PEVERONE, Giovan Francesco


Arithmetica e geometria.

Lyon, Jean II de Tournes, 1581.


4to. Two parts in one, pp. 132 (ii). Roman letter, with Italic. Woodcut medallion with Peverone’s portrait to t-p, surrounded by typographical border with interlacing ribbons, leafy tendrils and grotesques; half title with identical medallion to part 2; woodcut illustrations of geometrical schemas and instruments; decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Light age browning, a few scattered ink spots, small ink burn with minor loss to fol. 71 and to fore-edge of first gathering, very small oil stain to blank outer lower corner of four ll. A good copy in early vellum, traces of ties, partially recovered in vellum at a slightly later date. c1700 ms. Latin prayer to fep.

Scarce treatises on practical arithmetic and geometry, with important discussions of mathematical probability and geodetic triangulation. Born in Cuneo from a noble family, Giovan Francesco Peverone (1509-59) held numerous public offices including expert counsellor for the construction of hydraulic structures and fortifications. For his services to the city he was awarded the medal decorating the t-p of all editions of this work. ‘Arithmetica e geometria’ is a reprint of ‘Due breui e facili trattati, il primo d’arithmetica: l’altro di geometria’, first published by de Tournes in 1558. Whilst it reprised the structure and content of other such manuals produced on the Continent, it was the most influential which issued from the Piedmontese scholarly world—an unusual and original background surfacing in many mathematical demonstrations referring to operations with ‘fiorini di Piemonte’ or mathematical calculations of the area and physical shape of the Cuneo territory. The first part deals with practical arithmetic, i.e., basic operations, fractions (‘broken numbers’) and roots applied to everyday situations, such as games. Peverone was among the first to examine the question of mathematical probability concerning the subdivision of money during a game of cards. Had he reached the correct conclusion—one of the ‘great near misses of probability mathematics’—he would have anticipated the results of Fermat and Pascal by over a century (Kendall, ‘Studies in the History of Probability’, 1956). The second part is devoted to geometry and accompanied by handsome illustrations explaining how to measure towers, ditches and aqueducts. It is important for the description of contemporary instruments employed for measuring the land (e.g., the ‘planispherio geometrico’ of Peverone’s own invention) and the discussion of geodetic triangulation using Cuneo and other surrounding cities as reference points (Riccardi I/1, 266). A scarce, unusual and original fruit of Renaissance mathematical culture in the North-Italian provinces.

 Six copies recorded in the US.

Brunet IV, 583; Riccardi I/1, 265-66, and I/2, 70; Smith/de Morgan 290. Not in BM STC Fr.


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CATANEO, M. Girolamo.

Rote perpetue, per le quali si puo con qual numero di due dadi si voglia …

Brescia, Francesco Marchetti all’insegna dell’Ancora [per Lodovico Sabbio], 1562.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. Folio. ff. (2) 29, (1). Roman and Italic letter. Large printer’s woodcut device on title-page, one historiated initial, a few decorative and typographical head- and tail- pieces; armorial woodcut representing three lilies to verso of t-p, 58 full page diagrams for the computation of time. Light age yellowing, t-p a bit dusty, inoffensive oil splash to first ll., minor water stain progressively disappearing to central gatherings, small tear to lower right corner of first fol., worm trail to marginal upper corner of last 3 ll. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, fore edges slightly sprinkled red, yapp edges, rubbed.

Rare example of this curious mathematical-astronomical treatise by Girolamo Cataneo (d. circa 1584), a mathematician and military architect from Novara (Piedmont) who served Charles V of Spain as a soldier and then worked as a military engineer for many aristocratic families in Northern Italy. He wrote numerous books on fortification but was also interested in astrology and prognostication as a codified means of predicting events by observation of signs.

The book explains a board game based on calendar computations consisting of 58 numerical charts related to the 12 months of the year. With no element of skill or strategy, the game involves the casual extraction by chance of two numbers by the use of two dice, to calculate the Moon phases from 1562 to 1580, specific dates such as Easter and the beginning of the Advent and the Golden number.  The work also includes a dedicatory letter to the aristocrat Giovanni Francesco Stella from Brescia and an address to the reader in which Cataneo explains rules and results of the game. The dedicatory epistle highlights the usefulness of the work in relation to cosmography, shortly describing the ancient origins of the “perpetual wheels”, already mentioned by Homer. Interestingly, Cataneo maintains that publication was delayed to avoid criticism, probably expressing his disappointment at scientific censorship in the early modern age.

Only the Henry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Austin TX) and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Washington) recorded in the US. Not in Brunet or Graesse. Adams,  C 1022; BM STC It., 158. Houzeau-Lancaster, I, 14193. Not in Cantamessa.


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Archisesto per formar con facilità li cinque ordini d’architettura.

Vicenza, Appresso gli Heredi di Dominico Amadio, 1627.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (viii), [2], 100, [2]. A4 A-M4 N2. Italic and Roman letter. Elegant title page with half-page engraving of an architectonic sector (archisesto) and pair of compasses headed by the motto ‘FIRMA EX MOBILIBUS’ in cartouche. Floriated woodcut initials, head and tail pieces, and typographical ornaments. Large folding plate after prefatory material showing in detail the components of the architectonic sector; engraving of baluster on final plate. Richly illustrated with fifty fine architectural engravings for practical use. Pencil autograph of Emilio Barcovich from the city of Fiume (now in Croatia and known as Rijeka) and handwritten record of provenance (Coll. Ing. Robert Panicali – Parigi/Suresnes) on front pastedown, maybe by the noted collector Giancarlo Beltrame. Date of publication in old hand at foot of t-p; early ms. on verso of rear endpaper: ‘liber perrarus’ (very rare book). A very good, clean copy, some mostly marginal spotting, title a bit dusty with small hole in blank at head, occasional ink spot or thumb mark. In contemporary vellum over boards.

First and only edition of Ottavio Revese Bruto’s (Brendola 1585-1648) architectural textbook, which shows how to make and use an ‘archisesto’. The ‘archisesto’ is a proportional compass invented by the author, who based his invention on Galileo Galilei’s geometrical and military compass, the sector. The name ‘archisesto’ comes from the words ‘archi[tettura]’ and ‘sesto’ (compass). This work is a ‘do-it-yourself’ aid for architects; the tool became quite popular between C17th and C18th, especially in Britain, where it was known as the architectonic sector. A nobleman from the area of Vicenza, Revese Bruto was educated at the prestigious Accademia Olimpica, where he had the opportunity to study the legacy of some of the greatest Italian architects of the Renaissance, such as Andrea Palladio, Sebastiano Serlio, and Vincenzo Scamozzi. To mention but one, the triumphal arch of Campo Marzo (destroyed in 1938) was among his most important achievements, and his 1620’s fine engraving of the stage of the Teatro Olimpico became soon a widespread and well-known illustration of the most celebrated theatre of Vicenza. His interests spanned from theatrical art to the technique of perspective. He is given as the author of treatises on these subjects, even though Archisesto appears to be his only published work. As the title has it, the architectonic sector’s aim is to facilitate the mathematics behind the design of the five orders of architecture: the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Composite, and the Corinthian.

The book is divided in five sections which focus on these styles, and it is strongly informed by earlier paramount works on Classical architecture and proportion (above all, Vignola 1562; Palladio 1570). Revese Bruto illustrates how to design arches, architraves, columns, pedestals, capitals and balustrades according to the canons of each one of the five orders. His addressee is Federico Cornaro, Bishop of Vicenza, who is praised in verse at the beginning. It is known that Cornaro commissioned the re-styling of the façade of the Vicenza bishop’s palace to Revese Bruto in the same period in which Archisesto was published. The five sections are preceded by the advice to the reader. Instructions on how to make an architectonic sector follow, together with the folding plate that illustrates its components. In the advice, the author states that the design of ornaments has always been the most delightful part of his profession. However, he knows the decoration of buildings is no easy task, since the attainment of right proportions often requires complex calculations. His architectonic sector offers a shortcut in this respect, making the burden of mathematics lighter. Revese Bruto’s only regret, he confesses, is not to have succeeded in showing how to divide the lines of the arch.

In addition to the practitioners of architecture, the author makes clear that anybody dealing with geometry, arithmetic, and music, will benefit from the use of this multifunctional object. Not only will his ‘scherzo matematico’ (mathematical joke) help one to design archways and divide the lines of the arcade, but also it will allow the architect to plan ‘temples, theatres, amphitheatres, circles, towers, pyramids, colossai, mausoleums, and so on.’ Most interestingly, Revese Bruto instructs the reader on how to build an architectonic sector. By cutting the components out of the large folding plate, and gluing them on either card board or plywood, one can start to assemble a model of the tool, which however is way longer and more complicated a process. Revese Bruto explains it in detail, advising on materials to use, such as German brass foil, without neglecting the entrepreneurial aspect of his invention. He leaves the reader suggesting the purchase of a good metal architectonic sector in Padua’s Piazza della Signoria at the shop premises of the craftsman Aquilin Serena Giovine.

BM STC IT. C17th., pp. 742-743; Graesse, VI, p. 97; Riccardi, p. 351. Not in Fowler.


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STÖFFLER, Johannes


Elucidatio Fabricae ususque Astrolabii

Oppenheim, Jacobus Kobel, 1513 (colophon 1512).


FIRST EDITION. ff. xii, lxxviii. Roman and Gothic letter. Title within fine woodcut architectural border, putti above, numerous woodcut diagrams, charts and illustrations, some full-page, those on A6v, C4v and D3r with extension slips (single extension slip of D3 loosely inserted), woodcut arms of George Simler to **6 verso, fine white on black woodcut initials in various sizes, charming criblé white on black printer’s device at recto of last, **6 verso with poem by Philipp Melanchthon, occasional early ink marginalia in and English hand, early English manuscript price mark (3s 4d) at head of title page. Light age yellowing, title page a little soiled, minor restorations to lower blank corners of first three and last two leaves, light, mostly marginal, water-staining, the occasional thumb mark or minor stain, fractionally trimmed at outer margin. A good copy in contemporary speckled calf, sympathetically re-backed, spine gilt ruled in compartments with fleurons gilt to centres, morocco label gilt. a.e.r.

First edition of this hugely important and beautifully illustrated work, the first book of original astronomy published in the C16th. The most comprehensive treatise on the astrolable of its time, it was handsomely printed at the first press in Oppenheim. ‘Stoeffler recognized that, in mapping, computation of the distance between two places whose latitude and longitude were known failed to take into account the convergence of the meridians’ (Stillwell). The poem by Melanchthon, who was Stoeffler’s student, is possibly his first appearance in print.

Johann Stoeffler (1452-1531) was a mathematician, astronomer and instrument-maker who was appointed to the chair of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Tuebingen. His Elucidatio fabricae ususque astrolabii was one of the most influential books published on the astrolabe, with editions extending from 1513 into the seventeenth century. He was the teacher of Philipp Melanchthon, Johannes Schöner, and Sebastian Münster and a key member of the generation who considered Regiomontanus the paragon of Renaissance astronomers. Stoeffler adopted a programme of astronomical observation and publication of tables, and promoted the importance of precision instruments and practical accounts of how they worked. “Stoeffler devotes Part one to the construction of the components of an astrolabe, including marking the lines on the latitude plates; setting out the rete (with the star positions in Latin and Arabic); applying the calendar scale, the shadow square and the unequal hours lines to the back; making the rule, alidade, axis and suspension shackle. Stoeffler also discusses an horary quadrant for equal hours, the use of the shadow square in surveying, and the astrological applications of the astrolabe. Such was the currency of his account that ‘Stoeffler’s astrolabe’ came to stand for fixed-latitude astrolabes, as distinct from the universal ones.” J. Bennett and D. Bertoloni Meli, Sphaera Mundi: Astronomy Books in the Whipple Museum 1478-1600.

The second part of the work gives detailed explanations the use of the astrolabe with equally remarkable woodcut illustrations. Stoeffler ends his work with a discussion of perspective and measurement. Jacob Koebel, the printer of this work, was a surveyor and practical mathematician in Oppenheim, near Mainz. He was also a prolific printer and publisher of his own works. After publishing this work by his friend, Johann Stoeffler, in 1513, Koebel went on to produce his own treatise on the astrolabe.

USTC 649878. BM STC Ger. 834.C16th Adams S1886. Houzeau & Lancaster 3256.  Stillwell Science, 892. Wellcome 6099.


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Elementorum geometricorum libri XV.

Basle, Iohannem Hervagium, 1546.


Folio, pp. (viii) 587 (i). Roman letter in two sizes, commentary in italic, some Greek innumerable woodcut mathematical diagrams in text. Printer’s woodcut device on title and verso of last, fine white on black historiated Holbeinesque initials in various sizes. Blank fore edge of first gathering slightly frayed, that of the title with early repair, light marginal water-staining in last few gatherings, occasional minor dust soiling. Generally a most attractive copy in strictly contemporary London blind-stamped calf, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, roll-tooled second panel with lozenge-shaped inner border to both covers (Oldham pl. LI: 866), spine neatly repaired, pastedowns taken from an English rubricated manuscript. c.1400 with decorative initials, eps. from Galen’s De Compositione medic., Basle 1530. C16th autograph and manuscript acquisition note of R. Skene or Shene on title.

A very interesting copy of the second edition of Herlinus’ Latin edition of the collected works of Euclid first printed nine years earlier: it is quite differently set up. A reissue of the Elements edited by LeFèvre, Paris, 1516, “with few changes but with the addition of the ‘Phaenomena, Optica’ etc. For the edition of 1537 the Paris edition was collated with ‘a Greek copy’ by Christian Herlin.” Heath, ‘The thirteen books of Euclid’s Elements’. The text is embellished with the commentaries of Theon of Alexandria and Campanus, in the Latin version of Bartholomaeus Zambertus. “I now come to the Basle editions, an important series, all folios printed by Johann Herwagen between 1533 and 1558. He was the first printer to inset Euclid’s diagrams in text. Earlier printers, and some later, placed them in the fore margin.” Stanford.

This copy is complete with the six-page dedication by Melanchthon to the ‘studiosis adolescentibus’ which is often mutilated or missing (see e.g. Thomas-Stanford copy). “From many copies this introduction has been removed by the clerical censor who has added his stamp” Stanford. A typographically handsome (see full-page reproduction by Thomas-Stanford) and textually significant edition of the “compilation of all earlier Greek mathematical knowledge since Pythagoras, organized into a consistent system (…) the common school textbook of geometry for hundreds of years.” (Printing and the Mind of Man 25 on first Latin edition). The last 100 pages comprise the minor works of Euclid such as the Phaenomena Data, Specularia and Perspectiva. A handsome and interesting copy in a charming contemporary London binding.

BM. STC. Ger. p.288 (at least one imperfect). Adams E 975 (1 ditto). Thomas-Stanford 11. (Full page reproduction)


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Venice, Joannes Tacuinus de Tridino, 1510.


Folio, 240 unnumbered leaves. (10) A-Z8, AA-EE8, FF6, lacking last blank. Theorems in gothic letter, demonstrations in Roman, first two lines of title woodcut with rich gothic decoration, large woodcut device of St. John the Baptist signed BM beneath. First leaf of text printed in red and black with large white on black woodcut border on three sides of putti, mermen, vines vases (taken from the 1504, Legendario delli sancti), printer’s white on black device on verso of last, fine large white on black historiated and floriated initials, outer margins with printed geometrical diagrams on most pages, “nulla virtus sine labore” in contemporary hand in shield on woodcut border, some contemporary marginalia, including a manuscript diagram on B6. Lower outer corner of title a little thumbed, small worm trail in upper blank margin of first few leaves, occasional minor marginal water staining, the odd spot or ink splash. A very good copy, crisp and clean, on thick paper, in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties, title manuscript on spine, vellum a little creased and stained.

A lovely example of a beautiful and important book. “It was a translation into Latin from a Greek text by Bartolomeo Zamberti who claims that he has restored and excluded from the exposition of Theon many things that were ‘subversa et prepostere voluta’ in the version of Campanus. For example, the Pythagorean proposition becomes the 47th of the first book as we know it. Zamberti contributes a long preface on the life of Euclid. The thirteen books of the Elements are followed by the Phaenomena and Specularia.

The volume itself is a first rate example of the Venetian book of the time. There is an elaborate title-page with the printer’s well known cut of John the Baptist at the foot. The first page of the text has a fine border, and the larger initial letters are a charming set depicting children playing. In 1510, some of the same sheets were reissued with a freshly printed last page. Both issues seem to be among the rarest of early Euclids” Thomas-Stanford pp. 5-6. In fact this issue is entirely reset after gathering O.

Zamberti’s was a very significant edition. It was the first publication of a Greek based Latin ‘Elements’ as an integral whole, the Greek text he employed was essentially uncorrupted and it is the first to contain translations of a number of the minor Euclidian works. It may not be as superior to Campani’s recension (the first edition) as Zamberti claims but at least it is free of the errors of the mediaeval copyists.

“Euclid’s Elements of Geometry is the oldest mathematical textbook in the world still in common use today.” Printing and the Mind of Man 25 on first edition. This is a lovely, fresh copy, with wonderfully clear impression of the type and woodcuts of this important work, rare in its original binding.

BM STC It. p.238. Thomas-Stanford 5. Essling 284. Sander 2609.


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The Surveyor in foure bookes.

London, W. Stansby for W. Burre, 1616


Folio, pp. [xii] 228. Roman letter. Fine, large engraved frontispiece portrait of Rathborne by Simon de Passe, engraved title with allegorical figures of Arithmetica and Geometria surmounted by celestial and terrestrial globes and ‘Artifex’ trampling fools and dunces underfoot, and two vignettes of surveyors in the field with their various instruments by W[illiam] H[ole], further engraved portrait of the dedicatee, a young Charles I as Prince of Wales, by F. Delaram. Elaborate woodcut headpieces to opening of each book, geometric woodcut illustrations to text throughout, including a three-quarter page illustration of a quadrant, woodcut initials. O3 is a cancel, fifth line of verso has “58 4/5”. Light dampstaining to lower margin, slight discolouration to upper edge of a few leaves in initial gathering, occasional light thumbmark, paperflaw to outer edge of R3, generally very good. Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, the spine titled in brown ink in a 17th-century hand. A little spotting to outer edge of upper board. Edward Thorne, contemporary ownership inscription to title (deleted), library of the Earls of Macclesfield, their nineteenth-century armorial bookplate to front pastedown, and armorial blindstamp to title and A3.

FIRST EDITION. A very good copy of “the first comprehensive English textbook on Survey” (Singer, vol. III, p. 541). Rathborne addressed the difficulty for contemporary surveyors of computing the areas of fields and estates. He was an advocate of the new decimal arithmetic introduced by Simon Stevin in 1585, and made use of trigonometry, as well as being a staunch supporter of the then relatively new pocket-tables of logarithms. This is one of the most important works of the new kind of vernacular literature on surveying which began to appear at around this time. These offered practical advice for surveyors ‘in the field’, using relatively straightforward equipment, as opposed to concentrating on fanciful advances in scientific instruments. Rathborne presents the basic principles of geometry, and expounds upon their application, as well as discussing instruments useful to the art of surveying (some of them of his own invention, viz. the ‘peractor’ and the decimal chain, an improved version of which is still in use today), and finally discourses on the legal aspects of survey, thus setting out a comprehensive introduction to the practical process of surveying.

The frontispiece portrait of the author here shows him in 1616 (aged 44), in a high ruff, at a desk holding a compass, with other, simple mathematical instruments in the lower spandrels (Hind II, p. 267). The portrait of the dedicatee, the future Charles I as Prince of Wales, by Francis Delaram, shows the future King wearing an elaborate lace collar, and the order of the garter, with his royal arms beneath.

The stunning title-page engraving by William Hole, an English artist active around this time, and mainly known for his portraits and frontispieces, shows “surveyors at work with theodolite and plane-table, their instruments mounted on tripods…readings are entered in an orderly manner in a field-book and plotting is done with a protractor and a mounted needle for pricking points. A bearing-dial or circle termed a ‘circumferentor’ is also in use, and the particular pattern described includes a table of horizontal equivalents on the alidade”. (ibid., p. 542).

STC 20748; Hind II, p. 267; Johnson 27:15; cf. Taylor, Tudor, pp. 154-5.


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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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ZUCHETTA, Giovanni Battista


Prima Parte della Arithmetica

Brescia, Vicenzo Sabbio, 1600


FIRST EDITION, Folio. Pp (xviii) 412 (iv). Italic letter within printed double-line border,numerous printed mathematical calculations in text. Title within elegant architectural border, large medallion portrait of the author aged 48 at foot, contemp ms ’40’ beneath. Fine engraved portrait of the dedicatee Christopher Papa of Nuremberg with woodcut initial and ornamental headpiece in next, further woodcut initials and ornaments. Contemp. printed correction slip pasted to contents table, very occasional early ink marginalia and corrections, prob of Antonio Orsetti, his contemp. autograph on fly. Slight age yellowing, prelim blank with oil marks, a very good, clean, well-margined copy in contemp. vellum over boards.

Rare first and only early edition of this handsomely produced, important, arithmetical textbook devoted to practical and commercial arithmetic and a leader in its field. Although described as ‘Prima Parte’ it is in fact the only part ever printed.

Zuchetta was a mathematician from Genoa; in his preface he apologizes to the reader for writing in his provincial ‘Genoese’ rather than the by now general Tuscan. “The ‘Prologo’ is a curious dissertation on the ‘Arti Scienze, & altro,’ with some ninety-eight arguments to show the need for arithmetic on the part of all classes of humanity. The farmer, the musician, the thief, the cook, the prelate, all are shown to have need of number; and Nature, Intelligence and even God himself make use of it. The book presupposes a knowledge of the arithmetic of integers, and opens with a treatment of fractions. The rule of three, in all of its forms, and with the most unbusinesslike numbers, is then discussed at great length and this is followed by various complications of the Regoladel Cattaino, ‘cosi detta da gli Arabi inventori di quello, ch’in lingua nostra significa falso posizione’. The latter part of the book [everything after p. 175] treats of such topics as partnership, barter and alligation.”(Smith, cit. infra) Much of the text deals with mercantile transactions, especially those involving more than one currency and tables of exchange rates are given for all the major trading centres likely to be of interest to Italian merchants – a full page is given of the currency rates in London, ‘sterlini’ against the principal Italian currencies. Apart from its obvious mathematical interest (though it produced or developed no new theories) the work is obviously of considerable interest to the social, economic and legal historian.

Antonio Orsetti evidently had a significant library, particularly of scientific and mathematical works, as an appreciable number can still be traced. He was clearly acquiring quite systematically in the first part of the 17th C, regrettably however we have discovered nothing more about him.

Scevolini Domenico, mathematician of XVI century was one of the last and most thoughtful proponents of judicial astrology in Italy before the suppression of the art by the index and the inquisition.

BM STC It. p. 745. Brunet V 1544 “seule partie publiée”. Smith, Rara Arithmetica pp. 425-26 (reprod. t-p). Not in Kress or Goldsmith’s. Riccardi I (ii) 674 “rarissimo vol… in bel. carat. corsivo…é apprezzto come uno dei migliori trattati di arithmetica mercantile.”


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MOLETI, Giuseppe


Tabulae Gregorianae Motuum Octavae Sphaerae ac Luminarium. [with] De Corrigendo Ecclesiastico Calendario.

Venice, Petrum Deheuchinum, 1580.


FIRST EDITIONS, large 4to., two works in one, ff. (viii) 50, 88 + 37 (i). Roman letter, woodcut initials and ornaments, a couple of astronomical diagrams in text. 88 leaves of astronomical and mathematical tables in first work, within printed line border, 13 of the ecclesiastical and solar calendar in second, the former printed in red and black. Jesuit library stamp and manuscript case mark in blank portion of title page, early manuscript price at head, de-accession label on fly, marginal worm trails to final leaf, well away from text. A splendid copy, with wide margins and very thick paper, crisp and clean in contemporary limp vellum, lacking ties.

Moleti (1531 – 1588) studied at the Jesuit college in Messina, where he was a pupil of mathematics, and published several works on geography and astronomy prior to his appointment as scientific tutor to the young prince of Mantua, Vincenzo Gonzaga. His important Dialogue on Mechanics discusses the problem of the speed of falling bodies of different weights, and anticipates the famous Tower of Pisa experiment of Galileo.

In 1577 he took up the chair of mathematics at Padua, and that year the Roman Congregation appointed by Pope Gregory XIII to reform the Calendar asked his opinion on the topic: his response was the second work comprised here, composed to provide technical arguments in support of the exact correction of the calendar and its astronomical tables, named the ‘Tabulae Gregorianae’ in deference to the Pope. This treatise was then published as an appendix to the astronomical tables of the motions of the fixed stars, the sun and the moon, accompanied by an explanation of the rules of astronomical calculation of the Canons for the Gregorian Tables’ proper use.

Moleti rejected the traditional computation cycles, rebasing the calendar on the real motions of the stars. Moleti’s work did not find favour with his scientific peers, but was much appreciated in Rome (to the tune of 300 Ducats), where the Pope asked him to continue his computations with the motions of the other planets. Moleti’s tables were calculated on the basis of the Copernican system which, as he first realised, Copernicus had based on the exact movements of the heavenly bodies, unlike the earlier Alphonsine tables. This was the earliest practical use by an Italian astronomer of Copernican theory. The resulting Gregorian calendar remains standard to this day. A most attractive copy of an important and very handsome book.

“Questa ediz. va noverata fra le piu splendide del sec. xvi, sia per la bellezza dei caraterri, sia per la qualita della carta e della impressione… Quest’opera redetta per ordine di Gregorio XIII fu quella che procuro all’a maggior fama di distinto astronomo,” Riccardi I 164-65.

Not in BM. STC. IT or Adams.


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