LEOPOLD of Austria


Compilatio … de astrorum scientia decem continentis tractatus.

Venice, per Melchiorem Sessam & Petrum de Rauanis socios, 1520.


4to. 94 unnumbered leaves. A-L⁸ M⁶. Gothic letter. One large historiated initial, many fine white on black floriated initials, woodcut of astronomer with celestial sphere on title page, Messsa’s woodcut cat device beneath, numerous woodcut astronomical diagrams and illustrations in text, including two sets of zodiacs, one based on that of the editions of Hyginus, the sphera mundi, celestial figures of the sun, moon, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter etc. driving various chariots, many repeated, astrological tables of predictions. Light age yellowing, A2 and 7 a little creased and soiled at edges, expertly repaired, closed tear restored in I1, the odd marginal thumb mark or spot. A very good, well margined copy, crisp and clean, in modern olive morocco, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, double blind ruled in compartments, inner dentelles richly gilt. 

Beautifully printed and finely illustrated second edition of this important and influential astronomy, by the 13th-century astronomer, Leopold of Austria, first printed by Ratdolt, in 1489. Primarily a work of astrology based on the writings of Albumasar, the sixth book concerns meteorology both from a theoretical and a practical point of view, and includes folkloric methods of weather prediction and general descriptions of winds, thunder etc.

Although virtually nothing is known of the author, the work was influential in the late Middle Ages, being cited by the great astronomer, Pierre d’Ailly, and admired by Regiomontanus, who proposed to edit it. This edition retains the dedication to Udalricus de Frundsberg, bishop of Trient, by Erhard Ratdolt, printer of the first. In the introduction Leopold states that he cannot take credit for the work as there was more than one author and he was just a ‘fidelis illorum observator et diligens compilator.’ He states his goal is to describe the motion of the stars, and to focus particularly on describing their effect. He describes astronomy as a necessary starting point and foundation for the study of astrology.

The Compilatio is divided into ten treatises: the first and second on the spheres and their motion. There is a dissertation on the comets at the end of the fifth book, beginning with a short discussion of Aristotle’s theories, which recounts the opinion of John of Damascus (676 – c. 749), who asserts, in his ‘De Fide Orthodoxa,’ that these celestial bodies announce the death of a King, and that they do not belong to the stars created in the beginning, but are formed and dissolved by God’s will. He then gives a list of the nine comets and their latin names, ending with the meanings derived from their presence in each Zodiacal sign. These are a transcription of Albumasar’s ‘De magnis Conjunctionibus.’ A very good copy of this beautifully illustrated and rare edition.

BM STC It. C16th (assigning it to Pencio) p.375. Adams L-516. Sander 3948. Essling 2081. Caillet 6636 (first edition only). Honeyman V 1989. Cantamessa II 4422. “Imponente e importante trattato in 10 libri”. Houzeau-Lancaster 4702 “fort rare”


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BRUNSCHWIG, Hieronymus


Liber der arte distulandi simplicia et composita : das nüv bůch d[er] rechte[n] Kunst zů distilliere[n], ouch vo[n] Marsilio Ficino vn[nd] andere[n] hochberömpte[n] Ertzte natürliche vn[nd] gůte Kunst, zů behalte[n] den gesunden Leib vn[nd] zů vertreibe[n] die Krankheiter[n] mit Erlengeru[n]g des Lebe[n]s.

[Strassburg, Johan Grüniger, 1509].


Folio. ff. cxxx (i.e. cxl), (lviii) in double column. A⁸, B-D⁶, DD⁶, DDD⁴, E-T⁶, V⁸, X⁴, Y-Z⁶, AA-CC⁶, DD⁴, EE-FF⁶, GG⁸. Gothic letter. First title with two large woodcuts, the other two with half page woodcuts, one double page woodcut, innumerable half page and column width woodcuts, all in fine contemporary hand colouring, capital spaces with guide letters, white on black and floriated woodcut initials. Light age yellowing, slight water staining on lower blank margin of a few leaves, early restoration of three holes to lower blank margin of title, backed at foot, the odd marginal thumb mark or spot. A very good copy, with woodcuts and colouring in wonderful fresh state of preservation, crisp and clean with good margins, in excellent contemporary German calf over wooden boards, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, middle panel filled with a fine blind scroll of hunting scene of three dear and a huntsman with spear, central panel filled with repeated blind floral scroll, semé of flowers stamped in black, “Distillirrbuch’ stamped in large black Gothic letter in upper panel of front cover, spine with three blind ruled raised bands with blind ‘crown’ fleurons above and below, lacking clasps and catches, small restoration in places, a little rubbed and scratched.

A wonderful copy of this rare and most interesting compilation, beautifully illustrated and vividly coloured in a contemporary hand, preserved in a fine contemporary binding. It is a pharmaceutical and alchemical collection first published in 1505 under the title ‘Medicinarius. Das Buch der Gesundheit’ and including books I and II of Brunschwig’s ‘Liber de arte distillandi de simplicibus,’ also called ‘Kleines Destillierbuch; Ficino’s Das Buch des Lebens,’ translated by Johannes Adelphus; and a treatise on compounds by a Strassburg master, Konrad.

Hieronymus Brunschwig (c. 1450 – c. 1512) was a German physician, surgeon, chemist, and pharmacologist whose ‘Liber de arte distillandi simplicia et composita’ (‘Little Book of Distillation’), was the first book to systematically describe essential oils, their distillation and extraction from plants, and their medicinal applications. The wonderful hand-coloured woodcuts show detailed instructions on the distillation process. The first part of the treatise describes the methods and apparati for the distillation of extracts from various plants and animals. The second part describes certain medicinal plants, and the third part contains an exhaustive list of maladies along with a corresponding list of plant distillates and extracts recommended.

“Because of their completeness Brunschwig’s compilations of the technical terms adaptable to pharmacy in the early sixteenth century and his records of his experience in the treatment of gunshot wounds and in surgery are noteworthy accomplishments. Even if they are not the first of their kind, they still represent an important link between the Middle Ages and modern times.” (DSB I, p. 547) The work is most beautifully and interestingly illustrated including vivid images of gardens and banquets. “With detailed instructions, ranging from the right times to collect herbs to the exact specifications for constructing distillation equipment, Brunschwig hoped to make medicinal alchemy accessible to ‘the common people that dwell far from medicines and physicians and for them that not be able to pay for costly medicines,’ he wrote.” Cristina Luiggi ‘Medicinal Alchemy, circa 1512.’

Marsilio Ficino (1433 – 99) was one of the leading intellectuals in Florence, a magnet for the most brilliant scholars of fifteenth-century Europe. His ‘De vita’ is a curious amalgam of philosophy, medicine, ‘natural magic’ and astrology, and is possibly the first book ever written about the health of the intellectual and its peculiar concerns. It includes astrological charts and remedies, philosophical digressions, medieval prescriptions for various ills, attempts at reconciling the Neoplatonism of Plotinus with Christian scripture, and magical remedies and talismans.

“The work that Ficino composed alongside his commentaries on Plotinus, his influential astral-medical treatise, ‘De vita libri tres,’ or ‘Three books on life,’ published in 1489 … is listed is Borel’s ‘Bibliotheca Chimica’ as another of Ficino’s alchemical works.  … One of the most revealing examples of how Ficino’s de Vita was assimilated into the alchemical tradition can be found in the translation of the first two books as ‘Das Buch des Lebens’ in 1505 by the Strasbourg physician and humanist Johannes Adelphus Muling. The German version was re-edited several times and printed together with editions of two of the most highly regarded works on distillation. One of these was Hieronymous Braunschweig’s ‘De arte distillandi’ and anyone familiar with the 1500 title page of Braunschweig’s much reprinted work will notice how it has been adopted by the publisher of the 1505 edition as an illustration for Ficino’s text.” Peter J. Forshaw. ‘Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and His Influence.’

Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify the binder from the tools, though the Einbanddatenbank has other tools with very similar hunting scrolls. Interestingly, the copy illustrated at the Bayerische StaatsBibliothek, BSB Call Nr.: Res/2 M.med. 35 has the same title blind-stamped on its binding, suggesting that this was probably the production of the same binder, or probably the publishers binding. A beautiful copy with the colouring absolutely fresh and clean.

Wellcome 1113. Not in BM STC Ger. C16th, Osler, Durling or Duveen.


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Praeciosa ac nobilissima artis chymiae collectanea.

Nuremberg, Gabriel Hain, 1554.


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.


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KEPLER, Johannes


De stella nova … De stella tertii honoris in cygno … De Jesu Christi servatoris nostri vero anno natalitio.

Prague and Frankfurt, Pavel Sessius and Wolfgang Richter, 1606.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, four parts in one volume, pp. (12), 212, 35, (5), wanting final blank. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic and Greek; four separate title-pages, woodcut printer’s device on first, neat double-page engraved plate and several diagrams; very light browning throughout, small damp and rust stain to margins of very few leaves. A good copy in early nineteenth-century calf, gilt panel and blind-tooled roll of interlacing flowers, all edges red, corners slightly chipped. Contemporary inscriptions on front fly, including title, author owner’s inscription ‘John M ….’ in an English hand written over, early monogram ‘H G’ on head of title.

First edition of Kepler’s detailed essays describing the supernova which appeared at the foot of the constellation Ophiucus in 1604. Johann Kepler (1571-1630) is one of the most important modern astronomers and mathematicians, along with his teacher Tycho Brahe and Galileo Galileo. Working at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, he was able to improve the refracting telescope and formulate the fundamental laws of planetary motion correcting Copernicus. This invaluable account provides information on the supernova’s colour, brightness, distance to the earth as well as other events related to this still unsolved astronomical phenomenon announcing the death of a star. The supernova was the last to be seen in the Milky Way and was named after Kepler in the 1940s.

Its appearance revived the debate among scholars on whether the incorruptibility of the cosmos established by Aristotle was valid or not. For instance, Galileo delivered a lecture on the supernova, considering it as disproof of the Aristotelian theory. In 1604, Kepler was observing the conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, an event which he calculated to happen exactly every 800 years. On October 10, Kepler witnessed the supernova and assumed the two phenomena were related. While working on his scientific description, he came across the essay of the Polish astronomer Laurence Suslyga, who had argued that Christ had been born in 4 BC on the basis of other celestial calculations. On this account, Kepler concluded that 1600 years earlier (i.e. 4 BC) the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction had provoked another supernova, which had been recorded in the Gospel and it is known as the Christmas Star or Star of Bethlehem. Such a theory is set out in the fourth part of this remarkable collection of treatises.

This editio princeps has two variants, depending on the presence of the imprint ‘impensis Authoris’ in the main title. Although a definitive priority has not been established, Kepler’s letters seem to suggest that the present title page is the earlier. Kepler was probably dissatisfied with the quality of this first print-run and paid for another. The presentation copy to James I in British Library was from the second printing.

Graesse, IV, 11; Caspar, 27; Cantamessa, 2289; Cinti, 17; Houzeau & Lancaster, 2843; Zinner, 4097; DSB: ‘A monument of its time.’


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BACON, Francis

De Augmentis Scientiarum.

Amsterdam, Johannis Ravestemius, 1662.


12mo. pp. (xx) 607, (LXVIII). Roman lettter, finely engraved title page, early manuscript ‘Liber R. Harby’ at head and Mich: Batt a. aR on inner rear board. Light age yellowing, good copy in contemporary calf, re-backed, spine re-mounted, corner repairs.

Gibson 135.


BACON, Francis

De augmentis scientiarum libri.

Leiden, Adrian Wijngaerden, 1652.


12mo. pp. (x) 684, (lx), lacking final two blanks. Roman and Italic letter, engraved title page depicting Bacon reading a folio volume with a wildly dressed figure holding a volume and representing the Book of Nature. Age yellowing, upper margin of first few gatherings cropped closely but with no loss, contemporary manuscript biographical note added to fly, ascribed to Thomas Fairfax (1693-1781), George Washington’s friend, patron and mentor, whose ex libris appears in pencil above, in C1800 polished calf by J.J. Cowling of Barnet (label on pastedown), with red morocco label on spine, with title and compartments gilt, all edges speckled blue.

Gibson 133.


BACON, Francis

De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum.

Paris, Petry Mettayer, 1624.


4to. pp. (xvi) 540. Roman and Italic, woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. Light age yellowing, a good, clean and well-margined copy  in later paper over boards, rebacked with speckled calf, spine gilt in give compartments.

Gibson 130.




Libellus de Epidemia, quam vulgo morbum Gallicum vocant.

Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1497.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., 29 leaves, a-c8, d(4+1). Predominantly Roman letter, little Greek; lower outer corner of title slightly soiled, very light marginal water stains. A very good copy in old vellum, recased, gilt title and author’s name on front cover; five marginalia, including a scholarly cutting remark (slightly cropped), in same contemporary probably French hand at head of title ‘Est Meij Jo. Baptis. Loms[?]’.

First edition of the earliest scholarly account of syphilis, by Niccolò Leoniceno (1428-1524), a very influential physician, botanist and scholar of the Italian Renaissance. A skilled student of Greek, Leoniceno taught in Padua before settling in the university and court of Ferrara. Here, he accomplished pioneering translations of the Greek classics, such as Arrian, Diodorus, Appian, Polybius, Cassius Dio and, first and foremost, a large part of Galen’s corpus. Over the course of his extraordinarily long life, Leoniceno was well acquainted with the most prominent scholars of his time, including Pico della Mirandola, Ermolao Barbaro and Angelo Poliziano. Lending Aldus Manutius some of his prized manuscripts, he took an active part in the Aldine Greek editions of Aristotle and Galen.

In 1497, he published De morbo Gallico, following the epidemic in the Italian peninsula after the arrival of the French troops of Charles VIII. The book, dedicated to Gian Francesco Pico della Mirandola, corrects several mistakes of the Arabic medical tradition in identifying and naming diseases and proved that syphilis had been known already to the Greeks and Romans. This and other works by Leoniceno led Erasmus to rate him as one of the few humanists to revive medical studies alongside Guillaume Cop and Linacre. This copy retains the final additional leaf with errata.

ISTC, il00165000; BM STC, V, 557; GW, M17947; Hain, 10019; IGI 6814; Goff, L-165; Klebs, 599.1; Renouard, 14:12 (‘Extrêmement rare, et le premier qui ait été publié sur cette maladie’); Wellcome, 3736; Morton, 2363; Bibliotheca Osleriana, 7452. Not in Durling or Heirs of Hippocrates.


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


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

Venice, Boneto Locatello for Ottaviano Scoto, 1490.


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.


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De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem.

Venice, Gaspare Bindoni the younger, 1597.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (32), 94, (2), 95, (1), 47, (33). Roman letter, some Italic; decorated initials and tail-pieces; additional engraved architectural title (with its conjugate blank) incorporating arms of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and standing Hippocrates and Galen; black-and-red printed title, large printer’s device on both; 22 full-page woodcut illustrations throughout, two smaller of surgical instruments and procedures on f. 257; additional engraved title slightly trimmed at foot, oil splash to upper corner of first three numbered pages, a few leaves browned, little worming to upper margin of last three. A good, very well margined copy in contemporary plain vellum, contemporary inked title to lower edge; two minor stains and spine repairs; early ink initials ‘H.H.M.B.C.’ on both titles, contemporary ex libris on title verso ‘Jacobi Alexandri Nardi ad ipsius usu’, and price on fly.

Most complete issue of the first edition of this curious medical work, devoted entirely to plastic surgery and providing the first instruction for reconstructing nose, lips and ears. Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599) was a pioneering Italian physician and pupil of Girolamo Cardano, Ulisse Aldrovandi and Giulio Cesare Avanzi. Upon his graduation, he was appointed lecturer of surgery at the University of Bologna; later, he became one of the most acclaimed professors of the athenaeum, demonstrating his techniques of dissection on recently-dead bodies. A pious man, he was charged by the cardinals’ Congregation over the Index of Forbidden Books with the emendation of the works of the Lutheran botanist Leonhardt Fuchs. In Bologna, he also offered his service to the hospital of the Brotherhood of the Death; this local religious fellowship engaged with comforting the prisoners condemned to die. Through this privileged channel, Tagliacozzi had always plenty of corpses for his anatomical and surgical studies.

De curtorum chirurgia was Tagliacozzi’s most renowned achievement. In the work, he improved and described for the first time the so-called metodo italiano, a technique of facial reconstruction via a skin graft taken from the left forearm. The well-known twenty-two plates depict surgical instruments and document every step of the process of rhinoplasty. Following the operation, the patient was immobilised in a complex vest devised by Tagliacozzi himself, waiting for the complete adherence of the graft to his nose. The process was supposed to take from two to three weeks. Tagliacozzi was aware of some aesthetic imperfection of the result, but was more concerned with the relieving benefits he wished to give to his patients’ mind and spirit. His fame as ‘the first plastic surgeon’ was so wide that several Italian noblemen sought his service. Among them, the Duke of Mantua Vincenzo Gonzaga, to whom De curtorum chirurgia is dedicated.

BM STC It., 655; Adams, T59; Durling, 4310; Heirs of Hippocrates, 236; Wellcome, 6210; Garrison & Morton, 5734; Norman, 2048; Osler, 4079.


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