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Incunabula

Silius Italicus

Manuscript extract of poem, from recto of leaf a1Manuscript extract of poem, from recto of leaf a1Image of the binding, showing blind tooling and floral designsImage of the binding, showing blind tooling and floral designsBookplate on marbled endpapers recording that King’s acquired this item in 1961, as part of the purchase of the library of  Petrus Johannes EnkBookplate on marbled endpapers recording that King’s acquired this item in 1961, as part of the purchase of the library of  Petrus Johannes EnkPunica, a Latin epic poem by Silius Italicus is the oldest book in our collections, with this edition being printed in Venice in 1483.

It contains a number of marks of provenance: firstly, there is a manuscript extract from the poem on the recto of leaf a1; and there are also manuscript marginal annotations in the same hand throughout. These appear to be from the 15th century.

The binding is dated to 18th century Italy and is of leather with blind tooling (the term blind tooling means that it is not tooled with gold). The binding also has floral designs on the front, back and spine; and there are also raised bands on the spine.

A book stamp on the second free endpaper indicates that the book was once owned by JS Van veen (1858-1934) a university lecturer from the Netherlands, and gives the first indication of  the book’s journey to King’s.

At some point after van Veen owned it, the book came into the collection of another academic from the Netherlands, Petrus Johannes Enk, professor of Latin in the University of Groningen.

This is evidenced by a bookplate on the marbled endpapers which record that the book is from 'from the classical library of Petrus Johannes Enk, 1885-1960’ and was purchased by King’s, along with the rest of his library, in 1961, with the help of the Nuffield Foundation.

Red and blue spine labels with gold tooling affixed to bindingRed and blue spine labels with gold tooling affixed to bindingTwo gilt-tooled labels, one red and one blue, affixed to the spine, showing title and imprint details, respectively, were probably added during Enk's period of ownership.

On the penultimate free endpaper at the back of the book, 'V. Burnet £40' is written in pencil, which has been rubbed out.

Perhaps Burnet was a possible purchaser of the book before King's acquired Enk's library collection, as there have been no previous English owners prior to King's College, London.

Link to King's College London catalogue record:
Silius Italicus, Tiberius Catius​. Punica. Petri Marsi interpretatio in Syllium Italicum ad ill. principem Virginium Ursinum. Venetiis: per Baptistam de Tortis, 6 May 1483
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