(Roma: Libreria Sciomer, ca. 1880). 172 x 112 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 3/8"). 232 pp.
Original blue paper wrappers, spine reinforced with thick modern blue paper, pp. 1-152 and 177-232 UNOPENED. With 90 small (1 1/4 x 1 1/2") numbered wood engravings of animals and common objects displayed in a grid format, and three additional small images preceding the first page of illustrations. Paper covers lightly soiled, head edge of rear cover slightly frayed, corners curling a little, but the strengthened binding sound, and A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, the mostly unread contents clean and fresh, with no indications of use.
This is a rarely seen "smorfia," a book used in the longtime Neapolitan tradition of interpreting dreams in order to win the state lottery. In the text, images or themes in dreams are assigned numbers, and the dreamer then chooses these numbers in the lottery. If, say, a lottery player has a dream about chickens swept away in a flood, he or she finds the images among the illustrations for (a) poultry and (b) bodies of water, selects the numbers assigned to those images, enters the numbers in one or another sequence or combination, and hopes for the best. (Buona fortuna with that!) The word "smorfia" likely derives from Morpheus, the god of dreams in Greek mythology, and the process may be linked to the ancient Greek practice of dream interpretation. The method also incorporates the mystic number and word associations of the Jewish Kabbalah, which were used by believers to find hidden meanings in the Hebrew Bible. Smorfia have been used for centuries, with the first printed versions appearing shortly after the arrival of the printing press in Italy, and the practice continues today with online versions.
Because the books were insubstantial to begin with and were subjected to heavy use, not many copies survive, and certainly not in the unopened state found here. In our copy, most important leaves remain unopened, including the text pages containing the alphabetical lists of people, places, things, and topics that might appear in dreams with their corresponding numbers, as well as the leaves of tables and tariffs; our previous owner only looked at the pages of images, perhaps because (s)he did not find reading to be a comfortable skill. OCLC, KVK, and LibHub [COPAC] find no copies of this title, though there are a few copies of a Milan edition of a Capacelli work entitled "Il Vero Libro dei Sogni" ["The True Book of Dreams"]. No copies of either "Dei Sogni" are listed at auction by ABPC or RBH. Finding a complete, intact copy of a work like this with unopened leaves is almost like winning the lottery. (ST15654b)
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PJP Catalog: CA21VBF.038