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Pieter Blaeu and Antonio Magliabechi

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The subject of this article is a collection of letters from Pieter Blaeu to Antonio Magliabechi, the librarian of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany. These letters are kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. They shed light on Pieter's activities as a book-seller, printer and publisher and do away with the impression which has hitherto been conveyed of him as a man who held aloof from the family business. They also contain important information about the functioning of the Blaeu firm in its sparsely documented 'later days'. Finally the letters provide us with a glimpse of the book-trade between Italy and the Republic in the second half of the seventeenth century, a subject that has so far been studied relatively little. The present article concentrates on one of the many aspects of the correspondence - the assistance which Pieter requested and obtained on two occasions from the Italians in accomplishing Blaeu projects. The first occasion on which he appealed to Magliabechi was when he required drawings for the book on Tuscan towns which was supposed to appear in the series of books on the towns of Italy. Thanks to Magliabechi a considerable number of these drawings were executed, but, for various reasons, the plan was doomed to fail. The second occasion was when the Blaeus were proposing to issue an edition of Petronius's Satyricon which would include the recently discovered fragment of the Cena Trimalchionis. This fragment was printed in Padua in 1664 and Magliabechi made sure that the Blaeus obtained this first edition as quickly as possible. In contrast to the book of Tuscan towns the Blaeu Satyricon was indeed published: it appeared in 1669 with a dedication to Antonio Magliabechi.


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