CELESTIAL GUIDANCE FOR NAVIGATORS

De genuino usu utriusque globi tractatus adjecta est nova Sciatericorum, et artis Navigandi ratio novis Instrumentis et inventionibus illustrata. (with) Mensura geographica et usus globi terrestris, Artisque Navigandi Institutio, novis Instrumentis et Inventionibus adaucta.

Franeker, Ulderich Balck, 1624.

£2,750

4to. Two works in one. pp. (viii) 210 (ii) 84. Roman and Italic letter, separate title page with printer’s large woodcut device to each work, very numerous printed and woodcut scientific diagrams of astronomical and navigational instruments, star and sea charts and geometrical computations. General age yellowing, first title page with two very old repairs, faint early collegiate ex libris at head, small water stain to lower inner corner of some leaves. A good copy in fine contemporary Dutch morocco, border of gilt flowers within double ruled lines to covers, quadruple blind rules with gilt cornerpieces within, gilt floral ornament within lozenge in centre of both, spine in four compartments each with gilt floret and divided by gilt rules; all edges gilt with the floral border repeated on paper edges nearest to corners.

Metius, son of the distinguished cartographer and military engineer to the Dutch States, was born in Alkmaar and studied at the University of Franeker in Frisia, and at Leiden under Snellius and Van Ceulen. He worked under Tycho Brahe at his observatory at Hven, moving to Rostock and Jena, where he gave his first, and very successful, astronomy lectures. In 1600 he was appointed professor of mathematics, surveying, navigation, military engineering, and astronomy at Franeker, a position he held until his death.

He was an acquirer of mathematical and astronomical instruments, observed sunspots, and was familiar with the telescope, of which his brother Jacob was co-inventor. His lectures were well attended by an international audience including, in 1629, Descartes. Metius wrote extensively (though there is no satisfactory bibliography) and his books were widely used. In astronomy he followed Tycho Brahe’s theory of the solar system, but also showed respect for the Copernican system.

The present works (second editions completely revised and enlarged) concern principally the understanding and use of globes, terrestrial and celestial, in particular for the purposes of marine navigation. The proper use of other instruments such as azimuths, quadrants, compasses and astrolabes is also treated in some detail, as well as the principles of astronomy and relevant mathematical propositions, such as the computation of longitude and latitude, and the earth’s position in relation to the sun, are carefully explained and illustrated with examples. In the first half of the C17th, the Dutch were the prominent naval power, and the present work must have had considerable value in training navigators and sea captains, serving as a practical reference work on their monumental voyages. There are scattered references to Brazil and the Americas.

Graesse IV p. 507 (1st work, earliest edn.). No edn. in Simoni, Alden, J.F.B. cat., Kenney or Honeyman. Houzeau and Lancaster 2820 (1st work only).

L105

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