OVID. Metamorphoses argumentis brevioribus ex Luctatio grammatico collectis expositae, una cum vivis singularum transformationum iconibus in aes incisis.

Antwerp, Ex officina Plantiniana, Apud viduam, & Joannem Moretum, 1591.


FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION. Oblong 8vo, pp. 361 (xxiii), A-Z8, a8, final blank. Italic letter, some Roman, sporadic Greek. Title within elaborate engraved border divided in four sections with figurative scenes from the poem, portrait of the author and 178 full-page plates; plate number 176 (p. 357) bears the signature of the artist Pierre Van der Brocht. Printer’s device on Z5 showing God’s right hand descending from the heavens and holding a compass with motto in cartouche: “labor et constantia”. Clean tear from top towards centre of leaf to Q3, small wormholes to lower margin of final quires, no loss of text. Each leaf of the book is alternated with a blank leaf on which appears a ms. C19th English translation, or paraphrase, of Lactantius’s “argumentum”, or abstract, up to Fable IX, Book 1. In C19th half calf and marbled paper over boards, brass clasp and catch, gilt spine with title and initials “J.B.”

This 16th century Antwerp production weds Ovid’s Metamorphoses with grammatical explanations in order to teach Latin to the young. The text is an anonymous adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was first attributed to pseudo-Donatus and then to pseudo-Lactance. In the manuscript books of the Middle Ages, it is sometimes drawn close to the Ars Minor, which was written by the grammarian Aelius Donatus. The dedication of the printer addresses two young children, Luis and Martin Perez de Baron.

Adams, O504; Belgica Typographia, 3913; BRETZIGHEIMER, Studien zu Lactantius Placidus und der Verfasser der Narrationes Fabularum Ovidianarum, 1937; Delen II, 92-93; Funck 374-375; F.W.H. HOLLSTEIN, Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts Vol. III, 100 nrs. between 200-377; Rooses, p. 263; STC Dutch, p. 164.


CAMILLI, Camillo

CAMILLI, Camillo. I cinque canti…aggiunti al Goffredo del signor Torquato Tasso.

Ferrara, Appresso Giulio Cesare Cagnaccini, & Fratelli, 1585.


12mo, pp. 181 (=151) (1), † b-f12 g4. Predominantly Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut initials and head-pieces, large d’Este coat of arms on title-page. Light age yellowing and spotting throughout, marginal dampstaining. Imprint repeated on verso of last, no date, early ms. note underneath it. In modern quarter vellum, decorative paper over boards, gilt-tooled lettering on half olive green, half red morocco label to spine. A lovely booklet in good condition.

First printed in 1584, this booklet is the second edition of Camillo Camilli’s additional five cantos, or poems, to the Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581) of Torquato Tasso (1544-95). Camilli (d. 1615) was a scholar from Siena who taught letters in the Republic of Ragusa (Dalmatia). He edited a reprint of Tasso’s masterpiece in 1583 with the title of Goffredo, to which he added the present work in order to develop and conclude the love stories of the characters Armida and Rinaldo and Arminia and Tancredi. Camilli’s prefatory letter addresses his dedicatee, Matteo Senarega, who held important political offices in the Republic of Genoa, becoming doge of this maritime power in 1591. Senarega studied law in Louvain and Latin in Venice, where the famous printer Paolo Manuzio was his tutor. Camilli mentions the efforts made by the then chancellor and saviour of the Republic in order to prevent further clashes of civil war between the old nobility (the Doria, Cicala, Spinola, Di Negro, Vivaldi, Cattaneo, Lomellini, Grimaldi families) and the new nobility, whose party had seized the power in the oligarchy. Camilli praises Senarega’s diplomatic skills and tells the reader he learnt from Aldo Manuzio the Younger that the former doge retired to private life, after his successful political manoeuvres. Moreover, Manuzio told Camilli that Senarega enjoys the pleasure of reading poetry, which is the reason why the writer decided to dedicate this work of his to Senarega. Before the first canto begins, Camilli included some celebrative verses dedicated to the great poet Tasso, written by Francesco Melchiori from Oderzo.

 Adams C451; USTC 818083; EDIT16 41545.

GUYBERT, Alexandre


GUYBERT, Alexandre. Traicte familier pour toiser, mesurer et exactement calculler toute maçonnerie…

 Paris, Chez Charles Massé, 1580.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 72, A-I8. Roman letter, sporadic Italic. Printer’s device on title page (a pyramid and motto “stans penetro”), floriated initials, headpieces and several numeric diagrams and calculations. Leaf edges browned and somewhat worn, dampstaining to foot of pages throughout. C19th autograph of “…Duchasseint” on front pastedown. In deliciously aged contemporary limp vellum with intact laces. A good copy of this very practical and handy masonry manual.

First edition of this handbook including computational methods in order to achieve exact measurement and proportions in masonry, geometry, architecture and building practices in general. These rules are applicable also to “turcies et levées” (dams and weirs). The Ancien régime’s Service des turcies et levées was a French organisation aimed to build, oversee and carry out maintenance on the numerous dams of the Loire and its canals, which helped regulating the stream of the river during exceptional rains, preventing flooding, and, above all, made navigation and trade via water possible across southern France. The sixteenth-century religious and civil wars disrupted this service putting at stake the safety of the population dwelling in the Loire valley. In order to settle this issue, in 1573 King Charles IX introduced the election of a local commissioner. The majors of Orléans, Bois, Tours and Amboise had to name three suitable candidates for each city, so that the King could then choose one among the twelve selected competitors. King Henry III changed this system and appointed this task to the General of Finances, based in Orléans, assisted by two commissioners from this city. However, the French Department of Finances soon absorbed the role of the General and usurped the power of the local commissioners elected by the citizens of Orléans. This usurpation required the intervention of the King in 1588. The author of the present work defines himself as “King’s counsellor” and “Eleu” of Orléans, that is, the person elected in the provincial election to become a general Assessors of Subsidies, such as “aides and tailles”, meaning “state grants and land taxes”.

Extremely rare. We could only trace about ten copies: nine in Europe and just one in the US. No copy in the British Library.

USTC 30305


ARISTOTLE (Figliucci, Felice, Ed.). Tradottione antica de la Rettorica d’Aristotile…

Padua, per M. Giacomo Fabriano, 1548.


8vo, ff. (viii) 184, a8 A-Z8. Large vignette on t-p with personification of the goddess Fortune (a nude female body reclining on a dolphin at sea and holding a swelled sail). Italic, a little Roman. Capital spaces with small guide-letters. A few handwritten maniculae. T-p soiled, wormholes and tracking slightly affecting the lower inside part of the front cover, foot margin of t-p and first two leaves without text loss. Pages lightly browned to margins, rare light waterstains. Ink title on spine, rubbed caps, slightly damaged. In early limp vellum with yapp edges, remains of ties.

Felice Figliucci (1518-1595) was an Italian humanist, philosopher, and theologian. Born in Siena, he studied philosophy at the University of Padua, where he learned Platonism and Aristotelianism, joining these two thoughts as in the humanistic tradition established by Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, which effected the sixteenth-century Christian Neoplatonism. He devoted a good deal of his carrier to the edition of Ficino’s works. He was for a time in the service of Cardinal G. M. Ciocchi Del Monte, afterwards Pope Julius III. Figliucci promoted the Tuscan language and fostered its use in the translation of classics, considering it no less worthy than Latin. He attended the Council of Trent, which was transferred to Bologna in 1547, giving him so the opportunity to visit Padua frequently and work on his Tradottione, which was a present to his patron Del Monte. According to a spread literary topos of the time, in the preface to the work, this translation is given by Figliucci as the result of the learned efforts of an anonymous writer from Siena.

Only 5 copies known in the UK, according to COPAC (BL and UCL, in London; Manchester and Oxford universities, and one copy with the National trust)


DICTYS CRETENSIS [with] DARES PHRYGIUS et Alii. Ditte Candiotto et Darete Frigio Della guerra troiana, tradotti per Thomaso Porcacchi da Castiglione Arretino, il quale v’ha aggiunto l’ordine, che s’ha da tener nella Concatenation dell’historie, & le Vite di tutti quelli historici antichi Greci,…

Venice, appresso Gabriel Giolito de Ferrarii, 1570.


4to, pp. (xxxii) 180, a-d4 A-X4 Y6. Italic letter, some Roman. Large Giolito de’ Ferrari device on title page, head- and tailpieces, and large historiated initials (printer’s initials “G G F” within vignette of an eagle standing on a round jar emanating flames, mottos in cartouches “de la mia morte eterna vita io vivo” and “semper eadem”, the latter repeated also in headpiece on recto of second leaf. Upper corners of first two quires skilfully repaired; little wormholes on a2, repaired, affecting also a3 with minimal affection of a few letters. Tiny worm tracks running through the lower blank margin (reinforced with paper repairs at times, especially on last two gatherings where a few letters are slightly damaged, though still easily readable). Light age yellowing and very occasional mild spotting. Bookplate of the duke of Northumberland with the Percy coat of arms, dated 1867, on front pastedown. Bound in late C18th/early C19th vellum over boards, gilt spine with lettering on two red morocco labels. Overall an excellent copy.

First and only edition of this work which is part of an editorial enterprise called “Collana historica”, or “Collana historica dei Greci” (“historical series of Greek authors”), sprang from the collaboration of the printer Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari and the humanist Tommaso Porcacchi. Started in 1563 and terminated in 1574, this enterprise produced seven editions of works by Ancient Greek historians translated into vernacular and five contemporary treatises concerning the topic of war. This collection includes first an opening letter of the translator Porcacchi to the nobleman and patron of letters Silvio Torelli, a detailed table of contents, and a text addressing Torelli on the purpose and utility of these histories. It follows a chronological list of the celebrated historians whose works this series deals with: Dictys Cretensis and Dares Phrygius (tr. Porcacchi); Herodotus (tr. Remigio Fiorentino); Thucydides (tr. Francesco di Soldo Strozzi from Florence); Xenophon (tr. Ludovico Domenichi from Piacenza) and a piece by a contemporary author such as Gemistus Pletho (tr. Porcacchi); Polibius (tr. Domenichi); Diodorus Siculus (tr. Francesco Baldelli from Cortona); Dionysius of Halicarnassus (tr. Porcacchi); Flavius Josephus (tr. “Incerto”, which likely means the author is unknown); Plutarch (tr. Domenichi); Appianus Alexandrinus (tr. Lodovico Dolce); Arrianus (tr. Porcacchi) and lastly Cassius Dio (tr. Baldelli). Before starting off with the War of Troy, the book includes also an explanation of the idea behind the linkage of these historical “joys”, which is achieved through the use of relevant ring-passages on history. Indeed Dictys Cretensis’ War of Troy is linked to Dares Phrygius’ Ruin of Troy via a letter of Cornelius Nepos to Sallust regarding his translation of the work of Dares. The latter’s history is followed then by a few declamations by the hand of Libanius and finally the lives of the aforementioned historians.

GELLI, Giovanni Battista

GELLI, Giovanni Battista. La sporta. Commedia…

 Florence, Appresso i Giunti, 1593.


8vo, pp. 87 (i), A-E8 F4, lacking final leaf F4 (with printer’s device and motto “nihil candidius”). Woodcut vignette of the Florentine lily within border and two putti on title page, lower corner torn and restored with new paper, loss of imprint date. Clean tear at foot of C2, very occasional light spotting and age yellowing throughout. Decorative paper on pastedowns, unclear early ink handwriting (probably autograph and shelf mark) on front fly. In vellum over thick boards.

The comedy La sporta was first published in 1543 by the Giuntas and republished by the same family of printers a few times throughout the sixteenth century. The title can be translated as “The Pot”, or “The Sack”. This work follows in the footsteps of the traditional Renaissance comic genre and it draws its main arguments and topoi from Plautus’s Aulularia: a stingy elderly person; a pot full of money jealously kept in secret; a cunning and good-hearted servant; a pregnant young lady, daughter to the old skinflint, who will succeed in marrying the poor student she fell in love with thanks to her father’s hidden treasure. Gelli also uses elements drawn from the fashion and cultural trends of the time, and he employs deliberately ideological motives, such as the use of particular Florentine linguistic features and satire aimed to the popular devotion. In the prologue the author defends his courageous attempt to mix and blend very diverse elements within the genre of the erudite comedy because, he says, direct experience of popular life and its language are, after all, an undeniable matter of fact which cannot be left out of our consideration, or ignored as unworthy. The cohesion and consistency of the comic genre allows the author to deal with topics that would be otherwise more fitting for a treatise on language or the degeneration of the religious practice. Giovanni Battista Gelli (1498-1563) was a Florentine man of letter. He is known also for his works Capricci del bottaio and La Circe, which are ethical and philosophical dialogues. 


INNOCENT III, Pope (Busche, Hermann von dem, Ed.) Fundamentum eterne felicitatis Cum libro de Miseria conditionis humane.

 Köln, per Matinum de werdena, 1509.


8vo, unnumbered leaves, A-F8 G4 H8. Black letter, 32 lines. Large woodcut vignette on title page repeated on verso of last: Jesus as a child between Saint Anne and Mary in the presence of the dove of the Holy Spirit. Capital spaces with small guide-letters, printed maniculae indicating the heading of each paragraph. Small paper repair to outer margin of t-p and metal clip to margin of D6 bookmarking the table of contents. Evenly soiled, yet lightly, and a little darkened to margin edges. In modern gilt red morocco, title and date on front cover and spine. An excellent copy.

Pope Innocent III (1160-1216), alias Loatrio di Segni, studied at the universities of Paris and Bologna. This very learned man of austere manners first became cardinal in 1190 and then pope as the successor of Celestine III. He fostered the moral and disciplinary reform of the Church, the fight against heresy, and the re-conquest of the Holy Land. He promoted the fourth crusade, which diverted from its original aim and concluded with the sack of Constantinople in 1204. He undertook the Albigesian crusade in order to supress the Cathar heresy, which had spread to large areas of the Pyrenees, Southern France and Northern Italy. Moreover, he crowned the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1212. Even though he was a skilled politician, he was moved by deeply religious purposes. Innocent wrote several theological and ascetic treatises, of which De miseria humane conditionis was the most renown, especially following his rule, when it was known with the title De contemptu mundi. This pope resumed the theocratic ideas of Gregory VII, according to which the pope is the vicar of Christ and the king of all kings; as spiritual power is superior to secular power, so the human soul rules over the body and the sun over the moon; both the spiritual and the secular swords are of the pope, who nevertheless concedes that the emperor uses one of the two, since the latter is advocatus Ecclesiae. Given that the pope must look after and take care of all men, by cause of the perpetual sinful condition of humanity, he has the power of control over everything and, therefore, he is legitimated to intervene in every field directly by God. The editor of the present work was Hermann von dem Busche (1468-1534), a German humanist who studied in Heidelberg, Tubingen and Italy. He is given as one of the authors of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum. He was a close friend to Ulrich von Hutten and an early enthusiast of the Reformation.


BIBLE. Bibia Volgare, la quale in se contiene i sacrosanti libri del vecchio e del nuovo testamento:…

Venice, Appresso Andrea Muschio, 1566.


4to, ff. (xxv) 652. Roman letter, some Italic. Historiated initials, numerous charming and unusual woodcuts throughout (approximatively 340, mainly 7.5×5 plus a few nearly full-page size), sided by lateral decorative borders. Title-page detached and laid down on new paper, woodcut vignette of Saint Gerome penitent with scribble of a galero (cardinal’s hat) on it, French inscription dated “Londres, 1795” recalling a couplet of Ovid’s Tristia (I, 5, vv. 25-26: Scilicet ut fulvum pectator in ignibus aurum, / Tempore sic duro est inspicienda fides): “L’or s’éprouve par le feu, et le vrai ami, dans l’adversité”; early note in Italian at foot of t-p: “Tasso è morto nel MDXCV”, with reference to the poet Torquato Tasso’s death. Slightly trimmed, first three quires a little browned, worn, and soiled, as well as the final leaves, several repairs to gathering A (the beginning of Genesis). Some minimal worming towards beginning in centre of page affecting letters; some marginal wormholes through gutters and outer margins towards the end. leaf Aa1 with paper flaw affecting a woodcut and some letters. Bound in C18th vellum over boards, fragile joints, lightly rubbed to corners of covers and spine caps, gilt-tooled red morocco label to spine, a.e.r.. A nice copy notwithstanding the faults.

As one learns from the printer’s introductory letter to the reader, this quarto edition of the Vernacular translation of Saint Jerome’s Vulgate was issued with the approval of the Father Inquisitor Adriano from Venice, Bishop of Capodistria. Andrea Muschio tells he felt the need of publishing the Holy Scriptures since too long a time had passed from the latest appearance of this crucial text of Christianity, the most useful to human salvation. The quarto format, he adds, allows one to make this bible portable and handy. After this “avis au lecteur”, it follows Jerome’s prologue to the bible, which was translated by the biblical scholar Niccolò Malermi (1422-81). Malermi and his collaborators, Lorenzo from Venice and Girolamo Squarciafico, were the first to translate the Vulgate from Latin into Italian vernacular. The text includes the Old and New Testament and the letter of Saint Paul. The present work is one of the latest C16th editions of Malermi’s translation, which appeared with the title “Bibbia dignamente vulgarizzata per il clarissimo religioso duon Nicolao Malermi Veneziano et dil Monasterio de Santo Michele di Lemo Abbate dignissimo” in two volumes (Venice, Vandelino da Spira, 1471; then republished several times in Venice from Gabriele di Piero, 1477; Antonio Miscomini, 1478; Ottaviano Scoto, 1481; Andrea Paltasichi, 1484; Tommaso Trevisano, 1487; Lucantonio Giunta, 1490, 1492, 1494, 1502, 1507; Guglielmo Anima Mia, 1493; Giorgio Rusconi, 1517; Lazzaro Soardi and Bernardino Benali, 1517; Stefano Nicolini da Sabio, 1524; Elisabetta Rusconi, 1525; Guglielmo Fontaneto and Melchiorre Sossa, 1532; Bernardino Bindoni, 1535, 1541, 1544; Aurelio Pinzi, 1553; Andrea Muschio, 1566; Gerolamo Scoto, 1567). The 1490’s Giunta edition was illustrated with 386 woodcuts attributed to an artist known as the Master of the Pico della Mirandola Pliny, after his most famous illuminated manuscript. A second miniaturist, known as the Master of the Rimini Ovid, may be responsible for some of the other narrative vignettes. The vignettes of these masters were then reused and re-stylised in order to illustrate the numerous above-mentioned editions of this bible, of which the present copy is a remarkable example.

Not in Darlow and Moule. EDIT 16 5777; USTC 804447

LAPINI, Frosino

LAPINI, Frosino. Lettere toscane…in quattro libri

 Bologna, Appresso Anselmo Giaccarelli, 1556.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. (viii) 311 (i), (no signature)4 A-T8 V4. Four books bound in one volume. Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut printer’s device on title page (Hercules fighting Hydra with his club; scene framed within an oval composed by branches of palm and olive tree; motto: “Chi non ci vuol fatica non ci nasca”, that is, anybody who cannot be bothered to toil in life, he would better not be born”, with reference to the Greek hero’s labours). Historiated initials in two size and one initial from a third different set (p. 137, I5), full-page diagram on p. 295, (T4), occasional marginal spotting, browning and ink thumb marks, marginal paper flaws to N4, quire Q with dampstaining throughout outer margin. Occasional early ink underlining and marks on margins, the rare recent pencil signs. Bookseller label on front pastedown (Libreria Antiquaria Angelo Gandolfi, Bologna), bookplate of the French bibliophile, palaeographer and librarian Léon Dorez (1864-1922) on verso of front flyleaf, ms. note of acquisition in French on recto: “Léon Dorez avril 1910”. In contemporary limp vellum, rebacked, a little worn and to cover edges, yet a resistant binding.

First edition of this work in four volumes of the Florentine humanist Frosino Lapini (1520-71). A priest and educator, Lapini was a very prolific writer within the Medicean Court. He translated Latin and Greek classics into Italian vernacular, he undertook intense editorial activity of both classics and modern works, and he engaged with the codification of rhetorical and grammatical rules, and pedagogy. These “Tuscan Letters” are a fitting example in order to understand the intellectual profile of the writer, which was informed by passion for educating and teaching, as well as ambition of being a moral philosopher. As regard to the topics and the style, his work is close to Giovanni della Casa’s Galateo (1558). The dedicatory letter introduces it as a collection of epistles sent to his pupils for real, which the author decided to publish in order to avoid them to be disposed or copied. All the letters appear to have been written in Florence or Bologna between 1553 and 1556. Through the ancient genre of the “familiar letters”, Lapini has the opportunity to illustrate a variety of subjects, stretching from the moral themes of the first book (“On good and its virtue”, “On virtue”, etc.) to properly educational topics, exploring a number of compulsory fields within the Renaissance pedagogical literature: among them, the “Govern of the Prince” (I, pp. 81-104), the “Condition of the Servant” (II, pp. 150-52), the “Strength of Honour” (III, pp. 160-164), “Friendship” (III, from pp. 201-12). Particularly remarkable, divided between book III and IV there is a section on the use of language and its regulation (“About holding one’s tongue”, starting at p. 197, and “On language”, from p. 213 onwards).

CICERO, Marcus Tullius

CICERO, Marcus Tullius. Officiorum libri tres, Cato maior, vel De senectute, Laelius, vel De amicitia, Paradoxa stoicorum sex, Somnium Scipionis ex dialogis De republica. Cato item, et Somnium Graece, observationes.

 Venice, apud Bartholomaeum Zanetum Casterzagensem, 1538.


8vo, ff. (xi) 129 (xi) 29 (i), a8 b4 A-I8 K4 L8 M10 N-O8 P4 Q10 R6 S4 T6 A-D8. Italic and Greek letter, some Roman. A student’s schoolbook copiously annotated by three different early hands at least. Sketch of a coat of arms enclosing a fountain and ownership notes on title page, of which the latest two, probably C17th and C18th, are easily readable (“Gabriel. Ottobon” and “Gioan Batista Fontana”). No pastedowns. Inner covers, front and rear endpapers show extensive annotations and scribbles, especially by Fontana, who left his purchase note, and several quotations and maxims from classical authors, such as Cicero, Pliny, Martial, Livy, Horace and Polydorus, mainly on Justice and moral teaching. Blank T6 bears register and imprint without date on recto, plus a couple of ms. acronyms and an enthusiastic note: “viva la signora Orsolina Barbaro mia patrona oservandissima”, which is written backwards in two different manners, exalting a certain lady Barbaro who seemed also to have been patron to this student. Imprint repeated in Greek also on last. Initial quires waterstained to lower outer margin, also affecting front cover, no text loss; final quires with waterstaining to lower outer page corners. In contemporary limp vellum, visible ties, ink title to spine, caps slightly defective, lacking laces. An interestingly annotated copy in good condition.

This school handbook is a selection of Cicero’s works, which gathers together De officiis (On Duties or On Obligations), De senectute (On Old Age), De amicitia (On Friendship), Paradoxa stoicorum sex (Six Stoic Paradoxes) and the Somnium Scipionis (The Dream of Scipio), which is a part of the sixth book of De re publica (On the Republic, which is mostly no longer extant); plus the editor’s observations. A Greek translation of De senectute and the Somnium are found at the end. De officiis is divided into three books, which expound Cicero’s conception of the best way to living, behaving, and observing moral obligations. The essay was written in the form of a letter to his son Marcus. De senectute is also called the Cato Maior. In order to lend his reflections greater import, Cicero wrote his essay such that the esteemed Cato the Elder was lecturing to Scipio Africanus and Gaius Laelius. In De amicitia, Cicero writes about his own experience with friendship. Cicero ponders the meaning of friendship by using the relationship between Scipio Afriacanus and Laelius to expound his views. The Paradoxa Stoicorum attempts to explain six famous Stoic sayings that appear to go against common knowledge. Lastly, Scipio’s dream is a fictional vision of victory against the Punics set two years before general Scipio oversaw the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. The book also includes an initial letter from the editor, the humanist Paolo Magnolo, to his addressee, the Bishop of Brescia Andrea Cornelio. Magnolo’s “observationes” contain all Cicero’s references to Greek authors, such as Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon. Most of these are based on the excellent earlier Aldine editions on the orator’s works.