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.


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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).