16th Century Encyclopedia of Natural Science

Girolamo CARDANODe Rerum varietate libri XVII.

Basilae (Basel), [at the end : per Henrichum Petri], anno 1557.

Small folio, old vellum, spine with 5 raised bands, red edges. 6 unnumbered leaves (including the title with woodcut medallion portrait of the author), 707 pp., 16 unnumbered index leaves. Fine decorated woodcut capitals, woodcut illustrations in the text, one woodcut plate showing a volvelle (p. 438). Complete.

First edition of Cardano’s second great encyclopedia of natural science, it is a continuation and supplement to his De Rerum Subtilitate published in 1550.

The two works contain his important ideas on physics and metaphysics, with notable contributions to mechanics, hydrodynamics and geology, and interesting chapters on astronomy, botany, zoology, chemistry, metallurgy, etc. “Of special chemical interest is Book X (pp. 375-410), comprising one chapter on fire, a chapter on distillation with woodcuts of apparatus, and a chapter on chemistry. It finishes by a chapter on glass” (Duveen, p. 117). The numerous references to Cardano in works of the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including those of Scaliger, who bitterly attacked the De Subtilitate, Pereyra, Palissy, Libavius, Gilbert, Vanini, Francis Bacon, Jean Rey and others, indicate that his works were widely read and influential.

It is thought that Cardano may have used the notes of Leonardo da Vinci to compile this work (see DSB III, p. 66).

Contemporary ownership signature on title-page. A few notes in ink on fly-leaves. Bookplate of Henry Bonnet, with stamped ink signature on title-page.

Light dampstaining, a very good unsophisticated copy.

Ref. Adams, C-662 / Brunet, I, 1573 / Caillet, 2022 / Duveen, p. 117 / Ferguson, I, 141 / Honeyman, 592 / Wellcome, I, 1297

Price: 9.000,00 euros

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