LEONICENUS, Nicolaus (1428-1524). Libellus de Epidemia, quam vulgo morbum Gallicum vocant. Venice: Aldus Manutius, June 1497.
Chancery 4o (201 x 145 mm). Collation: a-c8 d4(4+1) (a1r title, a1v blank, a2r author's dedication to Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, a3r text, d4r colophon, d4+1r-v errata). 29 leaves. 33 lines. Printed marginalia. Types: 8:87R; 7:114(87)Gk. 7- and 4-line initial spaces with printed guide-letters. Previously bound in a Sammelband: 18th-century foliation 91-. (Small repaired marginal tear to title-leaf, slight bleed of edge-staining into extreme outer margins.) 19th-century blue straight-grained morocco gilt by Charles Hering, his printed ticket on front free endpaper, sides with single gold fillet frame, shaped inner panel, inner double fillet lozenge, central cartouche with monogram of John Rylands added later to upper cover, spine in six compartments, two gilt-lettered, the remainder densely gold tooled and stippled, wide turn-ins with double gilt fillet, brown endpapers, edges mottled and gilt (slight wear to spine and corners).
Provenance: 16th-century reader's note including several references to classical medical authors (Galen, Dioscorides, Pliny, also Plutarch) preserved on verso of lower flyleaf, one contemporary marginal note on a3r -- small stencilled "D" on title-page -- George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1836): morocco gilt label -- Manchester, John Rylands Library: bookplate, inkstamp, monogram binding stamp, 1988 withdrawal label; sale Sothebys London, 11 April 1988, lot 48 (to Lathrop Harper).
FIRST EDITION of the first scholarly treatise on syphilis. Niccolò Leoniceno, eminent Hellenist and professor of medicine at Ferrara, was one of the editors of the Aldine Aristotle and a personal friend of Aldus. He translated Galen and Hippocrates and wrote several influential treatises criticizing the Latin and Arabic transmissions of the Greek medical authorities; most controversial was his 1492 tract "on the errors of Pliny," which provoked heated debate and earned him fame as the first to apply humanist textual techniques to a specialist subject. Erasmus rated him with Cop and Linacre as one whose humanist convictions helped revive medical studies. In this treatise on syphilis, which had broken out in 1495 during the French siege of Naples, Leoniceno tried to show that the disease had existed previously in the remote past. One of the rare medical texts printed by Aldus, the work was reprinted less than a month later at Milan, and again at Leipzig ca. 1499.
HC 10019*; Ahmanson-Murphy 14; BMC V, 557 (IA. 24439-41); BSB-Ink. N-130; CIBN L-142; Dibdin, Bibliotheca Spenceriana ("a most desirable copy of this elegant, curious and rare volume"); Harvard/Walsh 2646; IGI 6814; Klebs 599.1; Renouard Alde 14,12; Goff L-165.