A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


January 2017

Ole Worm and Thomas Bartholin

Ole Worm, one of my favorite portraits of him, not the most common rendering of him, but it comes closest to my imaginary notion of him

Ole Worm and Thomas Bartholin are my two favorite Danish seventeenth century personages. Worm, a generation or so older than his nephew, was an inexhaustible curiosity himself. There is so much to say about Worm, it is hard to imagine that there isn’t a multi-volume biography of him,if there was it would be on my shelf [Next to the Germanus Incredibilis of Kircher] But as far as I know there is not. My first exposure to Worm was when I bought a copy of  The Museum Wormianum, seu Historia rerum rariorum,1655 from Ahab Books back in 1991, it was a wonderful copy, I still miss it! But over the years, every time I have had a chance I’ve bought yet another copy (and sold them).

In 2005 I had the pleasure of seeing What Worm’s museum really looked like at Rosamond Purcell’s  ‘Bringing Nature Inside: 17th Century Natural History, Classification, and Vision,’ Special Exhibition Gallery, Science Center at Harvard.

That further whetted my desire to find more books By Worm. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of having about half a dozen books by Worm. At the same time I had a few authored by members of the Bartholin family. From this great family Thomas stands out,perhaps it is due to his upbringing…. Thomas wrote many interesting medical books and made notable discoveries. I especially like his little book on the medical use of snow.

In the book I offer today, both Worm and Thomas  Bartholin tackle early artifacts of Tutonic, culture.

Not exactly bracelets...

In the De armillis veterum schedion and De aureo cornu Danico :Worm and Bartholin use their scientific training and imagination tempered with their rare intellects to discuss the obviously valuable and ancient finds,of golden artifacts in a new way, not just physically valuable but historically so.  This book has further intellectual excitement added by  Fortunius Licetus, Who authored a wonderous book on Monsters “De Monstris. Ex recensione Gerardi Blasii” 1616,1665. He gives us his response to Worms interpretation of the images on the Golden Horn.

They try and reconstruct a history lift quite dark by the lack of available written texts. And like Rosamond Purcell’s recreation of The Museum Wormianum, They gave learning nit just a step up but also a step back!

Bartholin and Worm Team up!

326G    Worm,Ole (1588-1654), Bartholin, Thomas, .       1616-1680

De armillis veterum schedion; De armillis vetervm schedion; Thomae Bartholini De armillis vetervm schedion; Olai Wormii De aureo cornu Danico ad Licetum responsio; Olai Wormii De avreo cornv Danico ad Licetum responsio.        

Amstelodami : Sumptibus J.H. Wetstenii,Editio novissima / figuris aeneis illustrata,1676            $2,800

Octavo, .   * 8 A-E 12 F 4 2# A 12 B 8  This copy is bound in an early pasteboard binding.  It has 6 full page plates and one Large fold out plate.

Worm, a Danish physician, antiquary, and historian, was born in Jutland in 1588. He studied medicine at Padua and several German universities, and became in 1613 professor of the humanities at the university of Copenhagen, where he also held the office of rector. He was likewise physician to Christian IV. and his successor Frederick III. Among his principal works are his Fasti Danici (1626), The Most Ancient Danish Literature (1636)… He also wrote valuable treatises on medicine and natural history. He was the first to describe minutely the bones of the skull called Ossa Wormiana.” (Thomas)

A woodcut of an ancient Norse bracelet

Worm’s interests covered natural objects, human artifacts, mythical creatures and ancient inscriptions. He built one of the most well-known curiosity cabinets in Europe, and in 1655 posthumously published Museum Wormianum, or History of the Rarer Things both Natural and Artificial, Domestic and Exotic, which the author collected in his house in Copenhagen.

In”Documentng the Factual and the Artifactual: Ole Worm and Public Knowledge” by Jole Shackelford in Endeavour Magazine, June 1999 The Lore of the Unicorn by Odell Shepard  He writes   “Worm passed along exceptional stories if he believed they came from reliable sources, describing the wondrous attributes of bezoar stones grown inside animal bodies, for instance. Yet he also advocated investigations of unusual objects where possible. Not surprisingly, he considered the authority of ancient “experts” a hindrance to clear thinking. Worm was the first to establish that the “unicorn horn” and narwhal tusks were actually one and the same, as he explained in a dissertation he delivered in 1638. He also disproved the spontaneous generation of lemmings (thought to fall from the sky, perhaps), though he didn’t doubt the spontaneous generation of other organisms.

His most illustrious exploit was the one of unicorns. The legend went that they were magical animals, but he determined that they did not exist which was quite logical as nobody had ever seen them. He also established the truth that their famed, magical horns were nothing but narhwhal tusks. Strangely enough he himself could not shake off some other superstitious beliefs about unicorns. One of them was that the horns of these admittedly non-existent animals could heal people when poisoned. To prove that the legend spoke the truth he set out to poison pets for then feeding them ground-up narhwal tusks in order to save them. According to his reports they did indeed survive being poisoned when fed narhwal tusks.

Article Source:    $T2eC16VHJIIE9qTYKJ1!BRYPz42kvQ~~60_57

Worm passed along remarkable stories if he believed they came from reliable sources, describing the wondrous attributes of bezoar stones grown inside animal bodies, for instance. Yet he also advocated investigations of unusual objects where possible. Not surprisingly, he considered the authority of ancient “experts” a hindrance to clear thinking. Worm was among the first to establish that the “unicorn horn” and narwhal tusks were actually one and the same, as he explained in a dissertation he delivered in 1638. He also disproved the spontaneous generation of lemmings (thought to fall from the sky, perhaps), though he didn’t doubt the spontaneous generation of some other organisms.

Beyond his contributions to natural history, Worm laid the foundations of modern archaeological surveys, recommending assiduous collection of information from every archaeological site. Some historians have argued that Worm’s collection might have spurred the interest of the young Niels Stensen (Steno), who in turn laid the foundations for modern geology. Steno grew up just a few streets away from Worm’s curiosity cabinet. Unfortunately, Worm’s collection did not outlast him very long. His small museum was shuttered after his death, the specimens sent to other collections. Some of the objects likely landed in the Royal Danish Kunstkammer, which Steno did visit, probably more than once.

Thomas Bartholin, 1616-80, physician, naturalist, and philologist, was professor of mathematics and of anatomy at the Univ. of Copenhagen. He was the first to describe the entire lymphatic system. The peripatetic Bartholin, who obtained a medical degree in Basel, also wrote a thesis (never published) on fossil sharks teeth (glossopetrae), which were thought to have value as medicine and a related treatise De unicornu (1645) on unicorn horns. His interest in antiquities probably began while living with his brother-in-law (Ole Worm), after his father’s death(Thomas’ father died when he was only 16 years old )

This horn was found by a young lace maker called Kirsten Svendsdatter in 1639. It was of pure gold, decorated with animals and people and inexplicable symbols. The horn was a treasure trove – a monument to the past.  Worm interpreted it as a war trumpet from the time of Frode Fredegods, decorated with pictures, calling for virtue and good morals. Worm immediately sent his book to Prince Christian and the scholars at home and abroad.

The inscriptions  on this horn demonstrated to scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth century that the early peoples of northern Europe had their own form of writing and could therefore be considered a civilized society.

The horns may have been either musical instruments or drinking horns, and were probably buried as votive offerings or loot. Each weighed over 3 kg. The first (complete) horn, was found in 1639 and sent to Ole Worm (1588-1654), professor of humanities and medicine in Copenhagen, Denmark. Worm had a famous collection of natural and artificial curiosities and was also a scholar of runic inscriptions. A second horn was found in 1734.

Sadly, both horns were stolen from the Danish royal collections in 1802 and were melted down by the thief.

You can see in Worm’s letters, that not only did the horn make an impression, but also the letter and the interpretation. In that same year there were such lively discussions on the horn among the scholars of Königsberg, now Kaliningrad!

In 1643 Worm reiterated the description of the golden horn in his great work on Danish runic inscriptions,‘Monumenta Danica’. In 1644, his descriptions of the horn reached for scholars and libraries in Schleswig, Königsberg, London, Rome, Venice and Padua. Several learned men wrote poems for him, and the golden horn was mentioned in an Italian manus. Map Cartoonist Johannes Meyer placed the finds on several of his map of South Jutland.

This doesn't look like Moral behavior to me.

When the Swedish commander Torstensson attacked Jutland in 1643, Peter Winstrup wrote a long poem in Latin addressed to the bishop of Scania (which at that time still belonged to Denmark), the poem was called‘Cornicen Danicus’. It was immediately translated into Danish, entitled ‘The Danish Horn Blower’. He interpreted the horn and its images as an warning of war, and his interpretations were very hostile to the Swedish. Paul Egard and Enevold Nielssen Randulf were among some of the other scholars who interpreted the Golden Horn In the 1640s. They were both deans in Holstein, and had a more Christian interpretation of the horn.

All these works were illustrated with copies of Worms depictions of the horn. The Golden Horn remained known throughout the 1600s, both in terms of interpretations of the horn and designs. In Scandinavia, the 17th-century Danish scholars Thomas Bartholin and Ole Worm, and the Swede Olof Rudbeck were the first to set the standard for using runic inscriptions and Icelandic sagas as historical sources.

There is a recent book on the iconic and social development of  the Norse renaissance,The Golden Horns: Mythic Imagination and the Nordic Past  By John L. Greenway, which places Worm as one of the founders of this mythic imagination.

Raymond of Sabunde

723G   Raymond, of Sabunde, .        d 1436

Theologia naturalis sive Liber creatura[rum] specialiter de homine [et] de natura eius in qua[n]tum homo. :[et] de his qu[a] sunt ei necessaria ad cognoscendu[m] seip[su]m [et] Deu[m] [et] om[n]e debitu[m] ad q[uo]d ho[mo] tenet[ur] et obligatur tam Deo q[uam] p[ro]ximo.  


Impressus Nurembergae : Per Anthoniu[m] koberger [sic] inibi co[n]cluem,1502      $7,800

Folio, 11X 8 inches . This is about the fifth printed edition. A-Q8 R6   In this copy there are contemporary manuscript initials added in red and blue,DSC_0006 There is a gilt initial at the beginning of the prologue tooled in the gold leaf into a gesso ground. It is bound in full contemporary Nuremberg blind-tooled brown sheepskin over wooden boards,lacking clasps, titled is blind stamped on front board with contemporary paper label; There are several inscriptions on title, including reference to the Prologue’s inclusion on the Index Prohibitorum;(1589)there are the usual stains, browning and internal wear, some marginal rodent damage, the binding has been rebacked,it is a good solid copy .DSC_0004


Sabunde was Born at Barcelona, Spain, towards the end of the fourteenth century; died 1432. From 1430 to his death he taught theology, philosophy, and medicine at the University of Toulouse. Apparently, he wrote several works on theology and philosophy, only one of which remains, “Theologia Naturalis”. It was first written in Spanish then translated into Latin.

This text marks the dawn of a knowledge based on Scripture and Reason.

The Catholic Encyclopedia sees this as “It represents a phase of decadent Scholasticism, and is a defense of a point of view which is subversive of the fundamental principle of the Scholastic method. The Schoolmen of the thirteenth century, while holding that there can be no contradiction between theology and philosophy, maintain that the two sciences are distinct. Raymond breaks down the distinction by teaching a kind of theosophy, the doctrine, namely that, as man is a connecting link between the natural and the supernatural, it is possible by a study of human nature to arrive at a knowledge even of the most profound mysteries of Faith. The tendency of his thought is similar to that of the rationalistic theosophy of Raymond Lully….Moreover, in Spain scholastics, in combating Islam, borrowed the weapons of their erudite antagonists. Close internal resemblance indicates that Raimund de Sabunde was preceded in method and object by Raymund Lully.” CE

What is new and epoch-making is not the material but the method; not of circumscribing religion within the limits of reason, but, by logical collation, of elevating the same upon the basis of natural truth to a science accessible and convincing to all. He recognizes two sources of knowledge, the book of nature and the Bible. The first is universal and direct, the other serves partly to instruct man the better to understand nature, and partly to dsc_0008reveal new truths, not accessible to the natural understanding, but once revealed by God made apprehensible by natural reason.   The book of nature, the contents of which are manifested through sense experience and self-consciousness, can no more be falsified than the Bible and may serve as an exhaustive source of knowledge; but through the fall of man it was rendered obscure, so that it became incapable of guiding to the real wisdom of salvation. However, the Bible as well as illumination from above, not in conflict with nature, enables one to reach the correct explanation and application of natural things and self. Hence, his book of nature as a human supplement to the divine Word is to be the basic knowledge of man, because it subtends the doctrines of Scripture with the immovable foundations of self-knowledge, and therefore plants the revealed truths upon the rational ground of universal human perception, internal and external.

The first part presents analytically the facts of nature in ascending scale to man,the climax; the second, the harmonization of these with Christian doctrine and their fulfillment in the same. Nature in its. four stages of mere being, mere life, sensible consciousness, and self-consciousness, is crowned by man, who is not only the microcosm but the image of God. Nature points toward a supernatural creator possessing in himself in perfection all properties of the things created out of nothing (the cornerstone of natural theology ever after). Foremost is the ontological argument of Ansehn, followed by the physico-theological, psychological, and moral. He demonstrates the Trinity by analogy from rational grounds, and finally ascribes to man in view of his conscious elevation over dsc_0039-2things a spontaneous gratitude to God. Love is transformed into the object of its affection; and love to God brings man, and with him the universe estranged by sin, into harmony and unity with him. In this he betrays his mystical antecedents. Proceeding in the second part from this general postulation to its results for positive Christianity, he finds justified by reason all the historic facts of revealed religion, such as the person and works of Christ, as well as the infallibility of the Church and the Scriptures; and the necessity by rational proof of all the sacraments and practices of the Church and of the pope. It should be added that Raimund’s analysis of nature and self-knowledge is not thoroughgoing and his application is far from consistent. He does not transplant himself to the standpoint of the unbeliever, but rather executes an apology on the part of a consciousness already Christian, thus assuming conclusions in advance that should grow only out of his premises.   Yet his is a long step from the barren speculation of scholasticism, and marks the dawn of a knowledge based on Scripture and reason.


Montaigne (Essays, bk. ii. ch. xii., “An Apologie of Raymond Sebond”) tells how he translated the book into French and found “the conceits of the author to be excellent, the contexture of his work well followed, and his project full of pietie.. .. His drift is bold, and his scope adventurous, for he undertaketh by humane and naturall reasons, to establish and verifie all the articles of Christian religion against Atheists.” See D. Beulet, Un Inconnu celebre: recherches historiques et critiques sur Raymond de Sabunde (Paris, 1875).


Mariàngela Vilallonga, Ramon Sibiuda in La literatura llatina a Catalunya al segle XV, p. 208
S. Peterfreund, Turning Points in Natural Theology from Bacon to Darwin: The Way of the Argument from Design, p.3-9


The Primitive Origin of Mankind EVOLUTION in 1677!

825G Matthew Hale

The Primitive Origin of Mankind considered and examined according to the light of nature.

DSC_0037 (2)

London: William Godbid for William Shrowsbery, 1677           $ 2,800

Folio 12 1/2 X 7 3/4 inches a-4,b2,B-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Bbb4,Ccc2. First edition.

This copy is bound in full later calf. This copy has the book plate of Desmond Morris author of DSC_0043the book The naked ape and numerous  TV shows sociobiology and Evolution.


“The problem of human origins, of how and when the first humans appeared in the world, has been addressed in a DSC_0042variety of ways in western thought. In the 17th century the predominant explanation for the origin of the world and the beings that inhabit it, especially human beings, was based on the biblical account of creation. It was almost universally accepted that humans had been created by a supernatural agent using supernatural means. But alternative explanations for the production of the first humans did exist, according to which the first humans were produced by nature through some form of spontaneous generation” (Matthew R. Goodrum).

The word evolution (from the Latin evolution, meaning “to unroll like a scroll”) appeared in English in the 17th century, referring to an orderly sequence of events, particularly one in which the outcome was somehow contained within it from the start. Notably, in 1677 Sir Matthew Hale, attacking the atheistic atomism of Democritus and Epicurus, used the term evolution to describe his opponent’s ideas that vibrations and collisions of atoms in the void — without divine intervention — had formed “Primordial Seeds” (semina) which were the “immediate, primitive, productive Principles of Men, Animals, Birds and Fishes.”[ Goodrum] For Hale, this mechanism was “absurd”, because “it must have potentially at least the whole Systeme of Humane Nature, or at least that Ideal Principle or Configuration thereof, in the evolution whereof the complement and formation of the Humane Nature must consist … and all this drawn from a fortuitous coalition of senseless and dead Atoms.”[ Goodrum]

DSC_0037 (3)While Hale (ironically) first used the term evolution in arguing against the exact mechanistic view the word would come to symbolize, he also demonstrates that at least some evolutionist theories explored between 1650 and 1800 postulated that the universe, including life on earth, had developed mechanically, entirely without divine guidance. Around this time, the mechanical philosophy of Descartes, reinforced by the physics of Galileo and Newton, began to encourage the machine-like view of the universe which would come to characterise the scientific revolution.[Bowler ] However, most contemporary theories of evolution, including those developed by the German idealist philosophers Schelling and Hegel (and mocked by Schopenhauer), held that evolution was a fundamentally spiritual process, with the entire course of natural and human evolution being “a self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute”.[Schelling]

In response to Isaac de la Peyrere‘s theory of polygenesis, Hale advanced his own theory that the earth was not eternal, but rather had a spontaneous “beginning,” and went on to defend “the Mosaic account of the single origin of all peoples” (Norman). He further believed “that in animals, especially insects, various natural calamities reduce the numbers to low levels intermittently, so maintaining the balance of nature” (Garrison & Morton). Hale anticipated Malthus in studying the growth of a population from a single family, and “seems to have been the first to use the expression ‘geometrical proportion” in respect to population (Hutchinson). Primitive Origination was written as the first part of a larger manuscript entitled Concerning Religion, the whole of which “was submitted to Bishop Wilkins, who showed it to Tillotson. Both advised condensation, for which Hale never found leisure” (DNB). This first part, called “Concerning the Secondary Origination of Mankind,” was published after his death as The Primitive Origination of Mankind. A lawyer by trade, Hale distinguished himself after the fire of London in 1666 by deciding many cases of owner and tennant dispute, and helped facilitate the rebuilding of the city. He also publically demonstrated his belief in witches when as a judge he condemned more than one suspected witch to death. Wing H-258 ;Norman 965 ;Garrison & Morton 215; Lowndes, 973.

Goodrum, Matthew R. (April 2002). “Atomism, Atheism, and the Spontaneous Generation of Human Beings: The Debate over a Natural Origin of the First Humans in Seventeenth-Century Britain”. Journal of the History of Ideas 63 (2): 207–224

Bowler, Peter J. (2003). Evolution:The History of an Idea. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23693-9.

Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800

Brian Regal Human Evolution: A Guide to the Debates, 2004


Horace. Horatius Flaccus, Quintus (65-8 B.C.)

Opera cu[m] quibusdam Annotat[i]o[n]ib[us]. Imaginibusq[ue] pulcherrimis aptisq[ue] ad Odarum conce[n]tus & sente[n]tias.


Strasbourg: Johann Reinhard, called Grüninger, 12 March, 1498

Folio: 298 x 222 mm. Collation: [*]6, A-V6, X-Z6, AA-II6, KK-LL8; [**]6

FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF HORACE and the first edition of the poet’s works to be printed in Germany. The text was edited by the poet laureate Jacob Locher, called Philomusus. The woodcuts were executed by the artist of the Grüninger Terence (November 1, 1496).

2614_7Bound in 19th c. half calf and marbled boards. Illustrated with more than 160 detailed woodcuts. This is an excellent copy with large margins. A contemporary 15th or 16th c. artist has painted five of the large woodcuts with subtlety and a sophisticated use of color and shadow: 1. title page portrait of the author crowned with a laurel wreath; 2. Horace and his patron, Maecenas; 3. Julius Caesar being slain by Brutus and Cassius; 4. Virgil sailing in a ship; and 5. two pairs of lovers discoursing in a landscape. From the libraries of Georg (Franz Burkhard) Kloss (1787-1854), with his bookplate; Arthur Atherley, with his bookplate; and Etienne Reymond, with his bookplate . The German physician, philologist and Freemason George Kloss (1787-1854) was an early student of bibliographer and a collector of early books and manuscripts. This book was Lot 2046 in Kloss’ sale at Sotheby’s, May 1835.)

This copy is partially rubricated and is annotated, in Latin, throughout in at least two 2614_6contemporary hands. The early annotations are intact, having been spared by the binder’s knife, and consist of metrical notations, citations from other authors, and comments. There are also two glosses in Greek (leaves S6v and FF1r) as well as an apparent note in German (leaf FF6). An added manuscript index for the “Epistolae” is bound after the final text leaf. The readers have also made corrections and a few notable additions (e.g. “Cunnus CXXIX 3”) to the main index of words.

The annotators cite more than twenty authors, both ancient and contemporary, as well as the Bible. Among the ancient authors cited are Aesop, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Aulus Gellius, Cicero, Ovid, Diodorus Siculus, Juvenal, Lactantius, Pliny, Plutarch, St. Jerome, Seneca, and Virgil. The contemporary and near-contemporary authors cited include: Michael Marullus, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, Mantuan, Antonio Mancinelli (commentary on Juvenal), Badius Ascensius (“Sylvae”), Publio Fausto Andrelini, and Erasmus (“Adagia”).

2614_4The most frequently cited authors are Juvenal (13 citations) and Badius Ascensius (12 citations from the “Sylvae”). One reader also shows a fashionable interest in the “Adagia” of Erasmus. He identifies 23 separate adages in the course of the text and mentions Erasmus’ work by name at least three times. He also makes a reference to an epistle of Publio Fausto Andrelini of Forli (1460-1518) that might be the letter that Erasmus asked Andrelini to write as a preface to the “Adagia”.

 Goff H 461; BMC I, 112; Polain 1989; Proctor 485; Walsh 182; Fairfax Murray (German) 205; Rosenwald Collection 188; Dibdin, Bibl. Spenceriana II, 87-95.

For Grüninger, his illustrated books, and Locher’s edition of Horace, see Mark Morford, Johann Grüninger of Strasbourg in “Syntagmatia: Essays on Neo-Latin Literature in Honour of Monique Mund-Dopchie and Gilbert Tournoy (Humanistica Lovaniensia, XXVI) 2009

In 1554 Girolamo Zanchi, while he was teaching at Strasburg, lectured on Aristotle’s Physica.

In 1554 Girolamo Zanchi, while he was teaching at Strasburg, lectured on Aristotle’s Physica and published an edition of the Greek text with substantial introduction. 1 In the prolegomena, Zanchi recognizes that there are critics of the teaching of philosophy in general and of Aristotelian philosophy in particular (the critics are not wrong about Plato, but that…

via Zanchi’s Aristotle (1) — The Calvinist International

First Edition of Descartes’ Letters 1682

“Thus, all Philosophy is like a tree, of which Metaphysics is the root, Physics the trunk, and all the other sciences the branches that grow out of this trunk, which are reduced to three principals, namely, Medicine, Mechanics, and Ethics. By the science of Morals, I understand the highest and most perfect which, presupposing an entire knowledge of the other sciences, is the last degree of wisdom.”



820G Descartes Renati (1596-1650)


Descartes Epistolæ, partim ab auctore latino sermone conscriptæ, partim ex gallico translatæ. In quibus omnis generis quæstiones philosophicæ tractantur, & explicantur plurimæ difficultates quæ in reliquis ejus operibus occurunt .

Amstelodami: ex typographic Blaviana, 1682                                      $ 2,500

Three Quarto volumes 8 X 6 1/4 inches   vol I :*4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Bbb4/vol II :*2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2/vol III : *-**4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2v. 1: *4, A-Z, Aa-ZZ, Aaa-Bbb4 ; v. 2: *2, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2 ; v. 3: *-**4, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2 .

dsc_0039-1These copies are bound in modern full calf with gilt spine

First latin edition. The is edited by Claude Clerklier, with portions translated by Johannes de Raei .

“Claude Clerselier gathered these letters from the minutes their author had himself made and archived through his so many travels, showing there the very importance he had for them, like a dsc_0045custodian of his ideas, a file of his discoveries” (Jean-Robert Armogathe).

“During several years, from 1642 to the end of 1649, René Descartes (1596-1650) exchanged a regular correspondence with Princess Elisabeth, daughter of Frederick V, elector palatine and king of Bohemia. She was a very cultivated woman and especially keen about the mathematical sciences; she had read with deep interest and admiration his ‘Méditations métaphysiques’. […] This friendship was to last until Descartes’ death. He writes again from Sweden, praising the Queen Kristin (October 1649). It’s his last letter; Descartes died in February 1650. This correspondence is dsc_0043extremely interesting ; because, after questions from his interlocutor, Descartes finds himself amiable to rethink some problems and to give a clearer and more complete description than in his works; but mostly, this is the only direct document presenting him in his intimacy and, within it, the man and not only the philosopher anymore. We learn he had planned to write a Treatise on erudition; we also win interesting details about his life, entirely secluded and dedicated to studying and mostly to meditation, that he led in Holland, and about the few months he spent at the Queen of Sweden’s court.” (Dictionnaire des Œuvres, IV, 138-139).

These letters contain the author’s physical and mathematical correspondence with Hobbes, Fermat, Mersenne, Roberval, the Cambridge Platonist Henry More, and several others, with many mathematical papers of Fermat that did not appear in his Opera Varia.


For Descartes Philosophy was not a solitary or academic endeavor. His early  years adulthood was spent as a soldier, leaving the army in 1619. After a lacuna he turns up in 1625 in Paris, “his notes revealing that he was in contact with Father Marin Mersenne (1588–1648), a member of the Order of Minims. This relationship would prompt Descartes to make public his thoughts on natural philosophy (science). It is by way of Mersenne that Descartes’ work would find its way into the hands of some of the best minds living in Paris–for instance, Antoine Arnold (1612–1694), Pierre Gassed (1592–1655), and Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). Already before any published work Descartes has made contact with his current intellectual community. Descartes seemed to travel to where he could find interest in his Ideas.

dsc_0044 Around 1635, at the University of Utrecht, Henries Reneri  began teaching “Cartesian” physics.  In 1636 Reneri acquired an official chair in Philosophy at the University of Utrecht, and continued to build a following of students interested in Cartesian science. Around March of 1636, at the age of forty, Descartes moved to Leiden to work out the publishing of the Discourse. And, in 1637 it is published. “The Discourse is important for many reasons. For instance, it tells us what Descartes himself seems to have thought of his early education, and in particular, his early exposure to mathematics. Roger Ariew suggests that these reflections are not so much those of the historical Descartes, as much as they are those of a persona Descartes adopts in telling the story of the Discourse (Ariew, pp. 58–63). Uncontested, dsc_0042however, is the view that the Discourse sketches out the metaphysical underpinnings of the Cartesian system. And, as a bonus, it has three works that are attached to it that are apparently added so as to exemplify the method of inquiry it develops (though admittedly it is unclear how the method is applied in these essays). The attached essays are the Optics, the Meteorology, and Le Geometrie (the Geometry). As was suggested earlier, the Optics and Meteorology were very likely versions of works originally intended for The World.” (Smith, Kurt, “Descartes’ Life and Works”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .)

Descartes relied more or as much as any of his contemporaries in epistolary communications to expound his theories, and he was quite successful in this dissemination . Both his Method and endeavor was truly MODERN.  In this collection of letters, Descartes not only do we see descartes’ thinking but how hard he worked to spread these ideas.


Bibliography Descartes, S. 647-651: A.J. Guibert, “Bibliographie des oeuvres de René Descartes publiées au XVIIe siècle”, Paris, 1976, p. 91-94



Todays Rare incunabula ! To know God

835G   Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint (1090 or 1091-1153).

Florum S. Bernardi nobiliorum libri X (auctore Guillelmo, S. Martini Tornacensis monacho). De quibusdam sermonibus venerabilis patris Bernardi.

Cologne : Johann Koelhoff, the Elder, 1482 (In this copy and in many copies, the arabic figures 82 have been added to the printed date ‘M.cccc.’, probably in the printing-shop ) $11,000


Folio 11 1/4 x 8 inches {j.6} a2-q8, r-s6, t-v8 v8 blank(.j.1, a1,blank ).This copy lacks 5 leaves of index and 2 blanks. Second edition, the  first  was printed in 1470.

ISTC 4 copies listed in the US The Newberry Library; Western Michigan Univ., Free Library of Philadelphia (-8 leaves); Library of Congress.

This is a very nicely rubricated copy with many large lombard initials in red and the capital stroked in red and each chapter has a leather tab, This copy is bound in original quarter dsc_0064calf over Oak Boards, the clasp has been lost but the remains of the leather flap and the brass catch remains. Compiled from the works of Saint Bernard by Guilelmus Tornacensis, Benedictine monk.

It’s hard to know how to characterize Bernard of Clairvaux. On the one hand, he is called the “honey-tongued doctor” for his eloquent writings on the love of God. On the other hand, he rallied soldiers to kill Muslims. He wrote eloquently on humility; then again, he loved being close to the seat of power and was an adviser to five popes. What Bernard is remembered for today, more than his reforming zeal and crusade preaching, is his mystical writings. His best known work is On Loving God, in which he states his purpose at the beginning: “You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason he is to be loved.”

dsc_0068His other great literary legacy is Sermons on the Song of Songs, 86 sermons on the spiritual life that, in fact, only tangentially touch on the biblical text. One passage in particular speaks aptly to Bernard’s lifelong passion to know God (and, likely, the temptations that troubled him):dsc_0066dsc_0067

Goff B389 ; Bod-inc,; B-178; GW; 3929; Hain-Copinger; 2926*; ISTC,; ib00389000; O


I think this article in the Caracas Chronicles, “How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps” by Andrés Miguel Rondón

I think this article in the Caracas Chronicles, “How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps” by Andrés Miguel Rondón – is insightful. Especially the idea we should judo Trump, not box him. Though I don’t think the steps are easy and even grasping the points is cognitively challenging. “The whole world’s eyes are on […]

via Trump is the New Hugo Chavez: Look to Venezuela for Insights: Judo not Boxing — Creativeconflictwisdom’s Blog

Athanasius Kircher: The Man who tried to Know Everything!


632G  Kircher, Athanasius (& Kestler) .          1602-1680

  Physiologia Kircheriana Experimentalis, Qua Summa Argumentorum Multitudine & Varietate Naturalium rerum scientia per experimenta Physica, Mathematica, Medica, Chymica, Musica, Magnetica, Mechanica comprobatur atque stabilitur. Quam Ex Vastis Operibus Adm. Revdi. P. Athanasii Kircheri extraxit, & in hunc ordinem per classes redegit Romæ, Anno M. DC. LXXV. Joannes Stephanus Kestlerus Alsata, Authoris discipulus, & in re litterariâ assecla, & coadjutor.   

Amsterdam: Ex Officinâ Janssonio-Waesbergiana, 1680           $11,500

Folio, 9.4 x 14.25 in.  First and only edition. *4, A-Z4, Aa-Ii4. There are many illustrations in this book: an extra engraved title page, one hundred and sixty text woodcuts, and ten text engravings, some of which are very large. These illustrations all depict scientific instruments and experiments.  This is a very good copy bound in original full vellum with a gilt spine


“Thus in the most varied branches of science Kircher played the role of pioneer. Even medicine received his attention. His scientific activities brought him into correspondence with scholars laboring in the most different fields, as the numerous volumes of his extant letters show. It is to his inventive mind that we owe one of the earliest of our counting machines: the speaking-tube and æolian harp were perfected by him. He was also the inventor of the magic lantern [depicted in this volume] which has since been brought to such perfection and is today almost indispensable. [All of Kircher’s inventions are illustrated in the present work, including three different depictions of magic lanterns.]” (CE)

“This work, edited by one of Kircher’s pupils, Johann Stephan Kestler, is a codification of Kircher’s observations and experiments across the entire spectrum of his researches in physics. Naturally there are large sections on light and shadow, magnetism, acoustics, and music; but there are also experiments and observations in hydraulics, alchemy, and a myriad of other topics. This compendium was perhaps a response to entreaties from Kircher’s fellow scientists, who appreciated his keen observations and experiments but did not care to wade through some forty volumes to glean them. The book is an example of what Kircher’s writings could have been like at the hands of a good editor. Kircher died the year this book was published, and it is uncertain to what extent he was involved in its publication. The Physiologia is not only a measure of Kircher’s scientific curiosity and the vast range of his scientific researches, but also a barometer of his age, a catalogue of the scientific concerns of his time.” (Merrill)

. Kircher produced some forty treatises “on virtually every imaginable aspect of ancient and modern knowledge”, each one “demonstrat[ing] his dizzying array of linguistic, paleographic, historical, and scientific skills, and … advertis[ing] his myriad inventions, possession of strange and exotic artifacts, and mysterious manuscripts” (Findlen)

Merrill #29; Sommervogel IV 1076, 24;  Caillet II, 365.5796; Brunet III, 669; Clendening 13.26;

Garrison/Morton 80.580.Findlen, ed., Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything [2004],







622G      Kircher, Athansius.              1602-1680

Ars Magna Sciendi, In XII Libros digesta. Qua Nova & Universali Methodo Per Artificiosum Combinationum contextum de omni re proposita plurimis & prope infinitis rationibus disputari, omniumque summaria quædam cognitio compari potest…


DSC_0008 (2)Amsterdam: Apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge, & Viduam Elizei Weyerstraet, 1669       $9,500


Folio, 14 1/2 X 9 inches. First edition. *4, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Gg4-Zz4, Aaa-Ooo4, Ppp6. In this copy the following illustrations appear: On the frontice of part one The Greek inscription, at the foot of the throne on which the Divine Sophia sits, translates as “Nothing is more beautiful than to know the all.” Next there is a full page engraved portrait of Leopold I; next full paged plate of the ‘Arbor Philosophica two engraved plates with six parts to make two volvelles (at pages 13 and 173 respectively) the vovelle plates are present, one in a very good facsimile copy’, and five double paged tables. There are also numerous engravings and woodcuts throughout the text. This copy is complete. It is bound in full original calf with a gilt spine with an expertly executed early rebacking.

DSC_0006“ Nothing is more beautiful than know all things” The ‘Ars Magna Sciendi’ is Kircher’s exploration and development of the ‘Combinatoric Art’ of Raymond Lull, the thirteenth century philosopher. Kircher attempts in this monumental work to classify knowledge under the nine ideal attributes of God, which were taken to constitute the pattern for all creation. In the third chapter of this book is presented a new and universal version of the Llullistic method of combination of notions. Kircher seems to be convinced that the Llullistic art of combination is a secret and mystical matter, some kind of esoteric doctrine. In contrast with Llull, who used Latin words, words with clearly defined significations for his combinations, Kircher began filling the tables with signs and symbols of a different kind. By doing this Kircher was attempting to penetrate symbolic representation itself. (forming a ‘symbolic-Logic)

Kircher tried to calculate the possible combinations of all limited alphabets (not only graphical, but also mathematical). He considered himself a grand master of decipherment and tried to (and thought he did) translate Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, he felt that knowledge was a process of encoding and decoding. His tabula generalis, the more mathematical way of thinking created the great difference between Llull and Kircher.

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Kircher used the same circle-figures of Llull, but the alphabet which Kircher proposes as material for his combination-machine reveals the difference to Llullus’ at first sight. It is not the signification in correlation with the position in the table, because all nine places in each table are filled with the same significations we find in the Llullistic tables, that makes the difference. It is the notation, which creates the difference. While making certain modifications, mainly in the interest of clarity, Kircher retains the main thesis of Raymond Lull in the search for a scientific approach to the classification of all branches of knowledge. The central aim of Llull’s and Kircher’s activity was to invent a type of logic or scientific approach capable of finding and expressing universal truth. Kircher and his seventeenth century contemporaries had discarded common language as a satisfactory vehicle for this undertaking. Kircher favored the use of symbols as a possible solution to his problem, which he had explored in his earlier work on a non-figurative universal language was not a primary concern of lull’s ‘Combinatoric Art,’ his approach lent itself naturally to the seventeenth century savants and their abiding interest in this subject. (see Brian L. Merrill, Athansius Kircher An Exhibition at Brigham Young University).

De Backer-Sommervogel  vol IV col.1066. no. 28; Merrill 22; Ferguson I. 467; Brunet III, 666; Caillet II, 360.5771; Clendening 10.17; De Backer I, 429-30.23; Graesse IV, 21; Reilly #26.


                               )(    )(      )(

720G      Kircher, Athanasius.           1602-1680

 Athanasi Kircheri Fuldensis Buchonii è Soc. Jesu presbyteri ars magna lucis et umbræ, in X. libros digesta. Quibus admirandæ lucis & umbræ in mundo, atque adeò universa natura, vires effectusque uti nova, ita varia novorum reconditiorumque speciminum exhibitione, ad varios mortalium usus, panduntur. Editio altera priori multò auctior.  


Amstelodami, apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge, & hæredes Elizæi Weyerstraet. 1671 .                 $18,000

Folio, .  Second Enlarged edition  *4, **4, ***6, (*)2, A-Xxxx4  Bound in beautiful contemporary calf, with a very nice gilt spine.


The ars magna lucis et umbræ is Kircher’s major contribution to Optics   “In Ars magna DSC_0006 (1)lucis et umbrae Kircher discusses the sources of light and shadow. The work deals especially with the sun, moon, stars and planets. Kircher also treats phenomena related to light, such as optical illusions, color and refraction, projection and distortion, comets, eclipses, and instruments that use light, such as sundials and mirrors. He theorizes about the type of mirror supposed to have been used by Archimedes to set Roman ships afire, drawing from notes of his own experiments performed in the harbor of Syracuse. The work includes one of the first treatises on phosphorous and fireflies. Here Kircher also published his depictions of Saturn and Jupiter as he saw them through a telescope in Bologna in 1643. On that occasion he observed that the planets were neither perfectly round nor self-luminous, contrary to the popular Aristotelian belief that they are perfect, unchanging spheres.”Kircher takes a great interest in sundials and mirrors in this book, and several interesting engravings are of fanciful sundials. He had written extensively on these DSC_0001subjects on his previous work, the Primitiae gnomonicae catoptricae. Kircher also discusses an odd ancestor of the modern projector: a device called the ‘magic lantern,’ of which he is generally, though erroneously, considered the inventor. “Before writing this work, Kircher had read Kepler’s Ad vitellionem paralipomena (1604), the first modern work on optics and was influenced to some extent by it. The Ars magna lucis et umbrae reveals Kircher’s contribution as an astute observer and cataloguer of natural phenomena” (Merrill) _DSC_0005 (1)

De Backer-Sommervogel IV, col.  1050, no.9 ; Merrill 7; Caillet 5770


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642G      Kircher, Athanasius.           1602-1680


                  R.P. Athanasii Kircheri e societate jesu Itinerarium Exstaticum, quo mundi opificium, id est: Coelestis expansi, fiderumque tam errantium, quam sixorum natura, vires, proprietates, singulorumque compositio & structura, ab infimo Telluris globo, usque ad ultima Mundi confinia, per ficti ratus integumentum explorata, nova hypothesi exponitur ad veritatem


   [Bound with ]


R.P. Athanasii Kircheri E Societate Jesu Iter Exstaticum II. Qui & Mundi subterranei prodromus dicitur.                


Trnava (Zapadoslovensky kraj, Slovakia): Fridericum Gall, 1729       $SOLD


Duodecimo, 5 x 3inches   π, A-Z12; Aa-Bb12, Cc7; A-D12, E5.          This copy is bound in full DSC_0001 (1)contemporary calf, slightly wormed and bumped, with an elaborately blind-tooled spine and inlaid title.

This is a very rare edition of Kircher’s Iter Exstaticum. OCLC records no copies of this edition and only the Stanford copy could be located world-wide. Sommervogel’s entry for this edition states that this work is a total of 468 pages, but the copy they examined probably lacked the second part, with continuous pagination to 604 as well as the seperately paginated “Dialogus III” (106 pgs.) both present in this copy.

The first part of this two part work tells of an imaginary astronomical journey made by our author. “The Itinerarium Exstaticum is one of Kircher’s most curious works. He wrote the treatise in the form of a narrative in which a certain Theodidactus —Kircher himself— is caught up in a dream-vision or an ecstatic journey and is guided through the heavens by a spirit named Cosmiel. The genre was not uncommon: the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero and Kepler’s Somnium, published posthumously in 1634, both recount dream-journeys to the moon. In the first dialogue Kircher recounts the journey to the moon, which he finds scarred with mountains and craters, contrary to the Aristotelian view. He flies on to Venus, which he discovers is made of the four elements, and so on to each of the other planets and through the region of the fixed stars. The sun itself has blemishes, Kircher proclaims. He himself had seen sunspots through a telescope several years earlier [which are depicted in one of the engravings.]” (Merrill) Kircher also mentions the rings around Jupiter, the pluralirty of inhabited worlds, and in one plate depicts six possible planetary systems.

The second part of Kircher’s imaginary journey takes him to the underground world, and serves as an outline of the theories developed five years later in his Mundus Subterraneus. This work presents a unified theory of the dynamics of the earth, its rivers, oceans, mountains and volcanoes.

“Having journeyed through the heavens with the angel Cosmiel, Theodidactus descends with a second guide, Hydriel, and examines the waters and their natures. Cosmiel then returns and shows him the land, its geography, its characteristics, and wonders. The dialogue also treats animals and plants and their generation and corruption. In the third dialogue they explore the wonders of the submarine world, and in the fourth the subterranean world.” (Merrill)

DeBacker-Sommervogel vol . IV col. 1056


A short bibliography.


Conor Reilly. Athanasius Kircher: a master of a hundred arts, 1602-1680. Studia Kircheriana, Wiesbaden: Edizioni del Mondo, 1974.

John Glassie.  A man of misconceptions, New York. Riverhead Books 2012

Paula Findlen, ed. Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Paula Findlen. Scientific Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman College Museum. Roma Moderna e Contemporanea. 1995; 3: 625-665.

___________, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Harry Evans. Exploring the kingdom of Saturn. Ann Arbor 2012

Joscelyn Godwin. Athanasius Kircher: A Renaissance man and the quest for lost knowledge. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.

Joscelyn Godwin. Athanasius Kircher’s Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2009.

Ingrid Rowland. The Ecstatic Journey: Athanasius Kircher in Baroque Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 2000 (catalogue of the exhibition on Kircher held at the Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Libraries, 2000).

Daniel Stolzenberg, ed. The Great Art of Knowing: The Baroque Encyclopedia of Athanasius Kircher. Stanford, California: Stanford University Libraries, 2001 (catalogue of the exhibition on Kircher held at the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, April to July 2001).

John Fletcher. A Study of the Life and works of Athanasius Kircher . Leiden/Boston Brill 2011

__________.Athanasius Kircher and his correspondence. In J. Fletcher (ed.). Athanasius Kircher und seine Beziehungen. cit.,pp. 139-195.

_________. A brief Survey of the unpublished Correspondence of Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (1602-1680). Manuscripta. 1969; 13(3): 150-160.

_________. Astronomy in the life and Correspondence of Athanasius Kircher. Isis. 1970; 61: 52-67.

_________. Johann Marcus Marci writes to Athanasius Kircher. Janus. 1972; 59: 95-118.

_________. Athanasius Kircher and Duke August of Brunswick-Lüneburg. A chronicle of friendship. In Fletcher (ed.). Athanasius Kircher und seine Beziehungen. cit.,pp. 99-138.

Eugenio Lo Sardo, ed. Athanasius Kircher: il museo del mondo. Roma: De Luca, 2001 (catalogue of the exhibition on Kircher’s museum held at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 28 febbraio-22 aprile 2001).

Aldagisa Lugli. Inquiry as Collection: The Athanasius Kircher Museum in Rome. RES. 1986; 12: 109-124.

Thomas L. Hankins and Robert J. Silverman. Instruments and the Imagination. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995, Chapters 2 and 3.

Martha Baldwin. The Snakestone Experiments: An Early Modern Medical Debate. Isis. 1995; 86 (3): 394-418 (on Kircher’s polemic with Francesco Redi about the efficacy of magnetic medicine).

Carlos Ziller Camenietzki. L’Extase interplanetaire d’Athanasius Kircher: philosophie, cosmologie et discipline dans la Compagnie de Jésus au XVIIe siècle. Nuncius. 1995; X (1): 3-32 (on Kircher’s Itinerarium Exstaticum, 1656).

Catherine Chevalley. L’Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae d’Athanase Kircher. Néoplatonisme, hermétisme et “nouvelle philosophie”. Baroque. 1987; 12: 95-109 (on Kircher’s optical encyclopedia, the Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae, 1646).

George E. McCracken. Athanasius Kircher’s universal polygraphy. Isis. 1948; 39: 215-228 (on Kircher’s universal language, described in his 1663 Polygraphia nova).

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