Category: Text

Pietro Bembo and the University Library copy of the De Aetna of 1496

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By , 9 August 2012 1:25 pm

Variants and corrections inserted in the  Cambridge University Library copy of the Aldine edition of De Aetna (Inc.4.B.3.134[4580]) have been identified as autograph additions by the author of the text, the learnead Venetian humanist Pietro Bembo.

Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) was the most influential among 16th-century scholars for the future development of the Italian language and Italian literature.  He wrote De Aetna, a fictitious dialogue between himself and his father Bernardo relating to Pietro’s trip to Mount Etna in Sicily during an eruption, while he was studying Greek with Konstantinus Lascaris.  The book was published in Venice by Aldus Manutius in February 1495 more Veneto, i.e. 1496 (ISTC ib00304000; GW 3810).  Its publication was important for  three reasons:  it is Bembo’s first Latin work, it is the first of his works to be put into print and it is the first Latin text printed by Aldus Manutius. 

The University Library copy was formerly in the possession of Stanley Morison (1889-1967), the distinguished English typographer described as “Britain’s greatest authority on letter-design” in the Dictionary of National Biography.[1]  In 1928 Morison created the famous Bembo font from the Roman tondo used by Aldus for Bembo’s De Aetna.  This was the fourth of the tondo typefaces designed and cut for Aldus Manutius by the Bolognese punchcutter Francesco Griffo who, for his part, had taken inspiration from the formal humanistic script of Renaissance Italian scribes.[2]  Aldus used it for the first time to print De Aetna, which therefore scores another “record”. 

Morison inscribed the upper pastedown of his copy with the note “Property of the Monotype Corporation to be preserved as being the original of Series 270 cut in & produced in matrix for  in 1930 / Stanley Morison”.  Morison had bought the book for £ 100 from Davis & Orioli in April 1940, therefore little more than 10 years after designing the Bembo font.  Later on, at an unknown date, he donated it to the Monotype Corporation, which gave it to library in 1967, seven years after Morison’s death.  The donation was most welcome to the library, not only because it filled a gap in the incunable collection, but also on account of the association with Stanley Morison and his work at Monotype.[3]

The book is important for another reason.  It bears eight of the manuscript corrections discussed in a famous article entitled “Manuscript Corrections in the Aldine Edition of Bembo’s De Aetna” published in 1951 by Curt F. Bühler,[4] who did not know about the present book, then still the property of Monotype.  The corrections have been washed away, but most of them can still be read by the naked eye as on leaves A8 verso and D2 verso. 

As noted by Bühler and later by Bianca Maria Mariano in an article published in 1991,[5] they were all included in the second revised edition of the text published by the Venetian printer Johannes Antonius da Sabio and brothers in 1530.[6]

Furthermore, our book also shows a few additional marginal and interlinear corrections and additions that have not been noticed in the copies studied by Bühler: the substitution, for instance, of “segetes” for “fru-ges” on leaf B6 verso, lines 8-9,

the substitution of “inspectantibus” for “uidentibus” on leaf D2 recto, line 15,

and the insertion of the word “pater” above line 15 of leaf C7 recto. 

All these changes can also be found in the 1530 edition.

On the latter page a very faint two-line addition to the text has been supplied in the lower margin.  With the help of UV light one can read “neq[ue] enim puto huius ignarum rei tamq[uam] dormientem / spectatorem sic te ex eo spectaculo redijsse” [i.e. “because I didn’t imagine you returned from the spectacle like a dozing spectator, with no knowledge of it !”]. 

The addition matches a variant that can be found on leaf B5 recto of the 1530 edition, leaf Bb5 recto. 

Overall the text of the 1530 edition confirms that all the marginal notes, variants and corrections introduced manually to our book were authorial changes, that is to say they came from Bembo himself.  According to Bühler, these notes and corrections were separately carried out on each book in Aldus’s shop at the time of its sale.  This would explain the differences in the number of corrections appearing in different copies: some books have only a few, others have more as if mistakes were discovered and changes were carried out by the author as time went by.  I briefly checked the copies of the 1495 edition held in the Bodleian Library and in the British Library.  They also bear such manuscript corrections, most of them written by accomplished hands, but none by the same hand that we find in the Cambridge copy, with the possible exception of the annotations in incunable IA.24410, washed away and therefore requiring an UV light investigation. 

I believe that the small and sharp, but educated and elegant humanistic cursive hand found in our copy is the hand of Pietro Bembo himself.  The identification is confirmed, I believe, by the comparison with marginal notes in two manuscripts of Horace copied by Bartolomeo Sanvito for Bembo’s father, Bernardo, and now in the manuscript collections of King’s College Cambridge (MS. 34, fol. 149 verso) and of the University Library (MS. Dd.15.13, fol. 58 recto) .

 The annotator of the two manuscripts has been identified as Pietro by Professor de la Mare and Massimo Danzi.[7]

Bembo is well known for always revising his works, constantly correcting and adding to them.  I don’t think, however, that the Cambridge book is a personal working copy of the text:  it is too clean, almost immaculate, and has no sign of use in a printing house.  Moreover, the few marginal additions and corrections in the book are very far from the more than 150 variants registered in the 1530 edition by Mariano.  I think that our book was given by Bembo to an unidentified individual shortly after publication and after he had carefully added his own corrections, variants and supplements to the text.  Unfortunately the old parchment cover of the book has been heavily restored and the old endleaves disposed of, so that we have no indication of ownership or provenance before Morison.  What remains to do, now, is to check again all the other 39 extant copies of the edition for traces of Bembo’s hand.

A fuller account of Bembo’s variant and corrections in our copy of the De Aetna can be found in L. Nuvoloni, “Bembo ritrovato : varianti e correzioni d’autore nel De Aetna aldino della University Library di Cambridge”, L’Ellisse. Studi storici di letteratura italiana, VI (2011), pp. 205-210, pls V-VIII.


[1] H. G. Carter, “Morison, Stanley Arthur (1889–1967)”, rev. David McKitterick, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35107, accessed 12 July 2012]

[2] P. Tinti, “Griffo (Grifi, Griffi), Francesco (Francesco da Bologna)”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 59, Rome, 2003, pp. 377-380; http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-francesco-da-bologna-griffo_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/, for the online edn.

[3] A letter from Davis & Orioli to Stanley Morison, dated 4 December 1942, an advice note from the Monotype Corporation to Davis & Orioli, dated 10 October 1952, and a copy of the letter from the director of the University Library to J. Matson of The Monotype Corporation, dated 23 July 1974, are kept with the book.

[4] C. F. Bühler, “Manuscript Corrections in the Aldine Edition of Bembo’s De Aetna”, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, XLV (1951), pp. 136-42.

[5] B. M. Mariano, “Il De Aetna di P. Bembo e le varianti dell’edizione 1530”, Aevum, 65 (1991), pp. 441-52.

[6] For the 1530 edition, see Catalogue of books printed on the continent of Europe, 1501-1600, in Cambridge libraries, compiled by H. M. Adams, London, 1967, p. 109, no. 584. Cambridge, University Library, F152.d.2.7, item no. 2.

[7] A.C. de la Mare, “Marginalia and Glosses in the Manuscripts of Bartolomeo Sanvito of Padua”, in Talking to the text: Marginalia from Papyri to Print.  Proceedings of a Conference held at Erice 26 Sept.–3 Oct. 1998…, ed. V. Fera, G. Ferraù and S. Rizzo, Messina, 2002 [Percorsi dei classici, 5], vol. II, pp. 459-555 (466 n.1, 519, 521); M. Danzi, La biblioteca del Cardinale Pietro Bembo, Geneva, 2005, p. 336, pls 2-6 (pls 7-28 for images of Petro’s notes in other manuscripts); A. C. de la Mare and L. Nuvoloni, Bartolomeo Sanvito. The life and work of a Renaissance scribe, eds A. R. A. Hobson and C. de Hamel, Paris and Dorchester, 2009 (The Handwriting of the Italian Humanists, 2), nos 64, 82; M. Danzi, “Pietro Bembo”, in Autografi dei letterati italiani, vol. 3.1, Rome, 2009, pp. 47-59 (54).

Three Unique Caxton/Maynyal Leaves? – A post by Ed Potten

By , 9 February 2011 11:50 am

Sig. r4, one of the leaves wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy

Between 1487 and 1488 Caxton commissioned the production of two liturgical books from the Parisian printer Guillaume Maynyal, both of which are rare survivals. ISTC records only one substantially-complete copy and two fragments of the 1487 Sarum Missal [ISTC im00719200 – National Trust (wanting 23ff.), Durham (3 ff.), Oxford (2 ff.)] and one substantially-complete copy and four fragments of the 1488 Sarum Legenda [ISTC il00118200 – British Library (imperfect), Cambridge UL (29 ff.,  Inc.2.D.1.18[2544]), Cambridge Clare (fragments), Cambridge Corpus (fragments), Paris BN (fragments)].

To reproduce liturgical books successfully, incunable printers needed to overcome significant typographical complications, not least the need to print in more than one colour. At the press he established in Bruges in 1473, Caxton, under the tutelage of Colard Mansion, experimented somewhat unsuccessfully with ‘one-pull’ two-colour printing. The eventual adoption of a ‘two-pull’ process overcame this problem, but liturgical printing on a large scale required a higher degree of technical proficiency than was available in the late 1480s at Caxton’s Westminster press. As a consequence the printer sought to ‘out-source’ the work. By 1487 the printing of liturgical books, some coloured, some specifically for English use, was already well established on the Continent – ISTC currently records 118 missal books and 196 breviaries printed on the Continent prior to 1488, with two breviaries specifically for Sarum use. Specialising in the production of these typographically-complex works, the printers of Venice, Basel, Louvain, Rouen and Paris cornered the market in liturgical printing and were the logical choice for the printing of English liturgical books. Caxton’s chosen partner was Guillaume Maynyal, a Parisian with proven experience of liturgical printing in red and black.

ISTC records only nine issues associated with Maynyal, surviving cumulatively in only 76 copies. These are grouped into two periods. Between March 1479/80 and September 1480 his name appears in five colophons alongside that of Ulrich Gering in books including a Psalterium Romanum and a copy of Guido de Monte Rochen’s guide for priests, Manipulus curatorum. In 1487 and 1488 he worked for Caxton, then in 1489 he issued alone two further liturgical books, a Latin Psalterium and a Manuale Carnotense. The fragments of the 1488 Legenda are the only example of Maynyal’s work in the CUL collection.

The decision to out-source to Maynyal is significant. Printing in England before 1534 was dominated by, and dependent upon, foreign tradesmen. In 1484 Richard III had introduced legislation exempting “merchant strangers” from any restrictions on either printing in England or bringing in books from abroad. The contracting-out of complex work to foreign presses and the immigration of skilled Continental printers and tradesmen became the lifeblood of the English print trade. Caxton’s employment of Maynyal is the first known example of this trend.

Set in two sizes of type, the Sarum Missal and Legenda may be seen as marking the beginnings of a transition in the typographical appearance of English books, away from styles characteristic of Flanders and Cologne, and towards type-styles imported from Paris and Rouen. Following the partnership between the two printers, Caxton purchased type from Paris, probably from Maynyal himself.

The study of any type of printed output of the fifteenth century is hampered by the quantity of material lost to researchers. Certain classes of books, however, have suffered more significant losses than others; printed liturgies are one such class. Their poor survival rate is at least partially explicable by their practical nature and the type of daily use to which they were exposed. With the exception of the most lavish, printed liturgies were working books. Often associated with chapels and chantries they saw heavy use by multiple priests on every day of the liturgical year. Not considered ‘collectable’ for their antiquity until well into the eighteenth century, these hard-used books were superseded and discarded. In England, the 1549 Act of Uniformity and its successors further explain the paucity of surviving pre-Edwardian liturgies, whilst in Catholic Europe the imposition of the Missale Romanum after 1570 had a similar effect.

The provenance of at least some of the Cambridge fragments is traceable. One leaf bears a clearly recognisable shelfmark, Pp.1.167, indicating it was once part of the binding of a copy of the Opera of Jacques Cujas (Frankfurt: 1595) belonging to John Colbatch (1664-1748).

The bookplate of John Colbatch (1664-1748)

The leaves of the Sarum Legenda utilized by the original binder were removed and preserved when the book was rebound in 1937. There are other occasional tantalizing hints about the earlier use of the Legenda. References to Pope Gregory have been crossed through on sig. y3v and references to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r, suggesting it was in English hands in the first half of the sixteenth century. In addition, there is an intriguing Hebrew inscription on sig. y6v, which is currently being researched.

References to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r

The 29 leaves which survive at Cambridge are:

Sigs. r4, v1, v8, y1, y2, y3 and y6 (conjugate), y7, y8, z1, L1 (2 copies), L2, L3, L7, L8 (2 copies), M6, N1, P4, P5, Q2, Q5, Q7, T4 (final line of both columns cropped on verso), T5 (first two lines of both columns cropped recto and verso), V3, V4 (cropped), (2)b1. There is one additional fragment, which is too small to identify.

Sigs. r4, Q2 and Q7 are almost certainly unique – they are wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy, that at the British Library (IB.40010), and in the absence of a definite identification of the fragments in Clare, Corpus and the BN they are at present the only known surviving examples of these three leaves.                       Ed Potten

Bibliography

W. Blades The biography and typography of William Caxton (London: 1882) p. 52.

P. Gaskell A new introduction to bibliography (Delaware: 1995) pp. 137-8.

L. Hellinga (ed.) Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Library – Part XI England, (The Netherlands: 2007) p. 342, 346.

L. Hellinga ‘Fragments found in bindings and their role as evidence’ in ‘For the love of the binding’ Studies in bookbinding history presented to Mirjam Foot (London: 2000) pp. 13-33.

P. Needham ‘Caxton, William (c.1422-1491)’ in Europe 1450 to 1789 Encyclopedia of the early modern world volume 1 (New York: 2004) p.430.

An unknown edition of the Liber de secundis intentionibus by Francesco da Prato ?

By , 19 October 2010 3:52 pm

s1 recto

The edition of Johannes Versoris’s Quaestiones librorum praedicabilium et praedicamentorum et posteriorum Aristotelis attributed to Leonardus Pachel and Uldericus Scinzenzeler in Milan around 1481-83 (ISTC iv00250000), includes an anonymous text entitled Liber de secundis intentionibus printed on leaves s1 recto-t4 verso (Inc.5.B.7.10[4004])

This text is seemingly identifiable with the Liber de intentionibus by the 14th-century Dominican friar Franciscus de Prato.

The readings of its incipit and explicit correspond to those published in Jean-Pierre Rothschild, Bibliographie annuelle du Moyen Age tardif, 11 (2001), no. 1129, as the beginning and the end of a treatise attribuited to Franciscus Pratensis in Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS. 3368, fols 70 recto-80 recto.  These readings also match the incipit and explicit of the already known edition of Franciscus’s text printed on leaves v2 verso-v6 recto of Johannes  Versoris, the  Dicta super septem tractatus Petri Hispani, edited by Petrus de Sancto Johanne and published in Venice by Hermannus Liechtenstein on 22 May 1487 (ISTC iv00238500; see GW M32404).

t4 verso

Franciscus’s treatise was later reprinted in Seville in 1530 and survives in four other 15th-century manuscripts.

If the identification of the anonymous text is correct, there are two more lingering questions: the attribution of the printing to Pachel and Scinzenzeler rather than to Johannes Antonius de Honate, and the dating of the book to around 1481-83 instead of circa 1488 (as suggested by BSB-Ink V-181).

Only the carefull consideration of the types used in the edition and the philological comparison of the text with the surviving manuscripts copies and the 1487 edition will answer the final question: it this the editio princeps of Franciscus’s Liber de intentionibus?

Bibliography for the text:

Fabrizio Amerini, “La Quaestio Utrum subiectum in logica sit ens rationis e la sua attribuzione a Francesco da Prato. Note sulla vita e gli scritti del domenicano Francesco da Prato”, Memorie Domenicane, n.s. 30 (1999), 147-217 (p. 211).

Fabrizio Amerini, “La figura e la filosofia di Francesco da Prato”, in Dal convento alla città. Filosofia e teologia in Francesco da Prato O.P. (XIV secolo), Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Storia della Filosofia Medievale, Prato, Palazzo Comunale, 18-19 maggio 2007, ed. Fabrizio Amerini, Firenze, 2008, 15-29 (p. 17 and n. 8).