LEOPOLD of Austria


Compilatio … de astrorum scientia decem continentis tractatus.

Venice, per Melchiorem Sessam & Petrum de Rauanis socios, 1520.


4to. 94 unnumbered leaves. A-L⁸ M⁶. Gothic letter. One large historiated initial, many fine white on black floriated initials, woodcut of astronomer with celestial sphere on title page, Messsa’s woodcut cat device beneath, numerous woodcut astronomical diagrams and illustrations in text, including two sets of zodiacs, one based on that of the editions of Hyginus, the sphera mundi, celestial figures of the sun, moon, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter etc. driving various chariots, many repeated, astrological tables of predictions. Light age yellowing, A2 and 7 a little creased and soiled at edges, expertly repaired, closed tear restored in I1, the odd marginal thumb mark or spot. A very good, well margined copy, crisp and clean, in modern olive morocco, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, double blind ruled in compartments, inner dentelles richly gilt. 

Beautifully printed and finely illustrated second edition of this important and influential astronomy, by the 13th-century astronomer, Leopold of Austria, first printed by Ratdolt, in 1489. Primarily a work of astrology based on the writings of Albumasar, the sixth book concerns meteorology both from a theoretical and a practical point of view, and includes folkloric methods of weather prediction and general descriptions of winds, thunder etc.

Although virtually nothing is known of the author, the work was influential in the late Middle Ages, being cited by the great astronomer, Pierre d’Ailly, and admired by Regiomontanus, who proposed to edit it. This edition retains the dedication to Udalricus de Frundsberg, bishop of Trient, by Erhard Ratdolt, printer of the first. In the introduction Leopold states that he cannot take credit for the work as there was more than one author and he was just a ‘fidelis illorum observator et diligens compilator.’ He states his goal is to describe the motion of the stars, and to focus particularly on describing their effect. He describes astronomy as a necessary starting point and foundation for the study of astrology.

The Compilatio is divided into ten treatises: the first and second on the spheres and their motion. There is a dissertation on the comets at the end of the fifth book, beginning with a short discussion of Aristotle’s theories, which recounts the opinion of John of Damascus (676 – c. 749), who asserts, in his ‘De Fide Orthodoxa,’ that these celestial bodies announce the death of a King, and that they do not belong to the stars created in the beginning, but are formed and dissolved by God’s will. He then gives a list of the nine comets and their latin names, ending with the meanings derived from their presence in each Zodiacal sign. These are a transcription of Albumasar’s ‘De magnis Conjunctionibus.’ A very good copy of this beautifully illustrated and rare edition.

BM STC It. C16th (assigning it to Pencio) p.375. Adams L-516. Sander 3948. Essling 2081. Caillet 6636 (first edition only). Honeyman V 1989. Cantamessa II 4422. “Imponente e importante trattato in 10 libri”. Houzeau-Lancaster 4702 “fort rare”


Print This Item Print This Item



Praeciosa ac nobilissima artis chymiae collectanea.

Nuremberg, Gabriel Hain, 1554.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, ff. (8), 124. Roman letter; printer’s device on title, large historiated initials and full-page alchemical illustration; a few leaves lightly browned. A very good, wide-margined copy bound with folded fifteenth-century German manuscript leaf on vellum of liturgical music over eighteenth-century boards; black and red text of various Psalms with music sheet and two red and blue decorated initials; slightly rubbed on spine, a couple of small stains to rear cover, corners a bit bumped and chipped; on front endpaper, seventeenth-century owner’s inscription ‘Cathena,’ tiny old bookseller’s stamp on front pastedown and modern pencil shelf marks on front endpaper and title versos.

Fine copy of the rare first edition of a fundamental text on alchemy. Janus Lacinius, probably a humanist pseudonym, is thought to be Giovanni da Crotone, a Franciscan friar from Calabria. This German edition was considered for a long time a reprint of another alchemical collection by Lacinius, published by the Aldine press in Venice in 1546 (Pretiosa Margarita Novella de Thesauro); however, despite the similarity in the titles, the contents are substantially different, and this Praeciosa collectanea is now correctly regarded as a first edition.

In this book, Lacinius provides a detailed overview of the vast world of alchemy, describing in particular how to obtain the philosophers’ stone through many stages of metal refinement. The large initial woodcut depicts a sort of an outdoor laboratory, with a scholar handling a huge vessel, and a massive circular furnace crackling behind him.

The printer’s dedication presents alchemy as a useful and Christian discipline, and addresses Anton Fugger’s nephews, Johann (Hans) Jakob (1516 – 1575) and Georg (1518 – 1569). Their renowned book collections are extensively praised and hailed as unparalleled venues for the preservation and transmission of knowledge, where a book like Lacinius’ must not be missed. Hans Jakob Fugger was one of the greatest collectors of his time, gathering some 12,000 volumes, mostly provided with fine luxurious bindings and including the collection of Hartmann Schedel, the author of the Nuremberg Chronicle. In 1571, the bulk of Hans Jakob’s books was purchased by the Duke of Bavaria and is now held in the Bavarian State Library. The library assembled by Georg Fugger, less known and extensive, was nevertheless very rich in mathematical, astronomical, astrological, and other scientific works.

Rare. Not in Adams, Brunet or Caillet.

BM STC Ger., 480; Duveen, 332; Ferguson, II, 3;Graesse, IV, 63; VD16, L34; Wellcome, 3608.


Print This Item Print This Item

KEPLER, Johannes


De stella nova … De stella tertii honoris in cygno … De Jesu Christi servatoris nostri vero anno natalitio.

Prague and Frankfurt, Pavel Sessius and Wolfgang Richter, 1606.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, four parts in one volume, pp. (12), 212, 35, (5), wanting final blank. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic and Greek; four separate title-pages, woodcut printer’s device on first, neat double-page engraved plate and several diagrams; very light browning throughout, small damp and rust stain to margins of very few leaves. A good copy in early nineteenth-century calf, gilt panel and blind-tooled roll of interlacing flowers, all edges red, corners slightly chipped. Contemporary inscriptions on front fly, including title, author owner’s inscription ‘John M ….’ in an English hand written over, early monogram ‘H G’ on head of title.

First edition of Kepler’s detailed essays describing the supernova which appeared at the foot of the constellation Ophiucus in 1604. Johann Kepler (1571-1630) is one of the most important modern astronomers and mathematicians, along with his teacher Tycho Brahe and Galileo Galileo. Working at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, he was able to improve the refracting telescope and formulate the fundamental laws of planetary motion correcting Copernicus. This invaluable account provides information on the supernova’s colour, brightness, distance to the earth as well as other events related to this still unsolved astronomical phenomenon announcing the death of a star. The supernova was the last to be seen in the Milky Way and was named after Kepler in the 1940s.

Its appearance revived the debate among scholars on whether the incorruptibility of the cosmos established by Aristotle was valid or not. For instance, Galileo delivered a lecture on the supernova, considering it as disproof of the Aristotelian theory. In 1604, Kepler was observing the conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, an event which he calculated to happen exactly every 800 years. On October 10, Kepler witnessed the supernova and assumed the two phenomena were related. While working on his scientific description, he came across the essay of the Polish astronomer Laurence Suslyga, who had argued that Christ had been born in 4 BC on the basis of other celestial calculations. On this account, Kepler concluded that 1600 years earlier (i.e. 4 BC) the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction had provoked another supernova, which had been recorded in the Gospel and it is known as the Christmas Star or Star of Bethlehem. Such a theory is set out in the fourth part of this remarkable collection of treatises.

This editio princeps has two variants, depending on the presence of the imprint ‘impensis Authoris’ in the main title. Although a definitive priority has not been established, Kepler’s letters seem to suggest that the present title page is the earlier. Kepler was probably dissatisfied with the quality of this first print-run and paid for another. The presentation copy to James I in British Library was from the second printing.

Graesse, IV, 11; Caspar, 27; Cantamessa, 2289; Cinti, 17; Houzeau & Lancaster, 2843; Zinner, 4097; DSB: ‘A monument of its time.’


Print This Item Print This Item

BACON, Francis

De Augmentis Scientiarum.

Amsterdam, Johannis Ravestemius, 1662.


12mo. pp. (xx) 607, (LXVIII). Roman lettter, finely engraved title page, early manuscript ‘Liber R. Harby’ at head and Mich: Batt a. aR on inner rear board. Light age yellowing, good copy in contemporary calf, re-backed, spine re-mounted, corner repairs.

Gibson 135.


BACON, Francis

De augmentis scientiarum libri.

Leiden, Adrian Wijngaerden, 1652.


12mo. pp. (x) 684, (lx), lacking final two blanks. Roman and Italic letter, engraved title page depicting Bacon reading a folio volume with a wildly dressed figure holding a volume and representing the Book of Nature. Age yellowing, upper margin of first few gatherings cropped closely but with no loss, contemporary manuscript biographical note added to fly, ascribed to Thomas Fairfax (1693-1781), George Washington’s friend, patron and mentor, whose ex libris appears in pencil above, in C1800 polished calf by J.J. Cowling of Barnet (label on pastedown), with red morocco label on spine, with title and compartments gilt, all edges speckled blue.

Gibson 133.


BACON, Francis

De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum.

Paris, Petry Mettayer, 1624.


4to. pp. (xvi) 540. Roman and Italic, woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. Light age yellowing, a good, clean and well-margined copy  in later paper over boards, rebacked with speckled calf, spine gilt in give compartments.

Gibson 130.




Libellus de Epidemia, quam vulgo morbum Gallicum vocant.

Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1497.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., 29 leaves, a-c8, d(4+1). Predominantly Roman letter, little Greek; lower outer corner of title slightly soiled, very light marginal water stains. A very good copy in old vellum, recased, gilt title and author’s name on front cover; five marginalia, including a scholarly cutting remark (slightly cropped), in same contemporary probably French hand at head of title ‘Est Meij Jo. Baptis. Loms[?]’.

First edition of the earliest scholarly account of syphilis, by Niccolò Leoniceno (1428-1524), a very influential physician, botanist and scholar of the Italian Renaissance. A skilled student of Greek, Leoniceno taught in Padua before settling in the university and court of Ferrara. Here, he accomplished pioneering translations of the Greek classics, such as Arrian, Diodorus, Appian, Polybius, Cassius Dio and, first and foremost, a large part of Galen’s corpus. Over the course of his extraordinarily long life, Leoniceno was well acquainted with the most prominent scholars of his time, including Pico della Mirandola, Ermolao Barbaro and Angelo Poliziano. Lending Aldus Manutius some of his prized manuscripts, he took an active part in the Aldine Greek editions of Aristotle and Galen.

In 1497, he published De morbo Gallico, following the epidemic in the Italian peninsula after the arrival of the French troops of Charles VIII. The book, dedicated to Gian Francesco Pico della Mirandola, corrects several mistakes of the Arabic medical tradition in identifying and naming diseases and proved that syphilis had been known already to the Greeks and Romans. This and other works by Leoniceno led Erasmus to rate him as one of the few humanists to revive medical studies alongside Guillaume Cop and Linacre. This copy retains the final additional leaf with errata.

ISTC, il00165000; BM STC, V, 557; GW, M17947; Hain, 10019; IGI 6814; Goff, L-165; Klebs, 599.1; Renouard, 14:12 (‘Extrêmement rare, et le premier qui ait été publié sur cette maladie’); Wellcome, 3736; Morton, 2363; Bibliotheca Osleriana, 7452. Not in Durling or Heirs of Hippocrates.


Print This Item Print This Item



De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem.

Venice, Gaspare Bindoni the younger, 1597.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (32), 94, (2), 95, (1), 47, (33). Roman letter, some Italic; decorated initials and tail-pieces; additional engraved architectural title (with its conjugate blank) incorporating arms of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and standing Hippocrates and Galen; black-and-red printed title, large printer’s device on both; 22 full-page woodcut illustrations throughout, two smaller of surgical instruments and procedures on f. 257; additional engraved title slightly trimmed at foot, oil splash to upper corner of first three numbered pages, a few leaves browned, little worming to upper margin of last three. A good, very well margined copy in contemporary plain vellum, contemporary inked title to lower edge; two minor stains and spine repairs; early ink initials ‘H.H.M.B.C.’ on both titles, contemporary ex libris on title verso ‘Jacobi Alexandri Nardi ad ipsius usu’, and price on fly.

Most complete issue of the first edition of this curious medical work, devoted entirely to plastic surgery and providing the first instruction for reconstructing nose, lips and ears. Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599) was a pioneering Italian physician and pupil of Girolamo Cardano, Ulisse Aldrovandi and Giulio Cesare Avanzi. Upon his graduation, he was appointed lecturer of surgery at the University of Bologna; later, he became one of the most acclaimed professors of the athenaeum, demonstrating his techniques of dissection on recently-dead bodies. A pious man, he was charged by the cardinals’ Congregation over the Index of Forbidden Books with the emendation of the works of the Lutheran botanist Leonhardt Fuchs. In Bologna, he also offered his service to the hospital of the Brotherhood of the Death; this local religious fellowship engaged with comforting the prisoners condemned to die. Through this privileged channel, Tagliacozzi had always plenty of corpses for his anatomical and surgical studies.

De curtorum chirurgia was Tagliacozzi’s most renowned achievement. In the work, he improved and described for the first time the so-called metodo italiano, a technique of facial reconstruction via a skin graft taken from the left forearm. The well-known twenty-two plates depict surgical instruments and document every step of the process of rhinoplasty. Following the operation, the patient was immobilised in a complex vest devised by Tagliacozzi himself, waiting for the complete adherence of the graft to his nose. The process was supposed to take from two to three weeks. Tagliacozzi was aware of some aesthetic imperfection of the result, but was more concerned with the relieving benefits he wished to give to his patients’ mind and spirit. His fame as ‘the first plastic surgeon’ was so wide that several Italian noblemen sought his service. Among them, the Duke of Mantua Vincenzo Gonzaga, to whom De curtorum chirurgia is dedicated.

BM STC It., 655; Adams, T59; Durling, 4310; Heirs of Hippocrates, 236; Wellcome, 6210; Garrison & Morton, 5734; Norman, 2048; Osler, 4079.


Print This Item Print This Item

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.


Print This Item Print This Item


Della sfera del mondo … Delle stelle fisse

Venice, Nicolò Bevilacqua, 1561.


4to, ff. (4), 176, (4). Italic letter; historiated initials, printer’s device on both titles, 47 full-page stellar maps (misnumbered 48, but skipping, as usual, no. 24), woodcut astronomical illustrations in text, 48 double-page astrological tables; damp stains to upper (slight) and lower margins of first gatherings, small marginal oil splashes to final leaves, two tiny ink spots just affecting text of f. 63 r; clean tear to margin of f. Aviii, tail of first gathering slightly worn. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum (formerly painted red), partially rebacked and worn; minor loss to covers; contemporary paper pagemarks applied to outer margin of each chapter; owner’s inscriptions on front pastedown ‘L. Vidinus Physicus S.’ ‘1679’; contemporary manuscript on verso of rear endpaper ‘Bronzo Philippo Franz’; early Italian armorial ink stamp with initials CRF to verso of final leaf.

Sixth edition of this very influential Italian cosmography paired with a much important illustration of the Ptolemaic constellations, originally published together in 1540. The same year as this edition, another more common reprint by Varisco appeared in Venice. The scion of a papal family in Siena, Alessandro Piccolomini (1508-1578) was a leading Renaissance humanist, philosopher, dramatist and astronomer. He was a founding member of many Italian academies, notably the Intronati and Infiammati. After teaching philosophy in Padua, he moved to Rome and Siena to started an ecclesiastical career, which eventually led him to being appointed archbishop of Patras.

A partisan of the Italian vernacular, he intentionally avoided Latin in his numerous works. They comprise a couple of moral comedies, collections of his letters and sonnets, several philosophical treatises and translations of classical authors, as well as his famous astronomical essays. Among them, La Sfera and Le Stelle fisse stand out for accuracy and success. The first describes the universe following the traditional Ptolemaic-Aristotelian geocentric cosmography, while the second contains one of the earliest star atlases to be published in the Western World. All of Ptolemy’s 48 constellations, save Equuleus, were displayed without the traditional depiction of related animals. Piccolomini introduced here the practice of identification of stars by Latin letters, which was adopted using the Greek alphabet by Johann Bayer some seventy years later. The lunar crater Piccolomini is named after him.

Rare. Only two copies recorded in the US (Harvard and Pittsburg).

Not in Adam, BM STC It. or Riccardi. Cantamessa, 3459; Graesse, V, 281; Houzeau-Lancaster, 2491.


Print This Item Print This Item