Astronomiae instauratae mechanica.
Nürnberg: L. Hulsius, 1602.
2nd Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #003556
Astronomiae instauratae mechanica. Nürnberg: L. Hulsius, 1602. Folio (311 x 194 mm). 54 unnumbered leaves, title with engraved portrait of the author, 6 large engravings and 23 woodcut illustrations in text, woodcut initials and tailpieces. Signatures: )::(4 A-E6 F4 G-H6 I4. Contemporary blindstamped pigskin with stamped coat of arms monogrammed "H R" on both covers, front cover with the coat of arms of the Landgrafschaft Hessen (leather rubbed and somewhat spotted, closing straps gone, corners bumped, inner front hinge partially cracked). Leaf G6r corrected with mounted word "Ingeniose." Text generally crisp and clean with just a little paper browning title and A4 a bit stronger), leaves A2 and A3 with light narrow waterstain at fore-margin. [Bound after:] DÜRER, Albrecht. Opera Alberti Dureri. Das ist, alle Bücher des weitberhümbten und Künstreichen Mathematici und Mahlers Albrechten Durers von Nürenberg, so viel deren von ihm selbst in An. 1525 und 1528 kurtz vor und gleich nach seinem todt in Truck geben... Arnhem: Johan Jansen, 1604-1603. Three parts. 2, 90, 26 (including 10 folding), 132 (including 4 folding) unnumbered leaves. With separate title to each part, Dürer's woodcut monogram on general title and on first two part-titles, woodcut intials and numerous text-illustrations and diagrams, many full-page, double-page or folding. Part I with 2 printed woodcut folding extension slips on P4v and Q1r, and final blank Q4; part II title with large woodcut coat of arms of Ferdinand I; part III with elegia by Willibald Pirckheimer on Z5 and final blank Z6. Signatures: [pi]2, A-N6 O-Q4; A6 [bifol. A4/5 fold.] B4 [bifols. B1 and B3 folding] C-E6 [bifols. C1, C3, D3/4, E1/6 and E3/4 folding] F2 [bifols. F1 and F2 folding]; A-M6 N4 O-R6 S8 [bifols. O2/5, S4/5, S6/7 folding] T4 V-Z6 [bifol. Y3/4 folding]. Browning and minor spotting as usual. Provenance: Benjamin Bramer (signed and dated '1614' on title-page); D. Hutten (signed and dated '1717' on title-page). An exceptional copy in its first binding. ----
SECOND- AND FIRST TRADE- EDITION of Tycho Brahe's important astronomical work, first privately published in a very small print run of about 40 copies at Wandsbeck near Hamburg in 1598. "This work contains illustrations of Brahe's instruments and observatories ... In this famous book Brahe described his fine instruments, which were either his own inventions or considerably improved versions of older ones. Brahe's accurate observations of the positions of the sun, moon, stars, and planets provided the basis for refinements of the Copernican doctrine. His work led to Kepler's reformation of astronomy." (L. A. Kenney, Johann Kepler Bibliography: Holdings in the San Diego State College Library, 28).
Newly set and corrected compared to the first edition of 1598. The illustrations come from the original plates and blocks, with the exception of the newly added portrait on the title and the engraved rather than cut armillar sphere on leaf C6v. - Tycho Brahe's most important astronomical work, providing an illustrated description of his astronomical instruments (sextants and quadrants) and of the Uraniborg and Stellaeborg observatories on the island of Hven. The work also contains a short autobiography and a summary of the principal results of Brahe's observations, and an appendix in which the construction of the observatories is shown. A copper shows Brahe in his study. It is little known that this book provides a source for Hamlet. As Strong has shown, it is most likely that Shakespeare took the names Rosenkranz and Guildenstern from the coat of arms around the portrait of Brahe on the title (cf. Weil).
The Tychonic system is conceptually a geocentric model. Brahe admired aspects of Copernicus' heliocentric model, but felt that it had problems as concerned physics, astronomical observations of stars, and religion. He comments that "this innovation expertly and completely circumvents all that is superfluous or discordant in the system of Ptolemy. On no point does it offend the principle of mathematics. Yet it ascribes to the Earth, that hulking, lazy body, unfit for motion, a motion as quick as that of the aethereal torches, and a triple motion at that." (see Owen Gingerich, The eye of heaven: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, New York: American Institute of Physics, 1993, p.181). In regard to physics, Tycho held that the Earth was just too sluggish and heavy to be continuously in motion. According to the accepted Aristotelian physics of the time, the heavens (whose motions and cycles were continuous and unending) were made of 'Aether' or 'Quintessence'; this substance, not found on Earth, was light, strong, and unchanging, and its natural state was circular motion. By contrast, the Earth (where objects seem to have motion only when moved) and things on it were composed of substances that were heavy and whose natural state was rest. Consequently, the Earth was considered to be a 'lazy' body that was not readily moved. Thus while Tycho acknowledged that the daily rising and setting of the Sun and stars could be explained by the Earth's rotation, as Copernicus had said, still, such a fast motion could not belong to the earth, a body very heavy and dense and opaque, but rather belongs to the sky itself whose form and subtle and constant matter are better suited to a perpetual motion, however fast. (see Ann Blair, Tycho Brahe's critique of Copernicus and the Copernican system, In: Journal of the History of Ideas, 51, 1990, pp. 355–377).
Literature: Dibner 4; Zinner 3929; VD 17 23:270097W; STC B 1970; Zinner 3929. Houzeau/Lancaster I, 2703; Weil, Cat. XXVII, 48; Honeyman 490.
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