Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry VAULT Case MS 5A 32
Register for Contracts and Purchases of the Orsucci Family
Italy, between 1497 and 1567

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Newberry Case MS 5A 32 is a ledger containing records of contracts, acquisitions, and properties of the Orsucci, a wealthy family of merchants from Lucca, Tuscany.  It is mainly transcribed by Bernardino Cristoforo Orsucci and covers seven decades, starting in 1497, as stated in the title page, the only section written in Latin: “In nomine: Domini: Amen.  In hoc libro continebu[n]tur acquisitiones notabiles reru[m] maxi(m)e inmobilius fiendas per me Bernardinus olim Cristorfori Orsucci de Camaiore. […] an[n]o mcccclxxxxvii”.  The latest entry recorded dates to 1567.  Bernardino wrote in a very rapid, cursive script, at times almost illegible, a sign that this register served solely for personal records.  The Orsucci ledger is bound in a contemporary dark brown binding, with embossing bearing the heading: “Note di contratti di compre […] Tomo I”, suggesting the potential existence of more volumes.

The ledger opens with a list of names and agreements (ff.2r-6r) paired to references to the pages in which these entries were transcribed.  The first entry (f.10r) includes information about how Bernardino and his brothers (Orsuccio, Domenico Marco, Ioanni, and Stefano) divided part of the family properties and wealth.  Bernardino, in particular, inherited a house in the area of Sexto Lucchese and a workshop in the Piazza of Santa Maria di Camaiore.  When mentioning a property, house, or commercial building, Bernardino often describes its surroundings, specifying bordering properties: for example, a house bought from “Habimo Andreoli in Sexto San Piero” is said to be bordering with properties of Bastiano Domenichini and Barsolini (f.10v).  Emphasis on properties and their collocation is also given in two full-page drawings of houses together with a geometric sketch of the surroundings, included at the end of the ledger (f. 88v and 90v).  Bernardino’s book also includes sporadic personal memories (for example f.89v).


Umanistica usuale dal ductus molto corsivo, ricca di elementi della mercantesca.
Da notare: d tonda con occhiello superiore che che lega con lettera seguente (10r, 2 par.: dua); U angolare con il primo tratto molto sviluppato (10r, secondo par.: Una); z in forma di 3 che scende sotto il rigo (ultima r.: Lazaro); l’uso della nota tironiana per con (10v, r. 9: (con)fina).

Selected Bibliography:

Item fully digitized here.