ONLY EDITION OF A GREAT HOAX

Ethruscarum antiquitatum fragmenta, quibus urbis Romae, aliarumque gentium primordia, mores, et res gestae indicantur ...

‘Frankfurt’, [i.e. Florence, Amadore Massi], 1637.

Folio, pp. [xxiv], 324; with 235 woodcuts and engravings, including four folding plates, including maps, illustrations of antiquities and a genealogical tree, half-title, text within frame throughout, initials; first two quires and first three plates reinforced at gutter, some old repairs to back of first plate, a few marks, some browning towards end, otherwise a very good copy; early 20th-century half vellum over marbled boards, gilt lettering-piece (chipped) to spine; board edges somewhat rubbed; contemporary ownership inscription to front free endpaper (‘ad usum F. Fortunati Marie a S. Antonio ordinis excalcearum St Trinitatis ...').

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First edition. In 1634, Inghirami (1614-55) made an incredible ‘discovery’ in the grounds of his family villa at Scornello. He claimed to have uncovered a cache of Etruscan archaeological artefacts: a lamp, a damaged human figurine and a huge number of inscriptions and tablets. The finds are illustrated in this volume, in woodcuts and engravings, along with the strange vessels in which they had been preserved, capsules called ‘scariths’, made of caked mud and hair. These discoveries attested to the great significance of Volterra, a few miles from Scornello, as one of the principal Etruscan centres, and Inghirami devotes much of his book to ‘translating’ fragments of a chronicle of ‘Vulterran’ history by one Prosperus Fesulanus.

In reality, Inghirami’s amateur archaeology was a complete forgery: he was in fact a bored, well-educated, twenty-something of aristocratic stock, who decided to falsify an Etruscan legacy in his own, ‘Vulterran’ corner of Tuscany. Inghirami’s ancestry, displayed in a wonderful foldout family tree, included Tomasso Inghirami (1470-1516), prefect of the Palatine Library, poet laureate, and a correspondent of Erasmus.

BL German 1601-1700, I54; Freeman, Bibliotheca fictiva, 353.

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