La Sphere des deux mondes, composee en Francois, par Darinel, pasteur des Amadis

Antwerp, Iehan Richard, au Soleil d’Or, 1555.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. (iv) 57 (i.e. 58), (ii) . π⁴ A-M⁴, N4(N2 folding+’N3′), O-P⁴ last blank. Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title, another on verso of last, woodcut initials, historiated woodcut tailpiece, typographical ornaments, 28 small woodcut illustrations in text, 19 full page maps, one folding. Age yellowing, t-p slightly dusty, two small tears in lower margin just touching imprint with no loss, some marginal soiling in places, the odd ink splash or mark, outer upper corner torn to map of Tunis with minor loss, tiny single worm hole in first four quires. A good copy in modern limp vellum antique, yapp edges remains of ties, spine with morocco label gilt.

A most interesting and unusual cosmography, exceptionally rare and beautifully illustrated with 19 important early maps including a fine world map and the most important Bellère map of the New World. Boileau de Bouillon was savant polymath who had extensive knowledge of various languages, principally French, Flemish, Latin, German and Spanish. He seems to have lived for many years in Liege and Antwerp before joining the service of Charles V with whose forces he travelled to Germany, France, Hungary and Italy. He was named ‘Commissaire et Controleur’ of the town of Cambrai for his services, but fell in disgrace shortly afterwards and had to take refuge in Paris, where he was taken in by Nicolas de Herberay, ‘Seigneur des Essarts’ who was also famous for his translations. He made his living with the pen as a poet and translator, but also with a particular interest in geographies and map-making. Apart from the fine series of maps in this work he published two very important original maps of Burgundy and Belgium.

This work is composed, curiously, of both text and poetry. The maps are not of his creation but are most judiciously chosen as the most up to date and accurate of the period. The 19 woodcut maps include a beautiful cordiform map of the world: “Universalis Cosmographia” and a very rare map of the Americas: Jean Bellère “Peru, brevis exactaque totius Novi Orbis ejusque Insularum descriptio recens a Joan Bellero edita.” This map “was popular during the middle of the sixteenth century and had great influence in showing more accurately the size and shape of the great South American continent” ‘World’. It is a particularly important and influential map, illustrating the south of the US, Central America, the Antilles, Bermuda and the Azores, and South America down to Magellan’s Strait. Apart from ‘Cuzco’ ‘Xaquixaguana’ and ‘Quito’, only coastal towns are covered, although the mountains of the southern USA, the Andes and the river Amazon are shown. Each map is accompanied by a curious cosmographical stanza. This is a particularly rare work and according to American Book Prices Current, no copy sold at auction in the past 35 years.

BM STC Dutch C16th p. 59 (under Darinel.) Alden & Landis 555/4. ‘Contains also the Bellère map of the New World found in edns of Cieza de Leon & Gomara of 1554’. Church 101. Sabin 18576. “A poetical volume of some rarity” see ‘The World Encompassed’ 201. JCB I:185.


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ACOSTA, José de


De natura novi orbis … et de promulgatione Evangelii apud babaros.

Cologne, officina Birckmannica, 1596.


8vo., pp. (16), 581, (3). Roman letter, little italic. Jesuit device on title; slightly yellowed, occasional oil mark in margins; tiny burn mark affecting one letter on p. 1 and 373; few unprinted words completed in contemporary manuscript and later pencil at bottom of pp. 126 and 274. A good copy, in an early seventeenth-century English brown calf, blind-tooled plain style, probably Cambridge, multiple ruled borders with saw tooth edge, double fillet, central undecorated frame with fleurons at corners; a bit scratched and worn; rebacked, spine part remounted, all edges red; pastedowns from an early Roman letter edition of the King James Bible (2nd Maccabees, III, 1-21 and III, 25-40; IV, 1-2).

Third unaugmented edition of these pioneering treatises on the geography, anthropology and evangelisation of South America, previously published in Salamanca in 1588/ 1589 and 1595. José de Acosta (1540 – 1600) was among the first Jesuit missionaries to embark for the Spanish New World. He spent much of his life in Peru. The main settlement of the order was at that time in the village of Juli, on Lake Titicaca. Here, a college was set up to study the languages of the natives, while the newly-funded Jesuit printing press issued the first printed book of the Americas in 1577. Later, Acosta moved to Lima and taught theology at the university.

In the Third Council of Lima (1582 – 1583) reorganising the American church, Acosta took a very active part and became its official historian. Following an adventurous journey through Mexico, in 1587 he head back to Spain, where he was appointed head of the Jesuit college in Valladolid and later Salamanca. A prolific writer, he is mostly famous for his very successful Historia natural y moral de las Indias. This knowledgeable, realistic and detailed description of the New World was sought after and soon translated into Italian, French, German, Dutch and English. The Natura novi orbis opening this edition represents the early draft of the Historia. In it, Acosta provided the first account of altitude sickness, which affected him while crossing the Andes. He also divided the Amerindians into three categories, acknowledging the Incas and Aztecs as fairly advanced societies in the civilisation process.

The second part comprises a very innovative essay on evangelisation. Acosta struggles to demonstrate to his contemporaries that Amerindians were part of the original God’s plan for mankind and thus were not inferior creatures undeserved of being Christianised and saved. In grounding his argument, the idea that the first inhabitants of America migrated from the biblical world (specifically from Asia), played a crucial role. Indeed, he was the first writer to postulate the existence of a land bridge at the northern or southern extremities of the two continents, long before the discovery of the Bering Strait. In his missionary zeal, Acosta was much concerned with the preparation and morality of priests, who he encouraged to study the aboriginal languages as an essential part of their duties.

‘One of the earliest writers who have treated philosophically of America and its production.’ J. Sabin, A Dictionary of Books Related to America, I, p. 17.

BM STC Ger., p. 2; Adams, A 124; Brunet, I, 41; Graesse, I, 15; Leclerc, 4; Palau y Dulcet, I, 1979; Sabin, I, 120. Not in JFB nor in Alden.


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METIUS, Adrian


De genuino usu utriusque globi tractatus adjecta est nova Sciatericorum, et artis Navigandi ratio novis Instrumentis et inventionibus illustrata. (with) Mensura geographica et usus globi terrestris, Artisque Navigandi Institutio, novis Instrumentis et Inventionibus adaucta.

Franeker, Ulderich Balck, 1624.


4to. Two works in one. pp. (viii) 210 (ii) 84. Roman and Italic letter, separate title page with printer’s large woodcut device to each work, very numerous printed and woodcut scientific diagrams of astronomical and navigational instruments, star and sea charts and geometrical computations. General age yellowing, first title page with two very old repairs, faint early collegiate ex libris at head, small water stain to lower inner corner of some leaves. A good copy in fine contemporary Dutch morocco, border of gilt flowers within double ruled lines to covers, quadruple blind rules with gilt cornerpieces within, gilt floral ornament within lozenge in centre of both, spine in four compartments each with gilt floret and divided by gilt rules; all edges gilt with the floral border repeated on paper edges nearest to corners.

Metius, son of the distinguished cartographer and military engineer to the Dutch States, was born in Alkmaar and studied at the University of Franeker in Frisia, and at Leiden under Snellius and Van Ceulen. He worked under Tycho Brahe at his observatory at Hven, moving to Rostock and Jena, where he gave his first, and very successful, astronomy lectures. In 1600 he was appointed professor of mathematics, surveying, navigation, military engineering, and astronomy at Franeker, a position he held until his death.

He was an acquirer of mathematical and astronomical instruments, observed sunspots, and was familiar with the telescope, of which his brother Jacob was co-inventor. His lectures were well attended by an international audience including, in 1629, Descartes. Metius wrote extensively (though there is no satisfactory bibliography) and his books were widely used. In astronomy he followed Tycho Brahe’s theory of the solar system, but also showed respect for the Copernican system.

The present works (second editions completely revised and enlarged) concern principally the understanding and use of globes, terrestrial and celestial, in particular for the purposes of marine navigation. The proper use of other instruments such as azimuths, quadrants, compasses and astrolabes is also treated in some detail, as well as the principles of astronomy and relevant mathematical propositions, such as the computation of longitude and latitude, and the earth’s position in relation to the sun, are carefully explained and illustrated with examples. In the first half of the C17th, the Dutch were the prominent naval power, and the present work must have had considerable value in training navigators and sea captains, serving as a practical reference work on their monumental voyages. There are scattered references to Brazil and the Americas.

Graesse IV p. 507 (1st work, earliest edn.). No edn. in Simoni, Alden, J.F.B. cat., Kenney or Honeyman. Houzeau and Lancaster 2820 (1st work only).


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The Pleasant Historie of the Conquest of the Weast India [by] Prince Hernando Cortes.

London, Henry Bynneman, 1578.


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. (xii) 405 (iii). Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title page, woodcut ornamental initials throughout, occasional ornaments. Ownership inscriptions of ‘Will Sand’? and of the English Dominican ‘John Martin’ (1677-1761: Gillow IV, 491) to blank portion of title page; early purchase inscription and bibliographical note of ‘John Packenham’ to fly. C18? ink stamp of ‘Sir Thomas Gage, Bart. of Hengrave’ to verso of title page. Bookplates of ‘Boies Penrose’ and ‘Frank. S. Streeter’ to front pastedown and fly respectively. Inner margins of first gathering strengthened, oil stain along fore-edge throughout, intermittently affecting text, darker at end. A few printed marginalia a little shaved. Paper flaw to upper corner of one leaf, affecting one or two letters, small tear to blank portion of title page. Still a good copy in gilt calf, original spine, renovated c. 1700, all edges red.

Rare and important early history of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, by Hernán Cortés’ private chaplain, and the first edition of Thomas Nicholls’ first English translation. Francisco López de Gómara (c. 1511-1566) never actually visited the New World, but through his close acquaintance with Cortés and leading conquistadors he had unparalleled access to first-hand testimony and documentary sources. His La conquista de Mexico, the second part of a more ambitious Historia general de las Indias, was first published in 1553. It was a popular work, translated into many languages, including an early rendering into Nahuatl, an indigenous language of the conquered Aztec Empire.

The present English edition, dedicated to Sir Francis Walsingham, was translated from the Italian version of Agostino de Cravaliz. Some contemporaries accused the work of inaccuracy, unjustifiable sanitisation and aggrandisation of Cortés’ role. It was perhaps for this reason that Prince Philip (later Philip II of Spain) quickly ordered all the copies of the work that could be found to be gathered in, and imposed a heavy fine on anyone who should reprint it. This proscription was rescinded in 1727 through the efforts of Don Andreas Gonzalez Martial, who included Gómara’s work in his collection of early historians of the New World. Although López de Gómara’s reliability may be called into question, his works nevertheless remain a valuable and oft-cited record of the conquista.

The account is focused on the personality of Hernán Cortés, leader of the Spanish expedition to Mexico. The reader is given a considerable amount of biographical information, doubtless coloured by the author’s friendship with the subject. In addition to a detailed and lively description of the voyage to the New World and the various campaigns against the Aztecs, culminating in the assertion of complete Spanish dominance over the former Aztec Empire, López de Gómara provides much additional anthropological and topographical information. The Aztec people and their mores were clearly a source of fascination to a contemporary European audience. The Emperor Montezuma, we are told, “went alwayes very net and fine in hys attire. He bathed him in his hotehouse foure times everye day. … He eate alwayes alone, but solemnelye and with great abundance.” The work concludes with a Nahuatl vocabulary (including the numbers, days of the week, and so forth) and some general information on Aztec social customs, religious practices and cosmographical theories.

The various ownership inscriptions include the great American collector Frank Streeter, and Boies Penrose (1860-1921), a lawyer and Republican Senator from Philadelphia. A noted bibliophile, Penrose was also a colourful public figure, famous for observing that “public office is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” The ink stamp of ‘Sir Thomas Gage, Bart. of Hengrave’ may not be securely identified: the name was a common one in the Gage family. One notable Sir Thomas Gage (1719-1787) was British Commander-in-Chief in the early days of the American War of Independence, but as second son he did not inherit the Baronetcy.

STC 16807; Alden 578/41; Church 123; JCB (3) II, 271; Sabin 27751; Streit II, 948.


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LE PETIT, François


La Grande Chronique de Hollande, Zelande, Westfrise, Utrecht, Frise, Overyssel & Groeningen (etc.).

Dordrecht, Jacob Canin chez Guillaume Guillemot, 1601.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, three parts in two volumes, pp. (xxii) 650 (ii); 240 (xviii), (xvi) 780 (misnumbered 779) (xvi). Roman letter, Italic side notes, text in double column. Woodcut floriated and grotesque initials, both titles within splendid engraved architectural border with the instruments of learning above, of the arts, sciences and war at sides, and scenes depicting mercantile and maritime activity beneath, full-page portrait of the author and 57 three-quarter page engravings of emperors, governors and other important figures, including Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, by Christoph von Sichem. Contemporary autograph of ‘Simeon Mahon, Chartain’ (Chartres) and autograph of ‘Challine Boilleau’ on title-page, Nicolas-Joseph Foucault’s engraved armorial bookplate on pastedowns, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blind stamp to head of first three leaves of both volumes. Closed tear (original paper flaw) in plate on A1 vol 2, I1 verso and I8 recto printed upside down, R2 inserted in the wrong place, paper flaw in Mm3 vol 2, light age yellowing, a few sheets browned, printer’s ink thumbing in a few margins. A very good copy, with generally very good impression of the plates, in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a single gilt filet, gilt laurel oval at centers, spines with raised bands blind-ruled with gilt fleurons at centers. Title gilt-lettered in compartment, all edges of volume I yellow, those of volume II blue, head and tail of spines a little chipped, covers a little scratched.

First edition of this highly important and beautifully illustrated history of the Dutch Republic, printed privately for the author. The commendatory verses include one in Dutch by Nicholas Doublet. Although the author covers the whole of the country’s history up to 1600, about two thirds of the text is devoted to the C16th., making it one of the most detailed sources for the struggle for Dutch independence. Le Petit lists some 160 authors whose works he employed in his compilation, but much of its value lies in his use of manuscripts and original documents, and in his account of events otherwise unrecorded in printed histories.

Le Petit’s own history reflects the unsettled nature of the times he describes: although born in 1546 at Béthune into a noble Belgian family, he later abjured Catholicism and fled to Holland where he served William Ist, Prince of Orange. By 1598 he was living in Aix-la-Chapelle where he wrote his “Grande Chronicle” and dedicated it to the Estates-General of the United Provinces. An account of the reputed Swiss engravers, Christoph von Sichem Sr. and Jr., is given in Nagler II pp. 309-11. The portraits are generally finely engraved and are often expressive and vital, especially the superb full page portrait of the author after the title.

About sixteen pages in volume I describe the geography of the New World, the supposed origins of its native inhabitants, the voyages of discovery, the conquest of the Indians, the climate, agriculture and resources of the Americas, their colonization and government, the missions, and the shameful treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards. Further pages deal with the expeditions of the Dutch to the East Indies and their commerce and colonization there. In volume II Drake’s exploits against the Spaniards in the New World are recorded.

“Cette chronique, écrite en mauvais français, est fort curieuse pour les nombreux faits qu’elle relate, et que l’auteur a puisés aux sources originales. … Il dit dans son épitre dédicatoire qu’il a décrit les choses après les avoir vues sur les lieux, et promet d’être beaucoup plus exact que Guichardin qu’il contredit souvent” (Nouv. Biog. Gén.). “En revanche la valeur historique du 2e vol., qui embrasse la période de 1556-1600, est incontestable; il contient, à coté d’extraits de plusieurs auteurs antérieurs, beaucoup de détails et de particularités qu’on chercherait vainement ailleurs.” Biblioteca Belgica.

A very good copy, from the exceptional library of Nicholas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), marquis de Magny, statesman and passionate archaeologist, whose library was “parmi les plus précieuse concernant l’histoire de France” (Guigard II p. 221). Along with many of Foucault’s books, it later became part of the equally extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield.

Simoni, L 77. Brunet II 991 “Cet ouvrage est aujourd’hui assez rare” .Graesse IV,169. Bibl. Belgica L60. Not in JFB or Alden, European Americana.


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De Vita Francisci Xaverii.

Liege, Hendrik van den Hoven, 1597.


8vo. pp. (viii) 317 (xi). Roman letter, historiated and floriated woodcut initials, woodcut Jesuit emblem on title page, fine engraved portrait of St. Francis Xavier within ornate frame on verso, manuscript ex libris ‘Stanislaus Kostlla de Stacpoole, 13 Nov. 1846’ on title page, ‘IHS Maria’ in early hand on fly. A very good, clean copy in contemporary vellum, a little soiled, lacking ties.

Third enlarged edition, first published in unauthorised form in 1594, of Torsellino’s important biography of the truly extraordinary St. Francis Xavier, one of the earliest and best sources for his life. St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), “The Apostle of the Indies,” was one of the founding members of the Jesuit order and perhaps one of its most illustrious. He met Ignacio’s de Loyola in Paris at the university and was one of seven, including Loyola himself, who took the original Jesuit vows on the 15th of August 1534. He retained Francis at Rome until 1541, as secretary to the Society of Jesus, when John III, king of Portugal, decided to send a mission to his Indian dominions, and St. Xavier was chosen to lead it.

On April 7th, 1541, he sailed from Lisbon with Martim Alfonso de Sousa, governor designate of India. For the next twelve years, essentially following the Portuguese trading routes, he preached from Goa to Malacca, then on to Japan and China with extraordinary success, leaving an organised Christian community wherever he went. In travel terms alone, this was a remarkable achievement. His linguistic, cultural and evangelical legacy in Asia was vast. Within thirty years of his arrival in Japan, there were close to 300,000 Christian converts. He died attempting to start a mission in China, and was buried in Goa. He was beatified by Paul V. in 1619 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1621.

In six chapters, Torsellino’s work follows St. Francis’ life chronologically, concentrated almost exclusively on his Asian travels, and ends with a chapter on his miracles. Torsellino’s popular life of the Saint is valuable as one of the first European sources of information on Japan and the Far East in general. It contains not only an account of St. Francis’ exploits there, but also gives observations on the geography and location of the country, and on the character and manners of the Japanese, i.a. their language, religion, appearance, and cuisine.

Stanislaus Kostlla was the 3rd Duke of Stacpoole who became a priest and domestic prelate to the Pope. During the French Revolution, he acquired the remains of Fontenelle Abbey where he lived until his death in 1896. He gave over the Abbey to the French Benedictines in 1893, where the order remains to this day. An excellent copy, with interesting provenance.

BM STC Dutch p.199. Cordier, BJ. 128-9. JFB T144 . Not in Adams.


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POMODORO, Giovanni

La Geometria Prattica

Rome, Andrea Fei for Gio. Angelo Ruffinelli, 1624 [1623]


Folio, 58 unnumbered ll., A-M4 N6 O2. Roman letter, captions in Italic. Large engraved architectural t-p, Mars on the right, Victory allegory on the left, pediment with hanging grotesques and putti holding the Savelli arms, repeated on the right and left pedestal, motto ‘agor non obruor’ in between, large Aldine device on verso of last, 51 engraved plates, typographical and woodcut ornaments. Light age-yellowing, fly torn, couple of very sm. ink spots. A very good copy in contemp. limp vellum.

Second edition of this manual for surveyors, architects, geographers, cosmographers, bombardiers, engineers and captains on applied geometry and land surveying, completed by Giovanni Scala at the instance of the brother of Pomodoro after the latter’s death, and first published in Rome in 1599. Afraid of being charged with plagiarism, Scala made clear (cfr. his note at the end of the commentary on pl. VIII) which were his own additions, i.e. all the explanations and captions to Pomodoro’s plates, and seven new plates dealing with the measuring of the volume of parts of buildings such as columns, stairs and spires. Of Pomodoro’s plates, the first represents a selection of measuring instruments such as compasses and square rules; II-XXX explain the rules of the Euclidean geometry concerning triangles etc. (II-XXV), circular figures (XVI-XXIX), and solids (XXX); XXXI-XXXIX deal with the application of these rules to surveying (i.a. the measuring of the area of streets, rivers, moats, lakes, woods, and of the bases of trees and mountains) and XL with the measuring of corners in topography. The last three tackle the measurement of distances (pl. XXXXIII is reproduced in Mortimer). Giovanni Pomodoro was a mathematician of Venetian origin; nothing seems to be know of his life, and this is his only recorded work. Giovanni Scala, a military engineer of Friulan origin, lived in the second half of the C16th. The book is dedicated to Paolo Savelli, named ‘Principe di Albano’ in 1607 by pope Paul III. An interesting treatise made even more appealing by its illustrations, all finely engraved and rich in details and captions.

BM STC It. C17th p. 695. Graesse V p. 399. Riccardi I (2) 301. Honeyman 2513. Mortimer-Harvard It. 394n.


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MACROBIUS, Ambrosius Theodosius


In Somnium Scipionis Lib. II. Saturnaliorum, Lib. VII.

Lyon, Seb. Gryphium, 1556.


8vo. pp. 567 (lxxiii). Italic letter, some Greek, woodcut printer’s device on title, attractive historiated woodcut initials, famous ½ page woodcut world map and several astronomical diagrams, title fractionally dusty, ’50 40′ in early hand at head. A very good, clean copy in late C17 cat’s paw calf, covers double ruled in blind, spine with raised bands gilt in compartments, red morocco title label gilt, all edges speckled blue.

A beautifully printed copy of Macrobius’ two surviving works, most of what has come down to us from this Roman grammarian and philosopher; an abstract remains of a third piece on grammar. Macrobius was of African descent. He may be the Macrobius mentioned in the Codex Theodosianus as a praetorian prefect of Spain in 399-400, proconsul of Africa in 410, and lord chamberlain in 422. Macrobius’ Saturnalia, with its idolisation of Rome’s pagan past, has been described as a pagan “machine de guerre”. It recounts the discussions held at the house of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (c. 325-385) during the Saturnalia holiday and was written for the benefit of Macrobius’ son Eustachius.

The first book inquires into the origin of the Saturnalia and the festivals of Janus, leading to a history of the Roman calendar, and an attempt to derive all forms of worship from that of the Sun. The second begins with a collection of ‘bons mots’, many ascribed to Cicero and Augustus, and a discussion of various pleasures, especially of the senses, but most is lost. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth books are devoted to Virgil, dwelling respectively on his learning in religious matters, his rhetorical skill, his debt to Homer and other Greek writers, and the earlier Latin poets. The latter part of the third book is a dissertation upon luxury and the sumptuary laws. The primary value of the work lies in quotations from earlier writers, many now lost. The form of the Saturnalia is copied from Plato’s Symposium and Gellius’s Noctes Atticae; the chief authorities are listed at the end of this edition.

The second work is a commentary on the Dream of Scipio narrated by Cicero at the end of his Republic in which the elder Scipio appears to his grandson, and describes the life of the good after death and the constitution of the universe from a Stoic and Neo-Platonic point of view; from this Macrobius discourses upon the nature of the cosmos, transmitting much classical philosophy to the later Middle Ages. Cicero’s ‘Dream’ described the Earth as a globe of insignificant size in comparison to the remainder of the cosmos. Certain medieval manuscripts of Macrobius included maps of the Earth, including the antipodes, zonal maps showing the Ptolemaic climates derived from the concept of a spherical Earth and a diagram showing the Earth labeled as globus terrae, at the center of the hierarchically ordered planetary spheres; these are reproduced in the woodcuts in this edition.

The world map is important in that it shows a symmetry, in land and climate, between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Europe, Africa and Asia are shown in the upper hemisphere, with a vast southern continent (Antipodum Nobis Incognita) in the lower hemisphere. They are separated by an intervening great ocean (Alveus Oceani). Macrobius further labels his map with climatic zones according to the theory of Parmenides: two zones close to the poles are subject to frigid air (frigida), either side of the equator a torrid zone (perusta) and between these two moderate or temperate zones (temperate). His view of a large southern land mass was an early and important part of the long tradition of unknown south lands that influenced Pacific exploration and charting.

Adams M 68. Baudrier VIII 284. Dibdin II p. 220. Gultlingen V 1365. Not in BM STC Fr. C16 or Brunet.


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AGRICOLA, Georgius (BAUER, Georg)


De re metallica libri XII. De animantibus subterraneis liber.

Basel, Hieronymus Froben and Nicolaus Bischoff, 1561.


Folio, pp. (xii) 502 (lxxiv). Roman, Greek and Gothic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title and verso of last, two woodcut plates, one folding, a total of 273 large woodcut illustrations and diagrams in good clean impression, some full-page, white on black initials. Slight age yellowing, very light browning to title page. Tear in one leaf without loss, a little worming to one gathering at upper edge. A very good, clean, very well-margined copy in slightly later Dutch vellum over boards. Manuscript ex libris ‘Gelltich 1941’ in upper outer corner of title page, acquisition note and historic WWII bookplate on pastedown, early white and black stamped monogram also.

SECOND EDITION of the “first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy and one of the first technological books of modern times” (PMM), the earliest and pre-eminent early work on metallurgy and mining. It is remarkably richly illustrated with technical woodcuts of the highest quality, largely by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch (after Blasius Weffring). All of them are based on Agricola’s own drawings of processes and phenomena he personally observed.

The work “embraces everything connected with the mining industry and metallurgical processes, including administration, prospecting, the duties of officials and companies and the manufacture of glass, sulphur and alum. The magnificent series of two hundred and seventy three large woodcut illustrations…add to its value. Some of the most important sections are those on mechanical engineering and the use of water power, hauling pumps, ventilation, blowing of furnaces, transport of ores etc., showing a very elaborate technique” (PMM). It is “one of the great monuments of technology by reason of the comprehensiveness of its text and the detail and intelligibility of its numerous illustrations” (Singer, vol II, p. 27), and became “the early standard treatise” on the subject (Horblit, 2b).

It is also one of the important contributions to physical geology, in particular the influence of wind and water erosion on landscape and its clear account of the order of strata exposed by mines. The work concludes with a 20 page glossary of technical terms and names in Latin and German which contains a new scientific classification of minerals based on their physical properties; the mode of occurrence and mutual relation of some 80 minerals and ores are discussed, no less than 21 of them for the first time.

Written over two decades, the work illustrates Bauer’s familiarity both with the technical and financial aspects of mining as well as his concern for the health of the miners. Bauer had studied medicine in Leipzig before moving to the important mining center of Joachimstal (in latter-day Czechoslovakia) as the town physician. There, Bauer observed both by day and by night the unceasing activities of the mines, “and his interests were aroused by the metallurgical, mineralogical and chemical problems of the trade. He published several books relating to these, the above is outstanding in the field of all science and technology; it was published posthumously. Many large woodcuts present vivid pictures of men at work, machines pumping, ventilating, smelting, assaying, transportation, and hoisting equipment and methods of his time” (Dibner, Heralds of Science, 88). The work was translated into English in 1912 by Herbert Hoover, afterwards president of the United States.

This copy was shipping by convoy from Britain to South Africa in 1941 where it was acquired by Gelletich a major South African mining company, presumably for practical use. A valuable industrial textbook after nearly 400 years!

BM STC Ger. p.8; Adams A-350; PMM 79 (1st edn); Brunet I, 113; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 2 (1st); Duveen pp. 4-5; Ferguson I, p.9; Kress I, 71 (1st); Ford, Images of Science, pp. 124-5; Norman 20.


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DIONYSIUS Periegetes


De situ orbis. lat. von Antonius Beccaria.

Venice, Bernhard Maler, Erhard Ratdolt and Peter Löslein, 1477.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. 42 unnumbered leaves. a–d⁸e¹⁰. Roman letter, some Greek. Title within fine white on black, white vine border with shield in roundel below, white on black woodcut initials cut to the same design, occasional later marginal annotations. Light age yellowing, some minor mostly marginal spotting in places, fore-margins cut short, occasionally fractionally trimming sides notes. A good copy, crisp and clean in modern vellum, all edges blue.

Important and rare first edition of Dionysius’ didactic compendium of geographical descriptions of the known world in its first prose translation by the Veronese humanist Antonio Beccaria, and the first separately printed edition of the work. It had appeared in print in a free verse translation in Priscian’s Opera in 1470. Dionysius, a scholar-poet who flourished in Alexandria during the reign of Hadrian, describes the world as it was then known. In antiquity, it was widely read and extremely influential, both in the school room and among later poets. Translated into Latin, the subject of commentaries, and popular in Byzantium, it offers insights into multiple traditions of ancient geography, both literary and more scientific, and displays interesting affiliations to the earlier school of Alexandrian poets.

Dionysius of Alexandria, called Periegetes (the guide), was a contemporary of the great Hellenistic geographers Marinus of Tyre and Claudius Ptolemy. His description in verse of the inhabited world was long used as a school textbook and presented the known world as an island, sling-shaped, entirely north of the equator, extending from Thule (Iceland) to Libya. He limited the inhabited world eastward by the river Ganges, taking into account the Seres (Chinese and Tibetans) but locating them much less far east than Marinus. Beccaria’s translation into prose Latin also updated the work by adding details that could not have been know to Dionysius. For instance he expands the description of Ireland to discuss the merits of Irish horses and describes the use of peat for burning. Dionysius identifies numerous sources for various gems and precious minerals in Europe, Asia Minor, and South Asia.

This first edition is beautifully printed in a fine Roman type and elegantly decorated with fine white on black initials in the same style. The title border is sometimes found in red.

The earliest mention of China (here “Thina”) in Western literature. ‘Until the thirteenth century, Asia beyond India was practically unknown in Europe; only vague references to the Serica or Sinica of the Graeco-Romans helped keep alive a sketchy knowledge of China’s existence…’. Mentions here in Dionysius’ text referring to ‘Thina’ hark back to the mentions in the Periplus of the 1st century AD, which were the earliest surviving accounts in European literature (Löwendahl, ‘China Illustrata Nova’, 1 (1477 edition).

BMC V 244. IA 20490. GW 8426. Goff D253. Sander 2439  Essling 255. JFB D236. “The first edition of this first-century world geography”. Hain 6226.


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