COPERNICUS, Nicolaus. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Georg Joachin RHETICUS. De libris revolutionum Nicolai Copernici Narratio prima. Basel: Henricus Petri, September 1566.
2 (271 x 184mm). Roman type, occasional Greek, Narratio prima in double column. Numerous woodcut text diagrams, printer's device on title, a different device on final verso, woodcut historiated initials. (Short marginal tear in title, spotting and browning, heavier in latter half.) 19th-century tree sheep, flat spine gilt, orange leather lettering-piece, marbled edges (light wear at extremities). Provenance: extensive early notes written on address to Cardinal Nicholas Schonberg; stamp removed from title.
UNRECORDED COPY OF THE SECOND EDITION, the first to contain Rheticus's Narratio prima. Petri reprints the first edition of De revolutionibus, complete with Osiander's (still unsigned) preface and without correcting the errors contained in the errata leaf, which was issued with some copies of the first edition. As a recommendation for the volume Petri has added the opinion of Erasmus Reinhold, noted astronomer and author of the Prutenicae tabulae (1551), an expanded and improved version of the Copernican tables for calculating the positions of the planets, who wrote: 'All posterity will gratefully remember the name of Copernicus, by whose labor and study the doctrine of celestial motions was again restored from near collapse. Under the light kindled in him by a beneficient God, he found and explained much which from antiquity till now was either unknown or veiled in darkness' (Gingerich trans., Eye of Heaven, p.221). Reinhold's copy of the first edition of De revolutionibus survives in Edinburgh.
The second edition of De revolutionibus is almost as rare as the first. Prof. Gingerich has located 317 copies of an edition size he estimates at 500; the present copy has hitherto been unrecorded. This edition joins for the first time De revolutionibus with Rheticus's summary of Copernican heliocentrism, the Narratio prima; the Narratio prima preceded the De revolutionibus in print and copies of the first edition of 1540 are of the greatest rarity. Adams C-2603; Houzeau and Lancaster 2503.