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Ptolomaeus (Claudius) Cosmographia, first edition,

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Lot 0111 Details

Description
Ptolomaeus (Claudius) Cosmographia, first edition, collation: aa10, bb8-1, a10, b-g8, h10, A-F8, G10. 142 of [143] leaves, lacking fol. aa1 blank. text in single column, 39 lines, type: 102R, finely hand-painted initials alternately in red or blue, that on aa8 verso with extension, seven-line blank space on aa1 recto, rubricated in red and blue, capital letters touched with yellow, 4 woodcut diagrams, two small wormholes to blank outer margin of first leaf repaired, without any loss, occasional light foxing, front and rear flyleaves both reinforced at an early date with a fragment from a manuscript, pencilled bibliographical notes on rear pastedown, contemporary wooden boards, one (of two) original oyster clasps preserved, spine covered in calf, with three raised bands, a few wormholes to covers, loss to top corner of upper cover, head and foot of joints slightly worn, preserved in suede-lined black morocco drop-back box by Boichot, folio (304 x 205mm.), Vicenza, Hermann Liechtenstein, 13 September 1475.

⁂ An exceptional, and unsophisticated copy, with wide margins of the first edition of the most celebrated geographical treatise of classical antiquity. An edition of the greatest rarity, and a monumental achievement of geographical knowledge and a cornerstone of the European tradition.

The Latin Ptolemy of 1475 was issued from the printing house established in Vicenza by the German printer Hermann Liechtenstein, also known by his surname 'Leuilapis'. A native of Cologne, he began his career as a printer in Vicenza, publishing the undated Historiae by Orosius in 1475, as well as the first edition of Ptolemy, completed on 13 September. Ptolemy's Geographia is one of the first books ever printed in Vicenza, where printing was first introduced in the spring of 1474 by Leonardus Achates de Basilea.
The present work, divided into eight books, was produced by Ptolemy in the second century AD and describes the known inhabited world (or oikoumene), divided into three continents: Europe, Libye (or Africa), and Asia. Book i provides details for drawing a world map with two different projections (one with linear and the other with curved meridians), while Books ii-vii list the longitude and latitude of some 8,000 locations, Book vii concludes with instructions for a perspectival representation of a globe. In Book viii Ptolemy breaks down the world map into twenty-six smaller areas and provides useful descriptions for cartographers. The work was brought to Italy from Constantinople around 1400, and its translation into Latin was made by Jacopo Angeli (or Angelo da Scarperia) in Florence between 1406 and 1409. He was a pupil of Manuel Chrysoloras (ca. 1350-1415), the exiled Byzanthine scholar who had possibly begun the translation himself, on the basis of a hitherto unidentified Greek manuscript. Angelo's translation is mainly based on a composite text deriving from two different manuscripts.
This volume was edited by Angelus Vadius and Barnabas Picardus and contains only the text of Ptolemy's Geographia. No maps were issued in this first edition of 1475, which were probably not present in the manuscript which served as copy-text, and the only illustrations included are the three diagrams in chapter xxiv of Book i (fols. bb5v, bb6v, and bb7v), showing the 'modus designandi in tabula plana', and that on fol. F3, depicting the Polus antarcticus. The first illustrated edition of Ptolemy appeared in Bologna in 1477, under the title of Cosmographia and supplemented with copperplates drawn and engraved by the famous illuminator Taddeo Crivelli.
The Latin edition of this landmark geographical text enjoyed wide and enduring popularity. The editio princeps in Greek appeared in Basel only in 1533, and the circulation of the Latin text throughout Europe in the fifteenth century greatly influenced (both directly and indirectly) the shaping of the modern world. As Angeli writes at the end of his dedication: "Now, I repeat now, let us listen to Ptolemy himself speaking in Latin".
Literature: HC 13536*; GW M36388; BMC vii, 1035; IGI 8180; Goff P-108; Flodr Ptolomaeus, 1; Sander 5973.

Provenance: French bookseller's typed description to front pastedown.
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Ptolomaeus (Claudius) Cosmographia, first edition,

Estimate £150,000 - £200,000Jul 16, 2020
Starting Price £150,000
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