(Florentiae [Florence]: Typis Mannianis, 1741). 260 x 175 mm. (10 1/8 x 6 7/8"). 2 p.l., xxxv, , 459 pp. With the half title. FIRST EDITION.
RICHLY GILT CONTEMPORARY SLATE BLUE MOROCCO with wide filigree frames formed by multiple decorative rolls, floral centerpiece composed of small tools, raised bands, gilt compartments with fleuron centerpiece surrounded by small tools, curling cornerpieces, one compartment with date "1743," another with gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers. Engraved title, medallion portrait on printed title, historiated engraved headpiece and initial, engraved typographic specimen in the text, decorative tailpiece. Printed in red and black. Front pastedown with book label of Gulielmi [William] O'Brien and library label of Milltown Park Jesuit Library; title page with library's ink stamp. Forbes Collection, p. 9; Updike I, 171; Dibdin, p. 551; Brunet V, 1291; Graesse VII, 341; Schweiger II, 1174. Tiny chip to head of front joint, extremities a little rubbed, slight variations to color of boards, but the once-splendid binding solid and still bright with gilt. Isolated minor marginal smudges or stains, but A VERY FINE COPY INTERNALLY, clean, crisp, and quite bright, with deep impressions of the type.
This is Joseph Manni's intriguing attempt to give an exact textual and a convincing paleographical replication of the most important and complete ancient manuscript of Virgil, the famous "Codex Mediceus" in the Laurentian Library in Florence. As such, it is the first typographic facsimile of any manuscript, and qualifies as an important event in the history of printing. The manuscript is written in rustic capitals, which are imitated with some success in this typographic facsimile by a specially fabricated font of type; marginal and interlinear corrections are also included. The "Codex Mediceus" is of particular importance because it is complete except for the first part of the "Eclogues" (which are supplied here from another source) and because it is one of the few more or less precisely dated Latin literary manuscripts: a note in it says it was reviewed or corrected by Tucius Rufius Apronianus Asterius, who was one of the consuls in 494. Our volume was owned by Irish judge William O'Brien (1832-99), whose library was described by Sotheby's, in the catalogue for its sale, as "a microcosm of the late nineteenth-century taste for book collecting." The auction house noted that his "interest in early printing led him to seek out books from as many different print shops as possible, from prolific printers such as Nicolas Jenson and Anton Koberger to more uncommon ones such as Leonhardus Aurl, and in particular from the earlier print shops in each town." O'Brien bequeathed his collection to the Jesuit Community at Milltown Park, Dublin, which decided to sell the books in 2017 to fund "the upkeep of churches, the care of invalid priests, relief of the poor and religious education." The sale at Sotheby's raised nearly £2.8 million. (ST15175)
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PJP Catalog: NY19BF.078