[Florence: ca. 1763].
This handsome manuscript, prepared for presentation to Emperor Francis I (1708-65), Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany, is a beautifully written contemporary fair copy of the original holograph manuscript now in the Museo Galileo (formerly the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence), compiled by Targioni-Tozzetti (1712-83), the great natural historian, librarian, director of Florence’s botanical garden, and professor of botany. He was, after Spallanzani, the most active Italian naturalist of the 18th century.
Emperor Francis I, the husband of Maria Theresa, was well-known for his interests in the natural sciences and for assisting his wife in running the complicated Austrian dominions.
The collections of natural history specimens in the “Specola” next to the Pitti Palace trace their origins to earlier Medicis and to Georg Eberhard Rumpf, who had sold a large collection of 360 shells to Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1682. The present catalogue was compiled at the instigation of Antoniotto Botta Adorno (1688-1774), prime minister of the Duchy of Tuscany. Thanks to Cosimo III’s other natural history acquisitions, by the middle of the 18th century, Florence could boast one of the greatest collections of shells, botanical, and mineralogical samples in Europe. In 1775, all the collections were gathered into the “Specola” at the instigation of Grand Duke Peter Leopold which was the only scientific museum or “Wunderkammer” of its kind specifically created for the public to view.
The present catalogue, following Targioni-Tozzetti’s original manuscript, describes 3449 items, of which 2340 are zoological (mostly shells), 375 botanical, and 734 mineralogical and rock specimens. The preface to the catalogue describes the collections and their histories, their provenances including the Far East, etc. The main body of the catalogue is divided into three sections: zoological, botanical, and mineralogical samples. Each description is quite elaborate with full accounts of each specimen, references to other books, references to where other examples are illustrated, etc.
Provenance: This manuscript entered the Apponyi family library in Oponice, Slovakia in the latter part of the 18th century and was sold in Prague in June 1939.
❧ Dance, Shell Collecting, an Illustrated History, pp. 56-57. D.S.B., XIII, pp. 257-58. Martelli, ed., Le Collezioni di Giorgio Everardo Rumpf acquistate dal Granduca Cosimo III de’ Medici, una Volta esistenti nel Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale di Firenze (1903).
Item ID: 3098