PANVINIO, Onofrio

FROM THE CONTEMPORARY LIBRARY OF THE AUSTRIAN BISHOP OF GURK

Fasti et triumphii Rom[ani].

Venice, Giacomo Strada, 1557.

£4,750

FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (18), 228 (i.e. 240), (200). Roman letter, often capitals, much double column and red and black; large allegorical printer’s device on title, a few historiated initials, 262 fine woodcut illustrations of coins, mostly with white-on-black portraits of consuls, generals and emperors; small hole in blank outer margin of title probably due to erasure of old library stamp, light marginal damp stain to first gathering, four browned leaves in the second, clean marginal tear to blank outer upper corner of 2M2. A very fine, well-margined copy in contemporary alum-taw pigskin signed by the German bookbinder M. G., active about 1562 (see Einbanddatenbank, r002340 and r004560), blind-tooled with five elaborate panels, alternating floral decoration with two rolls of neat biblical figures, one with Christ, David, Paul and John the Baptist, the other with Christ, Peter, Paul and John the Baptist surmounted by the four Evangelical symbols; a couple of small stains at front, rear very lightly rubbed; early inked manuscript shelf mark and later label on spine, early title inked on fore-edge in the same hand as the purchase inscriptions ‘Urbanus Ep[iscop]us Gurten[sis] me emit’ on front pastedown and title, dated 1559/ 1561; his large hand-coloured printed armorial bookplate on front pastedown.

Fine copy of the first edition, second and improved issue including privileges printed on χ2 and bound here straight after title, of a landmark in the historiography of ancient Rome. The Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio (1529 – 1568) was a giant of the ecclesiastical and antiquarian scholarship of the late Italian Renaissance. An indefatigable writer, he obtained fame with the sequel of Platina’s Life of the Popes and many treatises on Roman history. Amongst them, the Fasti were the most important. This edition, probably supervised by Panvinio himself, shows a highly original and beautiful page layout, resembling the Roman epigraphic design.

Relying on written sources as much as on material evidence drawn from coins and epigraphs, the book describes in a condensed Latin the events that took place from the foundation of Rome to 1555. The narration proceeds according to the succession of Roman kings, consuls, generals, tribunes, high priests, and emperors. It follows the west-east division of the empire from 405 on, recording the Byzantine suzerains on the one hand, the Franck and Germanic Emperors and other European rulers on the other. The book goes on up until the early modern times, thus registering the change in power in the East, with the Muslim sultans taking over from the Byzantine emperors after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This copy belonged to Urban Sagstetter (c. 1529 – 1573), Austrian bishop of Gurk from 1556 (as pointed out in his armorial bookplate) and later administrator of the diocese of Vienna. A selective book collector and Hebraist, Sagstetter bought his Fasti at the Diet of Augsburg (‘in comitiis Augustanis’) of 1559. The two detailed purchase notes, evidently inscribed some years after the acquisition by Sagstetter or perhaps his secretary, were first incorrectly dated 1561, when there had been no gathering in Augsburg. Indeed, the same hand corrected the inscription at the foot of the title to read 1559. The confusion may have arisen from the unusually high number of diets held in the mid-sixteenth century in Augsburg and elsewhere in order to tackle (unsuccessfully) the Protestant issue. Still, the incorrect date remains a rather surprising mistake by the owner of Panvinio’s Fasti, a book famous for its accurate chronology.

Not in BM STC It. or Brunet. Adams, P 195 ; Graesse, V, 123; Mortimer, Italian, 355.

L2193

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ALBERTI, Leon Battista

THE FIRST PRINTED BOOK ON ARCHITECTURE

L’ Architettura…, tradotta in lingua fiorentina da Cosimo Bartoli gentil’huomo & accademico fiorentino. Con la aggiunta de disegni. Et altri diuersi trattati del medesimo auttore.

Mondovi, Lionardo Torrentino, 1565.

£12,500

Folio. pp. 331, (xxi). Two leaves of plates inserted. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device of elephant on title, another on second title, large historiated woodcut initials, “Medallion portrait of Alberti on verso of the title. There is a similar portrait in Vasari’s 1568 Vite. Eighty-three woodcuts – diagrams, plans, elevations, architectural details, and figures demonstrating measuring instruments. Thirty-seven are full page, including six plates on three leaves, and one is double plan. The blocks are used again in the folio edition by Leonardo Torrention at Mondovi in 1565” (Mortimer I It. 12 on the first edition of 1550), two additional full page woodcuts, extensions of the upper parts of buildings, autograph ‘Di federico Ceruti’ in early hand on fly, ‘Hugh Stafford’ with price 5s? at head of title page. Very light water stain to lower margin in places, title page very fractionally dusty, rare mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean with good margins, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, remains of ties, stubbs from an early manuscript leaf, bands renewed, a little soiled.

A lovely copy of this most important and beautifully illustrated work, the second and more complete folio edition of Bartoli’s influential translation into Italian, with the illustrations taken from the first. “This is the first edition of L’Architectura to be issued with La Pittura.” Fowler. Alberti’s treatise on architecture was the first Renaissance work on the subject, and the first architectural work to be printed (1485). Its scope is comprehensive, ranging from the practical (including tips for lifting sculpture) to the theoretical, explicating and augmenting the classical order. His is “a complete Humanist doctrine” (Fowler) with its extensive discussion of the concept of beauty and application of humanist scholarship.

Raphael, Serlio, and Palladio were influenced by the work. As a practicing architect too Alberti exercised lasting influence; for instance, his design of the Palazzo Rucellai established the norm for palazzo facades for centuries. “His work was perhaps the most significant contribution ever made to the literature of architecture” (Krufft). Bartoli’s translation superseded Pietro Lauro’s of 1546 and became the basis of most later editions, including its translation into English. All first editions were unillustrated 1550.

“Bartoli was in the service of the Church and the Medici for the greater part of his life: his friendship with Vasari may have established his patterns of taste. His fortunate inheritance of a group of 15th-century manuscripts, among them the writings of Alberti and the Zibaldone of Buonaccorso Ghiberti, caused him to undertake one of his major enterprises – the translating of Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, which despite its fame and probably because of its profundity, was seldom published. Bartoli’s version is the first illustrated edition, and the second translation of his work. The illustrations with their emphasis on contemporary building practice, and their simple even derivative character reflect mid-century concerns on relating practice to theory. The translation would become the standard edition of Alberti’s treatise and the source of the eighteenth century Leoni folio edition.” Wiebenson I-15.

“The writer who first and most clearly rejected medieval tradition was Leon Battista Alberti (1404 – 1472), author of the De re aedificatoria. Alberti borrowed the form of the architectural treatise from Vitruvius, but could be highly critical of his model. Alberti was the more systematic of the two, and he presented architecture as an exalted pursuit, a sort of incarnate philosophy that left little room for the humble stonemasons of the Gothic. He knew the ruins of ancient Rome well, and out of the creative interplay between his archaeological and textual studies formed a more internally coherent and pristine conception of architecture than any known to antiquity. Alberti’s was only the first of a spate of architectural treatises, but no later author would espouse such grand ambitions.” Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections. ‘Cities and Men’. A lovely copy of this beautifully illustrated and important work.

PMM 28 (1485 ed.). Adams A-488.  Mortimer, Harvard Italian 12 (1550 edn.) Fowler 8.

L2106

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CAVENDISH, William. Earl of Devonshire. HOBBES, Thomas (?)

PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY ON HUMAN BEHAVIOUR, THE CO-AUTHORS COPY

Horæ subseciuæ. Observations and discovrses.

London, [Eliot’s Court Press] for Edward Blount, 1620.

[£12,500]

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (viii), 222, (iv), 223-324, (ii), 325-417, (iii), 419-503, (iii), 505-542. A⁴ B-X⁸ Y⁴ Z-2K⁸ 2L-2M⁴ 2N-2O⁸. Roman letter. Title and text within double box rule, floriated woodcut initials and typographical headpieces, “The Earle of Devonshires Book, Pre: 10 R.E.” (probably Richard Evelyn, father of the celebrated John) and other early annotations in early hand on front fly, later inscriptions with various Latin and English mottos, ‘C.J.’ initialed at head of title. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary calf, spine bordered with gilt and blind rules large arabesque gilt to centers, spine rebacked to match, gilt and blind ruled in compartments with central fleurons gilt, new endpapers, lozenge on rear cover half chipped away and finely restored.

Rare, first and only edition of these important essays by William Cavendish, deeply influenced by Montaigne and Bacon, with the first edition of three discourses now attributed to Thomas Hobbes, Cavendish’s tutor, and thus the first edition of some of Hobbes’ earliest works. “Hobbes’s first discussions of substantive moral issues drew on these (skeptical) ideas, particularly as put forward by Bacon. … Hobbes and his pupils in the Devonshire household followed this precedent in a highly Baconian, and Montaigne-like, set of essays that they appear to have composed between 1610 and 1640. … The earliest example is a long ‘Discourse against flatterie’ which was published in 1611. This was an earlier version of a discourse with the same name which appeared in a group of four discourses as an adjunct to a collection of very Baconian essays, in an anonymous volume entitled Horae Subsecivae in 1620.

The essays (it is known from a manuscript at Chatsworth) were by William Cavendish, later the second earl, and Hobbes’s first ‘pupil’ (though that is rather a misnomer – Cavendish was only two years younger than Hobbes, had graduated from Cambridge the same year that Hobbes graduated from Oxford, and became his ‘tutor’ and had married the same year.) The ‘Discourse against flatterie’ is dedicated to Cavendish’s father in law in terms that are entirely appropriate for Cavendish himself. … The MS volume of Essayes at Chatsworth is dedicated by ‘Your Lordships most observant and dutiful sonne W. Cavendishe’ presumably to the first Earl by his son, Hobbes’ pupil, in Venice. The MS is in Hobbes’ hand and also contains some annotations by Hobbes. This not need mean very much however … clearly it was a matter of some indifference whether Hobbes or his pupil wrote out these treatises. …

(The essays and discourses are very important) as evidence for the intellectual life within the Cavendish household, and for the context out of which (at the very least) Hobbes’s own ideas developed. Hobbesian themes surface in these essays and discourses, however, and there seems to have been a complex intellectual relationship between Hobbes and his pupil.” Tom Sorell, ‘The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes.’

The three discourses, ‘A Discourse of Lawes’, ‘A Discourse of Rome’, and ‘A Discourse upon the beginning of Tacitus’ have now been more clearly established to be by Hobbes himself. “That the Horae Subsecivae had its origins in the Cavandish household and that Sir William Cavendish penned the ‘Observations’ and the ‘Discourse against Flattery’ published therein is certain. From the style, it is abundantly clear that the author of the three discourses now attributed to Hobbes was someone other than the author of the ‘Observations’ … and the three remaining discourses are in the style, and to some degree in the mode of argument strikingly similar to the later works of Hobbes. These discourses have recently been republished in a critical edition ‘Three discourses: A Critical Modern Edition of Newly Identified Work of the Young Hobbes.’ ed. Noel B. Reynolds…” Paul A. Rahe. ‘Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory Under the English.’ 

A very good copy of this rare work; ABPC records no copies sold at auction, and ESTC gives only four locations for the work in US libraries, at Folger, Huntington, New York Society and Northwestern University.

ESTC S105996. STC 3957.

L1714

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LACINIUS, Janus

THE SEARCH FOR THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, IN HANDSOME MANUSCRIPT BINDING

Praeciosa ac nobilissima artis chymiae collectanea.

Nuremberg, Gabriel Hain, 1554.

£4,950

FIRST EDITION. 4to, ff. (8), 124. Roman letter; printer’s device on title, large historiated initials and full-page alchemical illustration; a few leaves lightly browned. A very good, wide-margined copy bound with folded fifteenth-century German manuscript leaf on vellum of liturgical music over eighteenth-century boards; black and red text of various Psalms with music sheet and two red and blue decorated initials; slightly rubbed on spine, a couple of small stains to rear cover, corners a bit bumped and chipped; on front endpaper, seventeenth-century owner’s inscription ‘Cathena,’ tiny old bookseller’s stamp on front pastedown and modern pencil shelf marks on front endpaper and title versos.

Fine copy of the rare first edition of a fundamental text on alchemy. Janus Lacinius, probably a humanist pseudonym, is thought to be Giovanni da Crotone, a Franciscan friar from Calabria. This German edition was considered for a long time a reprint of another alchemical collection by Lacinius, published by the Aldine press in Venice in 1546 (Pretiosa Margarita Novella de Thesauro); however, despite the similarity in the titles, the contents are substantially different, and this Praeciosa collectanea is now correctly regarded as a first edition.

In this book, Lacinius provides a detailed overview of the vast world of alchemy, describing in particular how to obtain the philosophers’ stone through many stages of metal refinement. The large initial woodcut depicts a sort of an outdoor laboratory, with a scholar handling a huge vessel, and a massive circular furnace crackling behind him.

The printer’s dedication presents alchemy as a useful and Christian discipline, and addresses Anton Fugger’s nephews, Johann (Hans) Jakob (1516 – 1575) and Georg (1518 – 1569). Their renowned book collections are extensively praised and hailed as unparalleled venues for the preservation and transmission of knowledge, where a book like Lacinius’ must not be missed. Hans Jakob Fugger was one of the greatest collectors of his time, gathering some 12,000 volumes, mostly provided with fine luxurious bindings and including the collection of Hartmann Schedel, the author of the Nuremberg Chronicle. In 1571, the bulk of Hans Jakob’s books was purchased by the Duke of Bavaria and is now held in the Bavarian State Library. The library assembled by Georg Fugger, less known and extensive, was nevertheless very rich in mathematical, astronomical, astrological, and other scientific works.

Rare. Not in Adams, Brunet or Caillet.

BM STC Ger., 480; Duveen, 332; Ferguson, II, 3;Graesse, IV, 63; VD16, L34; Wellcome, 3608.

L2163

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FLITTNER, Johann

HUMAN FLAWS SATYRISED IN VERSE AND EMBLEMS

Nebulo nebulonum hoc est, jocoseria modernae nequitiae censura.

Frankfurt, Jakob de Zetter, 1620.

£3,250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. (8), 164, (4), without final blank. Predominantly Roman letter, some Italic and Greek; engraved title within architectural border with allegorical standing figures of Deceit and Idleness, a few head- and tail-pieces and foliated initials, 33 large engraved curious illustrations of emblems; occasional light browning in margins, original paper flaw at foot of pp. 105 and 133. A very good copy in seventeenth-century calf, gilt panel and spine with floral motif, title gilt on olive morocco label, all edges sprinkled red; original comb-marbled pastedown and endpapers; corners slightly chipped, joints a bit cracked.

First edition of the Latin versification of Thomas Murner’s ruthless satire Der Schelmen Zunft (‘The League of Rogues’), published in 1512. Not to be confused with the contemporary Evangelic pastor and prominent hymn-writer, Johann Flittner was born in Schleusingen, became ‘Gerichts-Procurator’ in Frankfurt, and was appointed poet laureate of the Holy Roman Empire around 1620. This Latin translation after Murner – the early sixteenth-century master of satiric pamphlets who penned, i.a., a harsh parody of Luther – was Flittner’s most relevant and successful achievement.

It consists of a series of 33 erudite jokes in the form of illustrated verses against personal vice. Everything is taken and represented in its literal meaning, creating some funny emblems like the one depicting strict censors as people who ‘go around sifting excrement.’ Very fittingly, the work opens with a dedicatory epigram to Momus, the Greek god of mockery, which illustrates the meaning of the title (‘Rascal of Rascals: A Teasing Reproach of Contemporary Idleness’).

BM STC Ger., M1623; Brunet, II, 1293 (‘ouvrage singulier, dont les exemplaires sont peu commmuns’); Graesse, II, 597; Landwehr, 283; Praz, 337; VD17 1:029198C.

L2143

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BOCCACCIO, Giovanni

DISAPPOINTMENT IN LOVE AND POLITICS

Laberinto d’amore … con una epistola a Messer Pino de Rossi confortatoria.

Florence, [heirs of Filippo Giunta], 1525.

£3,250

8vo. oblong, ff. 72. Italic letter; capital spaces with guide letters; title a bit dust-soiled, intermittent soiling and foxing, particularly to margins; marginal paper flaw in f. 22, two leaves loosened in final gathering, a few tiny worm holes in margins of first and final leaves. A wide-margined copy in contemporary Venetian brown morocco, gilt panel with four apple leaves at corners, in the elegant style of the ‘Venetian Apple binder’ (M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, III, nos. 297-298); gilt title ‘Corbacio’ on front cover and initials ‘M. [faint s or decorative piece?] M.’ on rear, all edges gilt; skilfully re-backed, outer corners restored. In slipcase.

The elegant binding provides a good example, unusual in shape, of the essential Venetian style of the second quarter of the sixteenth century (gilt external panel with apple leaves at internal or external corners, central title in capitals), which was brought to perfection by the so-called Mendoza Binder, recently identified as Andrea di Lorenzo. Though not his work, this was executed by a capable binder, probably pre-dating Andrea by a few years. The gilt initials on the rear cover appear to be those of the owner, perhaps pointing towards a member of the Venetian noble families of Mocenigo or Morosini, bearing the traditional names of Marco or Michele.

Early and accurate imprint of Boccaccio’s Corbaccio (or Labirinto d’amore) and his epistle to Pino de’ Rossi, both first published in 1487 in Florence. With Petrarch, Boccaccio laid the foundations for the humanism of the Renaissance and raised vernacular literature to the level and status of the classics of antiquity. His vivid prose was taken as a model by the sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars in their attempts to create a common written language for the Italian peninsula. Corbaccio (The Crow) recounts the dream of a young man, suffering from his unrequited love for a widow. It is essentially a misogynist invective, contradicting Boccaccio’s sympathies for the fairer sex expressed in many others works.

It is still not clear whether Corbaccio should be read as autobiographical or as a literary exercise adopting the anti-feminist point of view but ultimately dealing with torment of love. Written after the political crisis of 1360 in the Commune of Florence, the letter of consolation to Pino de’ Rossi, an exiled Florentine statesman, reflects Boccaccio’s disillusion with politics and his faith in the rise of a new cultural era opened up by Petrarch’s studies of classical literature. The preface by the publisher Bernardo Giunta is of particular interest. It addresses ‘gli amatori della Lingua Toscana,’ i.e. the humanists writing in Italian vernacular, who were praised for their constant effort to re-establish this style as a literary language, as it used to be in the time of Boccaccio.

Not in BM STC It. Adams, B 2182; Gamba, 67; Renouard, xlviii:79; Brunet, I, 1016 (‘assez rare’).

L2001

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MORE, St. Thomas

THE LIECHTENSTEIN-BONNA COPY

La Description de L’Isle Utopie.

Paris, Charles l’Angelier, 1550.

£29,500

FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo., ff. (viii) 105 (vii). Roman letter, several woodcut cartouches, white on black woodcut initials, cartouche and printer’s device on verso of last, twelve circa half page woodcut in text. Very light age browning, a good, clean, well-margined copy in C19 crushed crimson morocco, inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt.

First edition of the first French translation of Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia,” by Jean Le Blond d’Evreux, lawyer, poet, and champion of the French language. Le Blond’s one great chance, as he recognized, was to bring himself to the attention of the elite of the French-speaking world; it did not succeed and Le Blond is only gradually being rediscovered. His translation includes also the prefatory address from Budé to Thomas Lupet.

By far the most important of More’s Latin works was the Utopia, the pre-eminent humanistic dialogue, appealing for the application of wisdom in the life and government of men and at the same time a delightful work of entertainment and irony. The origin of a new word in the English language (and subsequently in many others), the work was the model or source for innumerable ‘Utopias’ or ‘distopias’, from Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ in the C17, to Swift in the C18, to Huxley and Orwell in the C20. It was More’s greatest literary work, achieving immediate international success, probably the most significant and enduring by any Englishman of the age.

“It was written, like Gulliver’s Travels (…) as a tract for the times to rub in the lesson of Erasmus; it inveighs against the new statesmanship of an all-powerful autocracy and the new economics of large enclosures and the destruction of the old common-field agriculture, just as it pleads for religious tolerance and universal education. (…) Utopia is not, as often imagined, More’s ideal state; it exemplifies only the virtues of wisdom, fortitude, temperance and justice. It reflects the moral poverty of the states which More knew, whose Christian rulers should possess also the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. (…) [More] is both a saint to the Catholic and a predecessor of Marx to the Communist. His manifesto is and will be required reading for both, and for all shades of opinion between.” Printing and the Mind of Man 47, on the first edition.

BM. STC. Fr. p. 319. Gibson 19. Brunet III, 1894 “Edition rare.” Fairfax Murray 391 “In text are nine woodcuts apparently executed for this work, besides the pretty cut of a scribe in different style (…) which occurs on A2, E1 and D2.”

“Suite de cinq vignettes (56 x 78) dont deux répètées deux fois, d’un bon style, montrant divers personnages, drapés à l’antique, discourant ou rendant la justice. Petite vignette, répètée trois fois, de l’écrivain à sa table, un chien couché à ses pieds, utilisée dans de nombreux ouvrages.” Brun, p. 256.

K40

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KETHAM, Johannes de

FIRST MEDICAL BOOK ILLUSTRATED WITH REALISTIC FIGURES

Fasciculus medici[n]e.

Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1522.

£29,500

Folio, ff. (4), 58 (i.e. 59), (1). Roman letter; title within decorative border, printer’s device on penultimate verso, historiated and black-on-white decorated initials, ten detailed and neat full-page illustrations; a few dust-soiled leaves, minor oil splash on 23r-26v, just affecting one woodcut. A fine copy in crushed dark morocco gilt by Gruel, a. e. g.; several contemporary and late sixteenth-century Italian marginalia, manicula and emendations by different hands; small blue stamp of the Selbourne Library on title verso and foot of 51r. Preserved in slipcase.

Early edition of a masterpiece of the Renaissance art of the book, revised and expanded after the princeps of 1491. Little, if anything, is known about Kentham, who has been identified as Johannes von Kirchheim, a professor from Swabia teaching medicine in Vienna around 1460. Rather than the author of this influential collection of medical essays, he appears to be the owner of the manuscript used by the printer of the first edition who mistakenly took him for the compiler.

The work enjoyed great success and was soon translated into Italian, German and Spanish. This imprint includes Mondino de Luzzi’s Anatomia and the treatise on venoms of his pupil and commentator, Alessandro Achillini; most importantly, it retains all the superb apparatus of illustrations designed for the Italian translation of the Fasciculus published in Venice in 1493 by the de Gregorii brothers, incorporating also the minor changes introduced in the later reprints of 1500 and 1513.

“The typography and artistic qualities of this edition [Venice, 1493] of the Fasciculus make it of interest far beyond the world of medicine. It was the first printed medical book to be illustrated with a series of realistic figures: these include a Zodiac man, bloodletting man, planet man, an urinoscopic consultation, a pregnant woman and notably a dissection scene which is one of the first and finest representation of this operation to appear in any book (…) Most of these figures have medieval prototypes, but they are here designed by an artist of the first rank. His identity has never been discovered; it has been suggested – wrongly – that he was the Polifilo master; but he was certainly an artist close to the Bellini school.” PMM, p. 20.

Uncommon. Not in BM STC It. or Adams. Durling, 2660; Heirs of Hippocrates, 72; Essling, 592; Sandler 3753; PMM, 36 (1493/94).

K32

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REGIOMONTANUS, Johannes

THE SECOND KNOWN COMPLETE COPY OF RENAISSANCE ALMANAC

Ephemerides.

Venice, Johann Hamann, 1491.

£17,500

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.

L2039

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SACROBOSCO, Johannes de [with] REGIOMONTANUS, Johannes [with] PEUERBACH, Georg von

ANNOTATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ASTRONOMER

Sphaera mundi [with] Disputationes contra Cremonensia in planetarum theoricas deliramenta [with] Theoricae novae planetarum.

Venice, Boneto Locatello for Ottaviano Scoto, 1490.

£15,750

4to, 48 leaves, a-f8. Roman letter; black-on-white decorated initials, large red printer’s device on final recto, numerous astronomical illustrations, including one full-page, six colour printed yellow, one red and yellow and the famous armillary sphere at aiiiv; first and final leaves slightly browned, light damp stain to lower outer corner, marginal repair on title, bviii and final leaf. A good copy in nineteenth-century vellum, gilt panel with floral decorations at corners, title gilt on front cover and along spine, a. e. r.; contemporary German scholarly annotations extensively throughout (slightly cropped), mainly in Latin, dated 1505 at ciir, by the hand inscribing on the upper outer corner of title ‘Johannes Desba[rlau?]’ est possessor huius libri’; on front pastedown, early bookplate of Johannes Karl von Westernach, canon of the chapters of Augsburg and Friesing, dated 1734, along with ex libris labels of Hanns-Theo Schmitz-Otto (1908-1992) and the Olschki[?] family.

Early and accurate Venetian edition of an astronomical masterpiece, with neat illustrative apparatus and additional essays of the two most prominent Renaissance scholars in the field. Sacrobosco’s Sphaera was the most popular introduction to spherical astronomy in early modern times. Written around 1220 and printed in 1472, it had been re-published hundreds of times by the end of the following century. This edition includes two important Renaissance works, building on Sacrobosco’s theory. The first is a short essay by the distinguished astronomer Johannes Regiomontanus (1436-1476) against the ‘delirious’ hypothesis (deliramenta) put forward in the twelfth century by Gherardo of Cremona, whose textbook was often attached to the earliest edition of the Sphaera. The second work, edited by Regiomontanus’s himself, is a lecture script by his teacher Georg von Peuerbach (1423-1461), entitled Theoricae novae planetarum. Since the Theoricae drew extensively from Greek and Arabic tradition and provided the most up-to-date account of contemporary astronomical knowledge, they quickly became a fundamental manual for students, replacing even Sacrobosco. Scientists such as Kepler and Copernicus grounded their theories on this booklet.

This edition retains the elegantly instructive woodcuts designed and cut by Johannes Santritter and Hieronymus de Sanctis in their edition in 1488; amongst them, the most famous is the full-page illustration on the verso of title, depicting the enthroned personification of Astronomy holding an astrolabe and armillary sphere, flanked by the Muse Urania gazing at the celestial vault and Ptolemy reading through his Almagest. The planetary illustrations in the last two gatherings of the book  provide one of the earliest examples of polychrome printing.

This copy was used for study by an unidentified contemporary German astronomer, who filled it over and over throughout the years with his annotations and diagrams, changing sizes of writing and pens. He especially went through Sacrobosco’s and Peuerbach’s essays and occasionally reported first-hand stellar observations following the guidelines in the texts, including one dated 14 May 1505. At the end, below the final register, he drafted a curious list of the advantages of studying astronomy.

ISTC, ij00409000; BM STC, V, 438; GW, M14646; Goff, J-409; Hain, 14113; Houzeau-Lancaster, 1641 (‘rare’); Klebs, 874:14; Cantamessa, 3959; Essling, 261 (no 260 for 1488 edition); Sander, 6664 (‘Il y a des exemplaires avec le diagr. Imprimés en couleurs’); Graesse, VI, 209.

L2038

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