COPERNICUS, Nicolaus (1473-1543). De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, libri VI. Nuremberg: Johann Petreius, 1543.
4o (262 x 193 mm). Collation: s6 a-z4 A-Z4 Aa-Cc4. 197 leaves (of 202, lacking title-leaf , last index leaf , first text leaf a1, a leaf of the tables i4 [fol. 36], text leaf k3 [fol. 39], and final leaf Cc4 [fol. 196]). 146 (of 148) woodcut diagrams, including 6 repeats, tables of calculations, ornamental woodcut initials, some attributed to Hans Sebald Beham. Without the errata leaf printed later and included in a minority of known copies. The above 6 missing leaves supplied in photostat facsimile from the Buffalo Public Library copy. (Marginal repair to , a few small marginal tears, -6 partially unsewn.) Modern quarter vellum, edges stained red, probably in the 18th century. Provenance: 16th-century marginal study notes in Latin and Greek and a few calculations and underlinings; a few 18th and 19th-century marginal notes in Latin and Polish; Kosciusko Foundation, New York City, sold in the 1980's to a private collector, who donated the work to; The Copernicus Foundation, Chicago (sale, Susanin's, Chicago, May 11-12, 1996); the present owner.
FIRST EDITION OF THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE AND ONE OF THE GREAT LANDMARKS IN WESTERN THOUGHT. By removing the earth from the center of the universe, Copernicus effectively destroyed the notion of an anthropocentric cosmos, thus casting doubt on virtually every aspect of contemporary belief and knowledge and laying the foundation for modern science. Professor Owen Gingerich has located 269 copies of this first edition, of a print-run that he estimates at 400 or 500 copies.
Christie's thanks Professor Gingerich for supplying information regarding the provenance of this copy and the source of its facsimile leaves, to be published in his forthcoming census, An annotated census of Copernicus' 'De revolutionibus' (Nuremberg, 1543, and Basel, 1566), Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2000. Adams C-2602; Dibner Heralds of Science 3; Grolier/Horblit 18b; Houzeau and Lancaster 2503; PMM 70; Stillwell Science 47.