4to (230 x 159 mm). large-paper. , 352,  leaves (a few misfoliated), final blank leaf removed. Colophon on fol. 352v, followed by 3 pp. errata, 1 blank page and 14 pp. table of contents. Italic type, spaces for initials with guide letters. Paper watermarked with crossbow in circle surmounted by a fleur-de-lys (cf. Briquet 760). Some light marginal dampstaining, small marginal repair to f. XX3. Bound in late seventeenth-century French dark blue morocco, wide gold-tooled roulette border on sides, spine gold-tooled in six compartments, the second lettered in gold, board edges gold-tooled, red morocco doublures with a different large roulette dentelle border, edges gilt over marbling (2 small scratches to upper cover, spine slightly faded); folding buckram case. Provenance: contemporary marginal notes throughout (see below), possibly by the owner whose monogram MAB or AMB surmounted by a Maltese cross is inscribed on the blank verso of the title-leaf; Louis-Charles Desjobert, according to Brunet (sale, Paris 1823); George Hibbert (1757-1837), sale, Evans, 25 March 1829, lot 1194); Philip Augustus Hanrott (his? annotations erased from front flyleaf), sale Evans 1833-34; Richard Heber, sale Evans, Part VI, 1835, lot 399); Charles Fairfax Murray, book label, his 1899 library catalog, no. 259; Giuseppe Martini, acquisition note and bookplate (sale, Lucerne, 1934); Lucius Wilmerding, bookplate, sale Parke-Bernet, 5 March 1951, lot 105, lot 105); Sergio Colombi (1887-1972), Swiss collector, bookplate.***
a rare large-paper copy of the first critical edition of the decameron, annotated by a contemporary reader throughout, beautifully bound for a seventeenth-century french amateur, and with a distinguished provenance.
Nicolò Delfino or Dolfin (d. 1528), scion of a prominent Venetian family, joined Bembo and Trissino in arguing that the Italian of Petrarch and Boccaccio should replace Latin for literary use. Other than a few poetic compositions, published later or still in manuscript, Delfino’s sole but significant literary contribution was this edition of the greatest and most influential collection of stories in post-classical Western literature. The first edition of the Decameron printed in quarto format, it was more importantly the first attempt at a textually accurate edition. It was also the first to name the editor: Delfino signed the dedication, to his female readers (“le gentile e valorese donne,” in imitation of Boccaccio’s own preface).
The present edition amounted to the first official recognition of the literary importance of what had previously been viewed as a “tavern book,” or at best a collection of bawdy tales for women. Reprinted in 1526, it served as exemplar for many later editions.
The paper stock of this large-paper copy differs from that of the regular issue (a bow and arrow, Briquet 818). Two other large paper copies, in the Biblioteca Trivulziana in Milan, and a copy owned by Jean Grolier, now in the Arsenal library in Paris (cf. G. Austin, Library of Jean Grolier, p. 49, no. 62), are recorded.
The contemporary annotations in this copy appear to constitute a personal finding aid. Written in a single hand, they consist of selected words or phrases repeated from the adjacent line of text, usually in the identical form but occasionally with a different spelling. The selected words and phrases bear no common theme, and appear to be noted for purposes of comparison, possibly to signal variant readings found in another manuscript or printed edition of the text. The copy and its annotations are worthy of further study.
Brunet I:997 (this copy, “en Gr. Pap. mar. dent. mais [!] avec des notes mss. en marge”); Gamba, Serie dei Testi, 169; Gamba, Delle Novelle Italiane, p. 13; EDIT-16 CNCE 6239. Item #3110