The Gennadius Library recently acquired an extremely rare book entitled the ΨΑΛΤΗPION TOΥ ΘΕΙΟΥ ΔΑΒΙΔ. This is a psalter printed in 1584, probably in Venice by Giacomo Leoncini (fl. 1560-1589). Leoncini had acquired the types of the printer Andrea Cunadis (1480 - 1522), a Patras merchant and publisher who moved to Venice about 1520. Cunadis first worked as an apprentice at the printing press of Aldus Manutius where he met the brothers da Sabbio. Cunadis joined forces with the printer Stefano da Sabbio and established a printing house where he published his first book, a psalter in 1521. After the death of Cunadis, the publishing house would pass into the hands of his father-in-law Damiano di Santa Maria, who in conjunction with the da Sabbio brothers continued the firm's production.

Leoncini purchased the typographic material (stock of type, woodcuts, and metalcuts) of Andrea Cunadis and Damiano Santa Maria and acquired the privilege to print in about 1560. He published many editions of liturgical works in Greek characters. In fact, from 1584 to 1585 he was part of a company specializing in the production of Greek liturgical books.  According to the bibliographer Paolo Veneziani, Leoncini was the representative of the Gabiano family in Constantinople.The Psalterion is probably a product of Leoncini's efforts, bearing all the hallmarks of Greek printing in Venice at the time, though there is no concrete bibliographical confirmation.

The psalter is printed in black with red highlights: woodcut and typographic headpieces, marginal woodcut initial letters and ornaments are printed in red; the title is printed in both red and black and bears two architectural woodcut border pieces flanking a woodcut of King David and a woodcut of putti.

The copy is an unusually well-preserved exemplar of late-16th-century Greek liturgical edition in its original flush-cut blind-tooled calf over wooden boards, “alla greca.” The bibliographer of Greek imprints Thomas Papadopoulos notes that some of Leoncini's books were bound for the Greek diaspora in the region of the Veneto, and others were destined for the Constantinopolitan market.  

According to the vendor, both pastedowns appear to be the same unrecorded vernacular plenary indulgence issued during the papacy of Pius IV (r.1559-1565), and perhaps associated with the church of Saint Catherine in Venice.

*Information gleaned from the vendor W. S. Cotter Rare Books bookseller, CERL Thesaurus, the bibliography of Thomas Papadopoulos (Ελληνική Βιβλιογραφία 1466 ci. – 1800, publ. 1984) and Evro Layton’s Layton, The sixteenth century Greek book in Italy (1994).