563G Gaspar Schott 1608-1666

{Part Two Only of } (Only three complete copies of this massive opus have come to auction in the last thirty-five years)

P. Gasparis Schotti Regis Curiani E Societate Jesu, Olim in Panormitano Siciliæ, nunc in Herbipolitano Franconiæ Gymnasio ejusdem Societatis Jesu Matheseos Professoris, Physica Curiosa, Sive Mirabilia Naturæ Et Artis Libris XII. Comprehensa, Quibus pleraq;, quæ de Angelis, Dæmonibus, Hominibus, Spectris, Energumenis, Monstris, Portentis, Animalibus, Meteoris, &c. rara, arcana, curiosaq; circumferuntur, ad Veritatis trutinam expenduntur, Variis ex Historia ac Philosophia petitis disquisitionibus excutiuntur, & innumeris exemplis illustrantur. Ad Serenissimum Ac Potentissimum Principem Carolum Ludovicum, S.R.I. Electorem, &c. Cum figuris æri incisis, & Privilegio.


Herbipolus [i.e., Wurzburg]: Sumptibus Johannis Andreæ Endteri & Wolffgangi Jun. Hæredum. Excudebat Jobus Hertz Typographus Herbipol, 1662                   $3,000


Quarto 203 x 163 mm vol. II: [ ]1, Eeeee2-4, 5F-5Z4, 6A-6Z4, 7a-7Z4, 8A-8Z4, 9A-9R4. 1583 pages. This volume contains plates XXIII to LVII (32 full page plates and two folding plates) First edition. Bound in contemporary vellum.

Physica Curiosa is an encyclopedia of the natural sciences of the age. In keeping with Schott’s character, it compiles many of the illustrations and literature previously published. As with many natural history publications of the era, it depicted fantastical creatures alongside real ones. Divided into twelve books, the first six books (not here) are devoted to “miraculous” subjects, including Demons and Angels, spectres, demonic possessions, human and beastly monsters, and portents. The last six books deal with the “marvels” of nature – real creatures from exotic locales, such as elephants and rhinos.dsc_0098

Physica Curiosa’s target audience was other scholars, educators, and the rich nobility of the time, as this was the demographic that could afford the publication.

Many other creatures presented by Schott exemplify the practice of misrepresenting real creatures, or imposing religious elements on natural entities. dsc_0104

“Gaspar Schott, German physicist, born 5 February, 1608, at Konigshofen; died 12 or 22 May, 1666, at Augsburg. He entered the Society of Jesus 20 October, 1627, and on account dsc_0118of the disturbed political condition of Germany was sent to Sicily to complete his studies. While there he taught moral theology and mathematics in the college of his order at Palermo. He also studied for a time at Rome under the well known Athanasius Kircher. He finally returned to his native land after an absence of some thirty years, and spent the dsc_0096remained of his life at Augsburg engaged in the teaching of science and in literary work. Both as professor and as author he did much to awaken an interest in scientific studies in Germany. He was a laborious student and was considered on of the most learned men of his time, while his simple life and deep piety made him an object of veneration to the Protestants as well as to the Catholics of Augsburg. Schott also carried on an extensive correspondence with the leading scientific men of his time, notably with Otto von Guericke, the inventor of the air-pump, of whom he was an ardent admirer. He was the author of a number of works on mathematics, physics, and magic. They are a mine of curious facts and observations and were formerly much read.





He wrote many interesting works: the ‘Magia Universalis Naturae et Artis,’ 4 vols., Wurzburg, 1657-1659, which contains a collection of mathematical problems and large number of physical experiments, notably in optics and acoustics. His ‘Mechanicahydraulica-pneumatica’ (Wurzburg, 1657) contains the first description of von Guericke’s air pump. He also published ‘Pantometricum Kircherianum’ (Wurzburg, 1660); ‘Physica curiosa’ (Wurzburg, 1662), a supplement to the ‘Magia universalis;’ ‘Anatomia physico-hydrostatica fontium et fluminum’ (Wurzburg, 1663), and a ‘Cursus mathematicus’ which passed through several editions. He also edited the ‘Itinerarium exacticum’ of Kircher and the ‘Amussis Ferdinandea’ of Curtz.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII, page 589)

DeBacker-Sommervogel vol. VII col.909 no. 8;



Physica Curiosadsc_0097