MOLITOR, Ulricus

THE FOUNDATION IMAGERY OF WITCHCRAFT

De laniis et phitonicis mulieribus.

Constance, [Basel, Michael Furter] 1489 [ie. about 1495].

£95,000

4to. 30 unnumbered leaves. a–c⁸, d⁶. Gothic letter. Capital spaces, seven fine full page woodcut illustrations within double ruled border, manuscript medical? recipe in early C16th hand on blank verso of last, another note in the same hand on recto of c8, ‘Millot de Sombernon’ in near contemporary hand at head of blank verso of last, ‘vendu 21 r mac-carthy’at head of front fly, C19th printed shelf label on pastedown, Guy Bechtel’s bookplate below with his motto ‘in carcere meo liber.’ Very light age yellowing, the very rare minor spot or mark. A fine well margined copy, crisp and clean in lovely C18th French green morocco, in the style of Derome, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, fleurons gilt to corners, flat spine with repeated gilt fleurons within double gilt border, red morocco label gilt, edges and inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt, joints very expertly (invisibly) restored.

A beautiful copy of this exceptionally rare and important text, the first and most important illustrated work on witches and a work that has defined the image of witches to this day. The ‘De Lamiis,’ was first published in 1489 with the same series of iconic woodcuts. It is one of the earliest printed works on witchcraft, and contains the first ever illustrations of witches. This, probably the first Basel edition, is beautifully printed in a fine gothic letter in thirty-two lines and very finely illustrated with seven stunning woodcuts depicting witches and their activities. The first depicts two witches around a large pot, one throwing in a cockerel the other preparing to throw in a snake, the resulting brew creating a storm. The other blocks represent a lycanthropic scene of a wizard mounted on a wolf, the devil disguised as a bourgeois man corrupting a woman, the ensorcellment of a man by a witch firing a spell, witches transformed into animals flying on brooms, and a group of three witches around a table.

The book is written in the form of a dialogue between the author and the dedicatee, the Archduke Sigismund of Austria, who doubts the existence of witches. At a time when complete theories about witchcraft were yet to be established, the author defended belief in the powers of the Devil and his ability to trick the human mind. The woodcut depicting three witches together, eating and drinking beneath a tree, is typical of the format of the work. The title on the previous page to this woodcut reads “An super lupum vel baculum unctum ad convivia veniant et mutuo comedant et bibant et sibi mutuo loquantur ac se invicem agnoscant.” “Can [witches] come to feasts on a wolf or an anointed stick, eat drink, speak together and recognize one another?” The women are not doing anything other than eating but the image has become deeply anchored in the popular imagination, as it was used and referred to again and again in imagery and literature throughout the centuries, not least in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth.’

“The first tract on witches to be illustrated, 1489 – 94, was written by the lawyer Ulrich Molitor from Constance in 1484. He actually argues against the persecution of witches because he was sceptical of the value of confessions under torture. He did, however, believe that they were heretics and should be punished with death. In the illustrations, the witches are not characterised by any special dress or undress, implying that all women were capable of being witches. They look like ordinary housewives except in the ‘Flight to the witches’ Sabbath, when they are changed into animal shapes. Although the text speaks of the witches’ evil activities being a figment of their imagination, delusions inspired by the devil, the illustrations portray the effects of their malignant and harmful magical spells as real enough, e.g. a witch shooting at a man who tries to jump away, or witches making a brew, using a rooster and a serpent as ingredients, whilst hailstones come crashing down from the sky. Molitor certainly believed in the reality of their sexual intercourse with the devil.” ‘Picturing women in late Medieval and Renaissance art’ by Christa Grössinger.

“With the appearance of Ulrich Molitor’s ‘On Witches’ in 1488 – 89, the arguments of the Malleus were repeated in the literary format of a conversation among Molitor, Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol, and Sigismund’s minister Conrad Schatz, with a suite of seven remarkable woodcuts that for the first time offered related pictorial images of witches’ activities without any identifying physical or costume features attributed to witches – that is, some of the illustrations seem to depict ordinary women doing ordinary things.” Witchcraft in Europe, 400 – 1700. Alan Charles Kors, Edward Peters.

Several of the incunable editions of this book, including the first, have the date 10 January 1489 on the colophon. ISTC and GW date this edition to around 1495, though it is clearly earlier than Fairfax Murray (German, volume II, no. 289) also ascribed to Basel, Amerbach or Furter, which contains identical but broken versions of the same woodcuts, which Fairfax Murray dates to 1490.

Brunet cites this copy from the library of Reagh Mac-Carthy, the great Irish bibliophile (who found refuge in France, near Toulouse) in his sale of 1815 (I no. 1678). Justin ‘Reagh’ Mac-Carthy himself bought some of the major collections of the C18th, such as the library of Giradot de Prefond, and founded one of the richest personal libraries ever assembled, which included over eight hundred volumes of works printed on vellum. He also seems to have profited from the naïvety of the Librarian of Albi, Jean-François Massol, who was proud to have ‘swapped’ several precious medieval manuscripts with him for more ‘useful’ works such as Buffons’ 8vo. ‘Histoire Naturelle.’ The sale of his books at Paris in 1815 was one of the greatest of that century.

This copy then passed to the library of the Marquis of Germigny (sold 1939, no 13). In Mac-Carthy’s sale the work is recorded as being bound with the ‘Tractatus Utilissimus artis memorative’ by Matheoli Perusini (1498). This work was probably removed at some stage when the binding was restored. (As this work was only seven leaves, its removal did not affect the spine.) Its last owner was the great Scholar, author and bibliographer Guy Bechtel, author of the ‘Catalogue des Gothiques Francais 1476 – 1560.’ We have found no record of the early sixteenth century owner, ‘Millot de Sombernon.’

A lovely copy of a hugely important text with a very beautiful and most influential set of woodcuts, and most distinguished provenance.

Goff M798. (two copies only) Pell Ms 8166 (8095). GW M25157. ISTC im00798000. Brunet III, 1815 (citing this copy). Caillet, III, n°7630 (other editions). Fairfax Murray Ger., vol II no. 289 (another later edition with the same cuts).

K29

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SUAREZ, Francisco

ON THE NATURE OF TRUE RELIGIOSITY

Opus de virtute et statu religionis.

Venice, Bernardo Giunta and Giovan Battista Ciotti, 1609.

£2,450

Folio, pp. (88), 776. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic. Decorated initials, title in red and black with large printer’s device showing personifications of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany surrounded by the cities of Siena, Lucca, Pisa and curiously Perugia; title slightly stained, tiny marginal wormholes in places, a few pages lightly browned or foxed, light dampstains to final gatherings. A good copy in contemporary plain vellum; skilfully repaired and rebacked, later endpapers.

Rare second edition, accurately revised and expanded after the editio princeps just published in Coimbra. Francisco Suárez (1548-1617), named by contemporaries ‘Doctor Eximius’, was a pious and highly respected theologian. He entered the Society of Jesus at Salamanca, where he read philosophy and theology and was ordained priest in 1572. He taught these two subjects all over the Iberian peninsula, including the leading universities of Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca and Coimbra, as well as, for a short period, in Rome. His fame was so great that Gregory XIII attended his first lecture in Rome, while Paul V invited him to refute the errors of King James I and stay at his side in the papal court. However, Philip II, then king of Spain and Portugal, sent him to the University of Coimbra to give further prestige to that ancient and glorious institution. It is also said that, when Suárez visited the University of Barcelona, the professors went out to greet him holding the insignia of their faculties. He was among the most eminent thinkers of the Second Scholasticism, alongside Domingo de Soto and Roberto Bellarmino.

De virtute et statu religionis, written under the auspices of Paul V, tackles the notion of true religion and deviations from it, including magic, simony and pagan cults. The second book is devoted to superstition, focusing on occult beliefs, witchcraft, demonology and the punishments for such practices. As usual, his argument is very clear and in-depth, bearing witness to his exceptional knowledge of the Classics, the Church’s Fathers and the heretical as well as ecclesiastical writers. This is an invaluable source for the students of the Catholic Church’s policy towards magical thought.

‘[Suárez] worked in a great variety of fields, including metaphysics, natural theology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, ethics, political philosophy, and law. In all these areas he made contributions the influences of which are so widespread and commonplace that they sometimes escape notice. Still, it is noteworthy that figures as distinct from one another in place, time, and philosophical orientation as Leibniz, Grotius, Pufendorf, Schopenhauer, and Heidegger, all found reason to cite him as a source of inspiration and influence.’ Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Rare. Only two copies recorded in the US (Columbia and Penn University).

Not BM STC 17th It., Cantamessa, Thorndyke or Calliet. Camerini, II, 502:96; Sommervogel, VII, 1670:9; Palau, VI, 550.

L2024

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PEUCER, Kaspar

FIRST EDITION OF THIS ENCYCLOPAEDIC WORK ON DIVINATION

Les Devins ou Commentaire des principales sortes de devinations

Lyon, Barthelemi Honarati, au Vaze d’or, 1584.

£2,950

4to. pp. (xxii) 653 (xxvii) lacking last blank. Roman and italic, woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces, side notes, title page with printer’s device of water vessel in architectural border flanked by cherubs. Crossed out C17 manuscript ex-libris ‘De Raelet?’ ontitle page, C18 ownership marks on fly of ‘Pierre Duges?’ with shelf mark in manuscript on pastedown. Light age yellowing, faint dampstaining to margin of first two and last gathering. A clean and well-margined copy in slightly later calf, panels double gilt on covers, spine with four raised bands, floral decoration gilt-stamped in compartments, a bit worn, upper board scratched.

FIRST FRENCH EDITION of Peucer’s encyclopaedic work on divination; “it seems to have been the most influential of his numerous writings which were concerned with the varied fields of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, natural history, and psychology”, (Thorndike VI p. 493). On the whole the work approves of divination in natural circumstances – reading dreams, for instance, or the stars, but agrees with the Bible in condemning certain branches of divination related to demons and witchcraft. Peucer’s bias is unflinchingly Protestant, denying the possibility of Miracles, and he attributing the successfulness of relics and invocations of saints to demons rather than divinity.”

After discussing divination in general, he turns to oracles and theomancy, then to magic, which he thus incorrectly implies is a variety of divination, whereas the opposite is true, then to divination from entrails, to augury and aruspicina, to lot-casting under which he puts geomancy and divining from names and numbers and to dreams and their interpretation. Next he considers medical prognostications, meteorology and weather prediction, physiognomy and chiromancy, astrology, and last prodigies and portents” (Thorndike VI p. 495). He is highly suspicious of Alchemy as a purely devilish art on the one hand, but on the other entirely approving of Astrology, which he himself put to practice and considered essential to the study of medicine.

Kasper Peucer (1525 – 1602) was a prominent physician and scholar who studied with Melanchthon (and married his daughter) at the University of Wittenberg where he was appointed in turn professor of philosophy, mathematics, and medicine. His pupil, John Garcaeus, called Peucer the “most celebrated professor of mathematics in this academy”. Peucer’s religious views were influenced by his close relationship with Melanchthon, which deviated from the local Lutheranism in its Calvinist colourings, and when Melanchthon died in 1560 Peucer became a prominent religious authority. Although he climbed the academic ranks quickly, and gained appointment as physician to Augustus I, Elector of Saxony, his “Crypto-Calvinist” beliefs were his downfall. In 1574, letters discovered by his patron that expressed a desire to convert Augustus to Calvinism led to a twelve year imprisonment in Königstein Fortress. After his release from prison in 1586, he became physician to the duke of Anhalf, where he remained until his death in 1602.

Baudrier IV 147 . Hozeau & Lancaster II 4860 “Rare”. Brunet IV 582 “De tous les ouvrages de ce savant fécond, c’est celui-ci qui a eu le plus de succès.” Thorndike VI p. 493-501. Cantamessa II 3440 (Latin ed). Wellcome I 4970, Adams P934.

L1479

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DONATO D’EREMITA, FRA

BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATIONS OF ALCHEMICAL EQUIPMENT AND EXPERIMENTS

Dell’elixir Vitae

Naples, Secondino Roncagliolo, 1624.

£24,500

FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (xii) 182 + 19 full-page engraved plates depicting distillation equipment and techniques (on ink splashed on blank verso). Roman and Italic letter, woodcut initials throughout, head- and tail-pieces, title page in architectural engraving surrounded by cherubs and two figures of alchemists. Title page dusty, light age yellowing, occasional foxing, worm trails to rear endpapers, contemporary vellum over boards, spine with a few worm holes, marbled edges.

Very rare first edition of Fra Donato’s treatise on distillation, with beautiful illustrations of alchemical equipment and experiments in progress (perhaps by the author himself), including a description of his pursuit of the elixir vitae, thought to grant eternal youth and immortality, illustrated in serial plates. The work also demonstrates how to produce different varieties of alcohol as well as olive oil. The first three chapters discuss the elixir or life, but the longer fourth book details the ingredients and processes by which it can be made. The work also discusses the merits of distilling trees, herbs, spices, fruits, and the uses of each essence, as well as its chemical properties. Occasionally, the distillation of animal and mineral essences is described. In this way the work fits its seventeenth century setting: not just uncovering alchemical secrets, it also offers the results of practical experiments with a wide range of materials. The beautiful and highly detailed plates are present here in very fine and clear impression.

Fra Donato d’Eremita was a Dominican from Rocca d’Evandro, in Caserta. He was an apothecary of some repute at the monastery of Santa Caterina, and a peripheral figure in the Accademia dei Lincei, as he counted among his friends Giambattista della Porta, Ferrante Imperato, and Nicola Stiglioa. His name turns up in correspondence with the Academy, and Johannes Faber describes visiting him while passing through Naples collecting plant and seed specimens for his patron Prince Cesi. ‘The author of the kingdom’s first published pharmacopoeia, the protophysician Quinzio Buongiovanni, insisted that apothecaries be prohibited from preparing “compositions with simples” without having been inspected first by one of the guild officials and the protophysician. For this reason, Buongiovanni was present when the head apothecary of the Dominican monastery of Santa Caterina a Formello in Naples, Fra Donato D’Eremita, prepared his famous “elixir vitae”. But then again, Buongiovanni may have been invited by d’Eremita, along with other dignitaries  (Giambattista della Porta and Nicola Stigliola), to launch his product as part of a publicity stunt’ (Gentilecore cit. infr.).

The work is dedicated to Ferdinand II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, whose arms are engraved on the title page. Known for his passion for science and his vast collection of scientific instruments, Ferdinand’s own alchemical and scientific experiments are registered in the archives for the Academy of the Cimento, founded by his younger brother Leopoldo. Doubtlessly Ferdinand would have been fascinated by d’Eeremita’s experiments in immortality. (cf. Acton).

Not in BM STC It. C17. Wellcome I 2069; Krivatsy 3672. “His substantial treatise on the Elixir of Life shows he was thoroughly conversant with alchemical processes and practices. The fact that this striking book has escaped the researches of most of the bibliographers must be due to its rarity.” Duveen p. 176. Gentilcore, Healers and healing in early modern Italy, pp 41-42. Harold Acton, The Last Medici, 38. Not in Caillet, Ferguson,  Thorndike, etc.

L1545

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FEYERABEND, Sigmund (ed.)

COMPENDIUM OF DEMONOLOGICAL LITERATURE IN THE MIDDLE AGES


Theatrum Diabolorum.

Frankfurt, Peter Schmidt, 1575.

£7,350

Large folio, ff. (6), 568, (12). Black and Roman letter; black-and-red title, some decorated initials; large printer devices on title and colophon (oval border and personification of respectively demoniac Vices and Fame); few light browned pages, margins occasionally foxed. A very good copy in elegant contemporary German brown calf over thick-wooden bevelled boards; blind-stamped in black, double fillet, with four rolls of portrait medallions, interlacing flowers and glyphs and floral central panel; remains of clasps; a bit rubbed, some leather lost on front lower board, chipped corners and spine; red edges with early title inscription, early shelf mark gilt on spine; on title, contemporary ex libris of Arnold III, Count of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt-Limburg; on front pastedown, early eighteenth-century engraved bookplate of Ambrosius Franz of Virmont-Bretzenheim.

Second expanded edition of this very influential encyclopaedia of diabolical literature in the Protestant world, first published in 1569. It is a curious assemblage of Lutheran demonological essays, gathered by Sigmund Feyerabend (1528-1590), the renowned publisher and bookseller of Frankfurt. Each of the essays deals with a particular form assumed by the Devil, whose number is calculated as no less than 2,665,866,746,664 by one of the authors. Some of the most peculiar demons are: the dance-devil (book VII); the devils of hunting, drinking and wedlock (books IX-XI); the pantaloons devil (book XVII); the gambling and the courtiers’ devil (books XVIII-XIX). This second edition comprises four additional treatises, focusing on the devils of the Sabbath, oath, concerns and melancholy.

This volume was first owned by Arnold III of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt-Limburg (1554-1606). A powerful German nobleman, he was the son of Countess Anna of Tecklenburg-Schwerin, the first evangelical ruler in Westphalia. Following the religious education provided by his mother, he studied Protestant theology, law and politics in Strasbourg in the early 1570s. Arnold ruled peacefully over a vast number of territories, acquired through inheritance and marriage. Between 1588 and 1593, he introduced Calvin and Zwingli’s doctrines in his territories. Some decades later, the book entered the library of Ambrosius Franz (1682/1684-1744), Count of Virmont and president of the Imperial Chamber Court. It is very likely that he acquired this copy when the Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt duchy was given to him by his wife. The bookplate was attached certainly after 1734, the year in which Bretzenheim fell under Franz’s control. The distinctive symbol of the city (a pretzel) appears in the central shield.

Not in BM STC Ger., Adams, Brunet, or Graesse. VD 16, F 905; Grimm, Teufelbücher, B 2; Hayn, VII, 617.

L1921

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LEMNIUS, Levin (translated by J. Gohory)

Les Occultes Merveilles et Secretz de Nature, avec plusieurs enseignemens des choses divers.

Paris, Gailiot du Pré, 1574.

£2,450

8vo., ff. (i) 212 (xx). Roman letter, side notes and quotations in Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, contemporary autograph “Grisson” beneath. Woodcut initials and decorations. Occasional contemporary marginal annotations. Light paper yellowing. Very good copy in contemporary vellum, 19C book plates on paste down.

Lemnius (1505-1568) studied medicine at Louvain under Dodoens, Gessner, and Vesalius and practised for over forty years in his home town of Zelande with great success. This work, translated by Jacques Gohory, was designed as much for the amusement of the reader as for his education, and contains a mass of information, partly real, partly fantastic, taken from ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arab, and Latin sources, and presented and commented on in rather haphazard fashion. “Bits of medical and natural lore are thrown together hit-or-miss,” but not without importance “since it was often cited by subsequent learned authors, and since the numerous editions and translations of it show that it was well suited to the tastes of the time.” (Thorndike).

Despite his interest in the occult and belief in the importance of the influence that the stars and moon exert on the person, Lemnius remained pragmatic, always insisting on the importance of treating the patient with what remedies were available rather than relying on astronomy. Of the many diverse and interesting subjects the book deals with, such as the effects of human saliva, or whether it is better to sleep with one’s mouth open or closed, one most referred to is the subject of vines, wine and drunks. White wine should be drunk before red, vinegar is useful in times of plague, the wines of the Poitou make you quarrelsome whereas the wines of the Rhine make you amorous, and when inebriated, you must not sleep in the moon rays. Translations of books dealing with the occult sciences are rare (an English translation of this work did not appear until 1650).

BM STC Fr. 16C p.262. Brunet III 972. Graesse IV 159. Not in Adams. French edition not in Cantamessa. Not in Honeyman. Thorndike V 393/4. Simon II 403.

L0

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SCOTUS, Michael

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE EXPOSED, IN EXTREMELY RARE INCUNABLE

Liber physiognomiae.

(Passau), (Johann Petri), (c. 1487-1488).

£12,500

4to. 44 unnumbered leaves, a-c8, d6, e8, f6. Gothic letter. Rubricated throughout, capital spaces with guide letters, initials supplied in red. Light age yellowing, early paper repair at head of blank inner margin of first quire, title page fractionally dusty. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in modern vellum over thin paste boards.

Extremely rare incunable edition of the Physiognomy or ‘Book of Secrets’ by the renowned Scottish astrologer, philosopher, alchemist, translator from the Arabic, and scholar Michael Scot. “In the first half of the thirteenth century Michael Scot, the translator of Aristotle’s History of Animals produced a ‘Book on Physiognomy’ (liber phisionomiae), better known in the Renaissance under the title ‘On the Secrets of Nature’ (De Secretis naturae), that has been described as the first true work on physiognomy composed in the medieval West. Dedicated to Frederick II, Michael Scot composed the work to enable the emperor to distinguish, from outward appearances, trustworthy and wise counselors from their opposite numbers. Such a science is so useful to a ruler that Michael Scot does not hesitate to describe it as a “doctrine of Salvation” that enables its practitioners to identify those inclined to virtue or vice”. Irven M. Resnick. ‘Marks of Distinctions: Christian Perceptions of Jews in the High Middle Ages.’

“The work is divided into three books, each having its own introduction. The first expounds the mysteries of generation and birth, and reaches, as we have already remarked, even beyond humanity to a considerable part of the animal world so much studied by the Arabians. The second expounds the signs of the different complexions, as these become visible in any part of the body, or are discovered by dreams. The third examines the human frame member by member, explaining what signs of the inward nature may be read in each. The whole forms a very complete and interesting compendium of the art of physiognomy as then understood. … The book attained a wide popularity in manuscript, and the invention of printing contributed to increase its circulation in Europe.

No less than eighteen editions are said to have been printed between 1477 and 1660. … The last two chapters of Book I in the Fhysionomia of Scot show plainly that he had the Arabic version of Aristotle’s History of Animals before him as he wrote. … Meanwhile let us guard against the impression naturally arising from our analysis of the Fhysionomia, that it was a mere compilation. Many parts of the work show no correspondence with any other treatise on the subject that is known to us, and these must be held as the results of the author’s own observations. The arrangement of the whole is certainly original.” J. wood Brown. “The Life and Legend of Michael Scot.”

“Michael Scot (c. 1175 – c. 1235), who was born in Scotland and travelled to Spain, deserves a special place among the translators of this century. Scot was a philosopher, alchemist, astrologer, and translator from Arabic. He was in Toledo in 1217, in Padua and Bologna in 1220, and in Rome between 1224 and 1227. He ended his days in the service of Frederick II in Sicily. Scot was able to translate some important Arabic works of a revolutionary nature. He produced a translation of al-Bitruji’s treatise which contained the first attack on traditional astronomy. His translations of some of Aristotle’s works with Ibn Rushd’s commentaries were among the first works that introduced Averroistic philosophy to the Latin world.

Scot gave also the first Latin translation of Aristotle’s biological and zoological works including De Animalibus. Most of these major works were achieved while Scot was in Toledo, where he was able to enlist the help of native Arabic-speaking assistants. While Scot was in the Service of Frederick II, as court astrologer, he translated Ibn Sina’s De Animalibus and wrote several works on astrology, alchemy, physiognomy, and the occult sciences. The name Michael Scot became associated in the popular imagination with black magic. He was famous in his own time and in the following generations as an astrologer and magician. He was called a wizard and thus he gained a place in Dante’s inferno.” A. Y. Al-Hassan ‘Science and Technology in Islam: The exact and natural sciences’. A good copy of this rare and most interesting incunable.

BMC II 616. Goff M559. HC 14547. BSB-Ink M-384. GW M23296.

L1746

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LICETI, Fortunio

GENETIC DEFORMITIES AND MONSTERS OF NATURE


De monstrorum Natura, Caussis, et differentiis. (and) Pyronarcha sive De Fulminum Natura.

Padua, Paolo Frambotto (and) Criuellario, 1634.

£5,950

4to. pp. (xvi) 262 (xxvi); (viii) 115 (xxv). i) Roman letter, woodcut headpieces and foliated initials, fine engraved frontispiece by Paduan artist Giovanni Battista Bissoni depicting monsters. 58 mostly half-page finely executed engravings of similar subjects, some repeated. Marginal foxing, otherwise very good and clean. ii) Roman letter, woodcut printer’s device to title page, woodcut initials and ornaments, full-page woodcut of an African effigy, repeated. Slight age-yellowing, marginal foxing, else a very good copy. In contemporary vellum over boards, paper lettering piece to spine. Contemporary autograph to foot of printed title page, all edges red.

i) FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION of a fascinating and exhaustive treatise on monsters of nature, amply illustrated with remarkably detailed and frequently disturbing engravings, with dates and locations to add authenticity. Beginning with an explanation of what it means to be a monster, the work then progresses through monsters of various different kinds. Book One contains those that have supposedly actually existed, in living memory or in history. While some are relatively conventional, suffering from congenital abnormalities, such as lacking or gaining limbs, or born with extra digits, others are more unusual, born with an extra face or torso in the stomach, one child was born in Rome with the head of Anubis. Others are more fantastical, with human heads attached to equine bodies and a cat with human legs growing ‘e parte posteriore.’

Ancient authorities are cited, among others Plutarch claiming to have witnessed the birth of a centaur. Purely animal abnormalities are also discussed and illustrated, with multiple limbs, heads and even tongues described as remarkably commonplace for every species from pigs to hens. The reasons for the higher frequency of deformations in animals than in plants are detailed, including a description of ears of corn with 15 heads, and of trees which grow countless different flowers. It concludes with a breakdown of the ten types of monsters: lacking, contorted, headless, conjoined, oversized, undersized, many-limbed from its own species, many-limbed from different species, of combined species, and half-demons.

Book Two focuses on human abnormalities, looking at those born without faces, lips, limbs or necks, with outsized or single eyes and deformed limbs. Various different pairs of conjoined twins are also illustrated, a remarkable achievement considering the extreme rarity of such a condition. Having assured his contribution to early scientific knowledge, Licetus then moves on to more imaginary creations, with limbs sprouting at all angles, ears on shoulders, eyes in backs and vertically amid the hair of heads, with hooves and horns and trunks. Finally, he examines the mythical monsters of various cultures, such as raven-child hybrids and lizard-men. The work is the earliest to address malformations of the embryo and to acknowledge randomness and heredity as probable causes. Excluding religious and superstitious explanations of departures from normality in humans, animals, and plants, Liceti is a pioneer of scientific thinking over divine retribution theories.

ii) FIRST EDITION of Liceti’s work on fiery heat, emphasising the parallel effects of lightning bolts on the natural world and fever in men. The first book discusses the historical perception of lightning, with copious side-notes and quotations, elaborating on such topics as why dogs will not eat animals killed by lightning, and the supposed lack of lightning storms in the North. The second book concentrates on the probable origins of fever, perceiving the heart as a heat-source and discussing inter alia the etymology of ‘fever’ in Latin and Greek, the divine nature of sickness, and why emperors are crowned with laurels, which will not burn easily.

Fortunio Liceti (1577-1657) was a doctor of philosophy and medicine at the Universities of Pisa, Bologna and Padua. Writing on various topics, from astronomy to biology, De Monstrorum is his most famous work.

i) BM STC It. 17th C p.486. Wellcome I-3786. Osler 3235 [Meyer 236] Not in Riccardi.
ii) BM STC It. 17th C p.487. Wellcome I-3787. Osler 3236: “containing a plate (in two states) of the effigy.” Wheeler Gift 106: “Tract on lightning and thunder consisting mostly of quotations of classical writers”. Not in Riccardi.

L889

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PLUTARCH [and] CAMERARIUS, Joachim


De Natura et effectionibus Daemonum

Leipzig, Johannes Steinman, typiis Voegelianis, 1576

£1,750

8vo. pp. [lxiv], 159, [i]. Italic letter, preface in Roman some Greek. Small woodcut device on title of Christ above the Ark of the Covenant, three woodcut figures in text, contemporary autograph of ‘G. Baucynet’ on title. Light age yellowing, rare marginal spot or mark. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, recased.

Rare edition of this translation by Adrien Turnebe of Plutarch’s two works on the oracles, ‘De defectu oraculorum’ and ‘De Figura El, consecrata delphis’, prefaced with a lengthy and important essay by Camerarius. There is no Greek text to complement Turnebe’s translation, but Camerarius includes Turnebe’s annotations and explanations, drawn from other Greek authors, who discuss methods of divination, oracles and astrology. Camerarius’ lengthy preface is important as he not only comments on Plutarch’s text on oracles and prophecy but extends the discussion into contemporary concern over witches and witch-craft. “Joachim Camerarius was a Lutheran scholar of high reputation, who died in 1574. He seems to have had much interest in these matters (demonology and witchcraft). Graesse (p.14) gives as his a book “De Natura et Affectionibus Daemonorum” Libri II Lipsiae, 1576, though this is rather a translation of Plutarch’s book of that name by Turnebus, with an introduction by Camerarius (Graesse, p. 46). … Camerarius says he was led to consider the subject (of witchcraft) by a talk with Albinus, who related the horrible deeds of witches of which he had heard in a recent journey towards the Rhine…. Besides this were accounts by Albinus from many places of these unfortunate women punished with atrocious penalties. .. His essay (the preface) is largely devoted to classic times, but he has full faith in all that is attributed to witches and he says: ‘Tanta est enim exemplorum hujas generis copia ut ejus toti pluminarum chartarum libri compleri hi quidem possent sed enumerari illa non possent’ Introd. to de Defectu Oraculorum….. Camerarius was consulted in 1571 by William IV of Hesse Cassel about some women arrested for jugglers tricks on a boy. Camerarius opposed the use of torture in such cases and also the water ordeal which Wilhelm was disposed to employ, as he was sure they would sink, and warned him against the cruelty of witch burning and the prosecutions by which the innocent were obliged to confess.” Henry Charles Lea. ‘Materials Toward a History of Witchcraft’. Plutarch’s two works on the Oracles and prophecy touch on a wide range of subjects including some astronomy, geometry and some interesting bits of information about Britain and the East.

Guillaume Baucynet was a doctor from Orleans who wrote a number of medical treatises, some of which were controversial, particularly his ‘Notationes in apologiam et censuram scholae medicorum Parisiensium’ which defended, against the Faculte de Paris, spagyric methods, a form of alchemical practice involving the production of herbal remedies using alchemical procedures.

BM STC Ger. p. 706. Caillet III 8763. Graesse p. 46. Not in Cantamessa.

L1418

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HOWARD, Henry, Earl of Northampton

A LEARNED ATTACK ON JUDICIAL ASTROLOGY

A defensative against the poyson of supposed prophecies.

London, W. Jaggard, 1620.

£3,250

Folio in 4s. ff. (viii), 151 (i). Roman and italic letter. Title page slightly shaved at f-e, title within white interlaced strap work border on a black crible background (Mckerrow and Ferguson 249). Decorative headpieces, historiated and floreated initials throughout in two sizes. Slight water staining to first two gatherings. Inner leaves slightly spotted. An interesting and attractive copy in contemporary speckled calf, covers with blind ruled outer borders. Spine in seven compartments, remains of paper label. Upper joint cracked at head.

Reputedly the most learned man of his time and a skilled architect and generous benefactor, Northampton (1540-1614), took an active part in political business at court, often out of favour. He was twice arrested for heresy and treasonable correspondence with the Scottish Queen. After his release he retired to St. Albans where he spent a year writing “A defensative”. This work is a learned attack on judicial astrology, dedicated to Walsingham and perhaps suggested by the astrological exploits of Richard Harvey, writer of “An astrological discourse upon the the great and notable conjunction of two superior planets, 1583”. Soon after its publication the book was accused of “seeming heresies and treason” and Howard was sent to the Fleet for several months.

This edition printed six years after his death is described on the title page as newly revised and is divided into thirty six chapters. Northampton dispels the authority of dreams, oracles, revelations, invocations of spirits “or any other kind of pretended knowledge whatsoever, which have been causes of great disorder in the common wealth, especially among the simple and unlearned people”. He has little time for astrology, the zodiac, planetary powers or fortune telling, one wonders what he would make of our modern day infatuation with all things new-age. Northampton was known as a wit and counted amongst his friends, Bacon, who recorded some of his remarks in his “Apophegms”, and George Chapman who inscribed a sonnet to him which was printed before his translation of Homer in 1614.

STC 13859. Lowndes IV 1703. Not in Pforzheimer, Caillet or Grolier.

SN2493

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