Renaissance Books

The Rare Books Collection at ZSR Library contains over 50,000 volumes dating from the 14th through the 21st century. The books listed below are a sampling of manuscript and print materials from the Renaissance and early modern periods, with an emphasis Italian imprints and on maps and geography. To find other relevant materials, search the library catalog or contact Megan Mulder.

Selected Titles from the Rare Books Collection

  • Manuscript New Testament. Manuscript in Latin, ca. 1410. Rebound in 20th century red leather. Measuring only 11.5 cm, this handwritten New Testament was meant to be portable. The original limp vellum covers are preserved within the later binding. The covers are inscribed in a 15th century hand and include the inscription Fr. Gilbertus Vacca Minor, perhaps an allusion to the volume’s original owner.
  • Manuscript commentary on Holy Week scripture. Manuscript on vellum, probably Italian, 14th or early 15th century, consisting of commentary on scripture passages relating to Christ’s passion and resurrection. This text was likely used by scholars or ministers preparing sermons for Holy Week. The pattern of red and blue in the initials and running heads is typical of the Dominican order.
  • Horatii Flacci lyrici poetae opera. Horatius Flaccus, Quintus. INC 1490. Venice: Georgio Arriuabene, 1490. This edition of the works of Horace has many features that are typical of incunabula (works printed before 1500). It has no title page, and the printer’s imprint is found in a colophon at the end of the text. The tooled leather binding is contemporary with the text. The inside covers are lined with random pages of manuscript.
  • Liber cronicarum [Nuremberg Chronicle]. Schedel, Hartmann, 1440-1514. CE57 .S3 1493. Nuremberg : Anton Koberger, 1493. The Liber Chronicarum, better known as the Nuremberg Chronicle, is one of the most famous printed books of the century. Schedel’s text recounts the history of the known world from creation to the late 15th century. The book is also remarkable as an example of early printing technology. It includes over 1800 woodcut illustrations by Michael Wohlgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (teachers of Albrecht Durer) which are integrated into the text.
  • Le terze rime di Dante. Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. PQ4302 B02 A5 1502. Venetiis : In aedib[us] Aldi aAccuratissime, 1502. Dante was one of the first editions of the classics printed by the famous Aldine Press. This edition may have been prepared by Pietro Bembo, and most 16th century editions of Dante were based on the Aldine text. This copy was also owned by 19th century author and critic John Ruskin.
  • Pomponius Mela.. Mela, Pomponius. Z233.A4 M48 1518. [Venetiis] : Aldvs, 1518. First and only Aldine edition of Pomponius Mela, with other works. Pomponius Mela’s De situ orbis is the earliest surviving classical Latin treatise on geography. A typical Aldine volume in small octavo format, with anchor printer’s mark at front and back.
  • La preclara narratione di Ferdinando Cortese della Nuoua Hispagna del Mare Oceano. Cortes, Hernan, 1485-1547. F1250 C8 1524. Stampata in Venetia : per Bernardino de Viano de Lexona Vercellese, 1524. First Italian translation of Cortes’s second and third letters to Charles V describing his conquests in South America. Includes an engraving of Cortes’s maps, which represent the first European image in print of Tenochtitl├ín (Mexico City) and the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
  • In hoc volvmine haec continentvr. C. Suetonij Tranquilli XII Caesares. NN-3-3. Venetiis, in aedibvs Aldi, et Andreae soceri mense maio, 1521. Aldine collection of Roman history with commentary by Erasmus.
  • P. Ovidij Nasonis poete ingeniosissimi Metamorphoseos libri XV. Ovid, 43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D. PA6519 .M2 1527. Venetiis: Per Helisabeth de Rusconibus, 1527. This edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses was published by Elisabeth de Rusconibus, who took over management of her husband George’s print shop after his death. The edition is notable for its many woodcut illustrations. The Metamorphoses was one of the most influential classical texts in renaissance Europe and was published in countless editions.
  • Hore diue Virginis marie secundum usum Romanum. Hardouyn, Germain,; fl. 1500-1541. ND3363 .H26 1533. Parisius: Germano Hardouyn, 1533. Parisian printer Germain (or Gilles) Hardouyn specialized in books of hours and other devotional works. This edition of the Hours of the Virgin Mary is printed on vellum with hand-colored borders and illustrations.
  • Novvs orbis regionvm ac insvlarvm veteribvs incognitarvm. Huttich, Johann, 1480?-1544. E141 N933 1537. Basileae: apud Io. Hervagium…1537. The binding of this volume is contemporary with the text and is half white embossed leather with a 16th century library mark. The remainder of the boards are covered with pages of music manuscript. The most notable feature of the text is its large folded map of the world, the border decoration of which is traditionally attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger. Although geographically outdated by the time it was printed, the map tries to accommodate Columbus’s claim that Cuba was not an island. The map is also important because it clearly depicts the earth as rotating on an axis, which visible at the north and south poles. The border decoration combines medieval myth and recent discoveries about the people of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Petri Bembi cardinalis Historiae Venetae. Bembo, Pietro, 1470-1547. DG677 A2 B3 1551. Venetiis: apud Alii Filios, 1551. Cardinal Pietro Bembo was a Venetian scholar instrumental in establishing the Italian vernacular as a literary language. He had a long association with the Aldine Press and served as editor for many of their classical editions. In 1530 Bembo was appointed official historian of the Republic of Venice and wrote this work, which covers Venetian history from 1487-1513. Bembo’s history of Venice was published in both Latin and Italian editions. Our copy is in Latin.
  • Il theatro del mondo. Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. G1006 T76 1598. In Brescia: appresso la Compagnia Bresciana, 1598. In 1570 Abraham Ortelius revolutionized the map trade by publishing the first modern atlas. Ortelius’s Il Theatro del Mondo proved extremely popular and was republished in many editions for the next 150 years. This edition, published in Brescia, Italy, is much smaller in format than the first edition but includes the 70 maps found in the original.