Incunabula and Other Antiquarian Works from Lex Antiqua
By Michael Stillman
This month we review our first catalogue from Italian bookseller Studio Bibliografico Lex Antiqua. It is also their first catalogue. Studio Bibliografico Lex Antiqua is relatively new to bookselling, but their books are not new. The firm is focused on the oldest of antiquarian books, particularly those of significance. Important classics in philosophical and scientific thought are at the center of their collection.
Incunaboli offers 112 items and they are all very old. Collectors of incunables, books published before 1500, will be quite pleased with the number of works whose dates begin with "14." As a caution to our English-speaking readers, this catalogue is written in Italian, and consequently difficult for this reviewer to describe. However, we will presume that collectors of incunables and other very old works will have a bit more familiarity with European languages than have I. It would be hard to build a large collection of incunabula based on English alone. With that caveat, here are a few samples of what can be found in the first catalogue from this new seller of very old works.
Item 8 is the Confessionale Volgare "omnis mortalium cura" by Antoninus Florentinus. Antoninus entered the Dominican order at the age of 16, and in 1446, was appointed Archbishop of Florence. He was a scholar and theologian, and a reformer for his time, with concern for the poor. His works also provide a historical window into the 15th century. This work was written for confessors, those who were most holy and pious, and it was evidently well-respected and followed at the time. This early edition was published in 1477, eighteen years after Antoninus died. Priced at €7,700 (or approximate US equivalent of $10,292).
Andrea Palladio was a young stonecutter when a patron introduced him to the arts and gave him his very classic-sounding name. He would become one of the great architects of the 16th century. Item 37 is a set of I quattro libri dell'architettura di Andrea Palladio, the four books of architecture of Andrea Palladio. Palladio was noted for his classic style, even as the Renaissance was burgeoning around him. This is the second edition of this work, from 1581. It would be republished many times in the centuries which followed. €5,300 (US $7,083).
Item 64 is a French translation of an English work, with the description in Italian. It is L'Authoritie et Jurisdiction des Courts de la Maiestie de la Roygne, the authority and jurisdiction of the royal courts of 16th century England. The writer was legal scholar/writer/editor Richard Crompton. The French edition is the first, preceding the London one. This book provides legal history and support for the monarchical system then in place. It was published in 1594, during Crompton's lifetime. €2,400 (US $3,207).