Among the rarest of Kircher's works
Polygraphia nova et universalis ex combinatoria arte detecta qua quivis etiam linguarum quantumuis imperitus triplici methodo. . . Appendix apologetica.
Rome: ex typographia Varesij, 1663.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #003651
Two parts in one volume. Folio (329 x 230 mm). 148, 23  pp., including woodcut with motto of Kircher on title page, woodcut initials, one engraved folding plate and two letterpress folding tables, appendix with separate pagination. Bound in contemporary vellum over thin boards, spine with faint ink lettering, original endpapers (corners slightly bumped, first flyleaf frayed toward corners). Internally very little browning (few pages and the engr. plate a bit stronger), occasional light brown spotting, blank lower margin of title with minor loss from ink corrosion repaired, pale dampstain to upper blank margin of two leaves S1-2, otherwise quite crisp and clean. Provenance: old ownership inscriptions on title erased in ink. A fine copy in untouched binding. ----
FIRST EDITION AND EXCEPTIONALLY RARE. In this work, which greatly influenced Leibniz, Kircher presents an artificial universal language, reworking the work of Trithemius with the same title. The first book proposes the reduction of all languages to only one, and contains a double dictionary of five languages; books II and III are devoted to various encryption systems. Trithemius' work Polygraphia is discussed in the appendix.
Kircher's "work Polygraphia nova provides elements for a carefully crafted codification apparatus that itself is telling of the culture of 'secret monastic languages and codes of mediaeval Europe." (Parikka). "This work of the German scholar and mathematician is based principally on the writings of Johannes Trithemius. Joaquín García Carmona and others see also the influence of Blaise de Vigenère, whose multi-alphabet cipher seems to have been transformed by Kircher into a numerical cipher. Of special interest in Polygraphia is part 1, where Kircher proposes a system of pasigraphy, or universal writing, employing numerals to stand for words of similar meaning in Latin, Italian, French, German, and Spanish." (Semeiology Collection).
This work is exceptionally rare, with only two copies recorded at auction in the past 30+ years (the Macclesfield copy in 2005 and a presentation-copy by Kircher in 1991, both sold at Sotheby's).
Dünnhaupt/Kircher 15; Sommervogel IV, 1059; Jussi Parikka, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Steganographic Image. (In: https://unthinking.photography/); The Philip Mills Arnold Semeiology Collection of the Washington University Libraries (in: http://omeka.wustl.edu/); Fletcher, J. E. (2001), A Study of the Life and Works of Athanasius Kircher, 'Germanus Incredibilis'. London: Brill, p.167. - Visit our website to see more images!
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