New Library acquisition: The Quintesence of wit

Author: Tracy Bergstrom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired the following item: 

Francesco Sansovino.  The Quintesence of wit,: being a corrant comfort of conceites, maximies, and poleticke deuises, selected and gathered together by Francisco Sansouino...  At London: Printed by Edward Allde ..., Octobris. 28. 1590.  First edition, translated from the Italian by Robert Hitchcock.


This text is a translation of the first book of "Propositioni overo Considerationi in materia di cose di Stato .. di M.F. Guicciardini, G.F. Lottini, F. Sansovino," edited by Sansovino and first published in Venice in 1583.  An important and rare translation, the volume demonstrates the influence of popular Venetian political and literary sources in Elizabethan England.   The work consists of 803 aphorisms and is considered, along with other texts written by Sansovino, as a source book for Shakespeare.

An early Italian edition of the text can be found in the Department of Special Collections at call number Rare Books Medium JC 143 .P76 1588.  For additional information about Francesco Sansovino’s activities as a writer and editor, see