2 volumes. Large 4to. I: (14) ff., 48, 48 pp., (4) ff., 160 pp., (2) ff., 68, 127 pp., (2) ff., 264, 43 pp., including allegorical frontispiece signed Stefano della Bella, Villamoena portrait of Galileo, and folding engraved plate of military compass. II: (1) f., 60 pp., (8) ff., 104 pp., (2) ff., 105-156, 48 pp., (4) ff., 179, (1) pp., (1) ff., 53-106 pp., (1) f., 103-126 pp., (4) ff., 238 [i.e., 242] pp., (3) ff. Woodcut initials and diagrams. Bound in contemporary vellum, title written in ink on spine and on lower edges; usual mild discoloration and light foxing on scattered leaves; several quires browned as usual. Generally a fine, wide-margined and fresh copy.
First collected edition of Galileo’s works, appearing only a year after his death and of great interest for his 17th-century reception: this was the edition in which Newton and later eminent scientists read their Galileo. Included here are not only most of the seminal pieces written and published over a lifetime, but additional publications and letters by both supporters and antagonists. Together in one work they offer a veritable panorama of scientific activity in Italy during the first half of the seventeenth century, and are critical for the history of the formation of Galileo’s text.
The Opera contains many unpublished or little-known items provided to the editors by Vincenzo Viviani, Galileo’s friend and disciple. Among them are a number of Galileo’s hitherto unpublished letters and experiments and the La Bilancetta, his first scientific work, written in 1586. Both the Dialogo and the letter to Christina di Lorena were censored and are, therefore, omitted. A contemporary hand noted on the final flyleaf of Vol. 2, “La lettura de discorsi legati insieme è interdetta” (“The reading of the discourses bound together is forbidden.”).
* Cinti 132; Riccardi I.518-19.