After the Aldine-fest at the Grolier Club, it was a pleasure to return to the Morgan Library almost a year after our first visit when Maria Fredericks and her team hosted the New York leg of the Venetian Vellum and Books and Beasts roadshow. This time we took the opportunity to sample the marvellous two-volume 1483 parchment Aristotle published by Andrea Torresani in Venice with a view to comparing it with the five-volume 1495-98 Aldine edition. The fine decorations by Girolamo da Cremona included this stunning page which presents the text on a printed page figured as a sheet of parchment.
Assisted by Maria and her team, we were able to sample both volumes and take measurements of the parchment thickness for analysis and comparison with the other Torresani volumes examined at the Houghton and Rylands.Taking the opportunity to tour the gallery again, it was pleasure to see a rare autograph letter by Jean Grolier to Jean de Selve, Vice Chancellor of Milan, which was purchased by the Library in 2013. We look forward to returning to the Morgan and exploring the rich parchment holdings in more depth as well as investigating its Manchester connections: not only did the Rylands’ librarian and vellum-enthusiast E. Gordon Duff catalogue much of the Morgan’s English collection, but one of the foundational purchases made by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1902 was the collection of Manchester bibliophile Richard Bennett who had earlier secured the library of William Morris by private sale. Thanks again to Maria and everybody in New York for such a warm welcome.