Johann Valentin Merbitz ;  Hrabanus Maurus, ärkebiskop av Mainz

M. Johannis Valentini Merbitzii De varietate faciei humanæ, discursus physicus. Appendicis loco accedunt Carmina figurata, Rabani Mauri.

Dresden. Apud Mart, Gabrielem Hübnerum, ex officina electorali, typis viduæ & hæredum Melchioris Bergenii. M. DC. LXXVI.,  1676  price $2,400

Quarto  19.5b x 16.5 cm. π2, a4 ,A-H4(H2 miss signed H3) I4 ,K2,)(4 )( )2. plus one leaf fold out engraving outside of the collation. This copy is bound later boards.

FIRST EDITION of Merbitz’s book which takes features of the human face and describes them by mathematical and alphabetical schemes, constructs mystical cyhper systems, and then for some reason the text reproduces eight figured poems Carmina Figurati, by one of the greatest medieval encyclopedist and representative of the Carolingian renaissance Hrabanus Maurus.

Merbitz explains on p. 69 the inserted 8 pages of Carmina figurata, the first example of Mauru’s visual poetry, since the sixteenth-century copies of this work were already rare: “Quum supra pag. 32. mentio facta fuerit Carminis Rabani figurati, nec operis ejus copia omnibus sit, qui eo genus scripturae delectantur, missis viginti, quae insuper composuit VIII coronidis loco hic adjicere visum fuit, and sunt quae sequntur “.

The title is preceded by a representation of the 12 types of faces (see above) It would be hard to untangle the inter connectedness which Merbitz imposes upon his interpretations of the face. This knot or tangle of modern distinctions of specialties or separate parameters of knowledge itself. Like Kircher, who he seems to use as a point of departure, Merbtiz does not acknowledge a separation between body(its) and the minds which interprets an outside. Here all things are part sensual part spiritual , mystical … yet with Great hope potentially knowable.

Merbitz (1650-1704), was studying philosophy and theology in Leipzig, eventually becoming vice-principal at the Kreuzschule in Dresden, and for a short time as educator both Polish and Saxon electoral princes.

Thorndike VIII, 474; Graesse, Bibl. Magica 5; Wellcome IV, 115. Krivatsky 7758.   VD17 12:141099D. Charles Babbage owned a copy of this work.

In this book Merbitz calls on almost any authority far and wide he can use, including many of his contemporaries,including, Vossius, Bartholini, Bahun, Comenius, Leibnitz, Kirtcher (numerously) as well as many ancient sources.