KEPLER, Johannes (1571-1630). Tabulae Rudolphinae, quibus astronomicae scientiae, temporum longinquitate collapsae restauratio continentur. Ulm: Jonas Sauer, 1627.
2o (331 x 229 mm). Collation: ):(-):(4; a-p4; A-N4 O8. 128 leaves, plus a second copy of the first quire (in the second state). Roman and italic types, double column. Engraved allegorical frontispiece showing Hipparchus, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe and Kepler with various astronomical instruments in the Temple of Urania, by George Celer after Kepler. First quire, containing two dedicatory letters to Ferdinand II from Brahe's heirs and from Kepler, in the first and second state (two copies, see above), second quire, containing the last four pages of the laudatory poem Idyllion by Johann Baptist Hebenstreit and the index, in the third state (printed on different, slightly shorter paper). Woodcut text diagrams, including full page of 8 diagrams on k3v. Woodcut initials, tail-piece ornament on F1r (section title to part 2 of the Tables). (Lower blank corner of second leaf torn away, browning to first quire, second state.) Contemporary vellum over pasteboard, armorial medallion of Martin, provost of Schlägl, dated 1628, stamped in gold at center of upper cover, small star tool at center of lower cover, ms. title on spine, edges blue-stained (lacking pair of fore-edge ties).
Provenance: Martin, provost of the Premonstratensian monastery of Schlägl (Austria): 1651 purchase inscription on frontispiece (Ecclesia BMV Plagae Martinus praepositus sibi et suo Conventui comparavit anno 1651); binding -- [Hauswedell & Nolte, 26 May 1972, lot 1391].
FIRST EDITION of the last of Kepler's works to appear in his lifetime and his crowning achievement, "the chief vehicle for the recognition of his scientific accomplishments" (Owen Gingerich, DSB). These planetary tables, in the form of a perpetual calendar that allows any position to be determined for any date in the past or future, were based on Tycho Brahe's observations, supplemented by Kepler's own. On his deathbed Brahe had charged Kepler with completing and publishing his long-projected astronomical tables, to be named after their patron Rudolph II. As Brahe's successor in the post of imperial mathematician, Kepler's principal task was the preparation of these improved astronomical tables. The calculations represented a formidable achievement, as Brahe's data, based on imaginary perfect circular orbits, had to be recalculated according to the planets' true elliptical orbits, which Kepler had discovered. He worked on the tables for years. When the work was finally ready for publication, 23 years after Brahe's death, printing was delayed by the arrival of the Counter-Reformation in Linz, where Kepler was living. The edition was finally printed three years later at Ulm, under Kepler's close supervision, in an edition of 1,000 copies. Three states of the first two quires are known, appearing in various combinations. This copy does not include the 4-leaf Sportula (quire q), consisting of directions for using the tables for astrological purposes, published by Kepler in Sagan in 1629. A few copies also contain a posthumously published world map and an appendix by Kepler's son-in-law, J. Bartsch.
A VERY FINE COPY. Caspar 79; Houzeau and Lancaster 12754; Norman 1208.