First Printed edition of “One of the earliest printed books on the ars memorativa or mnemotechnics” . . ca.1480

  1. 502J Petrus de Rosenheim. (1380-1432). Nom probable : Petrus Wiechs

[incipt Roseum memoriale divinorum eloquiorum] /

[Köln] : [Southern Germany :, about 1480-90?] or [Cologne? :, about 1483] or [Ludwig von Renchen?], 1483 Deutschland (Oberrhein?).  $12,000

 Quarto (205 x 145 mm).  signatures a-f8 [1-68]. [48] a1 blank and lacking.  Text in one column, 32 lines. Type: 80G. Initials painted in red, rubricated in red ink throughout . First edition .

Dated in Goff and IGI about 1483 “The edition is assigned by Proctor to the printer Ludwig von Renchen, active in Cologne from 1483 to ca. 1495, while ISTC gives Southern Germany between 1480-1490 and GW tentatively suggests Oberrhein, 1483.

This copy is bound in a simple later quarter vellum binding .


This is one of the earliest printed books on the ars memorativa or mnemotechnics the rare first edition of the Roseum memoriale composed by the German Benedictine monk Petrus of Rosenhaym (Upper Bavaria), written between 1423 and 1426 for Cardinal Giulio Branda di Castiglione. Petrus of Rosenhaym composed numerous treatises, sermons, and verses: the Roseum memoriale is surely his most famous work, enjoying wide popularity during the fifteenth century and first half of the sixteenth century.

Each couplet commences with a different letter in the order of the alphabet (omitting K, X, Y, Z, but including vowel I). These letters correspond to the numbers that appear on the cuts, and together form a method of memorizing the events of the Scripture as told by each of the Evangelists. It is a poem composed of 1,194 verses followed by an epilogue of seventy-three hexameters, in which every chapter of the Bible (excluding the Psalms) is summed up in a distich. The mnemotechnic method here employed is extremely complex: the hexameters of each section of the summary form an acrostic of the letters of the alphabet.


Based on Latin verses about Holy Scripture, it uses characteristic couplets (distiches) to express the main content of all chapters of the Old and New Testament. This introduction makes it possible to easily find every quote in the Bible. A highly popular and broadly used manual, its copies could be found in almost every European church after the invention of the printing press it was printed in several different locations. This early medieval incunable has not been clearly dated (This edition) researchers attribute it to the Upper Rhine region sometime between 1480 and 1483. After studying at the University of Vienna, Petrus de Rosenhaym, along with his friend Nikolaus Seyringer, moved to Subiaco, where he entered the Benedectine order. In 1413, he was appointed prior to the cloister of Rocca di Mondragone near Capua. In 1416, he took part in the Council of Konstanz, and later he was prior in Melk (Lower Austria). After 1423, he was appointed ‘cursor biblicus’ and ‘magister studentium’.

Dated in Goff and IGI about 1483 “The edition is assigned by Proctor to the printer Ludwig von Renchen, active in Cologne from 1483 to ca. 1495, while ISTC gives Southern Germany between 1480-1490 and GW tentatively suggests Oberrhein, 1483.

ISTC ir00336000; Goff R336; BMC I 312; ; GW M32724; Polain(B) 3128; IBE 4559; IGI 7668; IBP 4380; Sajó-Soltész 2676; Madsen 3549; Borm 2134; Hubay(Würzburg) 1704; AmBCat 199; Walsh 492; Oates 867; Pr 1517;; BSB P-362; Van der Haegen II,2:16,4?; Young 278;

S. Tiedje, “The Roseum Memoriale divinorum Eloquiorum Petri de Rosenheim: A Bible Summary from the Fifteenth Century”, L. Dolezalová – T. Visi, Retelling the Bible. Literary, Historical, and Social Contexts, Frankfurt a.M.-Berlin et al. 2011, pp. 335-353;

Copies in the United States of America:                                                                          Brown, Harvard ,Library of Congress                                                                             Huntington, Newberry ,Yale, Marquette



2) 660j. Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507) edited by Damiano Rosselli .

Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae.concionatoribus, philosophis, medicis, iuristis, oratoribus, procuratoribus, caeterisq ; bonarum litterarum amatoribus, negociatoribus insuper alijsq ; similibus, tenacem ac firmam rerum memoriam cupientibus, perutilis : ac omnes sui amatores & possessores valde locupletans, insimulq ; decorant : cum rerum c[ae]lestium atq ; terrestrium tenax, ac tutum scrinium esse possit.

Venice, Antonio Padovani, 1579                     $4,500

Quarto x cm.  Signatures: a-d⁴ A-2M⁴ 2N⁶ First and only edition. Bound in full contemporary vellum. 

Three engraved woodcuts, one of which folded 27 full page diagrams and illustrations depicting the circles of hell, celestial spheres, the human body, a tree, animals, alphabets, a sign language. 

This is the earliest known representation of a sign language. Full of illustrative woodcuts, it includes a chapter on the cosmography of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and gives coverage to various forms of alphabet. ‘Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae’ is divided into two sections: the first is concerned with ‘loci’, or mnemonic places where memories can be stored. Simple but very attractive woodcuts show how these realms of memory – and all their constituent parts – can be imagined. The second part deals with ‘figurae’, or images, which can aid memory through visual associations. Among the most interesting examples, several tables contain ‘visual alphabets’, in which letters are formed using pictures of objects that resemble their shape; they are meant to be used to compose inscriptions in the mind. Remarkably, this volume also contains the earliest known representation of a finger alphabet, a manual sign language. Rosselli shows how to position fingers in different ways to make letters, and combinations of letters will be easily remembered through repeating gestures. Though presented here as a mnemonic technique, this is a fundamental step towards the development of the hand as an instrument of communication that can substitute oral and written language.  As well as letterpress lists of synonyms for trees, aromatic plants, minerals, snakes, vegetables, birds, etc., there are tabular woodcuts of picture alphabets, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldaic characters, and the 52 finger positions used in sign language; a table of zodiacal signs ends the display of esoteric knowledge. Remarkably, the phrenological illustration on p.138 shows definite recognition that different parts of the brain perform different functions.  In the 16th century, the Dominicans were the main advocates and users of mnemotechnics, and published works to make this art more widely accessible. Together with the German Johannes Romberch (c. 1480-1532), Cosma Rosselli is regarded as one of the most influential Dominican memory teachers.

Brunet IV, 1402; NLM Durling 3947; Wellcome I, 5572; Graesse VI1, 167; Rosenthal, Magica 6083; BMC STC it. p. 588; Young 307. BM STC, Italian Books S. 588. Young 307.

Cf. F. Yates, The Art of Memory, 1966.

A picture containing art, drawing, pattern

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First edition. A very beautiful collection of emblems, written by a Belgian Jesuit. The illustration contains one frontispiece and 12 engaging plates which were engraved by engraved by Théodore Galle. Each one depicts the goddess “Occasio”which is the Latin name for Caerus, personification of opportunity whose comments and depicts both opportunity and neglected opportunity. A second part with continuous pagination, but its own title page with the printer mark of Plantin. “Occasio drama” .Which is a drama by the author embodying this thought process.

3) 576J

David, Jan. (1545-1613)

Occasio Arrepta Neglecta. Huius Commoda: Illius Incommoda. Auctore R.P. Ioanne David Societatis Iesv Sacerdote.

Antwerp: Ex officina Platiniana, apud Ioannem Moretum. 1605. $4,500

Quarto, 8 x 6 in. First (and only)edition. +-++4, A-Z4, a-t4 This copy is bound in contemporary calf with the Jesuit insignia in gold on the boards.

David was born at Courtrai and entered the society of Jesuits in 1581 – The engraver Galle worked closely with the publisher Plantin-Moretus and was married to the daughter of Jan Moretus and Martina Plantin. He can be considered the “most important picture publisher of the first half of the 17th century in the Netherlands” (AKL XLVIII, 8).

Daly & Dimler Jesuit series ;part one: J.144 p.150. Sommervogel vol. II, 1847: 7.: Landwehr 186. De Backer/Sommervogel II, 1847.7. Bibl. Belgica II, D 139. Praz 313. Funck 302. Brunet II, 536:


 4). 334G. Sebastián Izquierdo  1601-1681 Ignatius,; of Loyola, Saint,; 1491-1556.

Praxis exercitiorum spiritualium P.N.S. Ignatti. Auctore P. Sebastiano Izquierdo Alcarazense Societatis Jesu

Rome; Buagni 1695                                  $3,000

Octavo 18 x 12 Cm.  Signatures A-G8,H4. First edition  12 full-page engravings ;each page of the text is printed within an ornamental typographic border.  This is a nice clean copy, unlike the copy which has been digitized which is a mess and terribly browned . 

The copy offered here is clean and crisp, it is bound in original vellum.

The Jesuit Sebastián Izquierdo in his Práctica de los ejercicios espirituales, written in 1665 translated in to Italian the same year then in 1678 translated as here into Latin and later published in several translations and versions offers   an illustrated guide to the Ignatian spiritual exercises. The illustrations, 12 of them, are the subject of image meditation  which was a favorite method of the Jesuits who, beginning with the monumental Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (1593) of  Jerónimo Nadal, actively took hold of religious iconography and adjusted and concentrated it for the teaching of  the Societies ( and Ignatius’ ) vision.  The images are not just simple depiction’s instead they are mnemonic devices. 

These images are points of departures and give the current 21st century reader a precious examples of images that inspire meditation, direct the reception of the teachings and  anchor them in the memory. Particularly memorable is the Image of Hell on page 72, or the Puteus Abyssi (the bottomless pit)  .  The lay-out shows the pedagogical  intentions and possibilities of this little book: there are  12 parts consisting of 12 separate quires, numbered from ‘A’ to ‘M’ and paginated each from 1-12,  each with its own full-page illustration , these could have been  meant to be distributed  separately – according to match the educational needs or level of the students.   The Images are in high contrast, with plenty of Bloody and memorable images.

The Puteus Abyssi depicts a  poor man who is naked and sitting in a chair in some sort of oubliette.  He has seven swords, each with animal head handles, in him  and each is strategically stuck in  various parts of the body.  The swords are labeled for the passions. Most interesting of these might be the sword marked ‘Vengeance’ it is hanging offer the mans head, the Idleness sword is stuck between his legs, Gluttony in his stomach, Lust … Envy in his back, Avarice between his Shoulders and Pride in his heart.

Izquierdo was also the author of  Pharus scientiarum, a treatise on  a methodology  to access knowledge, conceived  as a single science. In this work, he assimilated Aristotelian and Baconian logic,  and  he expressed some original ideas on mathematics and logic that have earned their author a reputation as an outstanding mathematician.  Not just like his Spanish contemporaries John Caramuel or Tomás Vicente Tosca , but also significant foreign mathematicians as Athanasius Kircher , Gaspar Knittel or Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz , the latter, in particular, cited with, his Disputatio of Combinatione, in Combinatorial Art (1666).

Sommervogel, IV, 701 (#4); Landwehr:Romantic 412.; Praz,p.382


5).   622G Athansius  Kircher 1602-1680

Ars magna sciendi, in XII libros digesta, qua nova et universali methodo per artificiosum combinationum contextum de omni re proposita plurimis et prope infinitis rationibus disputari, omniumque summaria quedam cognitio comparari potest. Ad qugustissimum Rom. imperatorem Leopoldum primum, justum, pium, felicem.

Amsterdam: Apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge, & Viduam Elizei Weyerstraet, 1669       $6,500

Folio, 36 ½ x 24 Cm Signatures:. *4, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Gg4-Zz4, Aaa-Ooo4, Ppp6. First edition  In this copy all of the called for  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 on slightly different paper, 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.

   “ 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.


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.