Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2024 Issue

Buy a part of Italian National Cultural Heritage: the Santini Codex at Il Ponte Casa d'Aste on February 27

It’s not often that a work on paper recognized as a piece of “National Cultural Heritage” by a sovereign nation comes up for sale at auction, but this month, that is exactly what is happening. Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, the Milan-based auction house, will be auctioning the Santini Codex, a renaissance masterpiece that was officially declared a part of National Cultural Heritage by the Italian State in 2012. Read Il Ponte’s brief introduction here, and then I recommend watching their YouTube video and perusing the dedicated catalogue for the single item going to auction on the 27th of February! Although the Santini Codex is part of their two-day sale of Antique Books and Livres d’Artistes happening on February 27th and 28th as lot 100, unlike other lots in the sale, it is not eligible for online bidding (telephone and written bids only). If you are an interested bidder, please contact libri.manoscritti@ponteonline.com directly.

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On the 50th anniversary of its foundation, Il Ponte Casa d'Aste is pleased to present to the public an object that is both a symbol of artistic excellence and a rare and precious historical document of the Italian Renaissance: the Santini Codex.

This sublime Urbinate manuscript from the 15th century, recognized as Italian cultural heritage by the State in 2012, will be auctioned in the Antique Books and Livres d'Artistes sale on February 27, 2024. An extraordinary opportunity to connect with a cultural treasure of immeasurable value and explore its evocative contents, in addition to the remarkable composition on parchment.

Masterfully illustrated and produced at the court of the Montefeltro and Della Rovere families, with the aim of glorifying their hegemony in the field of civil and military machines, it has reached our days, spanning over five centuries, preserved in exceptional condition in its rare and elegant contemporary binding. 

The Santini Codex is still the subject of study by numerous experts who, while uncertain about the definitive attribution, unanimously acknowledge it among the earliest evidence of a scientific approach to the study of engineering and mechanics, a branch of research accessible only to a selected circle of intellectuals at the time, including the names of great masters such as the Sienese Mariano di Jacopo, better known as Taccola, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who in Urbino conceived the preparatory drawings for the seventy-two panels of the "Frieze of the Art of War," and the legendary Leonardo da Vinci.

Rare Book Monthly

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