Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 1483.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #003131
4 July 1483. 4to (230 x 163 mm). 93 unfoliated leaves (of 94, bound without the initial blank). Signatures: a-l8 m6 (-a1, a2r incipit, text of the Canons of John of Saxony, b3v supplement to the Canons of John of Saxony, c1r astronomical tables, m3r explanation of figure of solar eclipse, m3v woodcut diagram of solar eclipse, m4r explanation of figure of lunar eclipse, m4v diagram of lunar eclipse, m5r table of the latitude and longitude of principal European and North African cities, m6r colophon, m6v blank). Fol. a7-8 misbound after a2. Text in 40 to 43 lines, gothic type 4:76G, white-on-black woodcut floriated initials, incipit printed in red, smaller lombard initials, woodcut diagrams in text. Leaves partially uncut. Bound in early 20th century sheepskin, decoration and ruling in blind, spine with 4 raised bands. Several pages with contemporary annotations in ink manuscript. Text generally quite crisp and clean, very little occasional finger soiling or spotting, 8 leaves with light marginal dampstaining. Provenance: Pauli Besgarie (signed on a2r); P. Rogi (signed on m6r). A fine, unpressed and exceptionally wide-margined copy. ----
Tomash & Williams A59; Norman 36; ISTC ia00534000; Crone Library 1; Redgrave, Ratdolt 34; Stillwell Science 14; DSB I, p.122. - RARE FIRST EDITION of the Toledan Tables of the Cordoban astronomer al-Zarqali (c.1029-c.1087), commonly known as the Alfonsine tables after the patron who commissioned their translation. This Latin version, which circulated widely in the Middle Ages, was translated from an earlier Spanish version that is now lost. It is the most famous of numerous translations commissioned by Alfonso X, 'el Sabio,' of Arabic scientific, legal, and magical treatises. Although the translation contains new observations, made from 1262 and 1272, it follows the overall format of al-Zarqali's compilation and adheres to the Ptolemaic system for explaining celestial motion. The present text follows a revised version of the tables completed in the early 14th century; Ratdolt prefaced it with the first appearance of John (Danck) of Saxony's almost equally popular canons, written in 1327, which completed the Alfonsine tables in several areas, including supplementary tables of the eclipses and several chapters on the latitudes of the planets.
"Alfonso had a keen interest in astronomy and had many Arabic manuscripts on the subject translated. He also ordered that a new calculation of the Toledan astronomical tables be made to replace those compiled by the Cordoban astronomer al-Zarquli some two hundred years earlier. These new Tablas Alfonsinas, also done in Toledo, were completed by Judah ben Moses (a Spanish/Jewish physician and astronomer) and Isaac ibn Sid (a Spanish/Jewish astronomer and collector of instruments) about 1272. No original copies of these Alfonsine tables are extant; however, they were translated from Spanish into Latin in the first part of the fourteenth century and in this form remained a major influence on European astronomy for the next three hundred years. During the translation from Spanish to Latin, a number of changes were introduced into the tables (differences in the date of the epoch upon which they are based and also differences in the latitude of Toledo). The resulting tables remained in general use until superseded by Kepler's Tabulae Rudolphinae in 1627." (Tomash & Williams).
A copy of the second edition (1492) of the Tabulae was acquired by the young student Nicolaus Copernicus while at the University of Cracow, who also used it for his calculations of the planetary orbits. The Alfonsine tropical of 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 16 seconds was the mean tropical year taken by Copernicus in his De revolutionibus.
References: Tomash & Williams A59; Norman 36; ISTC ia00534000; Crone Library 1; Redgrave, Ratdolt 34; Stillwell, Science 14; DSB I, p.122.
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