The Indice vecchio
The so-called Indice vecchio is the oldest known inventory of the Urbino collection, compiled in its first draft around 1487 (see Michelini Tocci, Agapito, pp. 253-254 and n. 4), shortly after Federico’s death (d. 1482), by Agapito of Urbino, librarian of Guidubaldo da Montefeltro (1472-1508, duke of Urbino from 1482).
Probably written on the basis of a previous inventory (now lost to us), it was later updated with subsequent additions, dating from the late fifteenth century and from the beginning of the following century. These were done by the Agapito himself and other hands including those of Federico Veterani, and they record variations and loans; their presence suggests that it served as a tool for the control of the collection for a long time, that is, the official inventory.
A hand from the 16th-17th century wrote the words “Indice vecchio” on the upper margin of f. 1r at the beginning of the text. This is the title by which the inventory is now known, contained in ff. 1r-126r of the current Urb. lat. 1761 (cfr. Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. Graeci, pp. LIX-CLXXV).
The Index has an extraordinary historical value in that it allows us to outline what the profile of the library looked like in Federico’s time, and to reconstruct the substance of its contents: it lists 656 Latin manuscripts (about seventy of which are in the vernacular, see Peruzzi, «Lectissima politissimaque volumina», p. 344), 168 Greek manuscripts, 82 Hebrew manuscripts.
Urb. lat. 1761, ff. 88v, 101v
Two Arabic manuscripts, the current Vat. ar. 155 (a miscellany of Christian ecclesiastical texts) and Vat. ar. 212 (a fragmentary 12th century Koran of fine workmanship from Maghreb), also belonged to the collection. The first is cited at the bottom of the Hebrew manuscripts (Urb. lat. 1761, f. 107r; ed. in Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. Graeci, p. CXLV nr. 83: «Evangelium Sirorum Lingua et characteribus Eorum»); «oscuri rimangono […] il curioso scambio dell’arabo con il siriaco […] e il modo col quale il codice giunse alla corte di Urbino» (Levi della Vida, Ricerche, pp. 397-405, in particular p. 400).
The current Vat. ar. 212 (a fragmentary 12th century Koran of fine workmanship from Maghreb) is cited among the “unbound” volumes (Urb. lat. 1761, f. 118r; ed. in Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. Graeci, p. CLVI nr. 21: «Liber Arabicis litteris scriptus quint. 6»; see Anzuini, I manoscritti coranici, pp. 55-57).
We may also recall the current Urb. lat. 1384, which contains Arabic astrological texts translated by Flavio Mitridate together with some Koranic suras with Latin facing text, prefaced and annotated by Moncada (Urb. lat. 1761, f. 39v; ed. in Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. Graeci, p. XCVI nr. 273: «Ali de Imaginibus Caelestibus Traductus a Guielmo Raimundo et Illustrissimo Principi Federico Urbinatium Duci Invictissimo Dicatus et Arabicis litteris scriptus. Guielmus de Moncata de Defectibus solis et lunae ab eodem et eidem Dicatus. Mahometi Surathi Lhagi Alcorani Traductio. In Rubro ([A margine:] Alcoranus mahumeti est insertus in hoc volumine»); the side note indicates that the original Koranic text is included (see Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. lat. 1001-1779, pp. 296-298; Andriolo - Piemontese, Scheda nr. 12; Piemontese, Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada, p. 158; Id., La raccolta vaticana di orientalia, pp. 438-439).
Urb. lat. 1384, ff. 1r, 3v
The collection was thus made up of about 900 manuscripts, with a clear predominance of Latin volumes. Of these, according to the identification of the descriptions provided by the Indice vecchio with the current shelfmarks as proposed by Le Grelle (Le Grelle, Introductio, p. VII-XXIX, with corresponding plates on pp. I-LXXI), the manuscripts gone missing which did not arrive to the Vatican Library would be of a modest number, especially for the Latin context (see Stornajolo, Cod. Urb. lat. 501-1000, pp. XXXII-XXXV; Manfredi, Che lettere!, p. 39; for the current Urbinati collections conserved in the Vatican, see Guida ai fondi, pp. 538-553).
Of each manuscript, the Indice vecchio offers descriptions that focus mainly on the content, and although synthetic, constitute a veritable repertoire: titles of works and names of authors, translators, commentators, sometimes dedicatees are recorded; the incipit and explicit are reported only when the text has not been identified or is uncertain (see Ordering by subjects).
The other element which is consistently supplied is the color of the binding (very often «in rubro», in other cases «in viridi» or «in corio viridi», «in croceo», «in purpureo»), which would have implied wooden boards covered for the most part in leather. Further indications are offered in the case of silk covers or to indicate the presence of metallic elements, today almost completely lost (on this topic see also Bindings), as in the following cases: Urb. lat. 1, «aureo serico coperta et cornibus et seraturis argenteis ornata»; Urb. lat. 10, «in serico aureo munitum argento»; Urb. lat. 151 and Urb. lat. 248, «in serico rubro»; Urb. lat. 476, «cum seraturis argenteis ornatae. In viridi»; Urb. lat. 350, «in serico viridi cum cornibus et seraturis argenteis. In viridi»; Urb. gr. 2, «cum figuris et seraturis argenteis»; Urb. lat. 136, «seraturis et cornibus argenteis. In serico rubro».
Urb. lat. 1, f. 7r
The information on the miniature is limited to the use of adjectives such as ornatus or ornatissimus (see Urb. lat. 1, «pulcherrima atque ornatissima»; Urb. lat. 2, «simil modo ornata»; Urb. lat. 250, «codex ornatus»; Urb. lat. 10, «opus ornatissimus»; Urb. lat. 136, 151, 185, 264, 281, 324, 326, 337, 349, 427, 410, 419, 420, 681, 1221, Urb. gr. 136, «codex ornatissimus»; Urb. gr. 2 «pulcherrimum cum figuris et seraturis argenteis»).
Urb. lat. 10, f. 114r
Information about the writing is rarely offered, since it is probably understood; most of the manuscripts are made with the aid of patrons and are therefore in the Humanistic script. Probably the typology is specified only if it is different from the more usual one (as happens in the case of the litteris longobardis, for the Beneventan script, or of the vetusti manuscripts for manuscripts in Caroline). Likewise the writing surface is not indicated probably because the manuscripts were all in parchment.