4 June 2008
LICETI, Fortunio (1577-1657). De novis astris, et cometis libb. sex. Venice: Jo. Guerilium, 1623.
4° ( 229 x 158mm). Woodcut printer's device to title and the 2 sectional titles, woodcut illustration of the rings of Saturn to p.194. (Occasional light spotting and browning.) Contemporary vellum, yapp edges, early manuscript to spine, early ink inscription to upper cover (recased, spine lightly soiled, covers lightly rubbed). Provenance: L.C.D.N. (blindstamp to title).
EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION OF THIS IMPORTANT WORK WHICH CONTAINS POSSIBLY THE EARLIEST PUBLISHED ILLUSTRATION OF THE RINGS OF SATURN. In July 1610, Galileo first observed the rings, and reported his discovery to his patron in a letter dated 30 July. In December 1612, he was then surprised to find that the rings had disappeared. In 1616 Galileo announced to his patrons that he had now observed Saturn in yet another shape, publishing this some 7 years later without commentary in his Saggiatore of 1623, p. 217 (see lot 219). However, Galileo also sent a letter dated 11th January 1620 describing his observations to Liceti, who published this in the present work together with Galileo's illustration (p.194). This appears in the second section of the book with a sectional title dated 1622; the dedication leaf is dated July 1622. It is possible that if the sheets were not already in existence in 1622, then they might have been published and distributed before the Galileo's own publication of the rings of Saturn in his Saggiatore where the dedication is dated 20 October 1623. Worldcat reports Bayrische Staatsbibliothek only; in addition we have only been able to trace the British Library and Bibliothèque Nationale copies. According to ABPC, no copies have been sold at auction since 1975. Carli-Favaro 20 (93); De Caro 95; Riccardi II 38.
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