PADOVANI, Fabrizio.


Tractatus duo alter de ventis alter perbrevis de terraemotu.

Bologna, apud Giovanni Battista Bellagamba, 1601.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. 2 parts in 1, pp. (viii) 163 (xiii). Roman letter, little Italic. Printer’s woodcut device to t-p, 39 full- or half-page engravings of nautical charts (including one world map), buildings and instruments, decorated initials and headpieces. Early inked over ex libris to t-p, lower outer corner of B1 repaired, occasional slight thumbing or foxing to outer margin, a few ll. lightly browned, tiny hole touching one letter on K4, small holes to lower margin of last. A very good copy in contemporary vellum, rebacked, recent eps.

A very good copy of the first edition of this superbly illustrated work on the mechanics of air flow, with a short, appended treatise on earthquakes. Little is known of Fabrizio Padovani (fl. late C16-early C17), a ‘philosophus’ and ‘medicus’ from Forlì. Grounded in the tradition of Aristotelian meteorology, ‘Tractatus de ventis’ examined the physics of winds discussing their names, composition, cause, location in relation to the cardinal points, direction and effects on the weather, navigation, agriculture, architecture and mechanics. The sections on the directions of winds are handsomely illustrated with engraved round charts in fresh impression—in which the latest cartographic developments meet the Renaissance art of scientific engraving—reprising the structure of volvelles used for calculations in astronomical books. The section on the mechanics of air flow illustrates several kinds of air-operated machines including windmills and a steam ‘aeliopile’ called ‘inflator’, attributed to Johannes Anglicus. The second treatise discusses the nature of earthquakes and their causes, providing a final section on key questions including why earthquakes frequently occur at night time and are often followed by eclipses, plague or strong winds. A scarce, surprisingly little-known work on the sciences of meteorology and cosmography.

Riccardi II/1, 230: ‘Bella edizione’; Honeyman VI, 2387. Not in BM STC It. C17, Houzeau & Lancaster or Brunet.


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Sharh al-Mulakhas fi’Ilm al-Hay’a (a commentary on the Compendium of Cosmology), decorated manuscript in Arabic on polished paper

Region of Samarkand, likely last decades of fifteenth century


12mo, 170 by 95mm., 86 leaves (including 4 contemporary flyleaves), complete, text in single column throughout, 19 lines delicate black nasta’liq, some overlining and headings in red, numerous diagrams throughout the text also in red, contemporary annotations to margins, catch-words throughout, some very faint water-staining to extremities, a few early ownership annotations and stamps to preliminary and penultimate leaves, including some quatrains of Persian poetry, early eighteenth-century russet morocco with flap, centrally placed medallions stamped in blind to covers and flap, also ruled in blind, some staining and light wear to extremities.

Musa bin Muhammad Qazi Zadeh al-Rumi (d.1436), known simply as Qazi Zaheh, was an Ottoman astronomer and mathematician based in Samarkand. Qazi Zadeh was a celebrated scholar in his field and is best known for the Zij’i Sultani, his collaborative work with fellow astronomer and Govenor of Samarkand Ulugh Beg (d. 1449). Their treatise is considered the first truly comprehensive stellar catalogue containing over 900 stars and is still considered an important treatise in the field of cosmology today. During his career Qazi Zadeh also became the directory of the Samarkan educational observatory, built under the direction and patronage of Ulugh Beg, which became the centre for astronomical research and education in the region.

The present text is a commentary on Mahmoud ibn Muhammad ibn Umar al-Jaghmini’s influential astronomical text entitled Al-Mulakhas fi’Ilm al-Haya (Compendium of Cosmology) which was likely compiled in the early 13th century. Qazi Zadeh’s treatise both acts as a summary and commentary of Jaghmini’s text, dealing with the configuration of the celestial and territorial worlds combined (including the arrangement of Ptolemaic celestial orbs). These treatises are compiled in a simplified format to accommodate a wider scholarly community and thus explain cosmographic theories in basic elementary terms and target broad audiences. The approachable nature of this text meant it became particularly widespread, often copied alongside Jaghmini’s text, and was even used as a curriculum for schools in Ottoman regions. 

This particular manuscript was probably copied for personal use by a scholarly student. Though there are wide margins throughout (for annotation) the text itself is miniscule and copied in a very tight format, an economic solution for self funding copyist. The contemporary marginalia and ownership seals are in keeping with the Eastern regions of Timurid Persia, not far from Samarkand, and probably copied only a few decades after the author’s death. 


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Al-Tashrih bi’l-Taswir [a treatise on human anatomy], illuminated manuscript in Farsi on fine polished paper

Timurid Persia, probably Shiraz, likely first half of fifteenth century


4to, 243 by 159mm., 23 leaves, text divided into three separate sections, apparently complete, text in single column throughout, 24 lines fine black nasta’liq with headings in red, opening of first section with rectangular panel above the text containing the blessing ‘Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim’ in large gold thuluth script set against a backdrop of spiralling vines, 5 full-page anatomical illustrations, each with red, blue and green additions, text-panels ruled in blue and gold, occasional scattered smudges or faint soiling, outer edges of leaves chipped with slight loss in places (not affecting text), some edges repaired, a few eighteenth-century inscriptions to recto of first leaf and verso of final leaf, bound in seventeenth century limp leather, painted gold or bronze, spine and edges strengthened, a little rubbed. 

Mansur bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Yusuf bin Faqir Ilyas, known simply as Mansur bin Ilyas, was a Persian physician from Shiraz known to have compiled a number of notable scientific treatises, including the Kifaya-i Mansuri (a trestise on medicine). The present text, also known as the Tashrih-i Mansuri, is his most important work, the earliest known text to include a coloured atlas of the human body in the Arabic world. 

The text was first commissioned by Fars politician and Muzazzarid ruler Zayn al-Abdin and is formed of six (or sometimes seven) independent sections including: an introduction followed by chapters relating to muscular, arterial, osseous and nervous systems, an appendix on the formation of the foetus and key compound organs. Most of these sections include an illustration depicting the full length of the human body in relation to these physical systems, the rarest of which is that depicting the foetus (present in this copy). This is a particularly important section of the work because contrary to popular opinion among both contemporary and pre-eminent physicians, Mansur bin Ilyas was of the opinion that the heart was the first compound organ to form in a foetus, and not the brain. This particular chapter of the text explains this theory and cites related arguments made by Aristotle, Hippocrates, Abu Bakr al-Razi and Hippocrates among others. 

This is a notably early example of the text. Though the definitive dates of the author’s life are unknown, he is thought to have flourished in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries: and the style of illumination and script present in this copy strongly suggest it was produced in the first half of the fifteenth century. Thus the present manuscript could well have been copied only a few decades after the author’s death, and likely produced in a similar region in central Persia, quite possibly in Shiraz where the author himself flourished. The large gilt illuminated heading at the opening of the text together with the style of scribal nasta’liq and paper quality all indicate a date of production in the first half of the fifteenth century. 

Despite the wide margins present, there are very few marginal annotations to the codex. This indicates that the manuscript was probably used by a practising doctor or physician as a reference work instead of use by a scholar in the field of medicine. The very light weight and soft binding also strongly suggest that the manuscript was designed to be carried by a doctor going about his practice. It would take up little space and be very easy to pack. The use of gold and illumination indicate that the manuscript may well have been commissioned for a physician of the royal Timurid courts. 


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Book of Hours, Use of Autun, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum

France (probably Besançon), c. 1430


8vo, 165 by 105mm,152 leaves (plus original singleton at front, and original endleaf formed from final leaf of last gathering), wanting a leaf from end of Compline, the Office of the Dead, and the opening leaf of the Hours of the Cross. Catchwords, collation: i-iii6, iv-x8, xi7 (wants last), xii-xviii8, xix3 (wants at least one), xx8, xxi2, single column of 13 lines per page in late gothic bookhand, rubrics in red, line fillers in red and blue designs, capitals touched in pale yellow wash, small initials in red or dark blue (some with contrasting penwork), larger initials in same colours with elaborate scrolling penwork, initials opening major text breaks in blue or faded pink with white penwork, on burnished gold grounds and enclosing coloured twists of foliage. SEVEN THREE-QUARTER PAGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES edged with thin gold frames, with full borders of single-line foliage with gold and coloured foliage and flowerbuds enclosing sprays of coloured acanthus leaves, some spaces left for miniatures in suffrages, a few near-contemporary additions in Latin and French. Small spots and marks, a little flaking from a few miniatures or decorated borders, on fine vellum with wide and clean margins. In contemporary panel-stamped dark brown leather with flower-heads and fleur-de-lys set within frames of chevrons and foliage, some small scuffs, bumps and a few wormholes, loss at head of spine, eighteenth-century paper label “heures” on spine, leaves from later fifteenth-century Book of Hours reused as pastedowns, overall solid and in good condition.


  1. Most probably written and illuminated in Besançon for a male patron: the liturgical usage is either Autun or Besançon, while the Calendar is firmly the latter, with the local saint, Pierre de Bellevaux (also known as St. Peter of Tarentaise, 8 May), founder of the Cistercian abbey of Bellevaux where his relics were kept throughout the Middle Ages, as well as saint-bishops of Besançon: Claudius (early sixth century; 5 June) and Antidus the martyr (d. c. 407; 17 June). That said, St. Symphorianus, patron of Autun, appears in the Litany and so there may be some liturgical crossover between these two regions in the commission of this volume for an individual patron. The prayer, Obsecro te, appears on fol. 94 in the male form.
  2. C16 ms inscription on fly “Orants. Oudot La Verne”. La Verne is a village about 30 km from Besançon. “Oudot” was a popular medieval Christian name in the region and later also a surname. Oudot La Verne, a merchant tanner, married in 1582 and a little later Alexandre Oudot was curé of Verne.
  3. Almost certainly lost or disposed of following the suppression of religious life during the Revolution.
  4. Re-emerged recently in France


Principally Latin with some French. The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); Readings from the Gospels (fol. 14r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 20r), Lauds (fol. 34r), Prime (fol. 48r), Terce (fol. 55r), Sext (fol. 60r), Nones (fol. 64r), Vespers (fol. 68r), and Compline (fol. 76r); Hours of the Cross (fol. 83r); Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 87v); the Obsecro te and O intemerata (fol. 91v), followed by the Sept joies de la Vierge, Dulcissime domine and the Sept joies again in Latin; Penitential Psalms (fol. 103v) followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 127v); and Suffrages to the Saints (fol. 144r).


The miniatures here with their distinctively stout bodied figures and split eyes identify this as the work of a Besançon artist working in the second quarter of the fifteenth century (cf. F. Avril and Reynaux, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, 1993, no. 109). Our artist has been attributed to the painter of another Book of Hours, Use of Autun, now BnF., NAL. 3118, a follower of the artist of BnF., lat. 1186 (Book of Hours, Use of Langres) and New York, Morgan Library, M. 293 (Book of Hours, Use of Besançon).

The miniatures are: (i) fol. 20r, the Annunciation to the Virgin within a richly decorated interior with a burnished gold background; (ii) fol. 87v, Pentecost, with a gold and coloured tessellated background; (iii) fol. 103v, Judgement Day with Christ seated on a rainbow resting his feet on an orb, all before a dark blue night sky; (iv) fol. 127v, a funeral with hooded and tonsured monks standing before a covered coffin, all before a gold and coloured tessellated background; (v) fol. 144r, Archangel Michael striking a demon, before a gold and coloured tessellated background; (vi) fol. 146r, St. Anne and the Virgin Mary at the Golden Gate; (vii), fol. 151v, St. Nicholas.

An attractive and unusually early bourgeois Book of Hours, remarkably preserving its original decorative binding.


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Les escritures financiere et italienne bastarde.

Paris, chez l’Auteur, 1649, 1650.


Oblong folio. 3 unnumbered and unsigned ll. + 50 calligraphic plates + 1 engraved portrait. Mainly financière, Italian and bâtarde letter, little chancery, Hebrew, Armenian, Syriac and Arabic. 50 outstanding etched plates with calligraphic samples and pen flourishing, index (pl.1) within etched decorated frame, large engraved author’s portrait dated 1650, decorated initials and vignettes. Edges trimmed occasionally just touching pen flourishing, lower blank margins slightly shorter on five ll., the odd ink splash or marginal mark, small repair to pl.12 blank verso. An excellent copy, in fresh impression, in late C19 crushed crimson morocco, marbled eps, double blind ruled, raised bands, spine gilt, a.e.g., contemporary pen trials to five pls.

Handsome copy of this early (probably second) edition of this masterpiece of calligraphy—beautifully printed, with plates in fine impression, and unrecorded in major bibliographies. Son of a ‘maître écrivain’, Louis Barbedor (1589-1670) was a major master-calligrapher and Secretary of the Chambre du Roi. ‘Escritures’ is an outstanding summary of the calligraphic tradition of contemporary administration, with numerous samples reproducing document templates. The plates—‘supérieurement écrits, et parfaitement gravé sur cuivre’ (Jansen, ‘Essai’, 66)—were cut by Robert Cordier (d. c.1680). ‘In his mid-C17 overhaul of French royal administration, Colbert introduced three new scripts based on Barbedor, collectively known as ‘ronde’ ([…] a compromise between humanistic and gothic cursive): […] ‘écriture financière’ (an upright script still betraying several gothic features), coulée (a running […] script), and ‘italienne-bastarde’ (a sloping, more humanistic style)’ (Greetham, 210). The ‘bâtarde’ was written ‘using a quill cut differently […] and was, as a result, formed by different hand movements’ (Bennett, ‘Repertories’, 51). The plates also include samples of humanistic Roman capitals, Greek, English, Dutch, Hebrew, ‘Rabinica’, Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic and Armenian letter, as well as a handsome round diagram. A rare masterpiece.

This 1649 edition probably follows another without place or printer, tentatively dated 1647. Another printed, in Paris by N. Langlois, appeared without date, but probably c.1650. The author’s portrait, dated 1650, is also present in the Langlois edition.

No copies recorded in the US.
Berlin 5106-5107 (later eds only). Not in Brunet. H. Jansen, Essai sur l’origine de la gravure en bois et en taillerdouce (1808), II; L.P. Bennett, Sacred Repertories (Farnham, 2009); D.C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship (1994).


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Lilium musice plane.

Augsburg, per Johannem Froschawer, 1498.


Small 4to. 15 unnumbered ll., lacking final blank. Gothic letter. Handsome half-page woodcut vignette to title with Pythagoras and Lady Musica holding scrolls, printed music notation, decorated initials. Faint water stain to upper or outer blank margin of last gathering, tiny worm trail to lower edge of three ll., lower outer blank corner of b 6 minimally torn. An excellent, remarkably clean but unwashed copy in C19 navy blue crushed morocco by Zaehnsdorf, double gilt ruled, raised bands, spine gilt-lettered, bookplate of pianist Alfred Cortot to front pastedown, his small stamped monogram on lower outer blank corner of t-p and b 1 .

An excellent, fresh copy of the rare third edition—not in Goff, Hain or BMC—of this handsome music incunabulum. It was first published in Basel in 1496, and reprinted in Ulm the following year. Michael Keinspeck (c.1451-c.1516), from Nuremberg, studied under Josquin de Près and was later professor at Basel. In the introduction to ‘Lilium’, he provides a short account of his early career. ‘Lilium’—a plainchant manual—was conceived for the use of students. It was only the second such manual published in Germany, after Hugo von Reutlingen’s (1488). Plainchant (‘cantus planus’), of which Gregorian is a subcategory, refers to the monophonic chant, with a single melodic line, used in Catholic liturgy. After a definition of music, the work proceeds to discuss types of music (choralis, mensurata, rigmica), scales, cantus (durus, mollis, naturalis), single and double clefs, toni, modi and key change, with a section on intonations for psalms, for ferial and festal use, in eight modes. Extensive musical notation, including a table illustrating Boethius’s ‘scala vera et recta’, provides illustrative examples in four-line staffs, and were printed on woodblocks. ‘Based on the consistent style of the design and the cutting, it is likely (but not certain) that one designer or workshop produced all the woodcuts, including the diagrams, music and title vignette’ (Giselbrecht & Savage, ‘Printing Music’, 91). A rare incunabulum, beautifully printed.

From the library of Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), famous Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor, especially praised for his interpretations of musical classics of the Romantic era.

Only 4 copies recorded (1 fragmentary), none in the US. (No copies of first ed. recorded in US, the second only at LC and Rochester.)
ISTC ik00009200; Klebs 571.3; IBP 3328; Schr 4443; GW M16240. Not in Goff, Hain or BMC. E. Giselbrecht and E. Savage, ‘Printing Music’, in Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands, ed. A. Lindmayr-Brandl (London, 2018), 84-99.


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Corona delle nobili et virtuose donne. Libro primo [- quarto].

Venice, appresso Cesare Vecellio, 1601.


Oblong 8vo in 4s. 4 parts in 1, separate t-ps, ff. [28] unnumbered, A-G4; ff. [28] unnumbered, AA-GG4; ff. [28] unnumbered, AAA-GGG4; ff. [32] unnumbered, AAAA-HHHH4. Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps, large woodcut with Venus and gentlewomen sewing to A3, 108 white-on-black woodcut sewing patterns, occasional text or figurative illustrations of female personifications, animals or grotesques, decorated initials. Occasional finger soiling, marginal ink smudges from contemporary annotations to few blank margins or versos, small marginal repair to blank verso of first t-p and DDD2-3, outer blank margin of C3 and CCC2-3 trimmed. A very good copy, in fresh impression, in probably C19 russet morocco, later marbled eps, double gilt ruled, ornate early crimson morocco panel inlaid from probably original binding, bordered with rolls of tendrils, gilt to a pointillé design of corner- and centrepieces with large fleurons and gouges, semé of gilt dots, raised bands. Morocco label of Robert Hoe to front pastedown, numerous annotations dated 1682-1708, few later pencilled annotations to margins.

A lavishly illustrated sammelband of scarce editions, elegantly bound and of illustrious provenance, of the four parts of this famous sewing pattern book for gentlewomen. Cesare Vecellio (1521-1601) was a Venetian engraver and painter. His most famous publication is ‘De gli Habiti Antichi e Moderni’ (1590), a visual encyclopaedia of world fashion in his time. ‘Corona delle nobili et virtuose donne’ first appeared in 1591 in 3 parts, dedicated to Viena Vendramina Nani and also sold separately; a fourth, with a different title, was issued in 1593. All were reprinted, with additions, several times. ‘Although the earliest examples [of textile pattern books] were intended for a diverse audience of artists, craftsmen, and art enthusiasts, over the course of the C16 the titles, illustrations, and printers’ introductions were aimed more and more at […] girls and women’ (Speelberg, ‘Fashion’, 42). The patterns illustrated in these works reproduce famous stitching points used in Venice—a centre of lace production—and Europe. The most important are ‘punto a reticella’ (‘made by drawing the threads of the cloth […] or by working the lace on a parchment pattern in button-hole stitch’), ‘punto tagliato’ (cut-work) and ‘punto in aria’ (‘worked on a parchment pattern’); others, like the ‘opere a mazzette’ mentioned in the title, have remained unidentified (Palliser, ‘History’, 43-46). Some patterns were specifically for handkerchiefs or ‘bavari’ (veils) in the Venetian style. The annotations in this copy, dating 1682-1708, reveal the serendipitous fate of such crafts book, this copy having been used as an unofficial account book before being elegantly rebound for a bibliophile’s collection. The writer was from mainland Veneto (e.g., ‘mastea’ for washtub). Although the notes mostly relate to the sale of wine and grains, mentioning debts paid by specific customers (both men and women), the business included sartorial services, for which the present work provided practical suggestions. Indeed, there are accounts concerning cloths—cream-coloured satin, and distaffs (‘fuseli’) of linen and hemp—and finished garments (a satin shirt).

Robert Hoe (1839-1909) of New York was one of the great collectors of the turn of the C20. His personal library catalogue was published between 1903 and 1919 in 16 vols and its sale fetched over £400,000.

No copies recorded in the US.

Catalogue of the library of Robert Hoe II, 1879; Brunet V, 1105 (1591 ed.); Berlin Cat. 940. B. Palliser, A History of Lace (London, 1869); F. Speelberg, Fashion & Virtue (New York, 2016).


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Illustrium virorum vite.

Paris, Jodocus Badius Ascensius, [1520].


Folio. ff. (xxii) CCCXCIII, lacking final blank. Roman letter, index in quadruple column. T-p in red and black, handsome woodcut border with (above) scholar writing, putti and crowned dragons, (centre) large printer’s device showing Ascensius’s printing press, columns decorated with faces within ovals flanked by grotesques, (below) satyrs, soldiers on horseback and blank escutcheon; decorated initials. T-p a little finger soiled, small marginal ink splash, little repaired tear to lower blank margin of N5 verso, intermittent marginal foxing, few marginal small paper flaws, rubbed ink splash affecting a couple of words, minor water stain to upper blank corner of last two ll. A very good copy in contemporary Piedmontese brown goatskin, lacking ties, triple blind ruled to a panel design, second border single cross-hatched in blind with fleurs-de-lis and three-pointed comets, centre panel bordered with small blind-stamped ivy leaves, three blind-stamped IHS roundels bordered with ivy leaf tool, raised bands, compartments single cross-hatched, later label and ink casemark to spine, all edges green and gauffered to a dentelle design, small repair at head and foot of spine. Later red crayon inscription to front pastedown, early ms. shelfmark and largely discoloured circular stamp to front pastedown, early ms. ex-libris ‘D.D. Ioannis Iacobi Carante I.V.D. Cuneensis’ and ‘Ad uso Del Pre Ludovico Ma Caranta di Cuneo Mre Pa Prefto’ to t-p, c.1600, and ‘Joh[ann]es Joseph Rabius huius libri d[omi]n[u]s. Hunc Antonius Luperia Cuneensis dominus 19 April. 1589 scribebat’ to rear pastedown, the odd contemporary annotation.

In the C16, this copy was in the private libraries of families near the Piedmontese town of Cuneo. With roots in the hamlet of Quaranta, Joannis Jacobus and Ludovicus Carante respectively were a lawyer ‘in utroque’ and a prefect. Rabia and Luperia were local surnames, the latter aristocratic. The handsome contemporary binding was most likely produced in the Cuneo territory. Given the IHS stamps, a good candidate may be the Cistercian Abbey of Santa Maria di Staffarda, a large and influential institution, with a scriptorium until the end of the C15.

A very good copy of this handsome Parisian edition of Plutarch’s ‘Lives’, produced at the famous press ‘Prelum Ascensianum’. Established in 1503 by the classicist Jodocus Badius Ascensius (or Josse Badius, 1462-1535), formerly editor for the Lyonnaise printers Jean Trechsel and de Vingle. Badius specialised in classical editions; the present edited by Gérard de Verceil, with a detailed index. ‘Vitae’, by the Greek philosopher Plutarch (46-119AD), greatly influenced Renaissance ‘mirrors for princes’ and was used for moral instruction. The work provided parallel biographies highlighting the virtues, vices and deeds of renowned Romans and Greeks, including Pericles, Theseus, Cicero, Demosthenes, Romulus and Scipio Africanus (who elicited the interest of the early owner of this copy). First used in 1507, Badius’s ‘marque typographique’, after his own design, is the second, and first detailed, illustration of a printing press. In this edition, a new version appeared, recut by a German artist, with important differences. ‘In the second, the composing stick used by the figure in the act of setting type is changed from the right to the left hand; the press shows improved mechanical construction, indicating greater solidity and strength. […] the figure sitting at the case on the right side of the engraving is intended to represent a woman, instead of a man as in the earlier illustration’ (Roberts, ‘Printer’s Marks’, 116-17). The four tools hanging from the machine are scissors to cut the paper or frisket, a brush for pressing down the cloth or paper tympan, dividers, and a mysterious Y-shaped tool.

Only 4 copies recorded in the US.

Renouard, Imprimeurs & Libraires Parisiens, III, p.179; Pettigree & Walsby, French Books, 83337. Not in USTC, Dibdin, Moss, Brunet or BM STC Fr. W. Roberts, Printers’ Marks (London, 1893).


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DELMEDIGO, Joseph Solomon.


אלים. [Sefer Elim].

Amsterdam, Menashe ben Yisrael, 388-389 [1628-29].


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. 3 parts in 1, separate t-ps to two, pp. (vi) 83 (i) + engraved portrait, without [p]2 (Latin preface) as other copies, probably cancelled; (iv) 190; (ii) 80. Hebrew letter. Portrait of the author trimmed and mounted, repair to verso, typographical border to t-ps, astronomical and scientific diagrams, decorated ornaments. Part 3 bound after Part 1, intermittent light marginal water stain, mostly marginal ink or finger soiling, some marginal repairs, general fairly light browning, gatherings 9-102 and 11-122 of Part I transposed. A well-used but perfectly acceptable copy in modern crushed morocco, two morocco labels, later Hebrew inscription to ffep.

First edition of this extensively illustrated, most important Hebrew work on astronomy, mathematics, natural philosophy, music and geometry, written by ‘the first Jewish Copernican’, student of Galileo and a major influence on Spinoza.

Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (1591-1655) was a rabbi, physician and polymath from Crete. At Padua, he studied medicine and attended Galileo’s astronomy lectures 1609-10. After a brief stay in Venice, he journeyed the Middle East, eventually settling in Amsterdam in 1623, where he wrote ‘Sefer Elim’, his only known work. It is divided into two separately titled parts—‘Sefer Elim’ and ‘Ma’ayan Ganim’—the latter subdivided into four essays on astronomy, mathematics, the consonance of music and biblical passages in relation to the scientific method. ‘Sefer Elim’ is a reply to 12 broad and 70 specific questions posed in letters, reproduced at the beginning, by the Karite scholar Zerah. Delmedigo’s answer discusses Aristotelian natural philosophy, spherical trigonometry, celestial bodies, comets and the workings of the lever, illustrated with diagrams and illustrations.

Whilst Delmedigo’s in-depth analysis of Copernican theories was left unpublished and is now lost, his circumscribed references in ‘Sefer Elim’ are nevertheless revealing. ‘Part of Delmedigo’s support for the Copernican model is to be found in his criticism of the Aristotelian conception of the universe […] By rejecting this idea, Delmedigo not only took on the accepted scientific views of the past, but also challenged the Jewish model of the universe, which was based on Aristotle’; he also stated that the universe was possibly infinite and included other solar systems (Brown, ‘New Heavens’, 70). He mentions studying with ‘his teacher Galileo’, as he describes their observation of the sky and planets through the famous telescope; however, scholars believe Delmedigo became familiar with Copernicanism elsewhere, as until 1610 Galileo was not publicly or privately endorsing this theory (Brown, ‘New Heavens’, 74).

The epistemological inconsistencies of ‘Sefer Elim’ derive from Delmedigo’s complex relationship to the Scientific Revolution and Cabala-informed Jewish culture, resistant to the new method. As proved by the very title—a reference to the fountains of wisdom—he linked ‘Jewish-hermetic revelation with Copernican cosmology and sought material objects such as ancient Hebrew mss that, purportedly, maintained a stronger connection to the revelation’, seeking to connect Jewish theology and Copernicanism (Ben-Zaken, ‘Cross-Cultural’, 78). The work ‘became suspect in the eyes of the elders of the Sephardic community, and a committee was formed to investigate the matter. The book had to be translated orally into Portuguese’; the printer had to declare officially that certain portions would not be published, though by then Delmedigo had moved elsewhere (Heller, ‘C17 Hebrew Book’, 471).

Like the copies at Hebrew Union College and Thomas Fisher Library, this collates with 3 of 4 leaves of preliminaries, lacking the Latin preface on the second. This summarises the content for a non-Hebrew readership, and explains the title. A puzzling addition to a work written entirely in Hebrew, it was probably cancelled for Hebrew-speaking readers. 

Heller, C17 Hebrew book, 470-71; Bib. Hebr. Book, 10125944; Steinschneider, Cat. librorum hebraeorum, 1510-1511, 5960/1-3; Wolf, Bibliotheca Hebraea, I, p.566, n.976. J. Brown, New Heavens and a New Earth (Oxford, 2013); A. Ben Zaken, Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560-1660 (Baltimore, 2010). Not in Riccardi, Houzeau & Lancaster or Lalande.


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Artis Magnae Artilleriae. Pars Prima.

Amsterdam, apud Ioannem Ianssonium, 1650.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (xvi) 284 (iv) + 22 engraved plates (1 folding). Roman letter, little Italic or Greek. Engraved architectural t-p with scattered burning fireworks, and pyrotechnical fountain; 22 engraved plates with 229 illustrations of geodesic instruments, international weight measurements, artillery, rockets, fireworks and pyrotechnic machinery; decorated initials. First few ll. foxed, some mainly marginal spotting, final text gatherings browned, small paper flaw to lower outer blank corner of 2 ll. A good copy in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, raised bands, gilt-lettered morocco label, small hole to upper board, all edges sprinkled blue. Bookplates of ‘GPC’ and Fratelli Salimbeni to front pastedown.

A good copy of the lavishly illustrated (here in fresh impression) first edition of this major treatise on artillery, rockets and fireworks. Kazimierz Siemienowicz (1600-51) was a general of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, an expert of artillery and military engineering, and a pioneer of rocketry. Based on long-standing experience, ‘Artis Magnae Artilleriae’ was an encyclopaedia of artillery and pyrotechnics. Although the t-p specifies ‘part one’, the second part, for which the author provided the contents in the preface, was never published. It was translated into French (1651), German (1676) and English (1726), becoming the standard manual. ‘[…] beyond the theory and practice of the construction of guns, missiles and rockets, it contains historical observations and quotations from over 200 ancient and modern authors. Beside showing the state of contemporary science and technology, it provides mathematical formulas, as well as information on the physics and technology of metals, methods of preparation of explosives, and extensive lists with measurement units’ (Thor, ‘Tłumaczenia’, 9). The preface provides a disquisition on ‘artilleria’, ‘ars bombardaria’, ‘pyrotechnia’ ‘pyrobolia’ and ‘ballistica’. The first part deals with the rules of calibre and the construction of pyrotechnic instruments considering the weight and transmutation of metals, with detailed comparative tables of international weight measurements. The second discusses the preparation of artillery materials, especially gunpowder. The third focuses on the construction of rockets operated with sticks, on water or ropes. The fourth deals with globes, both ‘recreational’ (entertainment firework, ‘aerei’, ‘saltantes’ and ‘aquatici’) and military (including those releasing poison and smoke). The last focuses on pyrotechnic machinery for entertainment (e.g., to be used during festivals in the form of triumphal arches, obelisks or statues) or war. The illustrations are clearly referenced in the text. Fascinating are the machines devised for entertainment: e.g.,  a dragon-shaped pyrotechnic construction and another shaped like a fountain with Fortune standing on top, whose paper dress will catch fire when the pyrotechnic trick is channelled through a pipe inside the fountain. A lovely, beautifully illustrated work.

Spaulding, Early Lit. of Artillery, 9; Graesse VI, 401; Philip, Firework Books, S130.1. J. Thor, ‘Tłumaczenia Artis magnae artilleriae K. Siemienowicza’, Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki 13 (1968), 91-102.


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