Lot 437
  • 437

Sacrobosco, Johannes de (d.c.1236).

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  • Sphaera mundi (Gerardus Cremonensis. Theorica planetarum). Venice: Franciscus Renner de Heilbronn, 1478
4to (207 x 133mm.), 48 leaves, 25 lines, Roman and Gothic letter, headings on a1 recto and e1 recto printed in red, 11 woodcut diagrams in text, 15 5-line white-on-black woodcut initials, pastiche binding of diced calf antique over old (upper) and modern (lower) bevelled wooden boards, one brass clasp, slightly browned and spotted successively from the front


John Charrington, The Grange, Shenley, Kelmscott Press bookplate; “Bought of J.Wm. Brown, Edinburgh, Oct. 1913”, inscription; Lurley Manor, bookplate; Fort Hill, bookplate; Hamill & Barker (Chicago booksellers), 16 January 1961, inscription


HC *14108; Goff J402; BMC v 195; Klebs 874.6; Essling 257; Sander 6659 

Catalogue Note

first illustrated edition. The mathematician Johannes de Sacrobosco was probably of British extraction but worked in Paris. His treatise on spheres, an elementary work on cosmology and astronomy, was a standard text in the arts curriculum of many universities (some thirty editions were printed in the fifteenth century alone). The accompanying text, also a common university text, is probably by a mid-thirteenth-century Gerard of Sabbioneta, whose name was conflated with that of Gerard Cremona, the twelfth-century translator of scientific writings in Arabic.

The Sphaera mundi was first printed, without illustrations, in 1472 at Ferrara, of which only a single copy survives. The earlier, unillustrated editions left spaces for diagrams to be added by hand. The present edition is one of three printed by Renner in 1478 using the materials of Erhard Ratdolt (see lot 391, Pomponius Mela, De situ orbis, for another), and the diagrams here may be from the same hand as the diagrams in Ratdolt's 1476 editions of the Calendar of Regiomontanus (Goff R93 and R103). Another edition of these two texts, printed by Adam de Rottweil at Venice on 10 September 1478, is a reprint of the 1472 editio princeps with what are apparently crude copies of Renner's woodcuts.