12mo (142 x 75 mm). Collation: A-F12 G4 (G4 blank). 150 pages. Forty-six woodcuts, of which one full-page, woodcut title ornament and initials. Wormtrack in gutter of last few leaves, affecting few letters on pp. 144-145, else a fine, fresh copy, untrimmed, in its original carta rustica binding.***
Rare pocket edition of a popular early manual of physiognomy, with crude woodcuts of male heads, all looking slightly concerned, as their simplistically lined foreheads each bear the burden of a different character type.
The work was first published in an elegant octavo edition in 1626. In the dedication of that edition, Giovanni Battista Spontoni, doctor from Peschieria, claimed to have found the work in his father’s papers. Ciro Spontone (or Spontoni) served as secretary to high-placed dignitaries and diplomat; he wrote serious literary works, and this posthumously published foray into pseudo-science contrasts oddly with the rest of his oeuvre. The Dizionario biografico degli Italiani does not include it among his works. The present economically printed “popular” edition, whose poor models suffered at the hands of the remarkably unskilled wood engraver, is augmented with a short treatise on other aspects of physiognomy (the nose, the eyebrows, teeth, lips, voice, etc.) for men and women, and chapters on beauty marks and on human proportion.
ICCU ITICCUBVEE34899, a different issue(?) of this edition, with the same imprint and bibliographical fingerprint, but in which the last quire contains six leaves instead of four (3 Italian locations listed; OCLC adds Heidelberg); Caillet, Manuel bibliographique des sciences psychiques ou occultes 3: 10327. Item #4179