VIGERIUS, Marcus (1446-1516). Decachordum Christianum. Corrected by Guido de Sancto Leone and Francisco Armillino. Fano: Hieronymus Soncinus, 10 August 1507.
2° (308 x 203mm). PRINTED ON VELLUM. Collation: aa8 a10 b-z8 &8 A10 B-E8 F10 AA-BB8 (aa1r title, aa1v blank, aa2-8 index of chapter headings (here bound at end of main text, between quires F and AA), a1r Vigerius's dedication to Julius II, a1v Vigerius's address to the reader, a2v Annunciation woodcut, a3r first chorda, m8r blank, m8v woodcut, n1r seventh chorda, F10v colophon, AA1r index of subject headings, BB8v blank). 268 (of 270, title in facsimile and without blank aa8) leaves. Author's coat-of-arms on title within woodcut border signed by F.V., 10 full-page cuts, probably metal (Mortimer), the one of the Nativity signed "L" and the Pentecost also signed "F.V.", within one of two repeated woodcut borders, 33 smaller cuts from 27 blocks illustrating the life of Christ, all but two in criblé style. In addition to the one block with head repaired noted by Mortimer, the block of the Last Supper appears here in two states, one with Christ's left hand repaired and altered slightly (p2v). Though commonly proposed, the cuts are too early to be the work of Florio Vavassore. Initial spaces with guide-letters, one filled in with later penwork initial. Foliation correct on fo. lxxix (unlike the Harvard copy) and incorrect on fo. lxxxix (reads lxxxiiii, as in the Garden copy); seventh and eighth Chorda incorrectly headed sixth and seventh. (Small repair to lower margin of p6, some leaves yellowed on hair side.) Gold-tooled blue morocco over pasteboard, wide border of fillets and corner ornaments on sides, spine tooled in compartments, gilt turn-ins, vellum endleaves, edges gilt over red-stain, by Charles Lewis.
Provenance: Longman catalogue, London, 1818-19, no. 10069 at £15-15-0, sold to -- George Hibbert (1757-1837, sale 1829 no.8434, described as 'elegantly bound in blue morocco by Lewis', sold to Bohn for £15-10-0, and bought by) -- Beriah Botfield, for £31-0-0, the price pencilled on inside front board.
FIRST EDITION. Vigerius joined the Franciscan order while his great uncle, the future Pope Sixtus IV, was general of the order, and it was to Sixtus IV that he owed his advancement, being made bishop of Senigallia in 1476, governor of Castel Sant'Angelo, and a cardinal in 1505. Vigerius returned to his studies in 1506, producing the Decachordum, a treatise on asceticism following the life of the Holy Family, which he dedicated to his cousin, the humanist Pope Julius II. A learned humanist himself, Vigerius was known to Erasmus as a defender of Lefèvre (Contemporaries of Erasmus III, p.392).
Soncino, first printer at Fano, was one of a family of itinerant printers active in Soncino, Naples, Brescia, Barco, Pesaro, Constantinople and other towns, and famous for their printing of Hebrew books. A year after settling in Fano, Hieronymus Soncino had an italic type designed for him by Francesco Griffo which he used to print his edition of Petrarch in 1503. The Decachordum is rightly considered one of Soncino's finest books, its beauty heightened by the luxury of vellum in this copy.
Van Praet knew of three copies on vellum: one in the Bibliothèque Nationale, one in the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence (no.144 in Catalogo della esposizione del libro antico Italiano, 1929), and the copy for sale by Longman in London in 1818-19, which is this Hibbert-Botfield copy. A fourth copy is in the British Library, containing a presentation letter by Vigerius to Henry VII.
Adams V-746; Mortimer, Harvard Italian 537; Van Praet, Vélins du roi I, 413; Isaac 13970; Brunet V, 126 citing this copy; Sander III, 7589; De Marinis, Livres à figures italiens 214.