16 - 17 April 2007
GEMMA FRISIUS, Reinerus (1508-1555). De radio astronomico & geometrico liber. Antwerp: G. Bontius and Louvain: P. Phalesius, 1545.
4o (223 x 154 mm). Woodcut arms on title, woodcuts in text. (Paper flaw at center of F1 with loss of a few letters, some marginal worming in last gathering.) 20th-century limp vellum. Provenance: Harrison D. Horblit (bookplate; his sale part II, Sotheby's London, 11 November 1974, lot 454).
FIRST EDITION of Gemma Reinerus's description of an improved cross-staff, with woodcuts showing its construction and use. A brass version made by Gemma's nephew Arsenius was brought by John Dee to England in 1547 and Tycho Brahe states in his Astronomiae instauratae mechanica (1602) that his observations relied on the instrument beginning in 1564. D.W. Waters notes that the modification of the cross-staff directly influenced the northern navigations in the 16th century (see Waters, The Art of Navigation in England in Elizabethan and early Stuart Times p.135).
VERY RARE: according to American Book Prices Current, only this copy of the first edition has sold at auction in the last 30 years, when it last sold at Sotheby's, 20 September 1984, lot 642. Adams G-390.
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