LATIN EDITION OF EUCLID’S WORKS

Elementorum geometricorum libri XV.

Basle, Iohannem Hervagium, 1546.

£7,500

Folio, pp. (viii) 587 (i). Roman letter in two sizes, commentary in italic, some Greek innumerable woodcut mathematical diagrams in text. Printer’s woodcut device on title and verso of last, fine white on black historiated Holbeinesque initials in various sizes. Blank fore edge of first gathering slightly frayed, that of the title with early repair, light marginal water-staining in last few gatherings, occasional minor dust soiling. Generally a most attractive copy in strictly contemporary London blind-stamped calf, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, roll-tooled second panel with lozenge-shaped inner border to both covers (Oldham pl. LI: 866), spine neatly repaired, pastedowns taken from an English rubricated manuscript. c.1400 with decorative initials, eps. from Galen’s De Compositione medic., Basle 1530. C16th autograph and manuscript acquisition note of R. Skene or Shene on title.

A very interesting copy of the second edition of Herlinus’ Latin edition of the collected works of Euclid first printed nine years earlier: it is quite differently set up. A reissue of the Elements edited by LeFèvre, Paris, 1516, “with few changes but with the addition of the ‘Phaenomena, Optica’ etc. For the edition of 1537 the Paris edition was collated with ‘a Greek copy’ by Christian Herlin.” Heath, ‘The thirteen books of Euclid’s Elements’. The text is embellished with the commentaries of Theon of Alexandria and Campanus, in the Latin version of Bartholomaeus Zambertus. “I now come to the Basle editions, an important series, all folios printed by Johann Herwagen between 1533 and 1558. He was the first printer to inset Euclid’s diagrams in text. Earlier printers, and some later, placed them in the fore margin.” Stanford.

This copy is complete with the six-page dedication by Melanchthon to the ‘studiosis adolescentibus’ which is often mutilated or missing (see e.g. Thomas-Stanford copy). “From many copies this introduction has been removed by the clerical censor who has added his stamp” Stanford. A typographically handsome (see full-page reproduction by Thomas-Stanford) and textually significant edition of the “compilation of all earlier Greek mathematical knowledge since Pythagoras, organized into a consistent system (…) the common school textbook of geometry for hundreds of years.” (Printing and the Mind of Man 25 on first Latin edition). The last 100 pages comprise the minor works of Euclid such as the Phaenomena Data, Specularia and Perspectiva. A handsome and interesting copy in a charming contemporary London binding.

BM. STC. Ger. p.288 (at least one imperfect). Adams E 975 (1 ditto). Thomas-Stanford 11. (Full page reproduction)

L1822

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