563G Gaspar Schott 1608-1666
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. Editio altera auctior.
Herbipolus [i.e., Wurzburg]: Sumptibus Johannis Andreæ Endteri & Wolffgangi Jun. Hæredum. Excudebat Jobus Hertz Typographus Herbipol, 1667. $6,600
Quarto π1 [a]² b-g⁴ A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4 Aaaa-Zzzz4 Aaaaa-Zzzzz4 Aaaaaa-Zzzzzz4 Aaaaaaaa-Pppppppp⁴ Qqqqqqqq² 1389 pages
[T.p. to vol. 1 printed in red and black./ Woodcut armorial vignette with motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (arms of Karl Ludwig, Elector Palatine, to whom the work is dedicated?) on t.p. verso to vol. 1./ Vol. 2 has divisional half-t.p. reading “Physicae curiosae correctae et auctae pars II. Complectens sex posteriores libros, videlicet VII. Mirabilia animalium in genere. VIII. Mirabilia animalium terrestrium. IX. Mirabilium animalium volatilium. X. Mirabilia animalium aquatilium. XI. Mirabilia meteororum. XII. Mirabilia miscellanea” on leaf 4Q3r only; pagination and register is continuous between the two volumes./ Divisional half-t.p. reading “Physicae curiosae pars I. Complectens sex priores libros, videlicet I. Mirabilia angelorum ac daemonum. II. Mirabilia spectrorum. III. Mirabilia hominum. IV. Mirabilia energumenorum. V. Mirabilia monstrorum. VI. Mirabilia portentorum” on leaf g4v of vol. 1./ Signatures: vol. 1: [a]-g⁴ A-4P⁴ 4Q1-2; vol. 2: 4Q3-4 4R-8P⁴ 8Q²./ Includes index to both vols. at end of vol. 2./ Errata on leaf 8Q2 of vol. 2.].
This copy has 60 (instead of 61) engraved plates one colored and six folded to fit . All of the copies I find have only 60 plates. There are 11 leaves with slight damage expertly repaired. This copy is is bound in original vellum with spine missing revealing sewing structure, but solid and complete. The book block loosened, endpapers renewed, front title verso backed, engraved title with ownership entry by an old hand, with a few old marginalia, two folding plates with a tear (some image loss), two folding plates backed, one plate unprofessionally colored, with a few small tears and tears, partly stained and browned.
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 are devoted to “miraculous” subjects, including Demons and Angels, spectres, demonic possessions, human and beastly monsters, and portents. Part I is mainly a treatise on demonology, huge encyclopedia of wonder and the occult.Chapters are devoted to angels and demons and their relationships with wizards, ghosts,vampires, incubi and succubi, In great detail, it is followed by depictions of Physical anomalies ( with many interesting images).
The last six books deal with the “marvels” of nature – real creatures from exotic locales, such as elephants and rhinos.
These descriptions of remarkable animals, including the American sloth, armadillo, & Anteater, the first with the musical notes illustrating its strange song (which also fascinated Harsdörffer); one folding plate illustrates Diego de Gozon killing the dragon of Rhodes, 1345, the last two show the famous linden trees & antiquities of Neustadt am Kocher.
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.
“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 of 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 remained 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.