De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Libri VI
[bound with] Tabulae Bergenses aequabilis et apparentis motus orbium coelestium...
Basel; Cologne, Heinrich Petri; heirs of Arnold Birckmann, 1566; 1560.
Copernicus' De revolutionibus assigned the Sun the central position in the solar system and repositioned the earth as a revolving planet. In thus transforming man's view of the cosmos, it 'set the course for the modern world by its effective destruction of the anthropocentric view of the universe' (PMM 70).
The text of the second edition of De revolutionibus is virtually identical to the 1543 Nuremberg first edition—even the errata that were enumerated on a leaf inserted in some copies of the first edition were not corrected. Additionally, Andreas Osiander's anonymous (and unauthorised) preface was retained, although it presented Copernicus's work as a strictly hypothetical system invented as a convenient calculating device that could well be false, even if the Copernican system was consistent with astronomical observations.
The present edition is the first to contain Rheticus's Narratio prima, being a summary of heliocentrism and an account of the effort it took to persuade Copernicus to publish. Copernicus had first circulated his ideas on heliocentrism in manuscript form, catching the attention of the young mathematician and astronomer, Georg Joachim Rheticus, who became the chief advocate of his new theory. As the first two editions of the Narratio (1540 and 1541) are both of very great rarity, this third printing of the Narratio is essentially the earliest obtainable form of the text. The present volume is the first edition to unite the works of both Copernicus and his advocate, Rheticus. Owen Gingerich has located 317 copies of the second edition in his Annotated Census (not including the present copy).
This volume is bound with Johannes Stadius' Tabulae Bergenses, a compendium of astronomical tables, named after the author's patron, the prince Bishop of Liège, Robert de Bergues, imitating the Alfonsine tables. It includes De fixis stellis commentarius, an update of Ptolemy's astrological star catalogue for 1560.
2 works in one vol., folio (29.2 x 18.8 cm); [Copernicus:] Roman type, occasional Greek type, woodcut device to title and Gg6v, woodcut historiated initials, diagrams, and tables, some browning (as usual), occasionally heavy, some foxing, very occasional early ink and later pencil marginalia, 19th-century Italian inscription to first blank; collation: 6 a-z4 A-Z4 Aa-Ff4 Gg6; [Stadius:] woodcut portrait of the author to title, woodcut initials and tables, some foxing and heavy browning, quire Ff shaved with slight loss to fore-edge, restoration to final blank; collation: A-Z4 Aa-Ff4 (Ff4 blank); rebound in period vellum over boards, boards slightly marked and rubbed, endpapers renewed, red speckled edges, overall a good copy.
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