Shelfmark: C/6/4
Location: Rare Books

Sebastiano Serlio’s Regole Generali di Architettura…sopra le Cinque Maniere degli Edifici.  A contemporary edition published in Venice in 1544. The Regole was the fourth part of an extensive treatise in seven books published between 1537 and 1575, which exercised considerable influence as a handbook of the classical style.  It was lavishly illustrated with plans and designs interlinked by commentaries. Born in Bologna Sebastiano Serlio was apprenticed under Baldassare Peruzzi, but was forced to move on to Venice and France after the Sack of Rome in 1527. In France he is rightly considered as the founder of the classical school of architecture.

Shelfmark: H/3/21
Location: Rare Books

Walter Hermann Ryff was a 16th century German pioneering dentist and surgeon (+1562) and the author of a number of medical and dental books. His very popular treatise on the correct dietary requirements of sick people was first published in Frankfurt in 1545 and ran into several editions. This rare second edition (1564) comes in a tooled leather slip case for better preservation at an age when books were extremely expensive.

Shelfmark: A/4/15
Location: Rare Books

A St. Jerome’s Vulgate edition of the Holy Bible published in Paris by Guillard and Desboys in 1552, with annotations, woodcut illustrations, and appendices. 

The folding map accompanying the prologue to the Acts of the Apostles covers the Eastern Mediterranean to help illustrate St. Paul’s missionary peregrinations across Asia Minor and his eventual shipwreck in Malta.

Shelfmark: D/1/1
Location: Rare Books

Les Édifices Antiques de Rome by architect and academician Antoine Desgodets (1653–1728) was published in Paris by Jean Baptiste Coignard at the zenith of the reign of Louis XIV in 1682.  It was a magnificently produced and very expensive work, dedicated to French Secretary of State, Minister of Finance and Superintendent of the Arts, Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), who had sent Desgodets to Rome to report and to survey the principal monuments of classical antiquity.  
The book covers 25 of the principal sites with drawings of great precision, as shown in this stunning engraving by Louis de Chastillon of the entablature and capitol from the three standing columns of the Temple of Jupiter in the Roman Forum. Desgodet’s great enterprise is just one example of Colbert’s support of the arts and his grandoise scheme of utilizing them to enhance the prestige of France.

Shelfmark: F/5/33
Location: Rare Books

An English translation by Robert Gent of Il Davide Perseguitato (David Persecuted) by the Bolognese Marquis Virgilio Malvezzi (1595–1654).  The work is a commentary on the biblical story of David’s harassment by King Saul, and was written with the scope of defending the English monarchy during the Civil War (1642-51). The David Persecuted belonged to a genre of propaganda literature which supported the Royalist cause and took up the defence of King Charles I of England during his imprisonment and trial at the hands of the Parliamentarians.  The translation was published in London in 1647, just two years before the tragic beheading of the ill-fated sovereign who appears dressed as King David in the engraved frontispiece.

Shelfmark: MZH,A
Location: Melitensia Collection

Engravings illustrating the dress code of members of the Hospitaller Order of Malta from Bernardo Giustiniani’s Historie Cronoligiche dell’ Origine degli Ordini Militari published in Venice in 1692.  The work carries a dedicatory inscription in honour of King Louis XIV of France.

Shelfmark: BQ1668.C6 1685
Location: Cabinet

Origen’s life and his commentary on the Holy Scriptures, edited from original Greek codices by the great French scholar and philosopher Bishop Pierre Daniel Huet (1630–1721) who was also tutor to the Dauphin under King Louis XIV of France.  This vellum bound and beautifully preserved edition was published in Cologne by Christian Gensch in 1685, with dedications to the Sun King of France and to Prince Frederick of Saxony, whose magnificent coat-of-arms, combining the crests of six principalities, appears as an engraved frontispiece.

The Greek and Latin title page is embellished by the publisher’s trade vignette which shows Hermes as the winged messenger of the Gods watering the Tree of Knowledge.  This fine volume comes from the library of the late biblical scholar Mgr. Prof. P. P. Saydon.

Shelfmark: F/1/2
Location: Rare Books

Gemmæ Antiquæ Celatæ = Pierres Antiques Gravées compiled by the German archeologist and antiquarian Philippe de Stosch (1691–1757) brings together a list of the more notable engraved gems of antiquity preserved in the major museums and treasuries of Europe.  Published in Amsterdam in 1724, and dedicated to the Austrian Emperor Charles VI, the book is beautifully illustrated with oversized engravings by Bernard Picart (1673–1733). 

The plate shows an engraved amethyst from the royal treasury of the Kings of France, depicting Achilles with the lyre, sculpted by Pamphilius of Macedon, a 4th century BC writer and artist.  The actual size of the gem is shown to the right, just above the cartouche.

Shelfmark: B1253 1759
Location: Cabinet

The diffusion of philosopher John Locke’s (1632-1704) writings was remarkable, and at least twelve editions of his collected works appeared between 1714 and 1823.  This prestigious and beautifully bound sixth edition, which was published in three volumes in London in 1759 carries Gottfried Kneller’s famous portrait of the philosopher in an engraving by George Vertue.  The sixth edition was also a landmark because of its inclusion of the philosopher’s posthumous works and his biography.

Shelfmark: B/6/7
Location: Rare Books

Captain James Cook’s (1728–1779) description of the volcanic S.W. Pacific island of Tanna in Vanuatu, which he discovered during his great second expedition in the ships Resolution and Adventure between 1772–75. During this expedition Captain Cook completed the first ever west-east circumnavigation in high latitudes in what is regarded as one of the greatest sailing ship voyages. 

This three volume translation of the account of the expedition, Voyage dans l’ Hémisphère Austral et Autour du Monde, was published in Paris in 1778 only a year after the publication of the original English edition, and attests to the great regard with which Cook’s account was held for its thoroughness of description and high standard of cartography.

Shelfmark: BQX875.S28 1736
Location: Cabinet

French edition of Fra Paolo Sarpi’s Istoria del Concilio Tridentino, translated by the Oxford professor of divinity and dissident French priest Pierre-François Le Courayer, and published in England in 1736. Though based on much authentic material, Sarpi’s work lacked objectivity and portrayed the Council as being solely a conspiracy against the reform of the Church. Its general attitude favoured the protestants as evidenced by the dedication of the French translation to the Queen Regent Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737) consort of George II of England.

Shelfmark: F/4/11
Location: Rare Books

The first volume of Nutzbares Galantes und Curioses Frauenzimmer Lexicon (Useful, gallant and curious lexicon of terminology in use by ladies) compiled by Amaranthes – pseudonym for Gottlieb Siegmund Corvinus.  This very popular encyclopaedic work was first published in Leipzig by Johann Friedrich Gleditsch in 1715 and carried all sorts of information of interest to women, covering those duties and pastimes which an 18th century lady usually indulged in. 

The frontispiece to this 1773 third edition carries an engraving by Martin Friedrich Bernigeroth after an original painting by artist Johann Adolph Richter.  It shows the muses supervising a variety of occupations carried out by women across different social ranks, the more menial receding farther into the background of a beautiful chateau.

Shelfmark: F/4/7
Location: Rare Books

Annabile Marchese’s Tragedie Cristiane, published in two volumes in Naples in 1729, consists of theatrical scripts covering the lives of illustrious Christian martyrs, to be enacted for the edification of eighteenth century devotees. These scripts include L’Eustachio a play in five acts, which narrates the colourful life of the Roman general St. Eustace, whose martyrdom in being roasted alive inside a bronze bull, is here dramatically depicted in an engraving after Solimena.

Shelfmark: F/2/19
Location: Rare Books

A Maltese caleche of the early 19th century ‘…drawn by a single mule and driven by a man on foot who keeps pace with the animal’.  The caleches had been the principal form of transport in Malta since the days of the Knights and are here described as ‘…very clumsy awkward carriages…which shake the unfortunate passengers to pieces’ from Captain Thomas Walsh Journal of the Late Campaign in Egypt London, 1803. 

In his book, Walsh traces the vicissitudes of the British expeditionary force under Sir Ralph Abercromby which sailed across the Mediterranean, its subsequent defeat of the French, and its occupation of Egypt in 1800-01.  The book’s illustrations are by the English engraver and cartographer Samuel John Neele (1758–1824).

Shelfmark: H/1/21
Location: Rare Books

An attractively elaborate engraving of Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan, designed by the famous artist Antoine de Favray (1706–1798), in the Order’s code of laws which was published in 1784 under the title Del Diritto Municipale di Malta, loosely referred to as the Codice de Rohan. The frontispiece incorporates the Grandmaster’s portrait surrounded by ten commemorative medallions allegorically illustrating the most significant achievements and events of de Rohan’s magistracy (1776–1782). This magnificent engraving, whose original copper plate still exists in the National Museum of Archeology, was made in Rome by Domenico Cuengo in 1782 after artist Giuseppe Grech’s intermediate drawing.

Shelfmark: F/5/18
Location: Rare Books

A second edition of the Breve e Particolare Istruzione del Sacro Ordine Militare degli Ospitalari published in Padova in 1724 for the instruction of Hospitaller novices. This Library copy is inscribed by the last Grand Prior of the Conventual Church of St. John, the Maltese born Fra Raimondo Albino Menville (+1801) whose election and installation as Grand Prior had been vehemently opposed by rioting French Knights who were backing a compatriot for the exalted post.

Shelfmark: G/2/25
Location: Rare Books

A beautifully bound copy of the anatomical treatise Instituzioni d’Anatomia by the renowned Maltese surgeon Dott. Michael Angiolo Grima (1731–1798), published in Venice in 1781.  Trained in Florence, Pisa, and Paris, Michael Angiolo Grima was a leading surgeon at the Sacra Infermeria and the author of a number of scholarly medical monographs. His Instituzioni d’ Anatomia was dedicated to the reigning Grand Master Fra Emanuel de Rohan whose coat-of-arms adorn the front and back covers of what was probably a presentation copy.

In an age when anesthesia was undreamt of, and operations painful and frightening, Grima was renowned for his rapidity in performing lithotomy and mastectomy in two-and-a-half and three minutes respectively.

Shelfmark: MZH55 Oversize
Location: Melitensia Collection

A miscellany of forty eight sonnets and laudatory verse penned by the best Italian 18th century poets, in an anthology edited by the Knight Commander Fra Geatano Valenti di Mantova, and published in the Grand Duchy of Parma to mark the election of the Aragonese Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra D. Francisco Ximenes de Texada. The poets hailed from the highest literary circles and academies of Italy.

Shelfmark: D/2/8
Location: Rare Books

Bernard de Montfaucon’s A Collection of Regal and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of France translated from the French original and published in London in 1750. The two volume work is superbly illustrated with 300 large folio copper plates, including a dedicatory frontispiece of an equestrian Louis XV of France.

The above plates illustrate episodes from the reign of King Louis XII and his second wife Anne of Brittany whom he had married after the annulment of his first marriage by the notorious Borgia Pope Alexander VI.

In 1499 Louis XII recovered the Duchy of Milan from the tyrannical Sforzas, but the city of Genoa revolted and though initially successful had to be quelled by a 20,000 strong French army. The poet John Marot (Maretz) who was among the relieving force immortalized the events through various French and Latin compositions which he dedicated and presented to the Queen of France.

The plate to the left shows the Queen seated under the canopy of state, attended by her ladies at a distance, and her court officers in closer proximity, with the poet on his knee before her. The accompanying plate shows the Geneovese rebels storming a French-held hilltop fort below which is depicited a larger fortified castle, citadel and college, with the Genoese harbour installations in the background.

Shelfmark: A/4/7
Location: Rare Books

Engraved portrait of poet Thomas Gray (1716–1771) famous for his Elegy in a Country Churchyard, in a posthumous drawing by Benjamin Wilson, produced from the artist’s and William Mason’s recollections.  Collected editions of the poems, journal, and letters of Thomas Gray with a biography of the poet appeared first in 1775, under the editorship of his Cambridge colleague William Mason, but were subsequently enhanced with additional unpublished historical and philological writings by Gray’s devoted admirer, the satirist and Cambridge Italian scholar Thomas James Mathias in 1814.  The above is a superb specimen of Mathias’s 1814 endeavour.

Shelfmark: A/1/12
Location: Rare Books

The 1761 bridge spanning the perpendicular 90 metre cliffs of the ravine which divides the town of Ronda, in the province of Malaga, Andalusia (Spain). The deep ravine with its surging Guadiaro river has been a major attraction for generations of travellers. English Tory M.P., traveller and writer William Jacob visited the place in 1810 and left a flowery description in his letters home.

The plate illustrating the El Tayo de Ronda ravine is typical of his beautifully produced Travels in the South of Spain in Letters Written A. D. 1809– 1810 published in London in 1811.

Shelfmark: PQ4302.E80
Location: Cabinet

Lithographs by the famous engraver Gustave Doré in a superbly illustrated 1880 edition of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Paul Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was one of the most prolific and successful book illustrators of the late 19th century. His fame rested on his wood-engraved book illustrations, and he employed more than 40 woodcutters who helped produce his over 90 illustrated books.  His engravings for the large folio Bible (1866) and for the Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy are among his finest.

The illustration from the Divine Comedy shows Dante and Virgil meeting Bertram del Bornio and other instigators of dissent in the ninth pit of hell where a special devil has been assigned for the continuous mutilation of their bodies.

Miscellanea opera Italiane e Latine, vol. 9, no. 23
Location: Melitensia Collection

La Dignità Episcopale. The first Italian poem by Malta’s national poet Dun Karm Psaila, written by him as a theology student at the Mdina Seminary on the occasion of the installation of the newly appointed Archbishop of Malta Mgr Pietro Pace.  The poem appeared in an extremely rare pamphlet published by Giovanni Muscat of Salita Guardamangia, Pietà in 1888.

Shelfmark: DC282.F72
Location: Cabinet

A very rare early 19th century narrative in old Turkish script extolling the Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt, Austria and Russia.

Shelfmark: B/5/18
Location: Rare Books

Offprint of an article on Giacomo Leopardi by the Italian writer and lyrical poet Giovanni Pascoli (1852–1912) inscribed and dedicated to his close friend Annibale Caro. Pascoli was professor of Latin and Italian Literature at the Universities of Messina, Pisa, and Bologna. At Messina in 1905 he was enthusiastically acclaimed by Maltese University students and he had reciprocated by composing the Latin ode Ad Sodales Melitenses.
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