OPPIANUS (fl. 2nd century). Halieutica, sive de piscatu. Translated from Greek into Latin and with additions by Laurentius Lippius. Colle di Val d'Elsa: Bonus Gallus, 12 September 1478.
Chancery 4o (196 x 138 mm). Collation: a-h8 (A1r translator's life of Oppianus, A1v translator's preface to Lorenzo de'Medici, A2v argumenta, A3r text, h2v distichs by Lippi, h7v elegiac verses by Lippi to Petrus Carbonellus, royal secretary, and by Philippus Poscus to Lippi, h8r colophon to the reader by P. Poscus, register). 64 leaves. 32 lines. Type: 1:90G. 2- to 5-line initial spaces with printed guide letters. (Gutter of last leaf strengthened with strip from a 15th-century manuscript on vellum, short marginal tear and slight creasing along the guard, minor light soiling and foxing to first and last leaves.) Modern brown morocco.
Provenance: Albert Ehrman, Broxbourne Library (inscription, shelf number, bookplates, sale Sotheby's London, Part I, 14 November 1977, lot 101).
FIRST EDITION, THE FIRST PRINTED BOOK ON FISHING, AND THE EARLIEST PRINTED SPORTING BOOK. The poem, a treatise in verse on fish and fishing, encompasses most of the ichthyological knowledge of the early Christian era, and describes the various methods of catching fish. The Greek text was not published until 1515 (Florence: Filippo Giunta). Lippi dedicated his translation to Lorenzo de'Medici and added to it a series of recipes for cooking, distichs on animals, fruits, minerals, precious stones, etc., and a life of Oppian.
The edition is probably the second of six 15th-century books printed in 1478 and 1479 at Colle di Val d'Elsa, a paper-making center northwest of Siena, all but one from the press of Bonus Gallus, a Frenchman from Béthune. In 1471 Gallus had already received from the town council an exemption from tax duties on paper that he planned to use for a printing press, but the project made no headway, and he appears in Padua in 1476 (Goff B-1302). Returning to Colle in 1477, he finally published this edition a year later, along with a short tract without month-date, presumably prompted to action by the publication in July 1478 of the first edition of Dioscorides by a rival Colle printer, Johannes de Medemblik (who is not heard from again). Bankrupted by three more editions in 1479, which included the voluminous Practica medicinae of Michael Savonarola, Bonus Gallus died "hopelessly insolvent" two years later, possibly a victim of the plague. He seems to have obtained his type from the Florentine printer Nicolaus Laurentius. Scholderer points out the interest of the group of books printed at Colle, which must have been commissioned for members of the local intelligentsia, including "the apothecary Giovanni de Pietro, the humanist Lorenzo Lippi... and probably also the paper-maker Francesco di Meo" (BMC VII, p. lxxiv, and Fifty Essays, p. 209).
HC 12015*; BMC VII, 1079 (IA. 33513-14); BSB-Ink. O-51; CIBN O-30; IGI 7006; Pr 7242; Westwood and Satchell, Bibiotheca piscatoria (London 1883), p.163, mentioning this copy; Goff O-65.