Margarita Filosofica…Accresciuta di molte belle dottrine da Oratio Fineo matematico regio. Di nouo tradotta in italiano da Gio. Paolo Gallucci…

Venice, Barezzo Barezzi, 1599.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. [xxiv], 1138, [ii] Last blank. Italic letter, some Roman. Fine engraved title page with architectural border incorporating figures representing arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy etc., foliated woodcut initials, large grotesque woodcut headpieces, folding table, innumerable woodcut illustrations in text, many full page, including one woodcut volvelle globe held in on verso with small woodcut printer’s device, “Dr. Andrea Raineri” ms. in slightly later hand on fly. Light age yellowing a few leaves browned, tiny worm hole in title and first two ll. another in blank margin of last three, small tear at inner margin of fldg. plate, occasional light marginal soiling. A very good copy, crisp and clean with good margins in contemporary limp vellum, spine cracked and worn, book block loose, lacking ties.

First edition of Gallucci’s translation of Gregorius Reich’s celebrated and beautifully illustrated encyclopedia with additional material in this edition by Gallucci and including the revisions by the mathematician Oronce Fine from 1535, and some of the additions of the 1512 Strasbourg edition, such as Martin Waldseemüller’s treatises on architecture and perspective, and Masha’allah’s composition of the astrolabe. The Margarita philosophica (the Philosophic pearl) is a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia which was widely used as a university textbook in the early sixteenth century, particularly in Germany; it takes the form of a dialogue between master and pupil – the pupil asks elementary questions and the master answers them in depth. It gives us an intriguing insight into the university curriculum and state of learning and scientific knowledge at the start of the C16th and here in a much revised form in the late C16th. Its author, Gregor Reisch (c.1467-1525), a Carthusian monk and a friend of many of the most celebrated Humanists of his era including, Erasmus, Beatus and Rheananus, was prior of the Charterhouse of St John the Baptist near Freiburg-im-Breisgau from 1503 to 1525 and was confessor and counsellor to the Emperor Maximilian I. He was educated at the University of Freiburg where he received the degree of magister in 1489 and also taught there. The Margarita was conceived as a textbook for his students at Freiburg, among whom were many influential figures of the German Renaissance, notably the theologian Johann Eck. Reisch’s text is divided into twelve chapters. The traditional subjects of the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy) each have a chapter devoted to them. Four of the five remaining chapters are concerned with natural philosophy and cover such things as the elements, meteorology, alchemy, the plant and animal kingdoms, optics and memory as well as heaven, hell and purgatory. The final chapter concerns moral philosophy. The additions in this edition are added at the end, a further 300 odd pages, each supplementing a chapter of the main work. The usefulness of the book as an educational tool is much enhanced by a detailed index and the liberal use of marvelous woodcut illustrations. There are two issues of this edition, with apparently no priority, one with Barezzi’s imprint, and another with Somascho’s which is more common institutionally. A very good copy of this wonderful and beautifully illustrated educational encyclopedia.

BM STC C16 It. p. 552. (Somascho imprint) Not in Adams. Brunet IV 1201. Cicognara 3321. Sabin 69132 (Somascho imprint).


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