(Venice: Aldus Manutius, July, 1498). 335 x 220 mm. (13 1/4 x 8 1/2").  leaves. Single column, 38 lines, roman type.Edited by Alexander Sartius. FIRST EDITION of the collected works.
Original pigskin-backed wooden boards, the pigskin on the covers decorated with four foliate rolls, raised bands, apparently original hardware (two pigskin thongs with brass clasps, catch-plates, and anchor-plates) ink titling and shelf numbers on spine and fore edge. Front pastedown with early ink ownership inscription in Latin of Gervais Sopher (see below), indicating that the book was purchased on 18 October 1512 at a cost of four gold coins; occasional neat underlinings and calligraphic marginalia in two early hands. Ahmanson-Murphy 23; Renouard 17:4; Goff P-886; BMC V, 559. Pigskin trivially soiled, one corner slightly gnawed, first and last gatherings with a scattering of small wormholes, one leaf lightly foxed, four leaves with insignificant marginal stains, but A MAGNIFICENT COPY, THE TEXT ESPECIALLY FRESH, CLEAN, AND BRIGHT, THE MARGINS EXCEPTIONALLY BROAD, AND THE ORIGINAL BINDING IN OUTSTANDING CONDITION.
This is an unsurpassable contemporary copy of a beautiful incunabular edition of a foundational work in the field of classical philology, written by the foremost classical scholar of the day and printed by one of the greatest humanist printers. In addition, this edition marks the first publication of the collected works of a modern author. Angelo Ambrogini Poliziano (1454-94) was the son of an Italian jurist who was killed defending the cause of the Medici. In recognition of this loyalty, Lorenzo the Magnificent took the young Poliziano under his wing, bringing him to Florence to be educated, and later making the talented young humanist a tutor to his son Piero. Poliziano was a groundbreaking scholar who had lasting influence on how we study and understand language and literature: Anthony Grafton tells us that he brought about nothing short of "a revolution in philological method" through his "conscious adoption of a new standard of accuracy and precision." Poliziano was adamant that the earliest available manuscript must be considered the most accurate, and he was scrupulous about identifying and citing sources. A significant portion of the text here represents another important innovation introduced by Poliziano: the use of lectures or essays to teach philology--a far more palatable alternative to the tedious line-by-line commentary employed by earlier scholars. Aldus Manutius did a brilliant job presenting the works of his fellow humanist in elegant roman and Greek typefaces, and the text here is notable for the first use of Hebrew type in Venice (on the recto of H8). Renouard considered this "one of the most beautiful" productions of the Aldine press. Having any 15th century artifact from Aldus' printshop is a special pleasure, and having a copy as tall and as nearly pristine as this one is a once-in-a-decade experience. The 1498 Politianus is not remarkably scarce, but it is very rarely seen textually complete, without inserted leaves, and in a contemporary binding (ABPC lists such a copy in 2005 but nothing previously until 1984). At 335 x 220 mm., our copy is larger than any we have found among various institutional copies as well as those recently in the marketplace: the Nakles copy that sold at Christie's New York (in modern morocco) for $32,900 in 2000 was 313 x 205 mm., and the contemporary copy trumpeted by Christie's as "A LARGE COPY" that sold in 2005 for a sterling price in excess of $36,000 still measured significantly smaller than ours at 324 x 210 mm. The provenance here is also of some interest. Holding an office called fiscal of the bishop, our early owner Gervais Sopher (d. 1556) represented the interests of the diocese of Strassburg and prosecuted ecclesiastical offenses. In that position, he leveled 24 charges of heresy in 1522 against Matthieu Zell, the first open proponent of Lutheranism in Strassburg. However, by 1525, Sopher's fervor had apparently subsided to the point where he himself embraced the reformed religion (and not coincidentally a wife). (ST13030)
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PJP Catalog: CA19BF.053