THE ONLY EARLY EDITION ON THE USE OF THE STARS FOR NAVIGATION


The Use of the Celestial Globe in Plano.

London, John VVindet for Tobie Cooke, 1590.

£7,950

FIRST EDITION. Small 4to, ff. (iv), 43, (lacking final blank). Roman and Black letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title page (McKerrow 237), large floriated and historiated woodcut initials, woodcut head and tail pieces, “Willaim Rose his book 1735” on pastedown, “Moses Roses book” on verso of A4, “Moses Rose his book November 20 1797” on recto of E1, manuscript account notes on pastedown and verso of title bleeding through onto recto, similar notes on rear fly leaves, occasional note in margins of text. Title page and verso of last dusty, title page fore-edge slightly frayed, occasional light marginal water staining in upper and lower margins, the odd thumb mark and oil splash, small tear in lower blank margin of E3. A good copy, stab bound in contemporary limp vellum, vellum stubbs, binding agreeably soiled and creased.

VERY RARE, only early edition of this work on the use of celestial globes. The text is in the form of a dialogue between a Scholar and Master and was intended to aid the student astronomer/ cosmographer/ navigator to recognize the stars and their constellations. It contains a table of stars listing their longitude, latitude, magnitude and constellation. There is also a description of the nova that appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572-4. This event was witnessed across Europe and attracted the attention of the best astronomers of the day, among them Tycho Brahe, who published his account in 1575. This new star initially reached the brightness of Venus. Hood recounts the various theories regarding this phenomenon (that it was one of the stars of Cassiopeia or a comet) with much of the argument centering on whether this new light moved or not. By showing that it remained fixed, Brahe proved that it was not an atmospheric disturbance, such as a comet, but a new star. While Brahe himself was not a supporter of Copernicus’ theory, that the sun not the earth is at rest at the centre of the universe, his discoveries in relation to the nova made this theory easier to accept.

Hood (fl. 1582-1598), a graduate of Cambridge, held the first English lectureship in mathematics and was one of the first popularisers of the ‘new learning’. This appointment was initiated and financed in 1582 by Thomas Smith, to whom this work is dedicated, and the lectures were given in the city of London. Smith was the first Governor of the East India Company, Governor of the Muscovy Company and Treasurer of the Virginia Company and a patron of science, trade and exploration. Hood’s publications, which ranged from an English translation of Ramus’ ‘Elements of Geometrie’ to a guide for mariners, as well as his inventions of mathematical instruments, show the wide scope of mathematics as a discipline in the late C16. He also lectured on geography and navigation. He is credited with popularising astronomy and the Copernican theory in England. This is the first of his two works on the celestial globe; the second was published in 1592 (‘The use of both the Globes Celestiall and Terestriall’, London). In 1589 Hood was, with Hakluyt, one of the subscribers to Raleigh’s Virginia Company; he invented a sector, ancestor of the slide rule and the calculating machine in 1598, the same year as Galileo.

According to the present title page, one could buy from Mr Hood himself at his house in Abchurch Lane ‘two hemispheres’ (22 inch square) to use with the present text. They illustrated the various constellations and stars by human and animal figures. Regrettably however they were very rarely united with the book and where they survived they have generally done so separately. ‘There is a copy in the British Museum, the text (without the plates) being in the Library, and coloured impressions of the two planispheres in the Map Department. This is the only copy noted in the STC. Bishop adds three further copies in America, i.e. Washington, New York P.L., and Charlottesville, and of these Charlottesville alone has any plate, and only the South Polar Region’ (Hind I, p.142).

STC 13697 (four libraries and Kraus in US) ‘Title page has advertisement for the sale of the hemispheres at the author’s house in Abchurch Lane. They are engraved by A. Ryther and lacking in most copies’. ESTC s118875. Hind I, p.139. Houzeau and Lancaster 2785. Taylor ‘Late Stuart and Early Tudor Geography’, 346. Not in Honeyman.

L1174

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