2 vols, folio, pp. xxxi,  (blank), 299, , pp. xvii,  (blank), 306, , text in Italian and Latin on facing pages, with added engraved title-page to vol. I and engraved dedication to Gustav III, and together 207 engraved plates by Francesco Bartalozzi and others on 160 leaves, and 4 large engraved initials; two leaves with paper flaw in bottom margin, one old restored, but an excellent crisp and clean copy printed on thick paper and bound in English polished calf, c. 1800, sides with gilt fillet border and blind tooled Greek key borders, marbled edges, joints cracking, flat spine. Engraved armorial bookplate of Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth; and engraved armorial bookplate of John Clerk Brodie.
US $3499 €2835
First edition and an imposing set of this splendidly illustrated and luxuriously printed work. The interesting preface records Bracci’s work on the book since 1758, his falling out with Winckelmann and other vicissitudes.
The Abate Bracci was a native of Florence who had spent 15 years living in Rome, first under the patronage of Cardinal Albani, then increasingly under his own steam making a living as a cicerone and acknowledged expert on gem forgeries. He had no private means and his book took rather a long time as he had to secure financing from individual subscribers for the production of his plates. Bracci was a well known figure in the coffee shops of Rome discussing ancient gems and perpetually clutching a sheaf of plates for his forthcoming work. Upon publication there was a chorus of disapproval as the plates were deemed to be inaccurate in their depiction of the gems. Some of this criticism was malicious, but Cicognara and Vinet also question the scholarship of the work.
The fine plates illustrate the discussed gems (intaglio and cameo) much magnified but also show the actual size. The gems were taken from the Stosch collection, and other princely and private collections in Italy. There are also some taken from private cabinets abroad such as the Earl of Arundel, Lord Percy, Thomas Hollis or the Earl of Carlisle. There are also supplementary plates of ancient sculpture to facilitate comparisons.
Cicognara 2785; Vinet 1638; Zazoff, Gemmensammler, pp. 122-7 and p. 139; Sinkankas, I, 882.
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WITH POPE’S PREFATORY VERSES [SWIFT, Jonathan].
Travels into several remote Nations of the World. In four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, first a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships … The second Edition [vol. II adds: corrected].
‘Second’ edition (in fact the fourth, since the three ‘issues’ of 1726 are separate editions), but the first to include Pope’s prefatory verses. Teerink-Scouten note two states, with either four or five verses (signed a2-7 b4 or a2-7 b4 *2, the pages marked ‘)(’ at the top). Ours contains four (see Teerink 1224 and Norman Ault, New Light on Pope, pp. 231 ff.).
FIRST STAR ATLAS PICCOLOMINI, Alessandro.
Della sfera del mondo ... divisa in libri quattro ... Delle stelle fisse, libro uno con le sue figure, e con le sue tavole ... Editione tertia.
A collected edition, using the same woodcuts, of two companion works which had earlier appeared independently in 1540. Both are in the vernacular, by which Piccolomini sought to extend scientific knowledge beyond the university confines. The first is his treatise on the sphere of the universe; the second – more significant – is his book on the fixed stars with 48 star maps. ‘This modest book was, in fact, the first printed star atlas. That is, it was the first printed set of maps of the stars, as distinct from simple pictures of the constellations such as illustrated the various editions of Hyginus. Of equal importance was Piccolomini’s pioneer use of letters to identify the stars – a practice later adopted with some modification by Bayer and, through him, by all modern astronomers. At the bottom of each map is a scale of degrees, correct for that particular map. The words ‘PARTE VERSO IL POLO’ on each map indicate the direction of the equatorial pole, and the words ‘VERSO DOVE’ and ‘DONDE,’ meaning ‘toward which’ and ‘from which,’ indicate the direction of daily rotation of the celestial sphere … The star magnitudes 1-4, are well graduated. The most notable stars in each constellation are identified by consecutive Latin letters, ‘A’ representing the most important star (usually the brightest)’ (The Sky Explored, p. 200).
Adams P1108; BL STC Italian p. 514.