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les Enluminures

SCOPPA, LUCIO GIOVANNI, Collectanea in diversos autores: cum nonnullis aliis, tam ab antiquis quam recentioribus nondum intellectis, ed. Pierre Gilles

In Latin, imprint on paper
[France, Paris, Simon de Colines, 31 August 1521]

TM 64

4to, [6], 53, [1] leaves; text in roman; criblé initials. CONTEMPORARY WALLET-STYLE BINDING made up from a fifteenth-century parchment leaf with a large illuminated initial, the two-column wide text arranged so that the large painted red and blue initials line up nicely with the spine on the upper cover and so that the second column lines up with the spine on the lower cover (formerly bound with another work, later removed).

Unusual hybrid book from the first century of printing, this volume combines a wallet-style binding from a Middle Rhenish illuminated liturgical manuscript and a printed classical text. Medieval wallet-style bindings are scarce, illuminated ones even rarer. Only one copy of this first French edition of Scoppa’s works, published in Paris by the leading humanist printer Simon de Colines, is recorded in American public collections.


1. Published in Paris, but perhaps bound in the area of the Middle Rhine, because of the provenance of the illuminated parchment leave from this location that serves as the binding of the imprint.


The present edition, one of Simon de Colines’s earliest books, reprints a collection of philological and critical notes on ancient Greek and Roman authors, comprising the first published work by the celebrated Neapolitan humanist Lucio Giovanni Scoppa, which he wrote at the age of 13. It was first published in Naples by Sigismundus Mayr in 1507 and reprinted there ten years later. Scoppa is also the author of a Latin grammar which he composed at the age of 18 years. At his death Scoppa bequeathed all his worldly goods and wealth to the monastery of S. Pietro in Vincoli, to fund the teaching of grammar, rhetoric, and poetry in that institution to 200 needy Neapolitan students (see Manzi, p. 39)

Simon de Colines (born c. 1470/90; died 1546) was a Parisian printer of the French Renaissance associated with the elder Henri Estienne, whom he succeeded (c. 1520 he married the widow of Estienne). He inherited the types of Henri Estienne, but he created for himself many elegant roman and italic types and a Greek type with accents. Some of his types were designed by Geoffrey Tory. His books, often small in format, are superbly crafted, and his press turned out many editions of learned humanist works mostly in Latin and some in Greek. A staunch anti-Lutheran, he also published editions of the Bible and even a Book of Hours. He worked at the Sign of St. John the Baptist (from 1520), the Sign of the Golden Sun (from 1526), and finally at the Sign of the Four Evangelists (from 1539). Contemporary catalogues of his imprints allow us to calculate that he printed approximately 400 editions in his lifetime (see Schreiber, 1995, pp. lxxiii-lxxiv).

Pierre Gilles of Albi, humanist, naturalist, and traveler (1490-1555), oversaw the present edition. Gilles is best known for the published results of his travels to Constantinople, consisting of a description of the Bosporus (De Bosporo Thraicio), and the topography of the city (De topographia Constantinopoleos), both published posthumously, in 1562. Gilles, who earlier that month had edited another text for Colines (Lorenzo Valla’s Historiarum Ferdinandi Regis Aragoniae), tells us in his preface that it took Colines only three days to print this volume.

The imprint is very rare. Only one copy at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is recorded in the National Union Catalogue. The 1517 edition printed in Naples is recorded only at the Catholic University Library in Washington D.C.


A folio from a giant illuminated Missal forms the binding. On its front flap that extends over the upper cover an illuminated initial A (introducing Ad te levavi) from the first leaf (rubric: Dominum priman ad adventum dominum). The style is entirely consistent with Middle Rhine illumination, c. 1450, as it occurs in the Giant Mainz Bible and other related manuscripts and imprints. The striking style with its plump colorful foliage and detailed geometric backgrounds is also recorded in an unusual model-book (see Lehmann-Haupt).


Gilles, Pierre. The Antiquities of Constantinople, trans. John Ball, New York, Italica Press, 1988 (2nd ed.)

Lehmann-Haupt, Helmut, ed. The Goettingen Model Book: A Facsimile Edition and Translations of a Fifteenth-Century Illuminator's Manual. Columbia, MO,1978.

Manzi, P. La tipografia Napoletana nel ‘500. Annali di Sigismondo Mayr, Florence, Leo Olschki, 1971.

Moreau, B. and Philippe Renouard. Inventaire chronologique des editions parisiennes du XVIe siecle, 4 vols, Paris, 1972-92, III, no. 220.

National Union Catalogue ICU (1517: DCU)

Renouard, Philippe. Bibliographie des editions de Simon de Colines, 1520-46, avec une notice biographique ..., Paris, 1894 (reprint, Nieuwkoop, 1962), 24-25;

Schreiber, Fred. Simon de Colines. An Annotated Catalogue of 230 Examples of His Press, 1520-1546, intro. Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer, Provo, UT, Friends of the Brigham Young University Library, 1995.

Online resources

Simon de Colines: Type fonts and Printer’s Mark