Single sheet printed on recto only, oblong folio, with woodcut of Lion of St. Mark at head, some light waterstaining which has affected legibility of letter penned on the sheet, light wear along old folds and edges, red mark at margin where document was sealed, address penned on verso; in a cloth folder.
US $1980 €1603
A completed example of the first prepaid letter sheet.
In 1608 the Venetian authorities began issuing these prepaid printed letter sheets, which are considered to be the first postal stationary sold officially – predating the British Mulready letter sheets of 1840 by more than two centuries. The letters “AQ”, a contraction of acque, were printed at the top of each sheet – they were issued to generate revenue for the repair and upkeep of waterworks in the city by the Collegio alle Acque. The text printed on the sheets reproduced the statute of 1608 under which the system operated, with a surcharge of 4 soldi on the cost of posting a letter. Each sheet has an identification number printed at the top left and the system remained in operation until the end of 1797.
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PRINTED BY GAETANO POLIDORI GOLDONI, Carlo.
Due Commedie … coiè i Mercanti, ed il Burbero benfico, scelte e pubblicate da G. Polidori, per uso della studiosa Gioventù.
First edition thus, rare, edited and printed by Gaetano Polidori; intended for youth, and for the purpose of learning Italian, the volume is expunged by Polidori of anything that might make its readers blush.
AN ENGLISHMAN IN NAPLES BRACEBRIDGE, Samuel.
Autograph letter signed to George Lucy at Charlecote, Warwickshire, obsessively concerned with Lucy’s health and his own, and sending news of English visitors to Naples.
Samuel Bracebridge (d. 1786, of Lindley Hall, near Nuneaton on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border), apologises for an eccentric hand (‘if you can’t read a letter presume it e or r’), not helped by having to write on what he calls Italian ‘blotting paper’. His correspondent George Lucy had himself been travelling in Italy in 1756-1758, including a winter in Naples.