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[CALLIGRAPHY] ARRIGHI, Ludovico degli. Regola da imparate scrivere varii caratteri de littere con li suoi compassi et misure: et il modo di temperare le penne secondo la sorte de littere che vorrai scrivere. Venice, Nicolo d’Aristotile detto Zoppino, 1533.

4to., (30) ff. Bound in early thick paper wrappers. Unidentified engraved ex libris on front end pastedown and an old shelf sticker on front fly leaf. Several ink spots, a few stray contemporary annotations, outline script at f. (29) r. filled in by an early annotator resulting in some oxidation and show though on verso, generally excellent.


Very rare early augmented edition (second) of Arrighi’s treatise on writing containing both the writing samples and the instructions on preparing pen and ink, which were previously issued separately. (See below) Arrighi’s writing books were among the earliest and most influential of the genre, contributing significantly to the adoption of Italian hands throughout Europe.

Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi (1475-1527) was a native of Vicenza but moved to Rome around 1510, where he entered the printing business. His ambition was to have his own printing house specializing in the production of limited-edition quality works for wealthy clients. He perfected his hand as a copyist for patrons such as Vittoria Colonna, Lorenzo de’ Medici and Machiavelli; through the patronage of Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici he was given work in the Papal chancellery.

He began composing a writing manual in 1522, and the resulting two volumes, La Operina and Il Modo de temperare le Penne were probably published in 1524 and 1525 respectively. (Osley, Becker). Arrighi took the blocks with him to Venice on a trip in 1527 and left them there; he subsequently had a falling out with his Roman partner Ugo da Carpi who had created a special type based on Arrighi’s design. As a result of this, subsequent Roman editions of Arrighi’s writing manual were based on recut blocks by da Carpi, while the Venetian editions by Zoppino used the original blocks. Zoppino’s editions were also the first to combine together the Operina, and Il Modo, but only the present, second, edition includes Arrighi’s instructions for manufacturing fine ink.

“If we compare the contents of Arrighi’s Operina, and Il Modowith those of Tagliente’s Lo presente libro, we can detect, behind the general similarity, some important difference. Arrighi’s books are better presented and bear the stamp of a professional typographer; Arrighi has a higher proportion of white alphabets against a black background, an indication of Celebrino’s collaboration’ and his selection of models reveals the natural bias of a scribe trained in book hands and ecclesiastical work. He is thinking more of the Church than of the Foreign Office or Stock Exchange. His manuals, in other words, are cast in the mould of Rome rather than Venice.” (Osley, p. 34)

1522 Operina: Newberry
1523 Il modo: Newberry
1523 Operina: Newberry
1525 Operina: Newberry
1532 Regola da imparare: Harvard

* Becker, Practice of Letters 6; Bonacini 1968;

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