IMG_2348.jpeg381J Athanasius Kircher 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. Anno 1680      $9,500


Folio. 15 x  9 3/4 inches. *4, A-Z4, Aa-Ii4. First edition.

IMG_2359This copy is quite clean and crisp throughout, never having been washed or pressed. There is some occasional spotting and browning. but none is too extensive. The binding is twentyth century full vellum with title on spine. an impressive and large copy! 

“Thus in the must varied branches of science Kircher played the role of pioneer. Even medicine received his attention, as is shown for example by his treatise, ‘Scrutinium phyisco-medicum contagiosæ luis, quæ pestis dicitur’ (Rome, 1663). His scientific activities brought him into scientific 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 which has since been brought to such perfection and is and is today almost indispensable. [All of these devices are illustrated in the present work, compiled in the year of the author’s death by Kircher and his student Johann Stephan Kestler, including three large and striking engravings of magic lanterns.]”

May I ask the reader to take the following quote with a measure of indulgence for its closed minded author [circa 1913] with the hope that modern folk of the last decade of the second millennium have a bit more tolerance for the many sciences that we have yet to master. “That the most varied judgments should be formed and expressed on a man of such encyclopædic knowledge was only to be expected. He tried to find a grain of truth even in the false sciences of alchemy, astrology, and horoscopy, which were still in his time much in vogue, nor is it surprising that in the province of astronomy he did not at this early date defend the Copernican System.” (the above two quoted taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. viii, page 662)

Kircher was an accomplished and versatile scholar who applied his intellectual abilities to a myriad of scientific problems. This work is a fascinating compendium of scientific experiments and principles which documents the accomplishments of early modern thinkers of the west.

IMG_2337.jpeg“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 IMG_2344died 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) Among many other discoveries this work “Includes the first recorded experiment in hypnotism in animals” (G/M).image.pngimage.pngimage.pngimage.pngimage.pngimage.png