Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT oversize Case MS 137
Partial Index of Livy’s Historiae
Italy, between 1400 and 1500

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Newberry Library, VAULT oversize Case MS 137, no. 12 is a partial index of Livy’s Historiae.  The text on the excised folio contains an incomplete index for the ninth book and a complete index for the tenth book of the classical author’s History of Rome.  The index of the ninth book ends on the recto with the summary of the subsequent book beginning immediately and continuing onto the verso.  The red letters progressing down the page represent numerals in the mercantesca style; one should read them as i, ii, iii, v, vii, respectively.  The use of this script provides a broad date range for the object’s creation.  However, the presence of a watermark, or filigrana, on the page further narrows the possible date and location of the page’s creation.  Briquet’s compendium of watermarks suggests a probable date range for the substrate.  The imprint appears to be a flower in the form of a tulip.  The design bears the closest semblance to Briquet nº 6644, which indicates that the substrate was most likely made in Florence, Pisa, or Rome between 1443 and 1448.  Speculating further, it seems that Florence was the most probable locus of production, which also narrows the date range between 1444 and 1446.  The Council of Florence-Ferrara (1438-1445) introduced Neoplatonic thought, of which Livy was a vital author, to the Florentine intellectual politi.  Moreover, the presence of a prominent university in Florence supports the supposition that this page might have been used by a student or in an intellectual context.  While there is still more that can be done in terms of placing this page within either a Florentine, Pisan, or Roman context, the six-lobed, multipetaled, variegated tulip with a stem winding its way down a chain line does provide a possible geo-temporal specificity for this particular object.


Minuscola del tipo della mercantesca adattata all’uso librario, priva di legamenti e con aste molto sviluppate, quelle di f e s raddoppiate e desinenti a fuso.
Da notare: la a corsiva (recto A, r. 2: ad); la d con asta obliqua molto sviluppata (recto A, r. 4: due); la g corsiva poco sviluppata (recto A, r. 2: ingiegno); la u/v con tratto iniziale molto sviluppato (verso B, r. 1: vittoria).

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Item fully digitized here.