A fascinating edict borne of a crime wave targeting the wine industry in the Veneto region of Italy in the 1520s. At the time, the law prohibited wine producers of the region from transporting their wine from their vineyards into Venice without an official stamp, or bolletta di condurre; the penalty for endeavoring to sneak around this law was the impound of the farmers' oxcarts and oxen. These circumstances gave rise to an enterprise of smugglers, who would buy large quantities of wine in terra (inland westward, where the preponderance of vineyards and wineries were located), claiming it was for personal consumption, then smuggling it dentro le acque ("inside the waters," or to Venice), where it would be resold at a profit. Encounters with the constabulary were inevitable, and the smugglers' answer was often violent; in one example, detailed in the edict, the police chief of the city of Mestre was murdered. The edict iterates the existing law that no wine may be shipped without the proper tax stamps; violators may have their vineyards placed under injunction, and furthermore, no one may buy or sell wine for personal consumption without first registering the amount with the local chancery, and to promise (guirare) to drink it at home, and not sell it to smugglers. The edict concludes with a directive that all shipments of wine passing through customs at Treviso must have tax stamps attached a Mestre al Scrivano de’ vini, (at the "wine desk" in Mestre), and the deputy wine registrar at Miran (Murano?).
The edict is dated 15 September 1526, but there is some bibliographical evidence that suggests the printing of this document was later. Typographic evidence points to Francesco Rampazetto the Elder as the printer. Rampazetto, active from c1540-1576, was the best-known printer in the Calle de le Rasse, the locale in the imprint. (Indeed, EDIT16 suggests Rampazetto as the printer [incerto], and the date of the pamphlet as non prima del 1540.) However, it is possible that another printer, so far unknown, preceded Rampazetto at this address, to whom they sold their founts and equipment. Rampazetto was in the habit of printing edicts dated before he got his start as a printer; he produced at least 15 other edicts or orders dated before 1540 on their title pages—some as early as 1418—though it is not clear why old edicts would find a market with fresh printings. There is also some internal evidence that suggests a later printing date for our edict. The woodcut of the Lion of Venice in our book seems to occur in one other Rampazetto imprint, EDIT16 CNCE 77811, which has a postulated printing date of 1574. That cut is identical, and clearly from the same block, but is marginally less worn. An anchor watermark is evident in our copy, but the mark does not occur in Piccard or Briquet (though Piccard 119042, Venice 1573, is similar); we must therefore consider watermark evidence inconclusive. In any case, whether printed in 1526 or between 1540 and 1576, a most compelling document, detailing the nexus of wine and crime in the largest wine-producing region in Italy at the height of the Republic.
Venice: Francesco Rampazetto? 1526-1576.
Quarto, 200 x 150 mm. π2, 4 pp. Disbound, once a member of Sammelband, with the leaves foliated in ink 27 and 28. Fold repaired long ago, now beginning to separate.
EDIT16 CNCE 77166, locating three copies: Bib. Civ. Padua, Bib. Cas. Rome, and Bib. Com. Treviso.
We are deeply indebted to Mr. Rodger Friedman for his assistance with this description.
Status: On Hold