Best Copy in Decades
First Edition in English
One of the Most Important and Influential Books on the Occult
AGRIPPA, Henry Cornelius. Three Books of Occult Philosophy, written by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, of Nettesheim, Counseller to Charles the Fifth, emperor of Germany: and Judge of the Prerogative Court. Translated out of the Latin into the English Tongue by J. F. London: Printed by R.W. for Gregory Moule…, 1651.
First edition in English of Agrippa’s masterwork on the occult, originally published in Latin in 1533. Octavo (7 x 5 1/4 iin; 180 x 135 mm). [2, blank], [1, blank], [1, frontispiece], [1, encomium], [1, blank], , 583, [1, blank], [12, Index] pp. Engraved frontispiece portrait, seven text woodcut illustrations, numerous occult symbols, and a folding table of alchemical symbology. Woodcut initials and headpieces.
Contemporary full calf, expertly rebacked with original spine laid-down. Four raised bands, red morocco spine label. Ownership signature of “Sam. Beecher / 1699” to preliminary leaf with his holograph notes in ink to rear free endpaper. A remarkable copy, internally clean, in its original contemporary binding.
While there have been seventeen copies at auction over the last thirty-five years, all have had condition issues of one sort or another, many lacking the folding table. This is the best copy to reach the marketplace in decades.
One of the most important and influential volumes ever written on the occult and esoteric philosophy.
"In the last half of 1509 and the first months of 1510, Cornelius Agrippa, known in his day as a Magician, gathered together all the Mystic lore he had obtained by the energy and ardour of youth and compiled it into [an early draft of] the elaborate system of Magic, in three books, known as Occult Philosophy…The only English translation appeared in London in 1651" (Willis F. Whitehead, Preface to 1971 reprint).
“Recent historical investigation…assigns Agrippa a central place in the history of ideas of the Middle Ages. He is seen as characterizing the main line of intellectual development from Nicholas of Cusa to Sebastian Franck. Modern opinion evaluates him on the basis of his Platonic, Neoplatonic, and Hermetic influences – primarily in the De occulta philosophia” (DSB).
“De occulta philosophia is a defense of magic, by means of which men may come to knowledge of nature and God, and contains Agrippa’s idea of the universe with its three worlds or spheres [Elementary, Celestial, and Intellectual]’ (Britannica).
Agrippa’s influence “added impetus to Renaissance study of magic and injected his name into early Faust legends. In [De occulta philosophia] he explained the world in terms of cabalistic analyses of Hebrew letters and Pythagorean numerology and acclaimed magic as the best means to know God and nature” (New Britannica).
First appearing in Latin in 1533, the book was translated into English by John French here, in 1651, and has, ever since, been a strong influence on the study of magic in the English-speaking world.
Wing A789. Osler 1747. Lowndes 21. Graesse I, 45. Item #01717
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