Antiquarian Books including a series of views of Milan

Antiquarian Books including a series of views of Milan

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 200. Regiomontanus, Epitoma in Almagestum Ptolemaei, Venice, 1496, reused vellum manuscript.

Regiomontanus, Epitoma in Almagestum Ptolemaei, Venice, 1496, reused vellum manuscript

Lot Closed

October 4, 11:50 AM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 EUR

Lot Details


Johannes Regiomontanus

Epitoma in Almagestum Ptolemaei [edited by Johannes Baptista Abiosus, additions by Johannes Lucilius Santritter]. Venice: Johannes Hamman for Kaspar Grossch and Stephan Roemer, 31 August 1496

Super-Chancery folio (320 x 215mm.), 108 leaves, a10 b–n8.6 o6 p8, 49 lines, xylographic title-page, white-on-black woodcut initials, marginal woodcut diagrams, full-page woodcut opposite start of text depicting Ptolemy and Regiomontanus beneath an armillary sphere, woodcut printer's device beneath colophon, later binding of a reused medieval manuscript leaf (from a late twelfth-century French glossed Psalter) over pasteboard, stubs from four pairs of ties, in modern drop-backed brown buckram box, first and last quires becoming loose, binding slightly rubbed, upper joint split

A TALL CRISP COPY OF THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF PTOLEMY'S ALMAGEST IN PRINT. Ptolemy's work on astronomy (named "the Greatest" by its Arabic translators) summarised the achievements of earlier astronomers and its publication enabled its use by the next generations of astronomers such as Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler and Galileo who would build on it with dramatic results.

Regiomontanus and his teacher Peurbach met Cardinal Bessarion in Vienna in 1460; he commissioned them to produce an edition of the Almagest which Regiomontanus completed in 1462, after travelling to Rome with Bessarion. His version was shorter than the original and therefore more accessible, but also clearly worded and intelligently structured to enable its use. Regiomontanus based his text on Gerard of Cremona's translation as well as a Greek manuscript owned by Bessarion (now in the Biblioteca Marciana). He also included information from other astronomical writers to supplement Ptolemy.

Regiomontanus returned to Vienna after several years in Italy and began printing astronomical works there, including some by Peurbach, but he died in 1476 before his publishing programme could be fulfilled. It took another twenty years for his epitome to be printed, commissioned by two Germans resident in Venice, with additions by Santritter, a German astronomer and printer active in Venice in the 1480s-1490s. Some copies also contain an elegant preface in defence of astronomy (and its connections with astrology) by Giovanni Battista Abiosi (c.1460-1524), an astronomer and astrologer from Naples, not here present.


ISTC ir00111000; Printing and the Mind of Man 40; Sander 6399


Gonnelli, Florence, bookseller's label on inside front cover