5 April 2016,
New York, Rockefeller Center
Price realised USD 32,500
Estimate USD 15,000 - USD 20,000
DE URSUS, Sabatino (1575-1620). Biao du shuo. [Peking, ca. 1611]
Small 2° (257 x 155 mm). Blockprint on chinese paper; 49 double leaves (9 leaves with 6 columns of 15 characters, 37 leaves with 10 columns of 22 characters, 3 leaves of tables), with 23 woodcuts including two skeleton maps of Europe, Asia and Africa and North and South America (lined on verso throughout, a few repairs with minor loss, even light browning). Bound Asian style between drab paper wrappers, printed label on front cover, sewn with later white thread (wrappers lined on verso); modern cloth folding case.
EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION of a treatise on the gnomon by Jesuit missionary Sabatino de Ursis, translated by his assistant Li Zhizao (1565-1630), reprinted with the same woodblocks but without the preliminary matter in two encyclopaedias of the 17th and 18th centuries.
“Sabbathin [sic] de Ursis [acted] as the principal Jesuit astronomer after the death of Matteo Ricci” (Needham, p. 437). De Ursis (Hsiung San-Pa) was also author of the Chien Phing I Shuo [Description of a simple Altazimuth Quadrant], of 1611.
Rare Beijing xylographic printing of the period 1607-14.
Cordier, L'imprimerie Sino-Européenne en Chine 315-2. See Joseph Needham, “Astronomy,” in Science and civilization in China, III, pp. 171-461.
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