CICERO, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C.). De finibus bonorum et malorum. Edited by Georgius Merula (1430/31-1494). Venice: [Vindelinus de Spira for] Johannes de Colonia, [not after 9 November] 1471.
Royal half-sheet 4o (269 x 185 mm). Collation: [12 2-58 66; 78 86(1+1); 9-128 136] editor's dedication to Lodovico Foscarini, 1/2vblank, 2/2r Books I-II, 6/6 blank; Book III; 9/1r Book IV, 13/4r colophon, 13/4v-13/6 blank). 90 leaves (of 93, without the first 3 blanks). 32 lines. Types: 1:110R2, 110Gk (on 13/4r). 7-line initial spaces. Unrubricated. Traces of contemporary manuscript quiring, positions varying. Pinholes in fore-margins of most leaves. (Minor light spotting to first page, 11/5 and 12/5 discreetly reinforced at gutter.) Eighteenth-century English speckled calf, sides panelled with double gilt fillet, spine gilt, edges red-stained, marbled endpapers (upper hinge split, head of spine chipped, a few small chips to spine and small restoration at foot).
Provenance: a few neat contemporary marginalia -- Earls of Hopetoun: bookplate; sale, Sotheby's, 25 February 1889 -- George Dunn, of Woolley Hall, Maidenhead (1865-1912): bookplate, sale, Sotheby's, Part III, 22 November 1917, lot 2051 -- C. S. Ascherson: bookplate; collection sold to Bernard Quaritch in 1944/45 -- Niels Hansen Christensen: sale, Sotheby's New York, 16 November 1976, lot 53 -- W. R. Jeudwine: bookplate; sale, London, Bloomsbury Book Auctions, 18 September 1984, lot 10 (to Quaritch).
First dated edition and the first printed in Italy. An undated edition printed by Ulrich Zel is assigned to ca. 1470. Upon the sudden death of his brother Johannes, Venice's prototypographer, Wendelin von Speier took over the press, and in the next three years published over 60 editions, largely of classical texts. Forced to declare bankruptcy in 1473, Wendelin sold his material to his managers Johannes of Cologne and Johannes Manthen, who may for a short time have kept him on as foreman (Scholderer, Fifty Essays, p. 78). The name of Johannes of Cologne makes its first appearance in this edition, possibly implying a prior financial involvement in the firm; following his marriage to Johann von Speier's widow this would not have been surprising. The edition is dated 1471, during the rule of Doge Cristoforo Moro, who died on 9 November.
The undated dedication must have been written after May 5th, since Foscarini is addressed as Procuratore di San Marco (the rank immediately below that of Doge), an honor that was awarded him on that day. Foscarini was one of the more prominent members of a group of Venetian patricians, all graduates of the University of Padua, who were instrumental in arranging Bessarion's bequest of his library to San Marco, supported the development of printing at Venice, and founded the Chancery School, later known as the Escuola di San Marco, for the preparation of future members of a professional civil service. A public lectureship in the humanities was established at the school; one of its earliest appointees was the Piemontese humanist Giorgio Merula, who taught there from 1465 until 1482, when he was invited to the court of Lodovico Sforza. Merula acted as editorial advisor to Wendelin von Speier from early 1471, later advising Wendelin's rival Jenson. This is the first of several editions of the Latin classics by him, published at Venice by Wendelin, Jenson and Colonia and Manthen, and later by the early printers at Milan and Treviso. In his dedication Merula refers to the recent invention of printing by the Germans; this contrasts with Ognibene's almost exactly contemporaneous dedication to Moise de Busarollis in Jenson's 1471 Quintilian, in which Jenson is credited with the invention and extolled as the new Daedalus (cf. Lowry, Nicholas Jenson and the Rise of Venetian Publishing, Oxford 1991, pp. 56-57).
HCR 5328; BMC V, 6885 (IB. 19537-39); GW 6885; Harvard/Walsh 1518-1520; IGI 2862; Goff C-565.