Vespasiano da Bisticci was fundamental in the creation of the Montefeltro collection, especially in the first phase of its development.
From the studies of Albinia de la Mare, it appears that of the approximately 600 Latin manuscripts that were part of the collection, more than 260 were produced in Florence (“between three-fifths and three-quarters of the codices made for Federico or bought for him”). Of these, at least fifty may not have been made especially for the lord of Urbino or bought by him in the first place, either “because his coat of arms was added to them at a later time (which means that he was not the original owner) or because they can be dated as too early for him to be at the origin”; 12 have the coat of arms of Federico added (de la Mare, Vespasiano da Bisticci e i copisti, pp. 81-82). Initially, therefore, Vespasiano had to sell Federico ready-made manuscripts, that were waiting for a buyer, to which the Montefeltro coat of arms would have been promptly added; this is the case of Urb. lat. 187, 250, 324, 350.
Urb. lat. 187, f. 2r- Urb. lat. 250, f. 2r
De la Mare has identified “at least 40 different scribes, of which 18 have copied 3 or more new manuscripts [...] almost all more or less related to Vespasian”. The link with the entrepreneur of the manuscript book is evidenced by some undersignings in which the “prince of booksellers” is explicitly mentioned: this is how Hugo de Comminellis defines it, mentioning it in the colophon of the Urbino Bible (Urb. lat. 2, f. 311r). The same also happens with the scribes Petrus de Traiecto and Gherardo del Ciriagio.
The production note of Vespasiano’s workshop also appears in two manuscripts written by Sinibaldus C. (according to the signature in a manuscript dated 1461 and sold by Vespasiano to the Badia di Fiesole in 1462). Sinibaldus was a very productive scribe who copied over 40 manuscripts, and is perhaps identifiable with a certain Ser Sinibaldo di Ser Sozzo Cacciaconti from Volterra, a Florentine notary (see de la Mare, Vespasiano da Bisticci, pp. 84-85). This is the manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 4797, a codex of Strabo donated to Louis XI by Cardinal Jean Jouffroy, as well as Vat. lat. 1712, which contains the rhetorical works of Cicero with notes of Jouffroy: “in isto libro continentur infrascripta opera Ciceronis […] Vespasianus librarius librum hunc Florentie transcribendi curavit”, f. IIIv). De la Mare attributes 16 Urbino manuscripts to his hand (Urb. lat. 74, 75, 330, 331, 334, 343, 347, 358, 370, 414, 641, 658, 660, 668, 669 and 881 (see de la Mare, New Research, pp. 497, 538, 565 *; EAD., Vespasiano da Bisticci, p. 182; Manfredi, Codici latini di Niccolò V, p. 423.) Sinibaldus C. also copies several other works by Vespasiano including the collection of correspondence of the cartolaio prepared as a gift for his friend Francesco Pandolfini (Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 90 sup. 30).
The relations between Vespasiano and some scribes, for example, Hugo de Comminellis , Gherardo del Ciriagio, Antonio Sinibaldi, Leonardo Tolesani da Colle (the scribe for Urb. lat. 899, which came to the Urbino collection in an uncertain way and time, perhaps as a present), is evidenced by correspondences.
Other active scribes that were active for Vespasiano represented in this pathway include Hubertus W., whose hand also appears in some manuscripts from Fiesole, Gundisalvus Hispanus, Francesco degli Ugolini and the scribe who signs as Φ.Η.; in addition, Antonio di Francesco Sinibaldi, who copied a manuscript for Francesco Gonzaga, which later came into the possession of Federico: Urb. lat. 681.