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Gaetano Giarre calligraphy manual: Alfabeto di lettere iniziali adorno di animali

 Collection — Volume: 1
Call Number: MS E49


This collection consists of a single calligraphy-manual, containing an alphabet of ornamented initials, each beginning an Italian verse, and instructions for writing, cutting a pen, etc. Elaborate birds, beasts, plants, mythological creatures. From Giarre's Alfabeto, 1797, and his Invento, 1801.


  • Creation: 1801 or later


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.


1 volume : Binding: Marbled paper over vellum. Ornament: Elaborate pen-and-ink ornament: birds, beasts, mythological creatures, etc. Title Page: Alfabeto di lettere iniziali adorno di animali e proseguito da vaga serie di caratteri. All Ill^mo Sig. Cav' Priore Gio: Orazio Rucellai patrizio Fiorentino presidente della R. Accademia delle Belle Arte Firenze. Material: Paper. ; 35 x 24.5 cm

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

Leaves 2-27: Alphabet of ornamented initials, one to a page. Each begins a verse or verses in Italian. The initials are constructed of flowery swags, usually supporting or being supported by a pair of large elaborate birds; sometimes animals, insects, etc, are included, sometimes free-standing. The script used for the text is usually cursive, but sometimes offers a hierarchy of hands, some highly ornamental. Only 5 distinct hands are given as separate alphabets. Some pages are unfinished; many show preliminary pencil sketching. This appears to be a copy of (or, conceivably, a draft for) the engraved book of the same title: "...Gaet. Garrè inv: e incise 1797. In Firenze appo: Giacomo Moro sotto gli Ufizi." See description in S. Morison's Calligraphy 1535-1885, Milano, La Bibliofila, 1962, pages 111-112. The two plates there reproduced are more highly finished than our, leaves, and have elaborate borders (and in one case a final line) which our manuscript lacks.

Items on leaves 1-27 include Title-page [Ornamented with birds, insects, plants, and a mouse] -- Alla Gioventii... [Birds and plants.] -- Alla Gioventii.,. [unfinished sketch] -- Bella è l'Arte...Chiede fatica... [Birds] -- Cerca it saggio la Gloria ...Alfabeto Majuscolo Tedisco-Stampatello... [Birds] -- Degna e l'Amista...Alf abeto Ebraico Stampatello... [Bird and animal] -- Età dell'Oro torna... [Birds and plants] -- Fortuna assistimi... [Bird and plants] -- Germoglia la Virtù..Alfabeto Majuscole Greco... [Wildcat and bird] -- Homero oggi e mia guide... [Bird and plant] -- Ingegno, è ardire... [Birds and plants] -- K. Piu di uningegno peregrino, e raro... [Birds and plants] -- Luce il Sapiente... [Hare and chicken] -- M. Col rabbuffato crin d'orgoglio piena...ABCDEFGHIKLMNO. [Insect, birds, plant] -- Nota, ed apprendi...PQRSTUVXYZ. [Rabbit, birds, plants] -- Ornor mi alletta... [Bird] -- Pensa e risolvi... [unfinished sketch] -- Questa è la via... [Parrot, dolphins, plants, insect] -- Riedi all'Onore...ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTTVXYZ [Defecating dog, female figurehead, birds, plants] -- Saggio chi scusar sa... [Faun climbing a snake-tree, goose, plants] -- Torni la gloria a noi... [Bird, snake, masked cornucopia] -- Trta e combatti... [Putto with motto Audaces Fortuna Juvat, cock, plants] -- Viva l'amor del Vero... [Birds, snake, plants] -- Xenocrate t'insegni... [Birds, insects] -- Yaculo ardente... [Birds] -- Zelo mi spinge daro con zelo un libro nuovo, e digno che da di bon scrivere i precetti che il famoso Duval nel franco regno espresse in dotte carte...Su trova vendibile presso l'autore lungo Arno al no: 3 dal Ponte a S. Trinita. [Birds holding swag with message]

Leaves 28-34: Instructions for writing, for cutting a pen; samples and a jeu-d'esprit. In the form of oblong "plates," most signed and dated by Giarre. Incoherent order; unfinished. One ornamented with cat-and-dog fight. Probably a copy of plates 3-7, 14, and another, from the engraved book by Giarre: "Inventò e incise questo nuovo metodo per formare un bel carattere," Firenze, Giacomo Moro, [1801].

Leaves 28-34 include Attacatura di due e tre lettere...metodo facile per acquisitare una equal pendenza e distanza...Gaetano Giarre incise l'anno 1800 -- [Alphabet of cursive capitals; names of Italian cities] Gaetano Giarrè scrittore incise 1801 -- Il principiante scriva...Carattere Corsivo, Gaetano Giarrè scrisse -- Caraterre formato all'Italiana...Il Giarre scrisse. Cat and dog fight -- Viva la penna. Auugbmo... -- Istruzione per temperare la Penna...[Diagram of cutting nib] Carattere inglese -- Fu 1'Ateniese Temistocle uno de' piu... [unfinished].

The last few pages in the volume, like the first, are blank. (The first page has booksellers' marks.)

Other items of interest: Leaf 28 uses blind sloping lines as guides. Offset on first paste-down begins: "Pour."

Physical Location

MS E49

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Hauswedell, 1960

Guide to Gaetano Giarre Calligraphy Manual Collection
Gaetano Giarre calligraphy manual: Alfabeto di lettere iniziali adorno di animali
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1974; revised by ksc, 2006. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2006.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Gaetano Giarre calligraphy manual, MS E49, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States