HABRECHT, Isaak. Planiglobium coeleste, et Terrestre

Strasbourg, Marx von der Heyden, 1628 (with)

BARTSCH, Jacob, Usus Astronomicus Planisphaerii Stellati (and) Praxis Compendiosa Tabularum Astronomicarum

Strasbourg, Jakob von der Heyden, [1624]

FIRST EDITIONS. 4to, two works in one, pp. (xx) 102 (ii); (viii + blank probably misbound from 1st title) 80 (lvi). Roman and italic letter, woodcut floriated initials, headpieces, first t-p within typographical border, second within charming engraved border with masks, flower vases and garlands of leaves and fruits. Astronomical tables in both works, 7 engraved astronomical plates (3 folding) illustrating symbols, the solar system, celestial spheres and constellations in second. T-ps a bit dusty, very minor soiling to second, slight age yellowing, small rust stain to one fol. affecting a couple of words on both sides. A very good copy in a leaf from a 15th century ms. Missal (containing the texts of the mass for the vigil of Pentecost), one tie preserved.

Rare first edition of Bartsch’s beautifully illustrated manual of practical astronomy. This copy represents a less common variant of the first edition, featuring a charming engraved title page border. Jacob Bartsch (1600-1633) was a brilliant astronomer and mathematician of Lauban (Lusatia), who worked in Strasbourg as Professor of Mathematics. He was the brother in law of the great Johannes Kepler, whom he helped with the calculation of ephemerides. ‘Usus Astronomicus Planisphaerii Stellati’ is an astronomical treatise in six chapters, focusing on the celestial spheres and their movement, the planets, the fixed stars, constellations and how to easily recognise them in the sky. Bartsch drew information from the works of several astronomers, listed at the beginning, including Bayer, Brahe, Habrecht, Kepler, Regiomontanus and many others.

The text is accompanied by a series of attractive illustrations, designed by Bartsch and engraved by the Flemish painter and sculptor Jakob van der Heyden (1573–1645). The most outstanding are three fold-out star charts, depicting a north polar planisphere and two equatorial strips. These charts played an important role in communicating the discovery of six new constellations to a wider audience: Camelopardalis, Gallus, Jordanis, Unicornu (=Monoceros), Vespa and Tigris. Discovered in 1612 by Petrus Plancius, these constellations previously appeared on globes, which had a very limited circulation. In addition, “The second equatorial chart contained the first printed depiction of Crux as a separate constellation”. (Ridpath). A final section containing astronomical tables is titled “Praxis compendiosa tabularum astronomicarum”, and it is divided into six parts, each with its own separate t-p. Sometimes considered and catalogued as a separate work, often missing or incomplete in many copies, this important collection of tables is referred to in the title page of the ‘Usus astronomicus’ as an appended section, and further described as “necessary for an informed and advantageous use” of this work. The tables (here remarkably complete) were meant to aid the calculation of ephemerides – trajectories of astronomical objects in the sky – and also include a short star catalogue.

Bartsch is bound with the rare first edition of Habrecht’s ‘Planiglobium Coeleste et Terrestre’, a fascinating work on the making of and use of globes. The complete work comprised two parts – respectively concerning celestial and terrestrial globes – which were printed with separate title pages dated 1628 and 1629; they are very rarely found bound together. Here, only the first part on celestial globes, which was certainly selected by the owner of the book for its close connection to Bartsch’s work. ‘Planiglobium’ originally included two plates depicting the celestial hemispheres (here missing, as in the majority of the copies in public libraries). Professor of astronomy and mathematics in Strasbourg, Isaac Habrecht II (1589–1633) was the son of the celebrated clockmaker Isaac Habrecht (1544–1620), who built the monumental astronomical clock of Strasbourg. Habrecht was also a globemaker, and in 1621 he realised a globe showing the six new constellations that Bartsch reproduced in his book. Notably, he invented and depicted a new one, Rhombus, also mentioned by Bartsch.

Two rare and influential treatises which introduced seven new constellations to the Renaissance public.

1) USTC 2085685; VD 17 12: 641399F; Houzeau-Lancaster 3039. Not in Cantamessa, BM STC Ger. 17th century, Brunet, Graesse. 2) USTC 2045801; VD17 23: 237679Y and 23:237682B; Cantamessa N641 and N642. Not in BM STC Ger. 17th century, Houzeau-Lancaster, Brunet, Graesse. Worldcat records no copies both editions in the US.

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