Paris: Vivantium Gualtherot, 1553. Item #03773
"Cosmographia is About the World,
Which Consists of Four Elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire"
APIANUS, Petrus. Cosmographia Petri Apiani, per gemmam Frisium apud Lovanienses Medicum & Mathematicum insigne, iam demum ab omnibus vindicata mendis, ac nonnullis quoque locis aucta, figurisque novis illustrata: Additis eiusdem argumenti libellis ipsius Gemae Frisii. Paris: Vivantium Gualtherot, 1553.
Second Paris Edition dated 1553. Quarto (9 1/8 x 6 5/8 inches; 230 x 167 mm.). [iv], 74 (i.e. 70 leaves). Woodcut Globe on title-page, double-page map of the world "Charta Cosmographica, cum ventorum propria natura et operatione" and engraved plate showing the world as a globe inserted after folio 30. Woodcut illustration on verso of folio 8 with two movable 'volvelles', Woodcut illustration on verso of folio 9 with original yellow 'lead line', Woodcut illustration on verso of folio 11 with four movable volvelles and two original yellow 'lead lines', Woodcut illustration on recto of folio 30 also with four movable volvelles, and Woodcut illustration on recto of folio 57 with one movable volvelle and original 'lead line'. Forty-three astronomical woodcut illustrations in the text and many diagrams and historiated woodcut initials throughout. The title vignette, with legend "L'inferieure partie de la sphere" is the same as that in the first Paris edition of 1551, and the colophon is actually dated 1551.
Contemporary mottled calf, smooth spine decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments. later green morocco label lettered in gilt. Early ink name? on lower edge. Expertly rebacked with the original spine laid down, later endpapers. The world map "Charta Cosmographica…" is very fine and measures 13 x 9 1/16 inches; 334 x 230 mm.). A wonderful example of this rare and important treatise complete with all of its moving parts.
Reissue of the Gaultherot Paris edition of 1551, with the last figure of the date changed on the title-page from 1 to 3, and the 1551 colophon unchanged.
Rare with just a handful of complete copies located in institutions worldwide.
Petrus Apianus (16 April 1495 - 21 April 1552) was a German humanist in the Renaissance tradition - a scholar well-versed in a number of classical disciplines, including geography, mathematics, astrology, and astronomy. Though Copernicus had already begun circulating his heliocentric model before Cosmographia was published, Apianus, like most other cosmographers of the era, remained an adherent of Ptolemy, the second century Greco-Egyptian astronomer and polymath.
The first edition (1524) was published at Landshut, Germany by a printer and priest named Johann Weissenburger. It would go on to become a bestseller of sorts, with 28 distinct editions appearing in print during the 16th century alone. All but the first edition were printed after the original text had been combed through by the Dutch mathematician Gemma Frisius, who, beginning with the second edition of 1529, slowly supplemented Apianus’ work with his own writings and illustrations.
The success of Cosmographia may, in part, be attributable to its fantastical passages about strange peoples and foreign places, including a brief section on the newly-discovered continent of America. For the most part however, Cosmographia is a practical book, intended to introduce laymen to concepts in astronomy, geography, geometry, surveying, and navigation. It provides detailed information on the structure of the universe and how one might navigate through it by using various instruments and devices and by taking measured observations of the heavens and the Earth. To accomplish these ends, Cosmographia was lavishly illustrated with maps, charts, and diagrams.
In these illustrations we see a Ptolemaic solar system dominated by the Earth and Moon, with the Sun orbiting somewhere between Venus and Mars. We see various phases of a lunar eclipse. The armillary sphere — an ornate, mechanical model of the cosmos — appears several times within the text. In the cordiform map, which first appeared in the 1544 edition, we see North America, a thin sliver of land off the coast of Asia labeled Baccalearum (land of the cod), floating within an otherwise recognizable map of the earth while the wind gods blow in from the margins. Perhaps most famously, though, we see volvelles.
Popularized during the late middle ages and used in both scientific manuscripts and early printed books, volvelles are paper (or parchment) devices made of concentric disks that act like dials. The disks can be rotated into different configurations in order to make various calculations. They were usually intended for practical use, and Apianus’ volvelles (along with those added by Gemma Frisius) helped readers to apply geometric principles to navigation and practical geography and to understand the workings of the solar system.
Adams, A 1281; Van Ortroy, 44; Mortimer 27; Murray, 15; Shirley, 82; Sabin, 1749.