Scriptores rei rusticae. Edited by Philippus Beroaldus (1453-1505) after Georgius Merula (1430/31-1494) and Franciscus Colucia (fl. 15th century): Marcus Porcius CATO (234-149 B.C.). De re rustica. - Marcus Terentius VARRO (116-27 B.C.). De re rustica. - L. Junius Moderatus COLUMELLA (fl. ca. 36-ca. 65 A.D.). De re rustica. Commentary by Pomponius Laetus (1428-1497). - Rutilius Taurus PALLADIUS (fl. 4th century). De re rustica. Commentary by Antonius Urceus Codrus (1446-1500). Reggio Emilia: Dionysius Bertochus, 18 September 1496.
Super-chancery 2o (315 x 209 mm). Collation: aa6 a6; b-i8; k4; l-y8 z4 &6 9-8 A-K6 L4 M6 (aa1r title, aa1v Merula's dedication to Pietrus Priolus, commendatory preface by Beroaldo, aa2r Enarrationes priscarum vocum [glossary of technical terms by Merula]; b1r Cato, d7v Varro, i8v blank; k1r Columella, table; l1r Columella, text, C2r blank, C2v Palladius, M5r colophon, M5v quire register, M6r commendatory verse by Angelus Ugerius, printer's device, M6v blank). 272 leaves. 41 lines and headline. Types: 13:110RA; 19?:109R; 14:87R; 110 Gk. 3-, 8- and 9-line woodcut capitals, the 9-line capitals white-vine, the others black-ground, some spaces for initials with printed guide-letters, woodcut device (Husung 128), printed marginalia. Fine 8-line and a few 3-line Lombards supplied in red or blue. Several lines of bearer type faintly discernible around printer's device. (Occasional light dampstaining, a few unobtrusive small stains at end, traces of mildew on s7-8.)
Binding: contemporary limp parchment wrapper, laced onto four pairs of single thongs (each thong slit but consisting of one piece) passing outside the covers at the hinges, upper cover of the wrapper slightly smaller than the text block due to shrinkage, title lettered laterally in brown ink on spine, with large red pressmark, "h"; endleaves of two bifolia from a ?12-century sacramentary on vellum with German neumes on 4-line staves, edges stained pale yellow (2 small holes to upper cover); a few deckle edges preserved; folding cloth case with ribbon ties.
Provenance: Wesel, Brothers of the Common Life at the Convent of St. Martin: 1529 inscription in a neat small gothic hand stating that the book was acquired by brother Joannes Hoijnck from the library of master Otho van Meer (Liber fratrum Vesaliensis domus sancti Martini. procuratus per fratrem Joannem Hoijnck ex bibliotheca domini Othonis van Meer. 1529) -- [Laurence Witten, cat. 9 no. 90] -- [Lathrop Harper]
Fourth edition of the classical Roman texts on agriculture. This edition follows the 1494 Bologna edition printed by Benedictus Hectoris. Beroaldo's praise of Bertochus in his introductory letter on aa1v was in fact written for Hectoris; Bertochus simply substituted his own name for that of the other printer.
The texts of Cato and Varro were transmitted together in numerous manuscripts from the Middle Ages; that of Columella was lost for a time following its truncation in an early manuscript, until Poggio rediscovered it in the early 15th century, in a 9th-century manuscript from Fulda. The first edition of the Scriptores rei rusticae, printed at Venice by Jenson in 1472, was based on a manuscript at San Marco, collated by Politian in 1482 and Vettori in the 1530s but since lost. This broke off after Varro, Book III, 17.4 (as do all the early editions) but apparently included Columella. The printed editions joined to this trio the treatise by Palladius, which was preserved in a single manuscript. Together these texts form the principal source of information on Roman agriculture and rural life, treating the cultivation of vines and olives, farming, beekeeping, and the breeding and grazing of livestock. Cato's treatise -- the oldest surviving complete prose work in Latin -- includes much on ancient customs and superstitions, and sheds light on the transition from small landholdings to capitalistic farming in Latium and Campania in the second century B.C. Columella wrote his 10th book, a treatise on gardening in hexameters, as a continuation of Virgil's Georgics, Virgil having written that he was leaving it to others to write about gardening.
This is the first book printed at Reggio Emilia by the quasi-itinerant Bolognese printer Dionysius Bertochus, who worked in six different Italian cities between 1481 and the end of the century, moving from Vicenza to Treviso to Venice to Bologna, and finally settling in Reggio Emilia and Modena.
AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY IN STRICTLY ORIGINAL CONDITION, PRESERVED IN ITS ORIGINAL TEMPORARY WRAPPER. HC 14569; BMC VII, 1090 and XII, 77 (IB. 34061 and 61a); CIBN S-177; Harvard/Walsh 3546-48; IGI 8856; Goff S-349.