De architectura libri decem … adiecimus etiam … Frontini de aequeductibus … item … Nicolai Cusani Card. de staticis experimentis.

Strasbourg, Georg Messerschmidt for Knobloch, 1543.


4to, pp. [52], 262 [i.e. 260], [52]. Italic letter, little Greek; historiated initials, numerous illustrations, mainly architectural, some full-page; light marginal dampstain in first and final gatherings, tiny clean tear to margin of first four leaves and p. 29. A very good copy in c1600 English calf with blind ruled border and gilt lined edges; title label on spine, all edges red; extremities and spine slightly rubbed; c1900 armorial bookplate of Hopetoun House and ex libris slip of Bernard E. J. Pagel (1930-2007), FRS and astrophysicist, on front pastedown; two owner’s inscriptions on front fly, one 19 September 1636 largely scribbled over, the other mid-seventeenth century by ‘Guliellmum Lythall’, with ‘pretium 68’.

First German edition of the masterpiece of ancient architecture, designed to be easily handled by an architect or scholar rather than as a huge glamourous book. Vitruvius (80-70 BC, after 15 BC ) was an architect and military engineer. While very little is known about him, his Ten Books on Architecture, dedicated to Augustus, very early acquired universal fame. The text of this edition is carefully revised by the Alsatian humanist, physician and mathematician Walther Hermann Ryff (c.1500-1548), while the illustrations are generally based on the 1521 Como edition in Italian, showing a great deal of buildings, cities, ornaments as well as civil and military machineries, such as cranes, mills, catapults and battering rams. One can also find two woodcuts depicting the perfect symmetry and proportion of human male body through the famous Vitruvian Man, which was illustrated, i.a., by Leonardo. The edition ends with the work of Frontinus (c.40-103 AD) on the aqueducts of ancient Rome and Nicholas of Cusa’s treatise on statics (1450). The latter provides methods for measuring through the use of scales and water clock; for instance, it explains in detail how to determine the humidity of air by measuring the weight of wool.

This copy reached in England by 1636 and some years later was acquired by William Lythall, likely the Beadle of the Society of the Apothecaries of London, died ca. 1657. Afterwards, it entered the famous Hopetoun library, sold in 1889 by the 7th Earl of Hopetoun (see De Ricci, English Collectors, p. 164).

BM STC Ger., 958; Adams, V 906; Berlin Kat., 1806; Cicognara, 707; Fowler, 401.



Print This Item Print This Item