A curious Italian-vernacular edition of a venerable text on practical and economic mathematics. Based loosely on the commerical section of Fibonacci's Liber d'abaco, which was composed about 1220 (the earliest of the 19 extant MSS is dated 1237), the Libretto, at just sixteen octavo pages, was first printed about 1533 (according to Brunet), and about 1520 (according to Robin Halwas). Some 18 printed editions through the nineteenth century are known, many of the earlier existing in just single exemplars, as they were often reduced to tatters from use. Our 1704 edition, published by Michele Arcangelo Silvestri, printer at the offices of the University of Macerata, is bound with endpapers made from a scrap of an unrecorded diploma from the university, the verso of which was printed with primitive woodcuts of the Assumption of Mary at front and the Guardian Angel at end. Silvestri was clearly inspired by a Brescian edition, printed by Turlino about 1630, whose title-page typsetting is almost identical. Most editions are similarly comprised: multiplication tables per scachieri, followed by a section of word problems on currency conversion, agricultural divisions, and transactional calculations denominated in scudi. Curiously, bilingual English-Italian editions were published by John Wolfe in London in 1589 and 1590, which were advertised for sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Ours is the second known copy (the other at University of London) of a peculiar Italian-vernacular mathematics text, preserved in entirely in its original retail binding.
Full title: [Caption title, A1r]: LIBRETTO | D'ABACO || Nuouamente reuiſto, e ricorretto. [Colophon, A8v]: In Macerata, Per Michele Arcangelo | Silueſtri. Stampat. Cam. è Pub. | 1704. Con Lic. de' Sup.
Macerata: Michele Arcangelo Silvestri, 1704.
Octavo, 150 x 100 x 4 mm. A8, 16 pp. Contemporary pasteboard alla rustica, unlettered. Binding worn and a bit soft; head cap chipped; faint pen trials to upper and lower covers. Interior: pale dampstaining throughout; wormhole in tail margin, not near text; some dog-eared leaves. An unsophisticated copy.
Contemporary signature to verso of front free end, S. Michael Francopolus Insulanus (an unrecorded name, possibly from Villefranche-de-Rouergue); the same to recto, and an abbreviated form in the margin of title.
Goldsmiths’-Kress 4098.1 (bound with another mathematics text, published in 1659); Halwas, Robin, List XIII, Continental Printed Books, London: BAS, 1996, No. 50; cf. Riccardi, Pietro, Biblioteca matematica italiana, Modena: Società tipografica Modense, 1873-6, part 1, vol. II, cols. 37-8; cf. Smith, Eugene, Rara Mathematica, New York: Chelsea, 1970, introduction and passim. For a discussion of the manuscript tradition, see Bocchi, Andrea, "Dal Liber abaci ai libri d’abaco: errori, fraintendimenti, ristrutturazioni," Scienze e rappresentazioni, Florence: Olschki, 2012.