The First Illustrated Edition of a Collection of Legends and 1,589 Hagiographies, With More than 230 Woodcuts, and in a Contemporaneous English Binding


([Venice]: Bartolomo Zanni for Luca Antonio Giunta, 1506). 330 x 215 mm. (13 x 8 1/2"). 4 p.l., 275, [1] leaves (final blank). Double column, 58 lines, gothic type.Edited by Antonio Verlo. First Illustrated Edition.

Early 16th century English blind-stamped calf over thick wooden boards, covers framed by blind rules and floral roll (Oldham FL a[4]), central panel divided into quadrants by diagonal rules, each compartment with pineapple tool (Oldham B5), raised bands, rebacked apparently preserving most of original backstrip, two brass catches (three neat restorations to edges). Title page with Giunta device, frontispiece with architectural woodcut border (from the 1491 Dante) enclosing four small woodcuts (David with his harp, the Annunciation, the Last Judgment, a deathbed scene), the same border enclosing the text on facing page, which opens with a large woodcut initial, and WITH 234 COLUMN-WIDTH WOODCUTS in the text (including repetitions), THE OPENING PAGES AND ABOUT A THIRD OF THE SMALLER WOODCUTS WITH CONTEMPORARY HAND COLORING. With two leaves from an incunabular edition(?) of sermons bound in at rear (sermons for the feasts of St. Mark and Holy Cross). Front pastedown with ex-libris of Clifford Rattey and book label of "Mr. Dormer." Adams N-43; STC Italian, p. 462; Essling 1510; EDIT16 CNCE 39199; ISTC in00006000; USTC 844286. See A. M. Hind, "An Introduction to a History of Woodcut," pp. 465 ff. For the binding: Oldham, "English Blindstamped Bindings," plate XLIII, roll FL. a(4) #707. Occasional minor marginal stains, other trivial imperfections, but A FINE COPY, clean and very fresh, and the restored binding extremely pleasing.

In a contemporary English binding, this is an extensively illustrated edition of a collection of legends about saints, biblical figures, and Christian heroes and martyrs, first printed in 1493. The woodcuts are quite imaginative while being realistic in detail, with the figures garbed in 15th century attire. There are vivid depictions of martyrdoms, including one using an early version of a guillotine. Many of the woodcuts, including those signed with an initial "b," first appeared in the renowned Malermi Bible printed for Giunta by Giovanni Ragazzo; others come from the 1494 printing of Voragine's "Golden Legend" by Matteo Capsaca. The text is the most important writing by Italian bishop and humanist Pietro Natali (ca. 1330 - before 8 March 1406), being composed between 1369 and 1372. Divided into 12 books (for the 12 Apostles) it contains 1,589 hagiographies. It was popular through the end of the 17th century, by which time its historical accuracy had come into doubt. Lucantonio Giunta (1457-1538) ran one of the most important and successful publishing businesses in Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. He began publishing in Venice in 1489, and issued 410 titles in his lifetime, mostly employing other typographers and printers to do the presswork. According to Oldham, the roll and stamp used on our binding appear together on London-bound volumes bearing imprints of 1492, 1494, and 1506-27; consequently, it is likely our work acquired its binding not many years after it issued from the press.

Price: $15,000.00