“Trattato” on title within a cartouche of scrollwork, woodcut printer’s device on title, six double-page woodcuts (collation as in Mortimer), & another woodcut printer’s device on verso of final leaf. 16 p.l., 315,  pp. Small 8vo, 18th-cent. Italian mottled sheep (a bit of browning), flat spine gilt, red leather lettering piece on spine. Venice: G. Giolito, 1555.
First edition of the earliest work on the game of tennis; this is a fine copy of a most uncommon book. In this work, Scaino not only describes the game but, for the first time, codifies the rules, sets the standard court sizes, discusses proper etiquette, and establishes a scoring system. He uses the terms a due and vantaggio from which our now familiar terms “deuce” and “advantage” are derived.
Tennis was already an extremely popular game in the 16th century, played by the kings of England and France. The rules for different versions of the game and their various interpretations often led to arguments. It was apparently after one such discussion with his patron, Alfonso II d’Este, the final Duke of Ferrara, that Scaino (1524-1612), decided to write the present book, formalizing and detailing the rules of the game.
Scaino describes the various forms of tennis being played at that time, whether the ball was solid or air-filled, hit with the hand or a racket, etc.
The excellent plates depict equipment and the court layouts.
❧ Brunet V, 178 & Supplement II, 606–“fort rare.” Mortimer 465.
Item ID: 7794