Catalogue of the Museo Moscardo, Profusely Illustrated with Natural History Specimens & Ethnographic artifacts. An Untrimmed Copy with Deckled Edges Throughout

Moscardo, Lodovico (ca. 1596- after 1671); Kircher, Athanasius (1602-1680)

Note Overo Memorie Del Mvseo Del Conte Lodovico Moscardo Nobile Veronese Uno De Padri Nell' Accademia Filarmonica. Dal medesimo descritte in Trè Libri. Nel primo si discorre delle cose anitche; che in detto Museo si ritrovano. Nel secondo delle Pietre, Minerali, e Terre. Nel terzo de Corali, Conchiglie, Animali, Frutti, & altre cose in quello contenute. Furono consacrate, nella prima editione alla Gloriossimo momoria [sic!] Dell'Altezza Serenissima Di Francesco Fv Duca Di Modena E Reggio Con l'aggiunta in questa Seconda Impressione della Seconda parte dello stesso Autore, accresciuta di cose spettanti particolarmente all'antichità, Con l'Indice d'uno gran parte delle sue Medagli, & Pitture, come anco delli ritratti de Prencipi, & altri Illustri huomini, così in arme, come in lettere.

Verona: 1672


Folio: 31.5 x 22 cm. 2 parts in one volume, continuously paginated. Collation: [π]4 (π1 is the engraved title page), §4, A-Z4 Aa-Pp4, Qq2; Rr-Zz4 AAa-KKk4, LLl-SSs2, VVv-YYy2. Complete.

SECOND, GREATLY EXPANDED EDITION (1st ed. 1656). This edition includes the first appearance of a disquisition by Athanasius Kircher on a Canopic urn owned by Moscardo.

A completely untrimmed copy with deckled edges throughout. The leaves are fresh with only the occasional bit of toning. Bound in later marbled boards, rebacked in later vellum. Both title pages are printed in red and black. In addition to the engraved title page by Alberto Passi, the text is illustrated with 88 engravings and numerous woodcuts.

This is the second, greatly expanded edition of the Veronese Count Lodovico Moscardo’s celebrated museum of natural history specimens, archaeological remains, and ethnographic objects. The engravings and woodcuts illustrate: gems, minerals, rare earths, fossils; plant and animal specimens, including corals and shells; ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Byzantine sculpture, pottery, metal-work and other ethnographic artifacts.

Moscardo’s museum catalogue, like those of Ferdinando Cospi and Manfredo Settala, is a valuable record of the collecting strategy and tastes of an Italian collector in the second half of the 17th century. Moreover, the catalogue serves to document the survival of one of the earliest private museum collections in Italy, that of Francesco Calzolari, part of which Moscardo obtained around 1642 and added to his own collection. Moscardo continued to collect at least until 1672. The collection was seen by Ray in 1663 and by Gilbert Burnet in 1685. Two generations later, a large part of the collection was obtained –as part of the dowry of Moscardo’s granddaughter, Teresa Moscardo- by the Miniscalchi family of Verona. Today the extant specimens can be found in the museum of the Miniscalchi Foundation in Verona.

The two volumes of the catalogue are organized as follows:

Volume I:

The first volume is divided into three books. The first book describes the antiquities contained in the collection: marble and bronze statuary, coins, urns, stele, lamps, votive objects, seals, lapidary inscriptions and jewelry. The section also includes Egyptian ushabtis, “bones of giants” (actually Mastodon fossils), and some Renaissance medals.

The second book discusses at length the stones, minerals, soils, and other objects that came from the earth. Included are descriptions of carnelians, topaz, sapphire, ruby, jasper, amber, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, opal, cat's eye, nephrite, turquoise, malachite, Bloodstone, Beozar, magnets, mica, rock crystal, obsidian, asbestos, gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, quicksilver, iron, antimony, various earths from Elba, Silesia, Strigonia, and Japan, sulfur, nitre, alum, salt, etc. The final section of this chapter concerns petrified objects (fossils) with illustrations of fossilized marine animals including fish.

The third section provides descriptions of corals, shells, animals, and fruit, including images of preserved aquatic creatures (such as turtles, crocodiles, a sting ray, a swordfish, a seahorse, a shark, and even the mythical basilisk), fruits, seeds, pods, beans, gums and ointments, various horns, Indian shoes, and at the end a large assault catapult. There are a number of brief essays on subjects such as horn of the rhinoceros, the Egyptian method of preserving mummies; musical instruments, paintings and drawings.

Volume II:

In the introduction to the second volume of the work, Moscardo tells us that he was already sixty when he issued the first edition of his catalogue and that, since that time, he has added many things to his collection and written some additional pieces, which he includes in this second volume.

The first essay concerns early Christian burial practices and is illustrated with grave goods and sepulchral inscriptions; then follows Athanasius Kircher’s letter, in Latin, on a Canopic urn that Moscardo sent to Kircher for interpretation. The urn is illustrated by a full-paged woodcut. This is followed by dissertations on various Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods, all illustrated with examples from Moscardo’s collection. There are beautifully illustrated section on wreaths and crowns, and arms and armor. The work concludes with a catalogue of the paintings, coins, and medals in the collection.

Grinke, From Wunderkammer to Museum, 23 (this edition); Balsinger, Kunst und Wunderkammern, pp. 331-42; Cicognara 3412; Dance, Shell Collecting, 39; Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 409; Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 279; Murray, Museums, 34; Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 40 & 18; ZBI, 2898; Sinkankas, Gemology, 4611; Wilson, The History of Mineral Collecting, p 218; Jahn, The Lying Stones, pp. 165-66