KIRCHER, Athanasius (1602-80). Mundus Subterraneus. Amsterdam: Joannes Jansson and Elizeus Weyerstraet, 1665.
2 volumes in one, 2° (440 x 270mm). Vol. I with engraved additional title by Theodor Dirck Matham after Joannes Paul Schor, engraved vignette on title, portrait of Pope Alexander VII and of the author, vol. II with engraved title by Anthony Heeres Siourtsma after C. van de Passe, 19 engraved plates of which 10 double-page, 2 double-page and folding and 7 full-page, 64 engraved illustrations of which one full-page and 2 on separate sheets, ALL FINELY COLOURED IN A CONTEMPORARY HAND, 7 tables, numerous woodcut illustrations, mostly coloured. (Some mainly marginal spotting and faint staining to bottom margin sometime heavier, few small tears to margins and occasional browning.) Contemporary calf, gilt fillet borders with gilt tooled corner decorations, spine decorated in gilt, endpapers sometime renewed (some light rubbing), modern box. Provenance: B. Powis (gift inscription on title ‘to his young friend’ dated 1822 to:) — Charles James Berridge Aldis (1808–1872, physician).
A MAGNIFICENT COPY, FINELY COLOURED IN A CONTEMPORARY HAND OF THE FIRST EDITION OF 'PERHAPS KIRCHER'S MOST POPULAR WORK IN HIS DAY AND BEST KNOWN IN OURS' (Merrill). The work is based on Kircher's visit to Sicily in 1637-38 in which he witnessed the eruptions of Etna and Stromboli. His observations of these volcanoes led him to conclude that the centre of the earth is a massive internal fire for which the volcanoes are mere safety valves. The work is not only geological and Kircher continues with fantastic speculations about the interior of the earth, its hidden lakes, rivers of fire and strange inhabitants. It includes discussions about the moon, the sun, eclipses, ocean currents, meteorology, hydraulics, minerals and fossils, poisons, metallurgy and mining, alchemy, herbs, astrological medicine, distillation and fireworks. EXTREMELY RARE WITH THE CONTEMPORARY COLOURING: only one other coloured work by Kircher is recorded as having sold at auction on ABPC/RBH (the first Dutch edition of Toonneel van China. Amsterdam, 1667). Merrill 17; Dorbon-Aine 2387 (‘un des plus importants ouvrages du Kircher’; 1678 edition); Duveen p. 322 (1678 edition); Ferguson I, 467 (calling for 14 plates in vol. I ad 7 in vol. II); Caillet II, 5783 ('Le plus curieux des nombreux ouvrages de ce savant').