Alfabeto di lettere iniziale inventate, e delineate da Mauro Poggi, scrittor Fiorentino, ed incise dall’Abate Lorenzo Lorenzi.
(No imprint, but Firenze 1775).
Large oblong folio. Decorative engraved title leaf, (24) engraved plates. Contemporary limp marbled paper boards, minor loss of surface to boards at outer margins and along spine. Late eighteenth century armorial bookplate of John Adam (see note above). Contemporary ink ownership inscription “ex libris horologiarii Bartolozi” on preliminary blank leaf, and an ink price in paoli (local Florentine currency) and an early ink inventory number 145 on front pastedown endpaper. A good, clean copy, with excellent dark impressions of the plates.
One of the handsomest of all engraved alphabet volumes, providing on each plate an elegant decorative representation of a letter of the alphabet, customarily embodying small figures of putti, satyrs, fish, cats, dogs or birds, together with trails of fruits and flowers. The alphabet, complete thus, comprises images for the letters A-H, K-V, X-Z, with one further image doing duty for the letters I and J (not thought of as separate letters in the Italian alphabet), and no image for the letter W (not part of the Italian alphabet). The image for the letter U, not normally thought of in the Italian alphabet as a separate letter from V, has more the appearance of an elaborate version of the letter T.The book was a joint undertaking by two Florentine writing masters, Mauro Poggi, responsible for the alphabet designs themselves, and Andrea Bimbi, who drew out the designs in ink for the engraver (Bimbi is not credited on the volume’s title leaf, but is credited on each of the plates). No date for the publication is indicated on the title leaf or elsewhere, which has led to some confusion in the bibliographical literature and to the volume frequently being dated c.1730, but advertisements in the Gazzetta Toscana, a contemporary periodical, make it clear that the first two plates were issued at the beginning of July 1775, the rest doubtless following soon afterwards. The present copy carries the engraved armorial bookplate of “John Adam, Esquire”, who can be identified from the heraldry as a member of the Adam family of Blair Adam, Kinross-shire, and thus either as John Adam (1721-1792), the eldest of the three celebrated Adam architect brothers, or as John Adam’s grandson John Adam junior (1779-1825), heir in line to the Blair Adam estate and to the fine library of architectural books originally put together by his great-grandfather, the Scottish country house architect William Adam. The difficulty about identifying “John Adam, Esquire” of the bookplate with the younger John Adam is that this John Adam did not live to inherit Blair Adam, his career taking him to India (of which he was acting Governor-General in 1823), and it may therefore be that this was a bookplate commissioned by the elder John Adam towards the end of his life, after he had retired from architectural practice to live on his Kinross-shire estate.We have not ourselves previously handled a copy of this title, but we note that a copy featured as item 57 in the Weinreb firm’s Catalogue 11, issued in September 1965, where it was offered for £165, a big price for that date. Berlin Cat 5296; Guilmard p.332.