[SCRIPTORES REI RUSTICA]. COLUMELLA, LUCIUS JUNIUS MODERATUS. De re rustica [edited by Georgius Merula] -- PALLADIUS, RUTILIUS TAURUS. De re rustica [edited by Franciscus Colucia] - CATO, MARCUS PORCIUS. De re rustica -- VARRO, MARCUS TERENTIUS. De re rustica. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1472.
Folio, 326 x 223 mm., English eighteenth-century red straight-grained morocco gilt, gilt arms of John, third Duke of Roxburghe on sides, gilt fillet border, smooth spine ruled in gilt fillet in eight compartments, gilt-lettered in one compartment and with date at foot, g.e., binding extremities with a little supplied color; folios 1 and 2 supplied from a slightly shorter copy, minor soiling and spotting in places.
Collation (with respect to BMC, 173) and Contents:
D6.7 (EPISTOLA. Georgius Alexandrinus Dominicio Georgio); i-k.. l-z8 A-C8 D1-5 (Columella); D8 (blank); D9-12 E-F8 G-K.. (Palladius); a-b.. c8 d-f.. g8 h6 (Cato, Varro); *.. (Georgius Alexandrinus Petro Priolo...ENARRATIONES BREVISSIMATE...MARCI CATONIS). 302 leaves. 40 lines. Types 115R, 115Gk. Spaces for initials with guide letters. 4 large historiated initials in gold and full color on panels with landscape backgrounds and some extensions into the margins by a Venetian artist, (apparently the same artist who illuminated a Sallust, Venice 1474, sold in the Boies Penrose sale, Sotheby's, 9 November 1971; the hand is close to that in Bodleian Auct. Q inf. 2.21 [Livy, Venice 1481; Pächt & Alexander II, 1970, Pr. 97, pl. LXXXVIII]) contemporary illuminated arms of the Priuli family of Venice in lower margin of folio 7 recto, other 8-line initials in alternating blue, red or green wash and of pure roman form, smaller initials supplied in alternating red, blue and green.
FIRST EDITION of all texts. Book ten only of Columella had probably appeared already at Rome, printed by the Printer of Silius Italicus, c. 1471 (GW 7180). The conjunction of the three texts by Columella, Cato and Varro can be found from the Middle Ages, and their first appearance together in a manuscript, once in S. Marco but now lost, was the basis for this first edition and most fifteenth-century manuscripts. In it Varro breaks off after Bk. 3, ch. 17.4 as here. They are joined in this collection by Palladius, whose works survived antiquity in only one copy. Together, they form the chief texts on agriculture and rural life and deal with crops, vines, bees, olives, cattle-breeding, and -- in Cato -- old customs and superstitions to aid in effective cultivation. For the tenth book of his systematic treatise, the most comprehensive work on Roman agriculture, Columella took up Vergil's statement in the Georgics (4.148) that he was leaving it to others to write about gardening. Thus Columella's tenth book is on gardens and written in hexameters to supplement Vergil It is the only part of the four texts in this collection to be printed independently in the fifteenth century.
BMC V, 173 (IB.19658-60); CIBN S-174; Flodr, Scriptores rei rusticae 1; H..14564; IGI 8853; Goff S-346.
Provenance: Priuli family, Venice, arms on folio 8, as above -- occasional neat marginal annotations in Columella margins -- John, third Duke of Roxburghe, arms on sides (sale, Evans, 27 May 1812, lot 1814) -- George W. Fitzwilliam, Milton Hall, Peterborough, booklabel (sale, Sotheby's, 30 April 1918, lot 293) -- C.A. Acherson, bookplate -- Broxbourne Library (sale, Sotheby's London, 9 May 1978, lot 633) -- British Rail Pension Fund (sale, Sotheby's London, 27 September 1988, lot 16).