July 1501

PETRARCH. Le cose volgari di messer Francesco Petrarcha. [Ed. Pietro Bembo]. Aldine 8° (159 x 97mm). Collation: a-y8 z4 (a1r general title, a1v divisional title Sonetti et canzoni di messer Francesco Petrarcha in vita di madonna Laura, n3v divisional title Sonetti et canzoni di messer Francesco Petrarcha in morte di madonna Laura, s5v divisional title Triomphi di messer Francesco Petrarcha, u6v blank, x5v blank, y5v blank, z3v colophon and privilege Impresso in Vinegia nelle case d'Aldo Romano, nel anno MDI del mese di Luglio, et tolto con sommissima diligenza dallo scritto di mano medesima del Poeta, havuto da M. Piero Bembo. Con la concessione della Illustrissima signoria nostra, che per x anni nessuno possa stampare il Petrarcha sotto le pene, che in lei si contengono, z4 blank); A8 (index of first lines, 8 blank); B4 (1r drop-title Aldo a gli lettori, 3v heading Errori, che stampando si sono fatti, 4v blank). 192 leaves. Italic type 1:80, engraved by Francesco Griffo, generally based on the cursive bookhands of Pomponio Leto, Bartolommeo Sanvito and other humanist scribes, but apparently specifically modelled on Aldus's own hand (see Barker [2nd] appendix). 29 lines. (Small tear in b8 mended, very slight soiling in places.)

PREFACE: Aldus's address to the reader precedes the errata at the end. He believes that the correctness of his text must be considered proven, because it is based on the poet's autograph manuscript as obtained from Bembo, who also owns other books in Petrarch's hand. The reader can expect an edition of Dante shortly, which will be no less correct than this Petrarca.

BINDING: modern gold-tooled black morocco, decorated in mid-16th- century Parisian style with fillets and hatched tools, edges gilt and gauffered at an early date, (front joint rubbed). PROVENANCE: verses on h7v describing Rome as the new Babylon uncensored; no manuscript foliation (unless cropped), which was done for most copies at the Aldine shop to correspond with the index.

FIRST ALDINE EDITION. Petrarch's immortal verse is the first vernacular text printed in italic type and published by Aldus in his libri portatiles series. The novelty of Aldus's publication programme of uncommentated slender-octavo editions of Greek classics, and Latin classics and Italian poetry in Griffo's italics, launched with his Virgil of April 1501, forms the clearest break in the first year of the 16th century from the incunable tradition. The typographical innovation was immediately and widely imitated in Italy and beyond the Alps (see lots 28-29; Balsamo and Tinto p. 25-123). P. Needham has recently shown from uncut copies that the slender octavo is the result of a distinct paper size unique to the Aldine shop (W.H. Scheide Festschrift p. 150-53). The Aldine italic letter and the narrow portable volume were inspired by the script and size of humanistic vellum manuscripts that had come into fashion from the late-14th century onwards. For an account of the autograph manuscripts and Bembo's own copy (Vat. lat. 3195-97) of Petrarch's sonnets and other verse and to what extent Aldus's claim is justified that his edition was set from one of the autographs in Bembo's possession, see Lowry p. 225-27 and Fletcher p. 95-99. RARE (the last copy, imperfect, was sold at auction a dozen years ago). Isaac 12766; Mortimer 371; Murphy 35; Sansoviniana 44; Laurenziana 47; In Praise p. 50; R 28:5

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