Rare Book Gallery
A discourse of a method for the...
[DESCARTES, Ren?/ Tr. ANON.]
Bookseller: Martayan Lan, Inc.
London: Thomas Newcombe for John Holden, 1649. Very rare first English edition and fine copy of one of the most important works of Western... More
London: Thomas Newcombe for John Holden, 1649. Very rare first English edition and fine copy of one of the most important works of Western Philosophy ever written, Descartes’ Discourse, containing for the first time in English the phrase which is not only the conceptual cornerstone of Rationalism, generally considered the beginning of modern philosophy, but is synonymous in the cultural imagination with the very field of Philosophy: “I think, therefore, I am.” This English edition was the earliest recorded in the inventory of John Locke’s library (see J. Harrison/ P. Laslett, The Library of John Locke. 2nd ed #2451), and it is generally considered that Locke’s encounter with the ‘New Philosophy’ as it was known in England in the 1660’s, led him to write the Essay, his philosophical masterpiece. “Descartes’ purpose is to find the simple indestructible proposition which gives to the universe and thought their order and system. Three points are made: the truth of thought, when thought is true to itself (thus cogito, ergo sum), the invincible elevation of its partial state in our finite consciousness to its full state of the infinite existence of God, and to the ultimate reduction of the material universe to extension and local movement. From these central propositions in logic, metaphysics and physics came the subsequent inquiries of Locke (164 eg Essay on Human Understanding), Leibniz (177, Th?ic?, and Newton (161 Principia); from them stem all modern and scientific thought.” – PMM 129 (1637). Rather typically for English books of the period, the work is known in issues regarding the title page (and only the title page). These have not been well defined, and the circumstances of the translation’s commissioning and publication are simply unknown: as of 2002, when a series of facsimiles of Descartes’ works in English and related 17th c Cartesian writings was published, the translator of the present work remained unknown (see R. Ariew & D. Garber, Descartes’ Works in Translation, vol. I, p. ix.) According to the entry in the Norman catalogue, several states of the title are known: the title of the Norman copy is ‘A Discourse of a Method for the well guiding of Reason’, and it contains a signature marking, A4—highly exceptional if not unique for a 17th century English book; it does not contain Descartes’ name on the title. This is such an egregious and uncommon error that it is most likely the sign of the earliest state. Another title gives a different spelling ‘for Wel-‘ and Discovrse’; and yet another, like the Norman copy, omits Descartes’ name. OCLC lists 5 copies in American libraries: UCLA, Newberry, Northwestern, Harvard and Wisconsin. Wing adds Folger. In British libraries, Wing lists Oxford, Cambridge (King’s), Patent Office (London), National Library of Scotland. Through additional searching, we have also located two copies at the BL (one with the variant title), and one at Yale (Cushing Medical Library). Remarkably, the book is sufficiently rare that it is not included in the excellent Descartes bibliography of Guillebert; it was NOT included in the Biblioth?e Nationale’s anniversary exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of the publication of the Discours in 1937, and to this day there remains no copy of the present translation in the Biblioth?e Nationale. Finally, it is missing from (at least) two major collections of 17th century English printed books of this level of importance: the Morgan Library and the Huntington. * Wing D1129; Norman 624 (variant imprint); J. Harrison/ P. Laslett, The Library of John Locke. 2nd ed #2451 not in Guillebert; Julien Cain/ Biblioth?e Nationale. Descartes. Exposition organis?pour le III i? Centenaire du Discours de la M?ode. (Paris 1937).. 8vo., 4.5 X 9 cm], (7) ff., of which the first two are blank and integral, 127 pp. (verso blank). Bound in contemporary calf ruled in blind, gilt spine and edges of covers faded and rubbed. Binding a bit shaken, and joints a bit fragile. Minor toning in margin, but a remarkably fresh copy in its original binding, housed in modern bookbox. Less
Price: 90000.00 USD
Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.
Roman letter, 72 leaves, 30 lines, five fine woodcut initials with a white interlaced branchwork design on a black ground. Guide letters for the... More
Roman letter, 72 leaves, 30 lines, five fine woodcut initials with a white interlaced branchwork design on a black ground. Guide letters for the smaller initials. Small 4to (200 x 147 mm.), antique blindstamped calf (extreme inner margins of five or six leaves expertly & almost invisibly strengthened, verso of final leaf a little dusty). Nuremberg: Johann M?r of K?sberg (Regiomontanus), [ca. 1473-74]. First edition of the first printed book on astronomy; of the greatest rarity with only two other copies having appeared at auction in the last fifty years. "The work of Manilius was the main exemplar of that 'poetic astronomy' which exerted such a powerful influence on German humanist thought from Regiomontanus to Conrad Celtis and beyond."-Rose, The Italian Renaissance of Mathematics, p. 105. Regiomontanus envisioned the new invention of the printing press as one of the chief means of restoring mathematics and astronomy. It was this book and the others in Regiomontanus' publishing program with which he formally launched the renaissance of astronomy and mathematics, issuing the most important texts in edited and corrected editions. The Astronomicon describes the sphere, zodiacal and other constellations, great circles, comets, and astral influences on human beings. It put forward a number of sound astronomical hypotheses, especially relating to the nature of the stars, and became an important textbook, representing the most advanced views on astronomy of ancient Roman times. The text of the poem, composed in the first century A.D., had only recently been discovered when it received this, its first printing. This book was printed at the press of Regiomontanus, the foremost astronomer of the time, who established the first observatory in Europe, and was the first publisher of astronomical and mathematical literature. He had finally settled in Nuremberg after a career in Italy under Cardinal Bessarion and, more recently in Vienna, as librarian to Mathias Corvinus. The press was probably a private one and not a commercial office; it was the first scientific publishing house. Its output was limited to some ten titles, all issued within a year and a half, of which this is the only one to bear a full colophon. The type, apparently never used again, seems to have been cut in imitation of the smaller type of Sweynheym and Pannartz at Rome. It is amongst the most elegant of the early roman types used in Germany. This and the second edition (Bologna: ca. 1474) were printed from independent sources. The great modern editor of Manilius, A.E. Housman, considered this the more important textually and believed that Regiomontanus must have corrected the text himself as so many corrections are not to be found in any surviving manuscript (Housman, V, p. xvii). Neither of Manilius' other great editors, Scaliger and Bentley, knew of this edition, and so Regiomontanus' corrections were incorporated into the text only in the 20th century. This is an extremely rare book. As we have mentioned above, only two other copies have appeared at auction in the past fifty years. The ISTC-in-progress records only the Chapin, Harvard, Huntington, and Morgan Library copies in the U.S. Fine copy. 18th-century crowned stamp on outer margin of title and foot of final leaf. ❧ B.M.C., II, p. 456. Goff M-202. Klebs 661.1. Lalande, p. 9-"Le premier livre d'astronomie qu'on imprima." Stillwell, The Awakening Interest in Science during the First Century of Printing 1450-1550, 75. . Less
Price: 175000.00 USD
An album of original watercolour...
GREIN (artist, Dutch/Flemish school, 17th century)
Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books
[Holland: seventeenth century]. Folio. (12 1/2 x 8 inches). 48 watercolours of tulips on vellum, interleaved with plain paper with horn and crown... More
[Holland: seventeenth century]. Folio. (12 1/2 x 8 inches). 48 watercolours of tulips on vellum, interleaved with plain paper with horn and crown watermark, each watercolour titled in ink below image, the first watercolour signed "Grein" at the lower right. Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, contained in a modern dark green morocco box, the covers with gilt-ruled borders, the spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, the others with elaborate repeat pattern made up from flower-sprays and various small tools. A spectacular album containing finely-executed images on vellum of all the greatest 17th century varieties of tulips: a landmark in the history of botanical art in the Low Countries, and a unique record of the bulbs that inspired the speculative financial-madness called Tulipomania. The tulip, introduced to Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century from the Ottoman Empire, experienced a strong growth in popularity boosted by competition among the wealthy for possession of the rarest varieties. The tulip rapidly became a coveted luxury item, appearing in main-stream art as a symbol of wealth and as a decorative motif on ceramics and textiles. Special varieties were given exotic names or named after popular figures of the time: generals, admirals, etc. The most spectacular and highly sought-after tulips were the so-called "broken" varieties. These had two or more vivid colours: often a base colour of white or cream with red lines, or flames to the petals. The present album is devoted exclusively to these most expensive varieties. Tulipomania eventually reached a level where fantastic, unsustainable prices were being paid for individual bulbs. In 1637, the bubble burst and the over-heated market collapsed. For some years after this, the tulip's popularity remained at a low level but by the time the present album was produced its unique beauty was beginning once again to be appreciated. Tulip albums were produced for two principle reasons. First, as a selling tool for the bulb dealers: accurate images of what the bulbs they were offering were going to look like were obviously vital and the high prices of the tulipomania era set a precedent of employing artists of a very high quality to record the colours and details of the bulbs. These albums are almost exclusively made up of drawings on paper. One of the best known examples of this type of album is probably the 1637 tulip book of P. Cos, a nurseryman from Haarlem, Holland (now in the collection of the Wageningen Universiteit en Researchcentrum). Second, albums were produced as a collective record of the ephemeral beauty of the blooms grown by individuals, either professional growers or wealthy amateurs. The present album probably falls into this latter category: the original presentation of this album is on a much more luxurious scale than trade albums. The most obvious sign of this is the fact that each of the drawings is on vellum. Vellum, especially the prepared vellum used for the present album, was an expensive luxury material and an indicator that the drawings were commissioned by a wealthy individual (in France, for instance, King Louis XIV had all his botanical drawings executed on vellum: the so-called "velins du Roi"). Tulip albums, whatever their origin, are now very rare: according to Sam Segal (a world-renowned expert on tulips and the author of "Tulips in Visual Art",) there are now only about 50 of these albums extant. This includes albums with drawings on paper and also 18th century albums; thus, the actual number of seventeenth century albums with drawings on vellum is almost certainly no more than a handful. Most albums are in institutional collections, so the present album may well be the final example offered on the open market. Sam Segal offered the following information about the present album: the artist "Grein" is an unrecorded artist, but his name "is a Dutch name known since the early seventeenth century." The paper used for the interleaves is watermarked with a horn and crown, similar to paper known to have been made in Amsterdam and Leiden from 1665. The tulip types are from this period as well, before a relative great change in form and size during the eighteenth century. The flowers themselves carry names that "are known from the 1630s and 1640s, the period of and directly after the tulipomania ...they include the very expensive types of that period, like the 'Semper Augustus' and 'Viceroy.' As in many tulip books meant as a catalogue of a seller of bulbs, the illustrations show many related types. That might mean that they are tulips from one nursery or one collection from which the owner gave an order to the artist to paint his collection. The names of some of the tulips could point to a possible commissioner of the album, like 'General Doriszlav' and 'Grootvorst van Moscovicz.'" Dash,Tulipomania , London, 1999; Goldgar,Tulipomania , Chicago, 2007; Pavord,The Tulip,London, 1999; van der Goes (editor) Tulipomanie, Zwolle/Dresden, 2004; Wijnands,Tulips portrayed, Wageningen, 1987. Less
Price: 225000.00 USD