A Very Rare Book, Giving Advice about Calming the Mind With Confections, Salves, and Diet To Enhance the Memory


(Venetiis [Venice]: Giovanni Antonio & Pietro Nicolini da Sabbio, 1545). 152 x 97 mm. (6 3 3/4"). 20 leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Modern rose and cream-colored marbled paper boards. Verso of title page stamped in red ink: "Duplicate / ex-libris Bernard Zufall." Young, "Bibliography of Memory," p. 34. ◆Paper boards lightly soiled, negligible foxing to a couple of leaves, but a fine copy, clean and fresh in a sturdy binding.

This rare work on the preservation of memory offers advice to those seeking to optimize their cognitive functions, providing guidance about the best foods to eat and avoid, the best days and times for recollection according to the planetary hours, and, most interestingly, recipes to calm the mind and boost one's memory. This last section includes several formulas for various drams, salves, and confections that incorporate ingredients such as gingers, cinnamon, coriander, and rosemary. The compact size of this work suggests that it was meant to be portable and consulted frequently; our copy, however, has obviously been very little used and consequentially is extremely well preserved. Italian physician and polymath Michelangelo Biondo (or Blondus, 1497-1565) was the author of at least two dozen works on a variety of subjects, including art, astronomy, rhetoric, medicine, cognition, and philosophy. The present copy comes from the library of magician and memory expert Bernard Zufall (1894-1971), known as the "Human Encyclopedia." Zufall amassed the largest known collection of books on mnemonics, in excess of 1,000 titles, which (except for duplicates like the present work) he donated to Yale University. This appears to be a genuinely rare book: RBH records just one copy at auction, selling at Lyon and Turnbull in 2015 for £1,000 (approximately $1,640), all in.

Price: $3,500.00