Bodoni, Giambattista (1740-1813). Catalogo di alcune edizioni bodoniane. Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1793.

Bodoni, Giambattista (1740-1813). Catalogo di alcune edizioni bodoniane. Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1793.

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Bodoni, Giambattista (1740-1813).

Catalogo di alcune edizioni bodoniane. 

Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1793.

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A small catalogue for bibliophiles

Bodoni, Giambattista (1740-1813).

Catalogo di alcune edizioni bodoniane. Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1793.

Small 8° (147x103 mm). XXIII, [1] pages. Recased in old boards. A fine copy.

Very rare catalogue issued by the celebrated printer and publisher Giambattista Bodoni outlining his production. The booklet opens with an explanatory letter written by the great printer and addressed to a collector: “io ho pensato di non poter meglio soddisfare alla erudita di lei inchiesta, che trasmettendole non solo l'elenco di tutto ciò che entro il corrente anno verrà da me riprodotto, ma altresì di quanto, ajutatemi Dio, ho divisato d'intraprendere nell'anno vegnente” (“I thought the best way to reply to your request was to send you a list of everything I have printed in the current year and, with the help of God, all that I will print next year”).

The catalogue lists forty-six titles published between 1791 and 1794, along with the different issues of each edition. In a final note addressed 'to bibliophiles' and dated 15 October 1793, Bodoni announces that in 1794 he will publish four classics – Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto and Tasso – that “will end his career”. Luckily, the printer would go on producing his masterpieces up until his death some twenty years later.

Born in Saluzzo (Piedmont), Bodoni learned the rudiments of his profession in the modest workshop of his father. At eighteen he moved to Rome, where he began working at the Apostolic press De Propaganda Fide, which specialised in exotic alphabet publications. Bodoni left Rome in 1766 with the intent of relocating to England, but was forced to stay in Piedmont due to a severe illness. In 1768, he was appointed director of the Royal Press in Parma, which had been founded shortly before. In 1791, he obtained permission from the Duke of Parma to open his own atelier and run a parallel business. In 1806, he took part in the Exposition de l'Industrie Nationale in Paris, and after his death in 1813 his wife, Ghitta, maintained his legacy by continuing to run the business for many years. As Valerie Lester remarks, it is very likely that no other printer experienced – in life and in death – quite as many material and moral recognitions as the celebrated Bodoni.

Brooks 517; V. Lester, Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World, Boston 2015; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 255.