HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance

by Ross King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5421143,905 (4.09)28
"The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings-the dazzling handiwork of the city's skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence's manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world. At the heart of this activity, which bestselling author Ross King relates in his exhilarating new book, was a remarkable man: Vespasiano da Bisticci. Born in 1422, he became what a friend called "the king of the world's booksellers." At a time when all books were made by hand, over four decades Vespasiano produced and sold many hundreds of volumes from his bookshop, which also became a gathering spot for debate and discussion. Besides repositories of ancient wisdom by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Quintilian, his books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. His clients included a roll-call of popes, kings, and princes across Europe who wished to burnish their reputations by founding magnificent libraries. Vespasiano reached the summit of his powers as Europe's most prolific merchant of knowledge when a new invention appeared: the printed book. By 1480, the king of the world's booksellers was swept away by this epic technological disruption, whereby cheaply produced books reached readers who never could have afforded one of Vespasiano's elegant manuscripts. A chronicle of intellectual ferment set against the dramatic political and religious turmoil of the era, Ross King's The Bookseller of Florence is also an ode to books and bookmaking that charts the world-changing shift from script to print through the life of an extraordinary man long lost to history-one of the true titans of the Renaissance"--… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, cwbooks, SR.RR, casaclio, ChuckMScott, junipermine
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 28 mentions

English (10)  Dutch (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Vespasian became a bookmaker in Florence, Italy at a tender age and grew up to become the greatest bookseller and bookmaker at just the moment scribes and illuminators were being replaced by the printing press, a technology Vespasian refused to accept. He could find just about any book that existed in the known world for a discriminating buyer, or he could hire the best scribes and illuminators to transcribe (& translate) if need be for kings & the wealthy across the western world. His work was superior. A marvelous book describing the history of writing on papyrus to parchment to paper made of linen, of making the ink and colors, of the printing press and typesetting, and the creation of fonts. We learn about the work of scribes & talented illuminators to typesetters & printers. Extraordinarily interesting on the one hand, and boring on the other as the book covers the rise and fall of the kings and rulers and the battles they fought—important because they were Vespasian’s customers. He often found himself supplying manuscripts to people on both sides of conflicts. Sadly, that part of the book was tedious. Overall, a brilliant read! ( )
  KarenMonsen | May 20, 2023 |
Supposedly the story of Vespasiano the Bookseller of Florence. He provides a threa for the book bur remains an empty shell of a character in what is a history of 15th century Florence and Italy. The manuscripts and the arrival of printing provide useful bookends but they are vehicles rather than passengers. Too much detail, too many digressions, too many fleeting characters. ( )
  Steve38 | May 15, 2023 |
Ross King is an author who has often written about Renaissance subjects. In this book, he returns to that era to illuminate the life of Vespasiano da Bisticci, the most prominent producer and seller of manuscripts in Renaissance Florence.

Although filled with details of Florentine intellectual life, for me the best parts of the book consisted of descriptions of manuscript production and decoration. Vespasiano himself did not write out the material, rather he served as a producer, finding the scribes and illuminators, buying the parchment of paper, and arranging the binding. His list of customers included popes, Medici, kings and scholars from as far away as England.

For someone interested in the transition from manuscript to printing, this book will prove illuminating. Ross also crams in details of many important intellects from the period. ( )
  barlow304 | Jan 25, 2023 |
No, this isn't a review of an historical novel.

The Bookseller of Florence is a marvellous art history book about a hero of the Renaissance called Vespasiano da Bisticci (1421 – 1498) who was the preeminent book merchant of his era. He contributed to the store of knowledge from which we still benefit today by hunting out manuscripts from the ancient world that were decaying in dusty monasteries all over Europe, and then he hired the most talented of scribes to copy the manuscripts and had them illuminated by the finest miniaturists so that the books were glorious works of art. His clients were popes, kings and princes who proclaimed their status by founding magnificent libraries to outdo each other.

My favourite chapter explains the technicalities of making a book before the advent of the printed book. As King says, in the chapter called 'Antique Letters':
The word 'manuscript' comes from the Latin manu scriptus, 'written by hand', but any manuscript was the product of much more work than simply the writing of a single hand. It was a months- or even years-long, multistep process calling for the expertise of a series of tradesmen and specialist craftsmen from parchment makers to scribes, miniaturists, goldbeaters, and even apothecaries, carpenters, and blacksmiths. (p.99)

It began with finding the manuscript, the search for which is detailed in a previous chapter, where it is shown how important it was to get hold of a quality exemplar. In Chapter 6, King tells us that Petrarch complained that, so sloppy were the scribes of his day, and so full of errors were the manuscripts they produced, 'an author would not recognise his own work.' Vespasiano had a good eye for the best of texts, but he was also highly skilled in acquiring the best of materials. Occasionally he used paper, but the most beautiful and expensive material on which to write was calfskin, or vellum. Readers who are fond of animals are best advised not to read the details of the finest and whitest vellum available. Suffice to say that the supply of hides for parchment was always dependent on the dietary preferences of the local population, and in Italy the appetite was for goats, and that supply was impacted by Lent when people did not eat meat.


For hundreds of years, the transmission of knowledge had depended on carnivorous appetites and good animal husbandry. Large volumes with hundreds of pages required the skins of many animals. One goat was often needed for each page of parchment in a large liturgical book such as an antiphonary, while a Bible might take the skins of more than two hundred animals — and entire herd of goats or flock of sheep. (p.100)

And why were the butchers of Florence required to move their operations into the shops on the Ponte Vecchio? So that they, like the tanners, fish sellers and beltmakers, for reasons of hygiene, could turf their blood and slops into the Arno instead of fouling the streets.

Clearly, from the description given of the processing (which I will spare you), parchment makers needed to have strong stomachs. But they also needed to have considerable finesse in scraping the skins to 0.1mm (1/250 of an inch), because if they were careless it would be uneven, or tear.

For Vespasiano, his work was a labour of love.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2022/12/22/the-bookseller-of-florence-by-ross-king/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Dec 22, 2022 |
I'm torn about this book.

It's an interesting idea, tracing how certain books were influential in the Renaissance through the lens of a Florentine bookseller*, and how the coming of the printing press affected him.

The book is long, just over 400 pages, and it could and should have been shorter. The author (Ross King) did a tremendous amount of research, and it almost seems as though he could not bear to leave anything out. The book is full of digressions, as he wanders about the highways and byways of conspiracies, crusades, feuds, and Papal politics. He feels the need to give us the back story of everyone mentioned, however peripheral, and all the details of how things are made.

The book would have been better and more enjoyable if it had had a strong editorial hand.

* slightly inaccurate term, but we have today nothing equivalent to the person who not only sold books, but arranged for them to be made, hiring the scribes, binders, etc.
2 vote lilithcat | Nov 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ross Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dohmen, ToonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
People/Characters
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important places
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

"The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings-the dazzling handiwork of the city's skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence's manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world. At the heart of this activity, which bestselling author Ross King relates in his exhilarating new book, was a remarkable man: Vespasiano da Bisticci. Born in 1422, he became what a friend called "the king of the world's booksellers." At a time when all books were made by hand, over four decades Vespasiano produced and sold many hundreds of volumes from his bookshop, which also became a gathering spot for debate and discussion. Besides repositories of ancient wisdom by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Quintilian, his books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. His clients included a roll-call of popes, kings, and princes across Europe who wished to burnish their reputations by founding magnificent libraries. Vespasiano reached the summit of his powers as Europe's most prolific merchant of knowledge when a new invention appeared: the printed book. By 1480, the king of the world's booksellers was swept away by this epic technological disruption, whereby cheaply produced books reached readers who never could have afforded one of Vespasiano's elegant manuscripts. A chronicle of intellectual ferment set against the dramatic political and religious turmoil of the era, Ross King's The Bookseller of Florence is also an ode to books and bookmaking that charts the world-changing shift from script to print through the life of an extraordinary man long lost to history-one of the true titans of the Renaissance"--

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.09)
0.5
1
1.5
2 1
2.5
3 6
3.5 6
4 18
4.5 12
5 10

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 202,113,699 books! | Top bar: Always visible