Scarce First edition of Commandino's commentary of Ptolemy's Planisphaerium; one of the few extant examples from the Aldine Press in Roman type

  • Ptolemaei Planisphaerium. Iordani Planisphaerium. Federici Commandini Urbrinatis in Ptolemaei Planisphaerium Commentarius.
  • Ptolemaei Planisphaerium. Iordani Planisphaerium. Federici Commandini Urbrinatis in Ptolemaei Planisphaerium Commentarius.
  • Ptolemaei Planisphaerium. Iordani Planisphaerium. Federici Commandini Urbrinatis in Ptolemaei Planisphaerium Commentarius.
  • Ptolemaei Planisphaerium. Iordani Planisphaerium. Federici Commandini Urbrinatis in Ptolemaei Planisphaerium Commentarius.

Ptolemaei Planisphaerium. Iordani Planisphaerium. Federici Commandini Urbrinatis in Ptolemaei Planisphaerium Commentarius.

$8,800.00

Item Number: 95289

Venice: Paulus Manutius (Aldine Press), 1558.

First separate edition and first edition of Commandino’s commentary of Ptolemy’s Planisphaerium, the original Greek text of which is no longer extant. Octavo, two volumes bound into one in eighteenth century vellum, all edges speckled red, Aldine device on both titles and both final pages, woodcut initials, numerous woodcut diagrams. The Ptolemaei is printed in Roman type and the Planisphaerium in Italics; examples from the Aldine Press in Roman type are scarce as the press’s founder, Aldus Manutius, invented the Italic type which he used almost exclusively. The Aldine press was also the first to issue printed books in the small octavo size. After Aldus’ death in 1515 the press was continued by his wife, Maria and her father, Andrea Torresani, until his son, Paulus Manutius (1512–1574) assumed management in 1534. It is from this era that most, if not all, of the works from his press bear the imprint In Aedibus Haeredum Aldi et Andrea Asulani Soceri. In near fine condition with minor marginal dampstaining to a few pages. Exceptionally rare and desirable.

Originally written in Ancient Greek, Ptolemy's 12th century Planisphaerium was one of the major scientific works that survived from antiquity in Arabic translation. An exploration of the mathematics of mapping figures inscribed in the celestial sphere, the Planisphaerium attracted interest because stereographic projection was the mathematical basis of the plane astrolabe, an instrument which was widely used in the medieval Islamic world. This Latin version, along with Jordanus de Nemore's work on the same topic, was first printed in Basel in 1536. The editor of the present volume, Federico Commandino, was a physician to the Duke of Urbino at his household in Rome, and the author of several translations of ancient Greek mathematical treatises and commentaries published in the early 16th century. In working with Ptolemy's stereographic projection of the celestial sphere on a plane with the south celestial pole at the center, Commandino noticed that conic sections could be considered sections in visual cones or perspective images. This inspired him to include in his work a study of perspective, which occupies the majority of his commentary and represents one of the earliest mathematical formulations of a method already widely employed by artists (Adams P2242; Censimento 16; CNCE 28281; Renouard 1558/4; Ahmanson-Murphy/UCLA 449; Houzeau & Lancaster 769; Honeyman 2557; Riccardi I, 360, 1).

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