ILLUSTRATED EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES
FABER, Johannes, ORSINI, Fulvio. In imagines illustrium ex Fulvii Ursini bibliotheca.
Antwerp, ex Officina Plantiniana, 1606. [with]
CAMERARIUS, Johann Rudolph. Horarvm natalivm centvria I. et II.
Frankfurt, Sumptibus Egenolphi Emmelii, 1610. [and]
PIGNORIA, Lorenzo. Characteres Aegyptii.
Frankfurt, Typis Matthiae Beckeri, impensis […] Theodori de Bry, 1608.
4to. 3 works in 1 vol. pp. (viii) 88 (viii), last blank; 134 unnumbered ll., )(⁴ A-Z⁴ 2A-2I⁴ 2K²; pp. (viii) 43 (i), 1 plate, (viii), 5 plates, 5 folding plates. Roman letter, little Italic or Greek. I: engraved printer’s device to t-p, large woodcut device to verso of last leaf; II: small woodcut printer’s device to t-p, 200 half-page horoscope diagrams; III: engraved printer’s device to t-p, small text woodcuts and engravings and 5 full-page engraved plates with ancient seals and figures, 5 engraved folding plates with portions of the Mensa Isiaca; woodcut initials and ornaments. I: slight browning, t-p a little dusty, light water stain to outer blank margin of first two gatherings, light damp stain to last three leaves; II: somewhat oxidised (poor paper) and a bit waterstained; III: preliminary gathering loose, minor toning, light water stain to lower outer blank corner of K-M 4 touching first plate. Very acceptable copies in contemporary vellum, traces of ties, titles inked to spine, illegible private stamp to ffep, purchase note by Du Bouchet 1622 to third t-p, leaf with extensive C18 annotations in Latin and French glued to rear pastedown.
Three fascinating works on Egyptian and classical antiquities, and horoscopes. The most enticing and handsomely illustrated is the third, ‘Characteres Aegyptii’, by the Paduan antiquary and collector Lorenzo Pignoria (1571-1631). It is the second edition, after the first of 1605, of a study of the ‘Mensa Isiaca’—an elaborately decorated tablet of bronze, enamel and silver acquired by Cardinal Bembo after the sack of Rome of 1527 and later by the Gonzaga in Mantua. Though now believed to be of 1 st -century Roman, not Egyptian, origin, it soon began to inspire the study of the hieroglyphs and ancient Egyptian cults; Valeriano too mentioned it in his ‘Hieroglyphica’ and Athanasius Kircher would write on it in 1652. Pignoria’s work, the first scholarly study, ‘has been considered by subsequent scholars as the most valuable, both for the author’s purpose [not to interpret the tablet allegorically but using ancient sources] and for its historical information’ (Leospo, ‘Mensa Isiaca’, 2). The sources include Greek epigraphic inscriptions, ancient amulets and seals, many beautifully illustrated; portions of the tablet are also superbly reproduced in the final folding tables. Copies are recorded (and were probably bound) with a variable number of plates, from 5 up to 16. With 10, this copy collates as Stanford and Oxford. Pignoria was ‘willing to hazard an interpretation of the table’s symbols, but his identifications of individual figures were explicitly tentative, and he did not attempt to explain how they related to one another semantically’ (Stolzenberg, ‘Oegyptian’, 46). The second work is the second, enlarged edition of the German physician Johann Rudolph Camerarius’s (b.1588) attack against false astrologers. It illustrates the principles of the ‘true science’ of astrology through 200 horoscope diagrams identifying the celestial birth coordinates of (mainly German) royal, aristocratic and political figures as well as unknown people who had been his patients and even his own family members. Interesting is the case of two twins who died shortly after birth, in 1606, due to epilepsy. Originally published in 1598, the first is a catalogue of the superb collection of 151 antiquities amassed by the Roman antiquary and linguist Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600). This edition was often accompanied by, (though not here), a second work with 151 plates by Théodore Galle portraying items from the collection.
I: BL STC Dutch C17 G8; Brunet V, 1019 (ed. with plates only); Lipperheide II, 147 (mentioned).
II: Virginia and Oklahoma copies only recorded in the US.
BL STC Ger. C17 C156; Houzeau-Lancaster 5047 (mentioned); Cantamessa 1355 (1607 ed.); Wellcome I, 1230 (1607 ed.).
III: Brunet, IV, 652; BL STC Ger. C17 P659. Not in Lipperheide. E. Leospo, La Mensa Isiaca di Torino (Leiden, 1978); D. Stolzenberg, Egyptian Oedipus (Chicago, 2013).