The latest books described on the project website are:
- Apollonius Rhodius: Argonautica [Greek] Florence: [Laurentius (Francisci) de Alopa, Venetus], 1496. [two copies]
- Petrus de Abano: De venenis [Rome: Georgius Sachsel and Bartholomaeus Golsch, ca. 1475]
- Serrata, Leonardo della: Gracchus et Poliscena comoedia Schussenried: [Printer of 'Gracchus et Poliscena'], 1478
- Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus: De architectura [Rome: Eucharius Silber, between 1486 and 16 Aug. 1487]
- Frontinus, Sextus Julius: De aquaeductibus [Rome: Eucharius Silber, before 16 Aug. 1487]
- Aldobrandino da Siena: Le livre pour garder la santé du corps [Lyons: Martin Huss, ca. 1481]
- Paulus de Sancta Maria: Scrutinium scripturarum [Rome]: Ulrich Han (Udalricus Gallus), [not after Apr. 1471]
- Petrarca, Francesco: Trionfi Bologna: [Hannibal Malpiglius], 27 Apr. 1475
This batch of books, as usual, has its share of unique features and puzzles.
We had not long posted a sample of images from our copy of Aldobrandino da Siena’s Le livre pour garder la santé du corps (Lyons: Martin Huss, ca. 1481) when we were delighted to receive an email from Iain Donaldson, the Honorary Librarian of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was working on an article on this book and had come across our images on the incunabula flickr set. He was astonished to notice that our copy has woodcut initials, unlike the copy held by the Royal College, and the copy held by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. He subsequently came to examine the book for himself, and Jack Baldwin, our incunabula research fellow, had another close look at it.
Professor Donaldson is quite right: there are two woodcut initials (“P” and “L”) on b1r and one (“C”) on b8v. These were probably stamped in by hand. Other initials in the book have been supplied scribally in red ink. Our copy of the book also has the added adornment of colour to the woodcut illustation found on the opening page of the main text, where two of the woodcut initials are found. So are these initials unique to our copy? Why were only three stamped in (as opposed to the usual scribal treatment)? Were they added by the printer, Martin Huss, or by a bookseller, or commissioned by the first owner? Only a comparison of all other surviving copies might help answer these questions – although, since (according to ISTC) there are only two further recorded copies apart from those already noted by Professor Donaldson, perhaps we shall never know …
Another intrigue is an embroidered silk book jacket that accompanies our copy of the Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius. This book is now found in an 18th century leather binding; the jacket, which we conjecture to date from the 17th century, has been kept with the book but is no longer used (indeed, we are not entirely sure that it would even “fit” over the present binding). It has the remains of the book’s title glued on to the spine, so we presume that it did at one point actually cover the book. It incorporates some charming portraits of people in its design, quite unlike the other examples of embroidered bindings we have in the collection (mainly found on Bibles/devotional texts). The fact that such a binding has been made for a book of 15th century Greek poetry seems curious, to say the least, and we would love to find out more about it.
Tags: 17th century binding, Aldobrandino da Siena, Argonautica, embroidered binding, Glasgow Incunabula Project, incunabula, Martin Huss, rare books, silk book jacket, Special Collections, stamped initials, woodcut initials