The text describes the engraver, Girolamo Porro of Padua, as being without peer in his profession, an extraordinary achievement given his poor eyesight. Each of the 23 chapters begins with an engraving by him illustrating some funeral custom, e.g., washing the body, burying or burning it, and entombing, while the text “is in the form of a dialogue discussion of the plates and begins by discussing the artist” (Mortimer).
Tommaso Porcacchi (1530–85) was a Tuscan historian, philologist, and poet who also published (among other works) L’isole piu famose del mondo (The Most Famous Islands in the World) and Delle cagioni delle guerre antiche (Concerning the Causes of Ancient Wars).
This first edition of this sought-after work is printed in italic and some roman, with woodcut foliated and historiated initials, and with woodcut tailpieces; a second edition appeared in 1591. The engraved title-page has the title inside an elaborate architectural frame in the neo-classical style with cherubs above and a figure in Roman armor on each side. The 23 large (just under half-page) engravings by Girolamo Porro are very fine and well impressed. Above the colophon is the handsome woodcut printer’s device of Simon Galignani incorporating the emblem of a tower with the motto, “TURRIS ET FORTITUDO MIHI DEUS.”
Adams P1903; Mortimer, Italian Sixteenth Century Books, 395; Durling 3718. Deep-walnut full calf old-style: Round spine with raised bands, accented in gilt and with blind-tooled devices in compartments; red leather title label, gilt-lettered and -ruled; fillets extending onto covers from each band to terminate in trefoils and covers framed in blind double fillets. Some light to moderate dust-soiling and very occasional staining, seldom reaching and never obscuring printed area; one leaf has suffered some sort of spill, marks nowise damning. A1 without corner due to defect in paper and extra printing running at right angles to text in bottom margin of A1r (p.1), likely due to a fold in the sheet during printing; none of this affects text. A couple instances of marginalia, including the following written, in ink, in the top margin of the title-page: “Curioso, y util Tratado.”