PLATINA, Bartolomeo

PLATINA, Bartolomeo. Vitae pontificum.

Treviso, Johannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 1485.




SOLD £ 7,500


Folio. 136 leaves. A10 B-Q8 R6. Roman letter. 52 lines, headlines, capital spaces without guide-letters. Slightly trimmed, but good wide margins; thumb marks on lower corner of first leaf; some heavy dampstaining on first two leaves and throughout the first half of the book at foot of pages, no affection the text. Some small wormholes throughout the last three quires, with minimal text loss. Copious early ms. annotations, mostly names of popes for reference. Blank verso of first leaf with extensive Italian vernacular ms. note written in 1522, commemorating the momentous return to Europe of Capitan Juan Sebastián Elcano on the ship Victoria, completing the circumnavigation of the globe for the first time ever in history. The journey had started three years earlier under the leadership of Ferdinand Magellan, who died in the Philippines on the way back from the Pacific. This annotation mentions also the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as the patron of this expedition. Autograph of 17th-century owner, the nobleman Lucrezio Palladio degli Olivi, from Friuli (once Republic of Venice), dated “1670” on top of second leaf’s verso. Handwritten foliation; ms. indexing on last leaf, probably by the same early hand that wrote most annotations; loose sheet with 18th-century ms. list of the following popes, from Paul II up to Pius VI, consecrated in 1775. In vellum over thick boards. Ink date to spine plus reference numeration. A lovely copy in good condition.


This incunable is the third edition of Platina’s The Lives of the Popes (first printed in 1479). This work is the first systematic handbook of Papal history. Composed by the Italian humanist, theologian, and historian Bartolomeo Platina and presented to Sixtus IV in manuscript form at the end of 1474, the original copy is still held at the Vatican Library.


BMC VI, 897; Goff P770; HC 13048*; Oates 2465; Polain (B) 3188; Proctor 6498.