Marco Antonio Sabellico's Printing Privilege, Venice (1486)

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, NC, reg. 11, c. 55r.

Marco Antonio Sabellico's Printing Privilege, Venice (1486), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: i_1486

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Full title:
Printing privilege granted to the author Marco Antonio Sabellico to print his 'Decades rerum Venetarum'

Full title original language:

This is the first recorded privilege to an author, recognising the right of the humanist Marco Antonio Sabellico to authorize the publication of his history of Venice entitled 'Decades rerum Venetarum', and securing protection against illegal replication. Sabellico's privilege set the precedent for the custom of granting privileges not just to the printers but also directly to the authors. Such privileges are best understood as an extension of the traditional patronage system and as a form of reward rather than ownership. Sabellico's privilege was an exceptional arrangement in the sense that it was a form of reward for a literary work which promoted the public interest, rather than an assertion of the inherent rights of the author.

1 Commentary:

  • Richardson, Brian, 'Printing, writers and readers in Renaissance Italy' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

  • Pozza, Neri, 'L'editoria Veneziana da Giovanni da Spira ad Aldo Manuzio', 'La stampa degli incunaboli nel Veneto, Saggi e note' (Verona: tipografia Editoriale Aldo Manuzio', 1983), 9-35

  • Gerulaitis, Leonardas V., 'Printing and Publishing in fifteenth-century Venice' (Chicago: American Library Association, 1976)

  • Gaeta, Franco 'Storiografia, coscienza nazionale e politica culturale nella Venezia del Rinascimento', in G. Arnaldi and M. Pastore Stocchi (eds), 'Storia della cultura veneta', vol. 3/I (Vicenza: Neri Pozza Editore, 1980), 1-91

  • Chavasse, Ruth, 'The first known author's copyright, September 1486, in the context of a humanist career', 'Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester' 69 (1986-7): 11-37

Related documents in this database:
1469: Johannes of Speyer's Printing Monopoly
1504: A woodcut by Albrecht Dürer plagiarized by Marcantonio Raimondi
1515: Ariosto's Printing Privilege
1517: Venetian Decree on Press Affairs
1531: Antonio Blado's privilege for Machiavelli's works

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1486

Location: Venice

Language: Latin

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, NC, reg. 11, c. 55r.

Persons referred to:
Barbara, Zacharias
Navagero, Lucas
Sabellico, Marco Antonio
Trevisano, Benedetto

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Venetian Senate


Renaissance, the
authorship, corporate
authorship, theory of
book trade
classics, Greek and Latin
privileges, Venetian

Responsible editor: Joanna Kostylo

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