Rome: Giacomo Mascardi, 1623.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #002737
4to (218 x 162 mm),  (of ), 236 pp., engraved title-page by Villamena, 18 engraved illustrations in text, vignette on final page, lacking the engraved portrait and the 4 preliminary leaves of verses by Faber and Stelluti (as often), prelim. leaf (pi)2 with dedication to Urbano VIII misbound after p.8, errata on Ff6v. Signatures: (pi)² A-Ee? Ff? (-a4). Contemporary vellum (recased, slight staining and soiling, little worming to lower spine and boards), endpapers renewed. Scattered uneven browning of text (some pages stronger), occasional minor spotting, few pages with old ink signatures. Provenance: Franco Sanguineti (contemporary signature to second flyleaf). Still very good copy despite the lacking portrait and verse leaves*. ----
Cinti 73; Norman 857; Sparrow, Milestones of Science, 76; Riccardi I, 511; DSB V, p.243. - FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE. "One of the most celebrated polemics in science" (DSB. Galileo and Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit mathematician, disagreed about Grassi's work on the comets of 1618, and Il Saggiatore was one of Galileo's printed ripostes. As Galileo had been forbidden since 1616 to espouse or defend Copernican theory, he avoided direct discussion of the earth's motion, choosing instead the more subtle method of establishing a general scientific approach to the investigation of celestial phenomena. He claimed that no theory of comets could be advanced unless it were proved that comets were concrete moving objects and not solar-generated optic effects - a proof he stated was impossible" (Norman 857). "This was a truly masterful piece of sarcastic invective and criticism. It is still read today in Italian language classes in Italy as a fine example of the use of rhetoric devices in the Italian language" (P. Machamer, The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, 1998, p. 21). The title-page by Francesco Villamena shows the crest of the Barberini displaying the support of Pope Urban VIII, patron of the Accademia dei Lincei, which may have helped Galileo to publish the work.
The first edition exists in various states. The points usually taken as identifying the first issue are: thick paper; the engraving on p.120 the right way up; short errata list of 16 corrections. In our copy, the engraving on p.120 however is placed upside-down and the bifolio P1/4 which includes p.120 is apparently of thinner paper and with a deviating watermark (but rather not supplied).
*This work is often found without the dedicatory verses by Faber & Stelluti on gathering a4 as in our copy. In 1956, the London booksellers Davis & Orioli remarked "after having examined the various copies in the British Museum, we feel sure that the commendatory verses were added later. In confirmation of this opinion, there is the fact that this additional matter was printed on paper with a different watermark from that found in the rest of the book" (Catalogue XI, no. 21). - Visit our website for additional images and information.
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