SIGENZA Y GNGORA, Carlos de (1645-1700). Libra astronomica, y philosophica. Mexico City: heirs of the widow of Bernardo Calderon, 1690.
4o (180 x 132 mm). Half-title, 17 woodcut diagrams in text (including a few repeats), woodcut initials, tailpieces and device on title, type ornament headpieces. (Margins trimmed unevenly causing loss to shoulder notes in preliminary matter, to headlines of first few quires, and to first lines of text in 4 leaves, fore-edge of first 8 leaves gnawed affecting one shoulder note, lower margin of Aa2 [final leaf] extended, worming to gutter margins of second half, some staining to lower blank corners.) Contemporary limp vellum, manuscript title lettering on spine, two pairs of original leather ties (one tie defective, 2 small tears at tail of spine, very minor worming to upper cover).
Provenance: Geronimo Mendibil (author's presentation inscription, "Al Sr. proveedor D. Geronymo Mendibil", on half-title); Vera [Cruz?], Jesuit College (17th or 18th-century inscription on title, cropped); unidentified owner (Swann Galleries, New York, 17 November 1988, lot 197).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. The ex-Jesuit Sigenza y Gngora, royal cosmographer to the Spanish king and professor of mathematics and astrology at the University of Mexico for over 20 years, was a gifted scholar, renowned for his learning and for his private library, said to be the best in New Spain. This short treatise was the last of several pamphlets exchanged between Sigenza and the Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Kino in a controversy over Sigenza's scientific explanation of comets. It is "a short book of great significance for its sound mathematical background, anti-Aristotelian outlook, and familiarity with modern authors: Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Kepler, and Tycho Brahe" (DSB). The book is ONE OF THE EARLIEST SCIENTIFIC BOOKS WRITTEN BY A NATIVE-BORN LATIN AMERICAN AND PUBLISHED IN THE AMERICAS, and it is quite rare: the only other copy to be sold at auction in the past 25 years was the Honeyman copy, rebound in modern calf.
Palau 312974; Sabin 80976; Norman 1944.