Item #2530 Tabuae Astronomiae. Johann STOEFFLER.
Tabuae Astronomiae
Tabuae Astronomiae
Tabuae Astronomiae
Tabuae Astronomiae
Exceptional Stoeffler Sammelband With Early Manuscript Tables For the Interplanetary Kkywalker With Early Provenances
Tübingen, Thom. Anshelm, 1514.

Tabuae Astronomiae.

(24) ff. incl. one dbl-page figure with rotating pointer, reinforced on verso with manuscript scrap (stain/hole affecting ca. 1 cm2 of figure). Printed cancel on title; printed in red and black. Single wormhole through final signatures, barely affecting text.


[ANONYMOUS] 1 manuscript leaf, 30-37 lines, in red and black, with additional tables, etc.

[Bound first:]

STOEFFLER, Johann.  Calendarivm Romanvm magnum. Colophon: Oppenheim, Jacob Koebel, 1518. Small folio [30 x 21 cm] (12) incl. woodcut title and dedication, 74, (52) ff. incl. 2 loose errata leaves. Including 1 full-page woodcut of zodiac man in text (f. 14), ten small views of cities (Cologne, Paris, Rome, with repeats 24), 12 cuts of the occupations, 12 zodiacal, 63 diagrams of lunar eclipses, and 4 of instruments. (1)-(50) ff. printed in red and black.


Der Newe grosz Römisch Calender, mit seinen Ausszlegüngen Erclärungen, und Regeln, Wie mann alles das so darinn begriffen, leichtlich, verstendtlich, unnd warlich, erlernen mage: ytzundt, von dem Hochgelerten, der Astronomey und Mathematic Meynster Johann Stöffler, vonn Justungen, der Loblichen Universitet Tübingen Ordinarius, aussz Latin in Teütsche Sprach verwandelt.  Oppenheim, [Jacob Köbel], 1522.  6 ff., (incl. red & black woodcut title page), XXXIIII, (50) ff. 1 full-page woodcut in text (f. XV), final 50 leaves printed in red and black. Stain on f. I affecting a few letters.                     


Elvcidatio Fabricæ vsvsqve astrolabii …iam denuo ab eodem uix aestimandis sudoribus recognita. Oppenheim, [Jacob Koebel] 1524. (10) incl. woodcut title, 78 ff., numerous woodcuts in text incl. four plates with folding extensions (one of 2 folding extensions on A6v missing) [16 blank leaves, including 1 with unfinished sketch of face]. Bound in contemporary paste over wooden boards with beveled edges; spine with raised bands.  Numerous ownership inscriptions on front end pastedown and fly leaf, incl. Jodocus Gral.. Physser.., 1652; Frantz Jacob S… [16]72; Jacobi Ignaz Schuomacher (sic) 1724; Col. ... Terracina 1891, Ex libris André Kundig; Aegidus Rusconi.  Worming, primarily in margin; top corner of first several signatures slightly gnawed (but no loss of text); marginal annotations in an early hand, some waterstaining in margins, minor dampstaining and fingersoiling throughout.. 1 ink stain                                                                                                                                 

Sammelband of Stoeffler’s most important works: the sole edition of the rare Tabulæ Astronomicæ; first editions of the Calendarivm Romanvm magnum in both the Latin and German, and a second edition of his influential text on astrolabes. A highly unusual component at the back of the volume is a leaf of densely written manuscript tables that calculate the number of days it would take to walk to each of the planets. Although this may sound merely picturesque, it is a calculation procedure with a distinguished history (see below), and assumes particular interest when one considers that whether on a precise mathematical or observational basis, the topic of the distances between planets or between Earth and celestial phenomena becomes central to the dismantling of the Ptolemaic worldview later in the century. The writer is anonymous, but the leaf most likely dates from within a decade of the latest publication date (eg 1530-40) of the volumes which it accompanies. Copies of 16th-century instrument books which show annotations are highly unusual; it is rare to encounter a copy in which the tables or instruments contained therein were creatively extended in an original way by a contemporary reader.  

The Tabulæ Astronomicæ, a series of eclipse tables, is bound at the end of the volume, just before the manuscript leaf.  It is the earliest text among those collected here and ranks among Stoeffler’s rarest works. Following the main text and two-colour tables of astronomical positions is an elaborate double-page woodcut instrument, complete with its volvelle pointer, to be used to calculate the conjunctions and oppositions of the sun and moon. Examples of Stoeffler’s ephemeredes, not all of which were so elaborately illustrated, first appeared in 1482; they were useful (and popular) enough to enjoy numerous reprintings with or without commentary in Germany and Italy until 1550.

The manuscript leaf bound in after this instrument has been examined by Prof. Noel Swerdlow of the California Institute of Technology.  The table on the recto records the mean (i.e. uniform) motions of the planets, sun, moon, sphere of fixed stars and the primum mobile. It gives the motions for hours, days, and years of 365 days, most likely derived from the Alfonsine Tables. The table on the verso contains more exceptional data:

 “The first column of numbers, in red, gives the distances from the surface of the earth to the ‘concave’ surface of each planetary sphere, the planet’s least distance, and to the ‘convex’ surface of the sphere, the planet's greatest distance, in units of German miles, which are about 4 ordinary miles, and where the radius of the earth is about 801 German miles.... The underlying distances, in radii of the earth, seem to come from al-Farghani... The next three small columns, in black, give the time it would take to WALK from the surface of the earth to the distance in that line in years of 365 days, weeks of 7 days, and remaining days, assuming that you walk at the rate of 6 German miles a day, thus about 24 ordinary miles per day.  Thus it would take 12 years, 11 weeks 0 days to walk to the least distance of the moon, and 14921 years, 22 weeks, 4 days to walk to the sphere of the fixed stars.

“The next red column gives the circumference of each planet’s sphere at its greatest distance in German miles. The next three columns in black give the time in years, weeks, and days, as before, that it would take to walk around the circumference of the planet’s sphere at the rate of 6 German miles per day. Note that it would take 93748 years, 10 weeks, 1 day to walk around the circumference of the sphere of the fixed stars. Finally, the last column gives the thickness of each planet’s sphere in German miles, which is the difference of the least and greatest distance of each planet.”

According to Swerdlow, such calculations are virtually unprecedented.  He has seen “a single example given by Roger Bacon in his Opus maius of how long it would take to walk the least distance to the moon at some number of miles per day… but I have never seen anyone compute this for all the distances of all the planets, and the circumferences of their spheres to boot.” The careful tabulations, done in red and black ink in keeping with Stoeffler’s published tables, offer insight into how a 16th-century scholar might have used the Tabulae. The additional blank leaves were surely intended for further calculations derived from the instrument bound into the work.

The Sammelband also contains two versions of the Calendarium Romanum, a compendium of cosmographical, astronomical, medical and historical knowledge that served as a model for the presentation of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 (Gingerich, Rara Astronomica). These titles were issued separately. It is highly unusual to see the same title in different languages circulate together. The Calendarium has been called one of the most ambitious examples of scientific printing from the first quarter of the 16th century. In addition to containing 41 propositions for revising the calendar, Stoeffler includes information on blood-letting, sundials, and time-measuring instruments, illustrated with numerous red and black woodcuts depicting phases of the moon, city views and occupations appropriate for each month of the year.

In addition, the collection includes the first German-printed astrolabe book, the Elvcidatio Fabricæ. “Handsomely illustrated and with detailed instructions both for the construction and use of the astrolabe, this early work set the standards and provided material for a host of imitators...” – Owen Gingerich, Rara Astronomica. A host of surveying and perspective problems are treated, and the work contains a notable mathematical advance in surveying and cartography.

Professor of Mathematics at the University of Tübingen, Stoeffler (1452-1531) was one of the generation of astronomers who considered Regiomontanus the paragon of the Renaissance astronomer, adopting a program of astronomical observation and publication of tables as well as constructing precision instruments and practical accounts of how they worked.

* Calendarium (Latin): Adams 1884; Zinner 1102; Gingerich, Rara Astronomica 12; Fairfax Murray 403; Stillwell Science Awakening I.112; Redgrave, ‘Some early book illustrations of the Oppenheim press,’ Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 3 (1895) 78. * Calendarium (German): Harvard copy; Zinner 1188. * Elucidatio: Adams 1887; Zinner 1270; Proctor 11192; Stillwell, Awakening Interest 892; Guenther 567-569; C. Singer, A History of Technology III.53. * Tabulae Astronomicae: Adams 1898; Zinner 1015; OCLC locates 4 copies: NYPL, Brown, New York Academy of Medicine, Wellcome Institute.

Price: $38,500.00

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