THE ALDINE PRESS
First Use of the Anchor & Dolphin Device — First Aldine Printing of the Divine Comedy
Dante Alighieri. Le terze rime. [Venice: Aldus, 1502]. 8vo (15.2 cm; 6").  ff.
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First Aldine printing of the Divine Comedy, the first printing of Bembo's restoration of Dante's original text, the first printing of Dante in octavo format, and, on the verso of the colophon leaf, thefirst appearance of the Aldine printer's device.
In at least one copy, the new Aldine device is surrounded by a double-line woodcut border. Here, that border has largely been removed from the wood block used — but not entirely, for small regularly spaced “dots” of it are still visible. In yet other copies, all traces of the border have been removed, and in some others there is no anchor device at all, indicating differing states of the edition. Clearly the press was “tweaking” its logo!
The text is from a manuscript that Pietro Bembo, the greatest Dante scholar of the Italian Renaissance, supplied to Aldus for this edition specifically. It is radically different from the Landino version that circulated in manuscript in the 15th century and was used for the incunable editions. This Bembo version held sway until the end of the 19th century.
Binding: 19th-century full crushed red morocco by Duru, dated 1853. Round spine with raised bands and gilt floral devices in four of the six spine compartments, the other two having author and title gilt in one and place and date of publication in other. Boards ruled in blind with a double fillet forming a center panel bearing a gilt filigree center device and with gilt floral corner devices matching those in the spine compartments; single gilt rule on board edges. Wide turn-ins tooled in gilt with a floral vine roll, a roll of dots, and a dentelle roll; marbled endpaper of a combed pattern. All edges gilt over marbling. Green silk place marker.
Provenance: 19th-century bookplate of Ambroise Firmin Didot. Most recently in the collection of American collector Albert A. Howard (sans indicia).
Renouard, Alde, 34.5; Adams D83; Olschki, Le livre en Italien, 37; Index Aurel. 149.817; The Aldine Press: Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection 59.5. Bound as above, spine slightly darkened. Light, limited stain to verso of title-page. A very, very nice copy. (37304)
ALDINE Attic Nights . . .
Gellius, Aulus. Auli Gellii noctivm Atticarvm libri vndeviginti. [colophon: Venetiis: in Aedibus Aldi, et Andreae Soceri, mense Septembri 1515. 8vo (17 cm; 6.625"). , 289,  ff. (errors in foliation, but complete).
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First of two Aldine editions published in 1515 of Gellius' only known work, with “duerniorem” on the final leaf as prescribed by Renouard. The iconic Aldine printer's device appears on both the title-page and the final leaf of text, with the fore-edge of the title-page having been slightly repaired long ago at the margin.
Gellius's Attic Nights, supposed to have been written for the entertainment and education of his children, offers a rich tapestry of the life and times of the Roman Empire under the five good emperors. In an informal style Gellius ranges from law, grammar, history, and literary criticism to evening chats with fellow students and visits to the awe-inspiring villas of Herodes Atticus, the most famous philanthropist of Athens. Editor Giovanni Battista Egnazio (1478–1553), an important part of the Aldine literary circle and executor of Manuzio's will, here presents a newly revised text — complete with two indexes and explanation of the Greek passages.
Renouard, Alde, 73.9; Brunet, II, 1523; Adams G344; Graesse, Trésor de Livres Rares, III, p. 45; Schweiger, Handbuch der classischen Bibliographie, II, p. 376; on Egnazio, see: Contemporaries of Erasmus, pp. 424–25. 18th-century vellum over boards with red and green gilt leather spine labels, one edge with one very small chip to vellum; fore-edge of title-page repaired, light age-toning, a few words in old ink to front endpapers, some unevenly trimmed pages with the occasional (chiefly light) marginal stain or spot. “A. Gellius” in old ink to fore-edge of volume. A worthy Aldine. (37243)
Aldine Octavo — Provenance & Early Marginalia Too
Lactantius (ca. 240 – ca. 320). L. Coelii Lactantii Firmiani Divinarum Institutionum libri septem proxime castigati, et aucti. Eiusdem De ira Dei
liber I. De opificio Dei liber I. Epitome in libros suos, liber acephalos. Phoenix. Carmen de Dominica Resurrectione. Item index in eundem rerum omnium. Tertulliani liber apologeticus
cum indice. [colophon: Venetiis: In aedibus haeredum Aldi, et Andreae soceri], 1535. 8vo (16 cm, 6.25"). , 328, , [2 (blank)], 47, [1 (blank)],  ff.
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Lactantius was a North African writer (ca. 240–320), born a pagan and converted to Christianity, whose polished style earned him, during the Renaissance, the sobriquet of “the Christian Cicero.” According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Jerome admired his writings, judging their strengths and weaknesses as apologetics somewhat wistfully: “Would that he had been able to establish our teachings as well as he demolished that of others.” The editio princeps of Lactantius was issued in 1465, and the first Aldine in 1515. Like that latter, this edition includes also a short “Apologetic” by Tertullian, with a preface by Giovanni Battista Egnazio; and it bears for the first time a new preface on Lactantius by Paulus Manutius.
Renouard notes thatthis is an excellent edition, better than the first Aldine of 1515, and that one of the editors, Onorato Fascitello, had consulted the manuscripts of Lactantius found at Monte Cassino in preparation for it. Spaces have been left for initials throughout, unaccomplished; the whole is in Aldine italic, and the Aldine dolphin and anchor is found both on the title- and the last page. In this copy gathering “a” is in duplicate.
Evidence of readership: Scattered substantive marginalia in Latin to about leaf 140.
Provenance: Note on front pastedown reads, “E libris C. Brinsden, 1737. Dr. Ferrari, Librarian to Lord Leicester . . . exchanged this with me and some other books for two books of Fronterino, which were placed in his Lordship's library at Holkam in Norfolk.” Later 18th-century signature of R. Compton on front free endpaper. Late 19th- or early 20th-century bookplate of American collector Fritz Hermann Jordan on front free endpaper verso.
Not in Schweiger; Adams L22; Renouard (3rd ed.), Alde, 113–14. On Lactantius, see: New Catholic Encyclopedia, VIII, 308–309. Early limp vellum with remnants of ties, dust-soiled. Text with waterstaining, sometimes very noticeable; some worming in margins costing parts of some marginalia; last few leaves of volume's “names and things” index damaged in upper outer corner costing a few words and numbers on its last page. Certainly not a pristine copy but one with an interesting provenance and research-worthy marginalia. (34807)
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