. a, b, A-N, O. Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut printer’s device on t-p, floriated woodcut initials, typographical head and tail-pieces, woodcut music and diagrams in text, book plate of James Elwin Millard (1824 – 1894) on pastedown, his blind-stamp with monogram on t-p. Light age yellowing, t-p a little dusty at fore-edge, very minor marginal spotting in places, the occasional mark or stain, small tear to lower outer corner of F2 affecting side note on recto. A very good copy, crisp and clean in C19 dark olive morocco, covers bordered with a double gilt-rule, spine with raised bands gilt-ruled in compartments, gilt acorn fleuron at centres, a.e.r., fractionally rubbed at extremities.

Rare and important first edition of the first full-length, practical English treatise on Beekeeping. Known as the Father of English Beekeeping, Butler addresses in his preface the great classical tradition that relies upon “the Muses birds” as models of religion, government and labor, “worthily to bee most admired”, but notes that Philosophers “in al their writings they seeme vnto me to say little out of experience”. Butler’s treatise is the first to argue that worker bees were female, not male, and the first to popularise the idea in England that the hive is lead not by a king but a queen bee. Not only do these points ground Butler’s practical treatise firmly in methods of entymological observation that would be refined by the end of the century in books such as Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665), but they also relate directly contemporary political debates that made use of bee hierarchy as a model for government.

The book identifies the habits of bees, the importance of hierarchy, the tools necessary in breeding them (“for the behoofe of men”), their enemies, and the months during which to care for and harvest the hives. It also provides in great detail an account of swarming and its prevention, even to the extent that Butler includes scored music that replicates the sound “Bee-masters” can expect to hear in their hive before swarming (“the Queene in a deeper voice”). In the aftermath of a swarm, Butler also offers chapters for each of the places the bees might go, from “upon a high bough” to “into a hollow tree”, and their recovery.

Butler also wrote an important treatise on musical theory and includes in this work a remarkable section in which he attempts to transcribe the sound of the Queen bee in musical notation. “Charles Butler was a highly original scholar whose books included a treatise on bees entitled ‘The feminine monarchie’, … In this work Butler attempted to transcribe into musical notation the ‘piping’ and ‘quacking’ sounds produced by rival queens within a hive. Quacking is the responsive sound of rival queens who have not yet emerged from their cells, and piping is the regal identification of a virgin queen soon after she has emerged from the cell in which she developed. The 1609 edition shows a four line staff with the letter G on the second line from the bottom indicating that this is a treble clef. There are no bar lines but the two semibreve rests at the beginning of the staves indicate that we are in a triple metre, and indeed the text states that the bees ‘sing’ in triple time. The notation indicates that the two most common results of the simultaneous piping and quacking of the rival queens are the musical intervals of either a perfect fifth or a major third.” The Moir collection.

A rare book, especially in good condition.

ESTC S107149. STC 4192, Lowndes I 333. Madan 73.1 “the first music printed at Oxford”.


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BUTLER, Charles

The principles of musik, in singing and setting: vvith the two-fold use therof, ecclesiasticall and civil

London printed by Iohn Haviland, for the author, 1636.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [xiv], 135, [i]. [par.]-2, [par.], A-R. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek. Title within box rule with woodcut of King David with typographical ornaments, woodcut initials, headpieces and typographical ornaments, type set music, several woodcut diagrams in text, one full page, book plate of James Elwin Millard (1824 – 1894) on pastedown, his blind-stamp with monogram on fly.  First quire browned, age yellowing with some spotting thereafter, T-p dusty, occasional mark or stain. A good copy, in C19th three-quarter tan morocco over cloth boards, spine with raised bands, title gilt lettered, spine a little rubbed.

First edition of this rare and most important theoretical work on music, the most influential of the C17th, by the remarkable Charles Butler who was also the author of “The Feminine Monarchy”, a seminal work on beekeeping. Book One of ‘The Principles’ concerns itself with the rudiments of music and provides elementary instruction in the art of composition. It is divided under four comprehensive chapter headings, The Moods, Singing, Setting, and the ways of Setting. Chapters two, three and four are broken into sections and sub-sections; the section treating of an individual topic, and sub-section of a particular aspect of that topic. Butler supplies annotations after each section, making the detailed and often lengthy explanations more accessible to the reader.

“As a text it was quite obviously designed to be read at different levels and in different ways, but its principal appeal is to the educated amateur, aiming at the same type of audience as Morley’s ‘Plaine and Easie Introduction’ had sought. The Principles is basically a scholarly book which provides a good deal of sound practical advice. Reading without reference to the Annotations, the diligent amateur must have found a sensible and very sane book, often cutting through an enormous amount of arcane mystery in a deft sentence, while at the same time leaving the reader in no doubt that composers are born not made. The amateur who was something of a scholar could not fail to have been impressed by the precise and accurate documentation of Butler’s annotations, by the masterly command of sources, particularly of the classical and medieval authorities. The professional musician, too, could well have gained immense profit and pleasure from Butler’s text, which does not simply provide rules and regulations but explains the nature and antiquity of his art from Old Testament to modern times. …The number of surviving copies indicates a fairly large edition, perhaps as high as seven or eight hundred copies. Playford’s Sale Catalogues at the British Museum prove that copies were still changing hands at the end of the seventeenth century and a copy was offered for two and a half guineas at a Calkin and Budd Sale in l844, there described as “excessively scarce”, and selling at a higher price than all the English theorists, Morley included. ..’The Principles , of Musik in singing and setting’ is unique in one important aspect: it is the only book which sets out with a two-fold purpose, to instruct the musical reader, and to justify music’s existence. The first part of Butler’ s purpose needs no explanation, nor does it merit defence, but the apology for music stands in need of both. It may have been written as an academic exercise, or even perhaps as a provider of mere bulk to an otherwise slender volume, but it is much more likely to have been written because Butler seriously believed that forces were abroad in society that were determined to stamp out music and not simply from church worship.” John Shute. ‘The English theorists of the seventeenth century’ “Butler argued that the ‘reprehensible conduct of ‘debosht Balad-makers and Dance-makers’ in leading their silly proselytes hedlong into hell’ did not amount to a justification for the silencing of all musical sound. Instead, it argued the need for control.” Christopher Marsh ‘Music and Society in Early Modern England.’

ESTC S106982. STC 1496; Lowndes p. 333: “This tract, dedicated to King Charles I, was the only theoretical or didactic work on the subject of music, published in that king’s reign.”


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Choirbook, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Italy (probably Florence), thirteenth or early fourteenth century]


Folio. 320 x 240 mm. 40 leaves (plus a paper endleaf at front and back), wanting single leaves throughout and at end, collation: i9 (wants ix), ii7 (wants xii, xiv-xv), iii-iv10, v4 (last two leaves cut away), single column of 6 lines of text with music on a 4-line red stave (rastrum: 21 mm.), paragraph marks in blue, red rubrics, reading numbers and original folio numbers in roman numerals in blue and red in margins, initials in red or blue with ornate scrolling penwork, the largest of these in variegated red and blue and containing sections of densely packed red and blue penwork, single large initial ‘R’ in blue, red, green and pink acanthus leaves bound together by coloured and burnished gold bands, all on burnished gold grounds, acanthus leaf fronds extending into two margins enclosing gold fruit and a roundel with a personal device (apparently one of the nails from Christ’s Cross in red and silver on black grounds), some small seventeenth- or eighteenth-century marginal additions, cracking to paint of initial in places and small losses, edges of leaves slightly scuffed and thumbed with some small losses to ink in places, lower corners repaired in places, damage worse to cockled leaves at back, tooled with floral rollstamps over early perhaps original sixteenth century leather wooden boards, four brass bosses on each board, tears to surface of leather and tears and repairs to spine, front board slightly detached from book-block at head inside front board. 


This is a single volume from a series of choirbooks, containing the relevant parts of the office from the First Sunday in Advent to the Feast of St. Aegidius (1 September), followed by readings for the consecration of a church.


The probable origin of the illumination in Florence, as well as the apparent depiction of the Holy Nail in the roundel above the principal illuminated initial, suggests this choirbook was produced for use in the Duomo there. Since the Middle Ages, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, was one of three sites to claim ownership of one of the three nails of the Crucifixion (the others being Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, and the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Trier; but note that such claims must be taken with a pinch of salt, as records exist of some thirty institutions who claimed to own Holy Nails or substantial parts of them). Cosimo Minerbetti, archdeacon of the Duomo in the opening years of the seventeenth century described it in detail, alongside a thorn form the Crown of Thorns, the thumb of St. John the Baptist, the elbow of St. Andrew the Apostle and entire corpses of SS. Zanobius and Podius. There the relic was housed in a reliquary on an altar commissioned by the Medici family. Members of this paramount Renaissance family from Lorenzo di’ Medici (reigned 1449-92) onwards, as well as the numerous artists and intellectuals they patronised such as Botticelli and the puritanical preacher Savonarola, must have gazed upon the relic and perhaps this volume among others, during their procession around the cathedral during Masses.


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MORLEY, Thomas


A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke.

London, Peter Short, 1597.


FIRST EDITION, folio, pp. (vi) 183 (xxxv). Roman letter, printed side notes. Title within elaborate woodcut border comprising representations of great scholars of antiquity such as Ptolmey and Strabo together with allegorical figures of the sciences, a globe and Father Time at head, Mercury with caduceus at foot (McKerrow & Ferguson 99); woodcut headpieces incorporating Royal arms, large woodcut initials. Very extensive printed music, in red and black in places, some woodcut music and diagrams. Title and verso of last dusty, water stain to upper fore edge of that and next mostly marginal, the odd little marginal mark; generally clean and good in fine speckled C18th calf, spine and borders gilt, armorial bookplate on front pastedown, in slipcase.

First edition of the most famous musical treatise in the English language, the first satisfactory musical treatise published in England and certainly the most enduring. A new edition was published in 1771 and the work was still in use into the C19th. Morley (1557-1604?) was a pupil of Byrd, to whom the present work is affectionately dedicated, and like him became a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, in 1592. In recognition of his services, Morley was granted the patent, previously held by his master, of printing books of music and selling ruled paper. In his day Morley was a celebrated composer in his own right (the present work contains a number of new songs) especially of madrigals where he was much admired for his grace and skill, but his fame rests principally on the present work which was practical, simple and eminently usable.

Divided into three parts that treat respectively of ‘teaching to sing’, descant, and setting and composing, it also includes whole pieces set out in ‘table format,’ i.e. a sort of version of a choir book where separate parts are laid out sideways on a double page so that the singers and players can use the volume sat around a table. Selling originally at four shillings the work was immensely popular, so much so that that perfect copies are now very rare.

“The ‘Plaine and Easie Introduction’ stands by itself. Written in dialogue form, it gives a pleasant impression of Morley’s personality and is of the greatest value for the side-lights which it throws on contemporary musical life, while for the English student of modal music it is indispensable, being still the most important English work on the subject.” Grove V p. 897.

STC 18133.  Lowndes IV 1615 ‘An ample and luminous general treatise’.  RISM p.598.  Gregory & Bartlett I 118.  Hirsch I 416.  Steele 161.


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GARISENDI, Antenore or VIZANI Pompeo


Torneo fatto sotto il Castello d’Argio Da’ SS Cavalieri Bolognesi il di IX. Febraio 1578.

Bologna, Giovanni Rossi, 1578.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. 112. Roman and Italic letter within printed line border, title with woodcut ornaments, woodcut historiated initials, discreet restoration at blank upper margin of title and gutter of last leaf, very light age yellowing in places. A very good copy in eighteenth century rose and gilt embossed paper boards, later eps.

Rare first edition of this fascinating description of a chivalric ‘tournament’ held in Bologna for the carnival of 1578, containing descriptions of the various scenes enacted for the occasion, including the names of the participants and details of the poems and songs recited. It is a blow by blow account with speeches, poems and songs reported verbatim. The local participants are identified by the stylised names of chivalric romance, ‘gli Cavalieri Ardenti, Fideli, placito’ and the rest by place of origin such as “Cavaliero di Scotia, Cavalieri Portoghesi”.

The ‘Knight of Scotland’ speech is of particular interest as he may be identified with the semi-mythical James Crichton better known as “The Admirable Crichton” who arrived in Italy at around this time having served in the French army. In his speech the ‘Scottish Knight’ makes many references to Merlin and to the ‘Great Queen of Scotland’ and his adventures and travels in France. The show was staged in the Piazza delle Scuole (now the Piazza Galvani) on a gigantic platform, which was built up above the heads of the surrounding onlookers.

This was the second and last tournament organized by the Accademia della Viola, initially founded in 1561 as the Academy dei Desti, by Ettore Ghisileri, Legnani Vincent and others, with the intention of reviving the ancient traditions of the knightly orders of Europe. The present account was compiled by Pompeo Vizani (1540-1607), also a member of the Academy of Viola, who signed the work under the pseudonym Antenor Garisendi. Vizani, a descendant of an important aristocratic Bolognese family, also helped organize the spectacle. At the end of the volume he recalls, not without some pride, that “questi signori Cavalieri per motivo proprio, et senza altra occasione, che del Carnovale, fanno quello, che a’ pena fanno altre Citta’ a’ contemplazione, et con l’aiuto de’ loro Principi, et con grandissime occasioni”.

A most interesting insight, and first hand account, of popular chivalric entertainment in late Renaissance Italy. This first edition is rare with few copies in libraries outside Italy. We were able to locate only three copies in the US.

Not in BM STC It. C16th or Adams Graesse or Brunet. Edit 16, CNC 20438. Cicognara. 1387.


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