Amsterdam: Janssonius-Waesberge, 1665.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #003102
1664-1665. Folio (393 x 238 mm). , 346, ; , 487 ,  pp., including allegorical additional title to each part (both dated 1664), engraved portrait of Kircher and dedicatee Pope Alexander VII, engraved device on title of part 1, 21 (12 double-page, one folding) engraved maps and plates, 7 (6 double-page) letterpress tables, 61 engraved illustrations and maps in text, 3 intact volvelles on pp. 132, 154 and 156; numerous woodcut illustrations throughout, woodcut initials and tailpieces, text in double column. Signatures: *4(*2+[chi]1) **6 ***4 A-Xx4; (*)6 A-Qqq4. Engraved titles part of signature, previlegium leaf [chi]1 of part 1 bound at end of book. Near contemporary brown-dyed vellum with yapp edges, earlier, richly gilt leather spine with gilt lettering piece laid down, blue-dyed edges (boards spotted and soiled, ties gone, extremities worn). Little browning of text and plates, occasional minor spotting, some minor dampstaining mostly to lower blank margin, little worming to front endpapers, engraved title and portrait; lower margin of engraved title and a few leaves elsewhere with old paper repair, repaired tear to worldmap; occasional old marginal ink inscriptions and light pencil markings in part II. Provenance: Inscription on first engraved title "P. M. Octaviani Riess. D.P. a(nn)o 1773". Collated complete. ----
Norman 1218; Merrill 17; de Backer-S. IV, 1060 f.; Caillet 5738; Ferguson 1:467; Nissen ZBI 219; Sinkankas 3419; Honeyman 1823; Hoover 483; Ward-Carozzi 1257; Sabin 37967; Alden-L. 665/114. - RARE FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE of both parts, with the engraved titles dated 1664. Kircher's encyclopedic compilation describes the physical characteristics of the subterranean or 'hidden' world, which, as such, "must always command a high place in the literature as the first effort to describe the earth from a physical standpoint" (Zittel). His speculations on the existence of a vast underground network of springs and reservoirs, as well his attribution of volcanic eruptions and hot springs to fiery, subterranean regions, stem from his observations of the eruptions of Stromboli, Aetna and Vesuvius and of the violent earthquakes that rocked Calabria between 1637 and 1638, all of which he describes in his preface. He also theorized that volcanoes functioned as 'safety valves' for the inner core of the earth. While some of his notions were fanciful (such as the existence of subterranean monsters), others embraced various branches of science, including physics, geography, geology and chemistry. Although largely critical of alchemy and alchemists (whom he called swindlers: 'homines ad omne fraudis genus fictos'), Kircher did support the transmutations of metals, particularly of iron into copper. His views on the influence of weathering, which he attributed to a chemical process and to cold, were reasonably sound, as was that of the geological action of water and wind, and his interpretation of fossils remained popular until the beginning of the 18th century. The illustrations range from the utterly realistic to the utterly fantastic, such as the crystals copied from from Imperato's Historia naturale and a collection of images on stone allegedly formed by nature - including a Madonna - derived from Aldrovandi's Musaeum metallicum (1648). In addition to minerals and fossils, Kircher also covers such topics as metallurgy and mining, mines in Spain, Hungary, Peru, and America, pyrotechnic arts, the analysis of mineral waters, poisons, hydraulics, meteorology, distillation, etc. "The most popular of Kircher's works in his day and the best known in ours. The work is not solely geologic. Kircher continues with fantastic speculations about the interior of the earth, its hidden lakes, its rivers of fire and its strange inhabitants. Major topics include gravity, the moon, the sun, eclipses, ocean currents, subterranean waters and fires, meteorology... metallurgy and mining (etc.)" (Merrill). Copies of this voluminous work are almost always found incomplete, lacking either the portraits, the privilege leaf or parts of the 3 volvelles.
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