When private libraries like the Cavagna Collection–containing over 40,000 books and manuscripts–are purchased, one of the first questions that arises is how these owners and collectors acquired their books. A Pavia native, Cavagna purchased his books primarily from booksellers around northern Italy. The evidence we’ve encountered so far suggests that he turned and returned to several sources when buying. We look at one of these sources in this post, a bookseller in Como who sold Cavagna six books in October, 1879.
We discovered this bookseller’s invoice in July 2015, laid in Constitutiones synodales Burgi S. Donnini (1697). It details six books that Cavagna bought and their prices, including the book in which we found the invoice. The bookseller was Felice Mojana whose shop was located at Via Meraviglie N. 249. Mojana advertised himself as a dealer of antique and modern books, both Italian and foreign (“stranieri”). Among the other services he offered were bookbinding and book-lending; for a 1.50 lire monthly fee and a 5 lire deposit, a customer could borrow secondhand books from the shop. Mojana also apparently bought and sold other antiques, including furniture, currency, weapons, and paintings.
The invoice is dated the 11th of October and the total bill was 14 lire, after Mojana gave Cavagna a 5.75 lire discount. Does the discount indicate that Cavagna was rewarded for being a loyal customer, or was such generosity an everyday part of Mojana’s service? We have not yet come across any similar invoices, but there is at least one other book in the Cavagna Collection that was sold by Mojana, a scarce 1878 pamphlet titled Il Santissimo Crocifisso di Como, suggesting that Cavagna may have paid recurring visits to the shop. The invoice is also inscribed in a familiar manner by Mojana, “mi segno con profondo rispetto, il divotissimo servo Mojana Felice” (“Signed with deep respect, your devoted servant Mojana Felice”). A couple of the titles from the invoice exist in multiple copies within the Cavagna Collection, suggesting that Cavagna either did not keep track of what he owned or that he couldn’t resist a good deal.
All six books eventually came to reside at RBML after a trans-Atlantic journey and nearly one hundred years of knocking around the University of Illinois library, and for the first time since their 1879 purchase, we’ve reunited them. Together, they provide a rich insight into a 19th-century collector and his habits. SL
1. Acta primae et secundae synodi dioec. Comen de annis MDLXV et MDLXXIX. (Comi : Apud Hieronymum Frouam, 1588). 10 lire.
274.522 C731579 copy 2: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_7692395/Description
2. Constitutiones synodales Burgi S. Donnini … (Fidenza : Typis Iosephi Rossetti, impressoris episcopalis, 1697). 2.75 lire.
274.5411 B645c: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_3209872/Description
3. Pasta, Guiseppe. Delle acque minerali del Bergamasco: trattato. (Bergamo : Dalla stamperia Locatelli, 1794) 2.50 lire.
615.79 P26d copy 2: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_3254627/Description
4. Raineri, Giovanni Battista. Breve ragguaglio delle virtù della marchesa d. Maria Margherita Durina Serponti. (Milano : Nella Stampería di Pietro Antonio Frigerio, 1756). 1.50 lire.
B. D962r: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_3045220/Description
5. Regola di S. Benedetto abate e patriarca de’ monaci … (Mantova : Nella stamperìa di S. Benedetto, per Alberto Pazzoni, stampatore arciducale, 1723) 1.50 lire.
Cavagna 271.1 B43rI1723: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_2328760/Description
6. Mattioti, Giovanni. Vita di s. Francesca Romana … (Venetia : Appresso Francesco Bolzetta, 1610) 1.50 lire.
B. F8153mI: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_2794362