A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


February 2016

The Panther Prophesy: A 17th Century Apocalyptic Vision

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

Throughout history, there have been a number of apocalyptic sects, groups who believed that the world will end within their own lifetime.  Most recently, we’ve lived through Y2K and the end of the Mayan calendar, but apocalyptic predictions are nothing new.

One example of such a prediction turned up recently in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection in a pamphlet entitled The panther-prophesy, or, A premonition to all people, of sad calamities and miseries like to befal these islands.  Published in 1661 after the restoration of King Charles II, the prophecy purports to be a vision revealed in December of 1653 to “A Person of Honesty and Integrity, but of an extream sence of the Misery … that was coming upon his country,” and is heavily laden with imagery from the book of Revelation.

title_page2 The Panther Prophesy (London, 1661) draws comparisons between contemporary political events and the Biblical apocalypse.

In this…

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Fasciculus geomanticus: Chance? fate?

For those of us who wonder about the, all be it slow, Crashing of the stock market and the growing interest in Fantasy Sports Gambling; Geomancy and its history might be a relevant point of entry into the exploration of the all too human desire to incorporate the expression of the random into a view of the future?

Wallace Stevens wrote:

““A violent order is disorder; and a great disorder is an order.
These two things are one.”

But before Stevens, Stéphane Mallarmé, and in particular his 1897 poem Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard [“A throw of the dice never will abolish chance/hasard”] Explored in a completely poetic (and Hegelian) way the  common problematic that locates confusion at the center of our media and sensory experience.





And yes, we are still seeing our reality is being cast like dice…

Geomancy {Greek: γεωμαντεία, “earth divination”} starts with generating random numbers. It gets its name from the original method of generating random numbers by making dots in the dirt. Pen and paper is easier for us. Flipping coins also works. Whatever method you choose, it is important to concentrate on the question of interest while generating the numbers.  It was one of the most popular forms of divination throughout Africa and Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. But of course literary types are wise to the folly of embracing chance, Geomancy’s first mention in print was in William Langland’s Piers Plowman where it is unfavorably compared to the level of expertise a person needs for astronomy (“gemensye [geomesye] is gynful of speche”). In 1386 Chaucer used the Parson’s Tale to poke fun at geomancy in Canterbury Tales: “What say we of them that believe in divynailes as …geomancie…” Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were also known to use geomancy for comic relief. Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy makes a passing reference to geomancy. In the first two stanzas of Canto XIX in the Purgatorio,

It was the hour when the diurnal heat

no more can warm the coldness of the moon, vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn,

When geomancers their Fortuna Major see in the orient before the dawn

rise by a path that long remains not dim…
— Dante Aligheri, referencing the Greater Fortune (Fortuna Major) and the Way (“the path”)

Traditionally, geomancy requires a surface of sand and the hands or a stick, but can be done equally well with a wax tablet and stylus or a pen and paper; or even on your iPhone, online gambling, e-trading… the similarities are unavoidable….  ritualized objects may or may not be desired for use in divination. Often, when drawing marks or figures, geomancers will proceed from right to left as a tradition from geomancy’s Arabic origins, although this is by no means mandatory.   Modern methods of geomancy include, in addition to the traditional ways, computerized random number generators or thrown objects; other methods including counting the eyes on potatoes….

Well, the book I am working with today gets deep into the technical “Scientific” aspects of the Method or Generation! It is a thick serious book full of plates and diagrams.

This compilation of Latin treatises on geomancy includes, among others, Robert Fludd’s Tractatus de geomantia, H. de Pisis’ Opus geomantiae completum in libros tres, and Quaestiones geomantiae Alfakini, here attributed to Platon de Tivoli but, according to Charmasson, based on the treatise of Gerard of Cremona ( (c. 1114–1187) was an Italian translator of scientific books from Arabic into Latin) .


“[T]he practitioners of the art have found geomancy to be a true science through which things future, present, and past may be revealed, provided the geomancer’s judgement is not obscured by the obnoxious influences of the body or the deceitful actions of the senses.” (Richard Fludd 1617, in Josten 1964). Always remember: “The science of geomancy is very occult and inward; it is difficult to account for it in a rational way. Geomancy transcends vulgar understanding to which it must appear foolish, inane, absurd, and ridiculous.”

” (Richard Fludd 1617, in Josten 1964). Josten, C.H. 1964. Robert Fludd’s Theory of Geomancy and His Experiences at Avignon in the Winter of 1601 to 1602. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 27: 327-335.


596G  Henri de Pisis (ca 1639) Robert Fludd 1574-1637 Ibn al-`Arabi,; 1165-1240

Tabulae geomanticae, seu, Liber singularis de tribus ultimis ex antiquo manuscripto de anno MDXXXV : iam primo lucidatus, annexis duabus tabellis huic studio mirè inservientibus, caeteroquin utilibus & incundis.

       [Bound with]

Fasciculus geomanticus in quo varia variorum opera geomantica continentur : opus maxime curiosum, a multis hactenus desideratum, nunc vero magno studio correctum & ex parte jam prima vice editum


I) Francofurti ad Moenum : Sumptibus Joannis Davidis Zunneri,1693

II) Verona: [Heidelberg?] 1687.                                   $Sold


Octavo  6 1/4 X 3 1/2 inches   A-M8, N4 (N4 blank).II) A-Z8, Aa-Rr8,Ss4Page 123 is misnumbered here as in some copies of the first edition. II) first edition.

This copy is bound in full original vellum, soiled but solid.   The Tabulae is with out an author The second book bound here, is a collection ofgeomantical treaties, including texts by Robert Fludd and H. De Pisis and an article ”Quæstiones geomantiæ Alfakini” which is attributed to Platon de Tivoli, but which is probably based on a text by Gerard de Cremona. :

Liber primus. De animae intellectualis scientia by Robert Fludd — Liber secundus. De praxis geomantica by H. de Pisis — Liber tertius. Quaestiones geomantica by Alfakini. These two works are frequently found together and in 1704 they were issued together.


Geomancy, from Ancient Greek ge manteía translates literally to “foresight by earth”; it is a translation of the Arabic term ilm al-raml, or the “science of the sand”. Earlier Greek renditions of this word borrowed the word raml (“sand”) directly, rendering it as rhamplion or rabolion. Other Arabic names for geomancy include khatt al-raml and darb al-raml. Geomancy is thought to have established roots in the Middle East when returning Arabic merchants brought the esoteric knowledge from East Asia via the Silk Road. The original names of the figures were traditionally given in Arabic, excluding a Persian origin. The reference in Hermetic texts to the mythical um um al-Hindi potentially points to an Indian origin, although Skinner thinks this to be unlikely. Having an Islamic or Arabic origin is most likely, since the expansive trade routes of Arabian merchants would facilitate the exchange of culture and knowledge. European scholars and universities began to translate Arabic texts and treatises in the early Middle Ages, including those on geomancy. Isidore of Seville lists geomancy with other methods of divination including pyromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, and necromancy without describing its application or methods; it could be that Isidore of Seville was listing methods of elemental scrying more than what is commonly known as geomancy. The poem Experimentarius attributed to Bernardus Silvestris, who wrote in the middle of the 12th century, was a verse translation of a work on astrological geomancy. One of the first discourses on geomancy translated into Latin was the Ars Geomantiae of Hugh of Santalla; by this point, geomancy must have been an established divination system in Arabic-speaking areas of Africa and the Middle East. Other translators, such as Gerard of Cremona, also produced new translations of geomancy that incorporated astrological elements and techniques that were, up until this point, ignored. DSC_0251From this point on, more European scholars studied and applied geomancy, writing many treatises in the process. Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Christopher Cattan, and John Heydon produced oft-cited and well-studied treatises on geomancy, along with other philosophers, occultists, and theologians until the 17th century, when interest in occultism and divination began to dwindle due to the rise of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Reason.

Thorndike, Vol. VIII, p. 481-482.; Caillet 4035.

Having spent a fair amount of time leafing through this book, I am still amazed by the sustained effort that truly dedicated practitioners have spent on this seeming, to me, fatal effort: For those of you how have more endurance or might I say faith in this, this book offers more methodology that I can bare!

Please explore it and enjoy!



The First English Essayist Cornwallyes NOT Bacon

815F      Sir William Cornwallis d. 1631

Essayes, by Sr William Cornwallyes, the younger, knight. Newlie corrected.

London: Printed by Thomas Harper for I. M., 1632           $3,500


Octavo  5 ½ 5 x 3 ½. [A3] missing A1 blank, B-Z8, Aa-Oo8. This collation is consistent with Pforzheimer catalogue.  Engraved title page. by T. Cecill containing two portraits supposed to represent Sir William and his father, Sir Charles Cornwallis.


Third edition of the “Essayes”, Parts I and II; second edition of the “Discourses.”  DSC_0242                               This is a nice copy bound in full contemporary calf rebacked. The spine has gilt label
Overall, the leaves are in excellent condition, this copy has ample margins, not often found in this work.


This book is consists of three seperate works each with a seperate title page but published together. The first “Essayes” is followed by “ Essayes the Second Part” and “Discourses upon Seneca the Tragedian”.
While some state that Cornwallis “was a friend of Ben Jonson, and employed him to write ‘Penates, or a Private Entertainment for the King and Queen,’ on their visit to his house at Highgate on Mayday, 1604. This is not the author of the essays rather it is his Uncle.

His essays are in imitation of Montaigne, but lack the sprightliness of the French author. Yet they are true essays and therefor differ from Bacon, whose ‘Essays” are a collection of aphorisms. They cover such topics as ambition, resolution, youth, essays and books, and humility. DSC_0239 Cornwallis spent his life in studious retirement. The “Essayes” is also a work of considerable Shakespearean interest – it is “so rare that a writer in ‘Shakespeare’s Centurie of Prayse,’ could not find a copy”. This work is also referred to at length by Hunter in his “New Illustrations” of the Tempest, who argues that as Florio’s translation of Montaigne had undoubtedly been seen by Cornwallis before 1600, so too, it was probably seen and used by Shakespeare in his composition of the Tempest (see Hunter, Joseph “New Illustrations of the life, studies, and writings of Shakespeare” London: J.B. Nichols and son 1845).


STC 5781; Arber IV, 92; Huntington C.L., 90; Grolier Club W-P I, 182; Hoe Catalogue I (1903) 322. Hazlitt I, 101.

See also : Encyclopedia of the Essay edited by Tracy Chevalier  http://www.am41SU533HULL._SX331_BO1,204,203,


Images of the Gods of the Ancients:

523G      Vincenzo Cartari               1531–1569


Imagini Delli Dei De Gl’Antichi Di Vincenzo Cartari Reggiano :
Ridotte da capo à piedi alle loro reali, & non più per l’adietro osseruate simiglianze. Cauate da’ Marmi, Bronzi, Medaglie, Gioie, & altre memorie antiche; con esquisito studio, & particolare diligenza Da Lorenzo Pignoria Padoano ; Aggionteui le Annotationi del medesimo … ; Con le Allegorie sopra le Imagini di Cesare Malfatti Padoano, migliorate, & accresciute nouamente


Venice: Tomasini, 1647,                                                                                 $Sold


Quarto   9 ¼ x 6 ½ inches.         a8 b4 A-2A8 2B6,   a8 b4 [chi]1 2[chi]1 A-Z8 Aa8 Bb6 .   This copy is bound in 18th century German quarter calf with paste paper boards ,expertly rebacked!   This is a very large margined copy with amyn decker edgesDSC_0235           This is the fourth and Most Complete edition.   This is a very nicely illustrated book on the images of God throughout the world. Cartari’s work was profusely illustrated with 243 captioned images of the pagan gods, and is composed in the Italian vernacular and Illustrated with woodcuts by Bolognino Zalteri. This systematic integration of text and image constituted an original approach to the classical myths, and the use of the vernacular made the text accessible to learned and unlearned alike. Cartari’s iconographical, symbolic DSC_0225 (1)interpretation of the images of the pagan gods as they were represented in antiquity and discussed by Renaissance antiquarians proved to be an enormously popular approach to pagan myth. Cartari focussed on the gods’ iconography and explained their clothing, expressions, poses and attributes. Cartari’s Images was well known to Renaissance artists, poets, and critics. The antiquarian and philologist Lorenzo Pignoria added extra text and notes to the work in 1615 along with Seconda Parte delle Imagini de gli Dei Indiani, a second volume containing a short series of images of Mexican and Japanese deities.

DSC_0224 (1)

DSC_0229Graesse, II, 56. Ebert 3586. Sabin, 11104. Vgl. Cicognara, 4684


DSC_0233 (1)



There is a wonderful english translation available at’s-images-gods-ancients-first-italian-mythography


see also : Archiv für Religionsgeschichte. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 183–209, ISSN (Online) 1868-8888, ISSN (Print) 1436-3038, DOI: 10.1515/9783110234190.183, May 2010


Histoire de Jean de Brienne, Roy de Jerusalem et Empereur de Constantinople.

624G      Joseph-Francois                La Fitau,                 1681-1746


Histoire de Jean de Brienne, Roy de Jerusalem et Empereur de Constantinople.

DSCN0443 (1)

Paris: Charles Moette & Pierre Simon, 1726         $3,000


Octavo   6 ½ X 4 ¼ inches. A-XDSCN043912, Y1, Z-Bb6. First Edition. There is some tanning to the edges of the first and last few leaves, occasional mild foxing; the joints are cracked with the covers attached by the cords. Some cracking to the leather and wear on the corners.


After reading this, it is hard to believe that so much could be packed in one life, but alas this is why there are such books .  John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem and eventually emperor of Constantinople, 1148-1227.     In 1208 envoys came from the Holy Land to ask Philip Augustus, King of France, to select one of his barons as husband to the heiress and ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Philip selected John of Brienne [1148-1237], second son of the Count of Brienne. In 1211 John concluded a five years’ truce with Malik-el-Adil and during the Fifth Crusade urged Pelagius of Albano to accept favorable terms from the Sultan Al-Kamil. Pelagius refusal led to disaster for the Christians. The Crusaders left for Acre in 1217 and joined John of Brienne, ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and Prince Bohemund IV of the Kingdom of Antioch to fight against the Ayyubids state of Egypt.  In June,1218, the crusaders attacked Damietta, an important Egyptian settlement. The Sultan Al-Adil was unprepared, but the city resisted the crusaders. It took the crusaders several months and thousands of lives to enter Damietta, but once they did they looted it for several days finding enough loot to inspire them to attack Cairo next, their only obstacle to a powerless Egypt and an open road to Jerusalem.

After the failure of the crusade, King John came to the West to obtain help for his kingdom. In 1223 he met Pope Honorius III and the emperor Frederick II at Ferentino, where, in order that he might be connected more closely with the Holy Land, Frederick was betrothed to John’s daughter Isabella, now heiress of the kingdom. After the meeting at Ferentino, John went to France and England, finding little consolation; and thence he travelled to Santiago de Compostela, where King Alfonso IX of Leon offered him the hand of one of his daughters and the promise of his kingdom. John passed over Alfonso’s eldest daughter and heiress in favor of a younger daughter, Berenguela of Leon. After a visit to Germany he returned to Rome (1225). Here he received a demand from Frederick II (who had now married Isabella) that he should abandon his title and dignity of king, which, so Frederick claimed, had passed to himself along with the heiress of the kingdom. John avenged himself on Frederick, by commanding the papal troops which attacked southern Italy during the emperor’s absence on the Sixth Crusade (1228–1229).

In 1229, John was invited by the barons of the Latin Empire of Constantinople to become emperor-regent, on condition that Baldwin of Courtenay should marry his second daughter and succeed him. He then ruled in Constantinople, and in 1235, with a few troops, he repelled a siege of the city by John III Doukas Vatatzes, emperor of Nicaea, and Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria, leading a successful cavalry charge which killed some 10,000 enemy soldiers.

After this last feat of arms, which has perhaps been exaggerated by the Latin chroniclers, who compare him to Hector, Roland and the Maccabees, John died in the habit of a Franciscan friar. An aged paladin, he was somewhat uxorious and always penniless, and a typical knight errant whose wanderings led him all over Europe, and planted him successively on the thrones of Jerusalem and Constantinople.  (from the Wikipedia page)

LaFitau [1670-1740], Jesuit who also authored a two volume work on the customs of savages in earliest times and another work on Couvade, a custom in some primitive cultures in which husbands mimic the behavior of their wives in pregnancy. He also served as a Missionary to Canada.  Often referred to as a father of comparative and scientific Anthropology, his work on the Iroquois “Moeurs des Sauvages Amériquains” is quite important.

   DeBacker- Sommervogel vol IV col 1362 no 4







‘Adorn’d with Sculptures’ Milton’s Paradise Lost 1688

Plate from Book one attributed to Henry Aldrich "Satan Rousing the Rebel Angels"
Plate from Book one attributed to Henry Aldrich
“Satan Rousing the Rebel Angels”

. . . what in me is dark, Illumine; what is low,

raise and support;  DSC_0203that to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
and justify the ways of God to men.

(book I, 22–26)


629G Milton,John. 1608-1674


Paradise Lost. A Poem In Twelve Books. The Authour John Milton. The Fourth Edition, Adorn’d with Sculptures.


London: Printed by Miles Flesher, for Jacob Tonson, at the Judge’s-Head in Chancery-lane near Fleet-street, 1688                                 $SOLD



Folio, Large paper copy. 14 ¾ X 9 ¼ inches. This is the fourth edition of the text but this edition comes with a number of firsts: 1) First illustrated edition of Paradise Lost 2) First Large format Paradise Lost printed on high-quality paper with very handsome type 3) First serious effort to illustrate an important work of English poetry  4) First major English literary work with important engraved illustrations in the seventeenth century  5) First book to be sold by subscription (500 subscribers).

[A]4, B2, C-Z4, Aa-Xx4, Yy-Zz2, Aa2.  The engraved portrait frontispiece of Milton is bound opposite the title page. Twelve full-paged engravings accompany the text. The Frontispiece is Robert White’s engraved portrait with Dryden’s epigram. THERE IS A FULL PAGE Illustrations in for each book. Those for Books III, V, VI, VII, IX, X, XI by John Baptista de Medina, engraved by M. Burghers; Book IV, by Bernard Lens, engraved by P.P. Bouche; Book XII, by Henry Aldrich, engraved by Burghers; and Books I, II, now considered to be after Aldrich  and engraved by Burghers” (Shawcross modified). Internally, the copy is in excellent condition with wide, clean margins. Overall, it is an excellent, tall copy. Bound in full calf recently rebacked, a very nice Large Paper copy.

Book XII
Book XII


“Paradise Lost is at once a deeply traditional and a boldly original poem. Milton takes pains to fulfill the traditional prescriptions of the epic form; he gives us love, war, supernatural characters, a descent into Hell, a catalogue of warriors, all the conventional items of epic machinery. Yet no poem in which the climax of the central action is a woman eating a piece of fruit can be a conventional epic. […] The way of life which Adam and Eve take up as the poem ends is that of the Christian pilgrimage through this world. Paradise was no place or condition in which to exercise Christian heroism as Milton conceives it. Expelled from Eden, our first ‘grand parents’ pick up the burdens of humanity as we know them, sustained by a faith which we also know, and go forth to seek a blessing which we do not know yet. They are to become wayfaring, warfaring Christians, like John Milton; and in this condition, with its weaknesses and DSC_0216strivings and inevitable defeats, there is a glory that no devil can ever understand. Thus Milton strikes, humanly as well as artistically, a grand resolving chord. It is the careful, triumphant balancing and tempering of this conclusion which makes Milton’s poem the noble architecture it is; and which makes of the end a richer, if not a more exciting, experience than the beginning” (Norton   Anthology of English Literature). “Milton writes not only as a literary connoisseur but also as a scholar, appealing in his readers to a love of ordered learning like his own. Even the echoes of ancient phrase should often be considered, not as mere borrowings, conscious, or unconscious, but as allusions intended to carry with them, when recognized, the connotation of their original setting. […] The extraordinary thing is the way in which this object is accomplished without loss of poetic quality. The secret seems to be the degree to which the materials of learning have become associated with sensuous imagery and with moving poetical ideas. Milton is erudite, but all erudition is not for him of equal value. Winnowed, humanized, and touched with the fire of imagination, his studies have passed into vital experience and afford him as natural a body of poetical data as birds and flowers.”(Hanford, A Milton Handbook) Shawcross 347; Wing M-2147; Wither to Prior #607; Coleridge 93b


For more Miltionian fun see the web site

Form that web site :   Further Reading

Robert Woold, Howard J.M. Hanley, Stephen Hebron, Paradise Lost: the Poem and its Illustrators (Grasmere: the Wordsworth Trust, 2004).

The best introduction to Paradise Lost and its artistic interpreters, this beautifully illustrated book started life as the catalogue of a Wordsworth Trust exhibition in 2004. It charts a fascinating path through the most celebrated artists to tackle Milton, setting them alongside some lesser-known gems.
Marcia R. Pointon, Milton and English Art (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1970).

Pointon’s book is still the place to go to explore Milton’s poetry as a source for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English art. Even a brief skim through the illustrations gives a vivid sense of what Paradise Lost meant to these different periods.

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