Our history

ORIGINS

Officially founded in 1875, Gonnelli is one of the oldest and most historic antiquarian bookshops still existing in Italy, run by the same family and having never changed its seat on Via Ricasoli, next to the Duomo.


Nevertheless already in 1863, its founder Luigi Gonnelli had circulated a pamphlet by the Academy of the Crusca: "Libro delle segrete cose delle donne / Scrittura del buon secolo della lingua allegata nel Vocabolario della Crusca", Florence, Linguistic Typology, 1863, which stated on its cover [in translation]: "This, and the following brochures of the Crusca, published by Prof. Ab. Giuseppe Manuzzi, are available to be sold at the bookshop of Luigi Gonnelli, Via Ricasoli N°6, Florence”: a curious “booklet” that attests to the activity of the bookshop since 1863.

From the beginning of the twentieth century, precious editions and incunabola could be found in the small shop, frequented by cultural figures at the caliber of Gabriele D'Annunzio, Giovanni Papini, Ferdinando Martini, Benedetto Croce, and Giuseppe Prezzolini, then the director of “La Voce,” and uniting with illustrious booklovers such as Luigi Passerini or Tammaro de Marinis.

Private citizens, collectors, and important Bibliographic Institutes represent the clientele of this bookshop, a place of fascination and seduction also for the beauty of historic environments and the celebrated Saletta Gonnelli: an ancient covered courtyard, with portals, columns, and windows in fifteenth century sandstone used for exhibitions and events.

 

OUR EDITIONS

Along with the sale of ancient and rare books, manuscripts, prints, and designs, the bookshop Gonnelli initiated its editorial activity by the end of the nineteenth century with occasional pubblications in the world of art, culture, and booklovers, meriting among its first editions the “Dizionario dei pittori” compiled by Angiolo De Gubernatis in 1892 and the celebrated “Compendiosa Bibliografia di Edizioni Bodoniane” by Hugh Cecil Brooks in 1927. 

Thanks to the initiative of Alfiero Manetti, son-in-law of Aldo Gonnelli, the bookshop undertook the pubblication of two prestigious editorial series over approximately forty years: “Documenti inediti di cultura toscana” and “Papyrologica Florentina” which have come to be declared as valid and appreciated research, fruit of the scientific work of diverse, international accademic experts. Additional pubblications, both documentional and artistic in nature, support these series from a historical point of view and are highlighted in the “Quaderni Gonnelli” catalogues published for the occasion of art and graphics exhibitions held in the Hall of Gonnelli, and the recent series “Carteggi di Filologi”. 

 

OUR EXHIBITIONS

Paintings by Giovanni Fattori and other “Macchiaioli” painters were proposed to be sold at the Hall of Gonnelli, adjacent to the bookshop, particularly in the years that Aldo Gonnelli befriended the merchant-collector Mario Galli and the Livornese painter and art historian Mario Borgiotti.


Furthermore, painting exhibitions were presented in the Hall from various generations of artists, many of whom were regarded throughout history as masters of the twentieth century, including Giorgio De Chirico, Primo Conti, and Ottone Rosai. 

 

OUR AUCTIONS

In 1880, Luigi Gonnelli held a book auction of twelve consecutive days inaugurating an activity that, in parallel to that of the bookshop, offered clients not only the opportunity to acquire the riches of collecting at a fair price but also to entrust public trade to the auction. 

Until the end of the 1960s, numerous and important auctions of books, manuscripts, paintings, woodcuts, and designs took place. 

In 2009, this historic activity was “reactivated” with grand success registered under the trademark of Gonnelli Casa D'Aste, offering our clients further access to the world of collecting, uniting passion and investment under the protection of a transparent and ultracentennial professionalism.

 

AMOR LIBRORUM

Arrived at the fourth family generation, it is the bookshop that the auction house are overseen by Marco Manetti (son of Alfiero Manetti and Mariapia Gonnelli) assisted by a staff of efficient and expert collaborators. 

After almost 150 years, Gonnelli manages to maintain and cultivate the tradition of a historic activity offering thus its own contribution to that booklover that unites us with the world: “amor librorum nos unit.”