Codex antiquissimus a Rufio Turcio Aproniano V.C. distinctus et emendatus qui nunc Florentiae in Bibliotheca Mediceo-Laurentiana adservatur bono publico.

  • Virgil
  • Florentiae [Florence]: Typis Mannianis 1741


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FIRST EDITION, 4to, pp. [ii], xxxv, [i], 310, [2], 311-459, [1] + additional engraved half-title. Printed in red and black throughout (the red sometimes added by hand) and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with 55 plates, a handful of engravings within the text. Near-contemporary Italian vellum, spine lettered in gilt on a dyed yellow ground, marbled endpapers, edges red. Some light soiling and spotting, a few plates toned, several leaves with light ink stains and one or two paper flaws. Vellum soiled, front joint cracking but strong. Two leaves of bibliographical manuscript tipped in to front endpapers (one early 20th-century, in English, the other 19th-century and Latin), 20th-century typed booklabel mostly removed from pastedown, early ownership inscription of J.S. Strange to initial blank, embossment of Mark Pattison of Lincoln College, Oxford to title-page, manuscript table of the extra plates tipped in at rear.


The Pattison copy, extra-illustrated, of the first ever type-facsimile of an ancient manuscript. The Codex Mediceus, a fifth-century manuscript in rustic capitals held in the Laurentian Library in Florence, is one of the oldest surviving exemplars of the text of Virgil; its importance has long been recognised and it was emended by Pomponio Leto in the 1470s before being purchased from the Vatican by Cosimo de Medici. This edition of it uses an old-style font of capitals plus several characters specially cut for the printer, Domenico Maria Manni (1690-1788), to demonstrate not just the readings but the appearance of the manuscript (for comparison, three lines are also reproduced in engraved facsimile in the preface). This marks the first attempt to use specially-cut type for a facsimile edition.
This example has been extra-illustrated with 55 engravings based on the illustrations of another old and important manuscript of Virgil, the Vergilius Vaticanus. Pietro Santi Bartoli (1635-1700) had been commissioned to paint reproductions of these illustrations for a manuscript reproduction, though this was cancelled after its sponsor died. Bartoli did however produce engravings of the images, filling in damaged areas of the originals with his own work. These were published on their own in 1677 and then again in 1725, from which edition these examples probably come. They were then used to illustrate a diplomatic facsimile of the Vergilius Vaticanus published at Rome, coincidentally in the same year as this facsimile of the Codex Mediceus.
Later in its life, this copy belonged to the academic and Rector of Lincoln College, Mark Pattison (1813-1884), who had a deep interest in the history of classical scholarship and amassed the largest private library of his time, dispersed by Sotheby's after his death.

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