Category: Venice

Aldus Manutius (1452? – 6 February 1515) : A humanist printer for humanist readers. Aldine editions at Cambridge University Library

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By , 6 February 2015 8:19 am

Tuesday 6 February 1515 was a sad day for the Venetian literati. Aldus Manutius, the ‘Prince’ of Renaissance printers, had died.

His death was not unexpected though. He had in fact complained of having been unwell for sometime in the letter dedicated to his former pupil Alberto Pio in his last book, the Lucretius of January 1515. The loss of such remarkable a printer and editor was nevertheless mourned by Venetian scholars, humanists and “bibliophiles”. On Thursday 8 February it was mentioned in his diary by Marin Sanudo, the Venetian politician and chronicler: “Two days ago don Aldus Manutius the Roman died here in Venice; he was an excellent humanist and Greek scholar and was the son-in-law of the printer Andrea [Torresani] of Asolo. He produced very accurate editions of many Latin and Greek works with prefatory letters addressed to many, dedicating a number of little works to me, Marin Sanudo. He also wrote an excellent grammar … This morning, the body having been placed in the church of San Patrinian with books surrounding it, the funeral rites were held. An oration praising him was recited by Raphael Regio, public lecturer in humanita in this city”.[1] Continue reading 'Aldus Manutius (1452? – 6 February 1515) : A humanist printer for humanist readers. Aldine editions at Cambridge University Library'»

Domizio Calderini from Seripandi’s library

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By , 9 June 2010 1:09 pm

The CUL copy of Domizio Calderini, Commentarii in Juvenalem [Venice : Printer of Domitius Calderinus, 1476-77] (Inc.3.B.3.152[4279]; ISTC ic00035000) is now fully catalogued on line.

The book is inscribed “Antonij Seripandi et amicoru[m]” on leaf  k6 recto, a clear indication of its provenance from the library of Antonio Seripandi (for whom see “A book from Parrhasius’s library” posted on 11 May 2010).

Seripandi's ownership note

It also bears some notabilia in Seripandi’s hand on leaves d5 verso and d6 recto.

Seripandi's notabilia

Unlike in the 1477 Plutarch’s Problemata, Seripandi does not states that the book was previously in the library of Aulo Giano Parrasio.  An isolated marginal note on leaf a2 recto in a different cursive hand, apparently earlier than Seripandi’s notabilia, may or may not be by Parrasio.

Parrasio's note ?

The book could possibly be identified with number “617.  Calderinus Veronensis” in the 1521 post-mortem inventory of Parrhasius’s library (see Caterina Tristano, “La biblioteca di un umanista calabrese, Aulo Giano Parrasio”, Manziana (Rome), [1988 ?], p. 303).  The question whether the book belonged to Parrasio remains open.

Ratdolt Eusebius from Pinelli Library identified

By , 28 May 2010 4:40 pm

A copy of Eusebius’s Chronicon printed in Venice by Erhardus Ratdolt and dated 13 September 1483 (Inc.4.B.3.23c[1464]; Oates 1755;  ISTC ie00117000) can be securely identified with the copy formerly in the library of Maffeo Pinelli (1736-1785), director of the official Venetian press and book collector.

Pinelli’s copy was described as no. 2494 in Jacopo Morelli, Bibliotheca Maphaei Pinelli Veneti magno jam studio collecta… (Venetiis, Typis Carolii Palesii, 1787), vol. II, p. 34.  Following Pinelli’s death, the book was bought with the rest of his library by the London bookseller James Edwards (1757-1816), to be sold at auction in London.  It was included in the Pinelli sale catalogue of March 1789 as lot 7395, and again in the catalogue of the “Appendix Pinelliana” sale in February 1790, as lot 68.  As surviving copies of the “Appendix Pinelliana” catalogue in the British Library and the Bodleian Library don’t record the name of a buyer, the book was tentatively identified with a copy of the edition held in the Bodleian Library (Auct. K 3.20, for which see Bod-inc, E-040).

Manuscript evidence allows us to identify the Pinelli Eusebius with the exemplar in the Cambridge University Library, instead.  A manuscript

Pinelli's number

number “2494” in black ink on the upper pastedown matches Morelli’s catalogue number.  An autograph note on the recto of the upper free endpaper records the purchase of the book on 26 February 1790 for £ 2.3.6 by the poet and book collector Michael Wodhull (1740-1816), already known as an active buyer at the Pinelli’s sales.

The book is also identifiable as lot 1050 at Wodhull sale at Sotheby’s, 11-21 January 1886. The British Library copy of the sale catalogue records that the book was purchased for £ 1.1.0 by the London bookseller William Ridler (fl. 1877-1904).  A price code readable as “t/t/” is written in pencil at the centre

Ridler's code

of the fore-edge of the upper pastedown, sloping upwards, and a retail price of “£ 2.2.0” in pencil at the centre of the upper pastedown, the codes and their location corresponding to Ridler’s usual practice (for Ridler’s practice and price code as possibly based on the word “taxidermis”, see Peter Kidd’s note at

Unfortunately Cambridge University Library holds no record of the arrival of the book, but a purchase from Ridler shortly after the Wodhull sale is a likely possibility.

A rare Savonarola edition

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By , 21 May 2010 4:20 pm

A copy of the Expositio in Psalmum L (51) “Miserere mei deus” (F150.d.6.5) has been identified as an exemplar of the edition attributed to Johannes Tacuinus de Tridino in Venice around 1500 (ISTC is00214200 and GW M40516), adding this rare edition to the 73 editions of Savonarola’s works held at Cambridge University Library.

The book was purchased for the library at the sale of Jean de Meyer’s collection in Antwerp on 2 November 1869 on suggestion of Henry Bradshaw, the University librarian.  The author of the sale catalogue, Camille Vyt, had identified it as the edition printed by Thierry Martens in Antwerp around 1502 (Catalogue des livres et manuscrits formant la bibliothèque de feu M. Jean de Meyer, Ghent, 2-5 November 1869, p. 27, lot 101/c).  As this attribution was accepted by Bradshaw, the book was classified by the library among the foreign books published after 1500.  It therefore escaped the attention of J.C.T. Oates when he was compiling his catalogue of the library’s incunables.  In the recent Newton catalogue, the book was correctly recognised as a pre-1500 edition but described as a copy of the 1499 Florentine edition by Bartolommeo di Libri, despite its apparent difference from the two other copies of Bartolommeo’s edition held by the library.

In fact, the book can be securely identified as a rare exemplar of Tacuino’s edition:  the number of leaves and the incipits and explicits of the commentary to the psalm and of the Oratio before Communion inItalian (leaf B8 recto) correspond to those described for this edition in GW M40516, the manuscript version of the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, whose digital images are also available in ISTC.

Tacuino’s edition is known to survive in only five other exemplars in Germany Libraries (Darmstadt, Düsseldorf (2), Giessen, and Köln).  The Cambridge copy is the only one outside Germany. The poor survival rate of the edition (no exemplar is known to survive in Italy), can be explained with the ban, destruction and inclusion in the Index of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) of all Savonarola’s writings by order of Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who was furious with Savonarola for publicly denouncing his immoral conduct and the corruption of the Roman Curia.