Dialogus de systemate mundi.

Leiden, A. and B. Elzevier, 1635. (with)

Tractatus de proportionum instrumento.

Strasbourg, David Hautt, 1635.

£ 27,500

4to. 2 works in 1, FIRST EDITION thus of first, pp. (xvi) 495 (xxv) (viii) 104. Roman letter, little Italic. Additional engraved t-p with Aristotle, Ptolemy and Copernicus between two columns, author’s oval portrait within architectural frame to verso of fourth leaf, woodcut diagrams, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Slight browning, heavier to second work (especially last gathering), intermittent faint waterstaining to upper and lower outer corner, two mostly interlinear ink burns to pp. 65-68 of second, a few letters lost on one leaf. Good copies in contemporary vellum, later eps, bookplate of Erwin Tomash to front pastedown, Latin marginalia to one leaf. In modern cloth folding box.

Good copies of the first and second Latin editions respectively of two most important works by Galileo Galilei, translated from Italian by the German astronomer Matthias Bernegger (1582-1640). Whilst the first Italian edition of 1632 had led to Galileo’s inquisitorial sentence in Rome for asserting ‘the false opinion of the movement of the earth and the immobility of the Sun’, it was this first Latin edition of ‘Dialogus’ which introduced Galileo’s ground-breaking theories to the international scholarly community changing the history of Western science. The world-renowned symbol of Renaissance scientific progress, the Italian astronomer and physician Galileo (1564-1642) was professor at Pisa and Padua, and the inventor of scientific instruments like the thermoscope (an early thermometer) and, most famously, a more powerful telescope with which he first identified, among other major discoveries, Jupiter’s four moons. His support of heliocentric theories and Copernicanism caused him accusations of heresy against which he was summoned to defend himself in front of the Inquisition. Originally published in 1632 as ‘Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo’, it illustrated a fictional debate over the course of four days among scholars supporting the theories of Ptolemy, Aristotle and Copernicus respectively, whilst discussing the principles of motion (including the earth and sun), relativity in observed motion and the ebbs and flows of tides. In particular, in support of Copernicanism, Galileo argued that ‘the hypothesis of the rotation and revolution of the earth is not refuted by the fact that we do not observe any mechanical effects of these motions. Strictly speaking, such a demonstration was impossible because a complete theory of mechanics was lacking (at the time)…it is just in the struggle with this problem that Galileo’s originality is demonstrated with particular force’ (Albert Einstein, ‘Foreword’, xvii). It earned inclusion into the Index of Prohibited Books, from which it was removed in the C19; nevertheless, ‘more than any other work, [‘Dialogus’] made heliocentrism a commonplace’ (PMM 128). First published in 1612, ‘Tractatus de proportionum instrumento’ is the Latin translation of ‘Le operazioni del compass geometrico’ of 1606. Made of two rulers joined by a volvelle, the compass could be used to calculate distance, height, depth and a variety of proportional operations through a system of scales based on Euclid’s study of triangles. After explaining how the ruler on the compass is subdivided into sections, Galileo proceeds to explore different applications. These include theoretical operations like cube roots, the squaring of a circle and geometrical proportions, as well as practical ones like the scale increase or reduction of the plan of a geographical area, the translation of prices from one currency to another according to their relative value, the calculation of interests and the arithmetic subdivision of armies on the battlefield. The Latin edition includes a 50-page commentary by Bernegger, who had been encouraged by the Elzeviers to undertake this translation and commentary.

I) USTC 2074478; Brunet II, 1462; Riccardi I/1, 512; Tomash & Williams G4; Honeyman IV, 1409; PMM 128 (1632 ed.). G. Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, forward by A. Einstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964).

II) USTC 2100564; Riccardi I/1, 507; Tomash & Williams G19; Honeyman IV, 1409.

Print This Item Print This Item