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Antonio Magliabechi

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Italian scholar and librarian, b. 20 Oct., 1633, at Florence ; d. there, 4 July, 1714. He was the son of Marco Magliabechi, burgher, and Ginevra Baldorietta. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith, and worked in this capacity till his fortieth year. His real inclination was, however, from the beginning towards study, and he was in the habit of buying books out of his small resources and reading them at night. Michele Ermini, librarian to Cardinal de' Medici, recognizing his ability, taught him Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Magliabechi had an astonishing mernory, and thus acquired an unusually large knowledge. In 1673 he became librarian to Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany, thus attaining the ambition of his life.

He became the central figure of literary life in Florence, and scholars of every nation sought his acquaintance and corresponded with him. He was always ready to give a friendly answer to questions on scholarship, and was thus the unacknowledged collaborator on many works and publications. Strangers, visiting Florence, stared at him as something miraculous. He not only knew all the volumes in the library, as well as every other possible work, but could also tell the page and paragraph in which any passage occurred. In private life Magliabechi was an eccentric old bachelor, negligent, dirty, slovenly, always reeking with tobacco, engaged in study at his meals, a Diogenes in his requirements. Every room in his house, and even the corridors and stairs, were crowded with books. He died at the monastery of Sta. Maria Novella. He left his books (30,000 volumes) to the Grand Duke to be used as a public library ; his fortune went to the poor. The Magliabechiana was combined with the grand-ducal private library ( Palatina ) by King Victor Emmanuel in 1861, the two forming the Biblioteca Nazionale .


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