LEONARDO DA VINCI.
I fogli mancanti al codice di Leonardo da Vinci su’l volo degli uccelli nella Biblioteca Reale di Torino
a cura di Enrico Carusi.
First edition, presentation copy from Mussolini to Adolf Hitler, number 152 of 300 copies only, this copy with a hand-lettered presentation leaf inserted before the text, “A Adolfo Hitler, Gennaio 1942–XX” (i.e. dedicating this copy to Adolf Hitler, January 1942, in the twentieth year of the Fascist regime in Italy). The confusion of war delayed the intended gift—Mussolini’s authority was on the wane, while January 1942 was the month of the notorious Wannsee Conference—and Mussolini did not meet Hitler in person until May that year, in Salzburg. This copy was recovered on 7 May 1945 from Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden by Ted Peck, one of the celebrated Monument Men. Peck records that he found the book on the floor of the hallway adjoining Martin Bormann’s library and office in the Obersalzberg complex. Bormann was Hitler’s personal secretary; he had committed suicide in Berlin on 2 May 1945. Edward (Ted) Staunton Peck (1908–1970) was then serving as a sergeant technician in intelligence with the 101st Airborne Division. As a Monument Man, it was he who inventoried Hermann Goering’s illicit collection of 3,100 art objects, which had been discovered in Unterstein, near Berchtesgaden. After the war, Dr Peck served for many years as the director of the Fisher Museum of Art at the University of Southern California. Peck gave this copy to his close personal friend Clarence Ward (1884–1973), his former professor at Oberlin College, Ohio. Leonardo’s codex on the flight of birds is one of his most famous manuscripts, inspirational to many of the 20th century pioneers of human flight. Composed c.1505/6, the manuscript was later broken up. After it had been reassembled, the complete codex was acquired by the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, Italy, where it currently resides. This edition, printing in facsimile the missing leaves, was published in 1926 to celebrate its acquisition.
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Folio. Contemporary presentation binding of full vellum, covers with frames blocked in gilt, front cover gilt lettered with the title and “La Libreria dello Stato” (Mussolini’s State Library) and the central gilt device of the fasces, top edge gilt. Title printed in red and black, 9 full-colour reproductions of Leonardo’s notebook with facing transcription, other drawings of Leonardo’s reproduced in the text. Covers lightly rubbed and soiled, internally fine; an excellent copy, with the bookplate of Clarence and Helen Ward and an autograph note by Ted Peck describing the book’s recovery tipped-in on an early blank.