Venice, Johann Hamann, 1491.


4to, 222 leaves, a12, (b-q14). Gothic letter, double column; almost 200 astronomical tables with zodiacal symbols and illustrations of lunar phases, title-page for each section, except, correctly, first; small ink splash on first gathering, tiny, mainly marginal wormholes over final two; a few leaves slightly aged yellowed. A very good, well-margined copy in modern 1/4 calf over paper covered wooden boards; sixteenth-century title inscribed on fore- and upper-edges; one scholarly annotation and three emendations in margins of aiir and (b)ir in Italian contemporary hand.

Extremely rare and early edition of the most important almanac of the Renaissance. Johannes Müller (1436-1476), known as Regiomontanus from his birthplace, Konigsberg in Bavaria, was the greatest astronomer and mathematician of his time. A disciple of Georg von Peuerbach, he had Cardinal Bessarion, King Matthias Corvinus and Pope Sixtus IV amongst his patrons, while Gassendi and Copernicus were enthusiastic followers of his. He was the editor of the first astronomical printed textbook, Peuerbach’s Theoricae novae Planetarum (1472). His astronomical and algebraic investigations marked a watershed in the development of early modern science.

Regiomontanus’s most influential works were an abridged Latin version of Ptolomy’s Almagest; two ground-breaking treatises on trigonometry and arithmetic; a work on the calendar; and, above all, his almanac, which enjoyed incredible and long-lasting success. Following a short introduction and a couple of preliminary zodiacal tables, Regiomontanus provides readers with charts of the lunar phases and the movement of the sun and planets throughout the years 1492-1506. At the beginning of the work, there is instruction concerning the best days to start endeavours, have blood let, take medicines, plant vines and sow. As is typical of popular and affordable early printed books, a complete copy of this rare publication is excessively hard to find.

Extremely rare. Only one other perfect copy in Munich; one defective copy recorded in the US (Yale).

ISTC, ir00109500; BMC, V, 424 (imperfect); Copinger, 5075; Goff Suppl., R-109a; GW, M37509; IGI, 5323; Klebs, 839.10; Sander, 6398; IBP 4704. Not in Hozeau-Lancaster or Cantamessa.


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