4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

1550 to 1600 Timeline


A Sixfold Dos-à-Dos Binding from the Sixteenth Century Circa 1550

An elaborately decorated binding preserved in the Rogge Library in Strängnäs, Sweden, probably the most complicated binding I have ever heard of, I opens in six different directions, each revealing a different book. The five books then not in use are kept closed by a system of clasps. This sixteenth century binding preserves six printed devotional texts printed in Germany from the 1550s to 1570s, including Martin Luther's Der kleine Catechismus. In March 2014 numerous images of the binding were available from the National Library of Sweden's flickr page at this link.

Located in a 15th century building in the city of Strängnäs, the Rogge library was named after Konrad Rogge, who served as bishop in the city between 1479 and 1501.

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The "Wide" Distribution of "Popular" Broadsides and Pamphlets by the Mid-16th Century Circa 1550

One of the ironies of book collecting experience is that sometimes the most widely distributed ephemeral material is the most difficult to collect today This is certainly true of early broadsides and song sheets, which rarely appear on the market. Yet according to the scholarship quoted below, these were the most widely printed and distributed of early printed material. The first quote discusses the cost of early printed material and the limits on its affordability by the relatively small percentages of society that were literate. The second quote argues that popular short works such as broadsides and small pamphlets were remarkably widely distributed.

"What does 'popular' mean? Print was a luxury commodity. Print was not produced by the people; for the most part it was produced by particular interest groups with the people. Even if the compositors and press-operators, the hawkers and street-pedlars who sold small books, and a handful of authors from humble backgrounds—even if these participants in the production of cheap print can be said to come from the people, printing was a capital-intensive business, and few early modern books can be said in this sense to represent a popular voice.

"Print was expensive. A pamphlet or an early newsbook or a chapbook would cost a penny or two. A labourer might earn as much as a shilling for a day's work in the seventeenth century, but the century saw periods of wage stagnation, economic pressures, and rising food prices. Few could realsitcally have afford such an outlay on anything like a regular basis.... Moreover, the most effective form of social exclusion or censorship is mass illiteracy. Around 1500 perhaps about 90 percent of men and 98 per cent of women were illiterate; by 1600 this had fallen to about 70 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women, and by 1700 about 50 percent of men and 70 per cent of women were illiterate. The numbers were proably higher in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. These are maximum figures, however, and it is likely that forms of rudimentary reading literacy were signifcantly higher. And, of course, there were other ways of accesing the contents of books that did not involve buying or reading them, including religious and political communities where texts were read aloud" (Joad Raymond, Editor, The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture. Volume 1, Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660 [2011] 4).


"Strong arguments have been made for both sermons and playbooks as the most popular printed texts in early modern Britain. Yet while sermons and plays were firmly rooted in oral cultural and both were clearly printed and consumed in large numbers, the kinds of printed texts most immediately identified with both orality and popularity...were also those that were the mostly cheaply printed: ballads (single-sheet songs in verse set to music), broadsheets or broadsides (single-sheet texts), pamphlets (small texts usually printed in quarto), and chapbooks (slightly longer longer texts, usually printed in quarto or octavo). Scholars estimate that there were 600,000 to several million ballads circulating in the second half of the sixteenth-century, and while the term pamphlet embraced a wide range of texts—social, political, ecclesiastical, and topical in nature—the format was uniformly affordable (the price for unbound books in 1600 was around a halfpenny a sheet, and small pamphlet or chapbook was within reach of a day labourer.

"According to Margaret Spufford, the publisher Charles Tyus, who had no monopoly on the trade, had 90,000 octavo and quarto chapbooks in 1664, one for every fifteen families. In addition to being cheap, these formats were used for both the circulation of oft-told tales and the introduction of new and topical ones, widely disseminated in London and the other publishing centres, and by itinerant pedlars, throughout Britain; and frequently discussed (and often excoriated) by early modern men and women precisely because of their popularity" (Julie Crawford, "Oral Culture and Popular Print" IN The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture. Volume 1, Cheap Print in britain and Ireland to 1660, Edited by Joad Raymond [2011] 114-115).

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Widely Distributed Cheap "Scientific Works" from the Mid-Sixteenth Century Circa 1550

"Cheap almanacs were the most important of these texts, distributed in vast numbers at a cost of one or two pence from the sixteenth century. Six hundred titles were published by 1600. Hundreds of thousands were sold in the sixteenth century and millions in the seventeenth. Almanacs made by the parliamentarian astrologer William Lilly sold up to 30,000 copies were year during the civil war, earning him to to £48 year from sales. By the Restoration about 400,000 almanacs were sold annually. The printers dramatically helped make English almanacs into such popular works. When the seventeenth century antiquarian Robert Plot tried to explain the traditional use of clog almanacs, portable or domestic tally rods marked with the lunar cylce and feast days, he appled to the new familiarity of print, 'we have have them now since the invention of printing; some Almanacks being fitted to hang up in our houses and others for privat use, which we carry about us'. Apart from the Bible they were surely the most widely distributed forms of print and were certainly not limited to vulgar readers, offering linkages between elite and plebeian cultures. They appeared as broadsides, or most commonly in cheap octavo format with three sheets folded into twenty-four leaves, printed in black letter until amost the end of the sixteenth century. An innovation of 1571 due to the very prolific early Elizabethan almanac maker Thomas Hill, author of a host of cheap works on physiognomy, dream interpretation, husbandry and distillation, was the inclusion of interleaved blank pages so that long-term almanacs could be used as diaries" (Simon Shaffer, "Science" IN Raymond, Joad, editor, The Oxford History of Popular Print. Volume 1. Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660 [2011] 402).

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Juan Badiana Translates Aztec Medical Botany & Psychoactive Plants from the Nahuati 1552

A page of the Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis, an Aztec herbal composed in 1552 by Martin de la Cruz and translated into Latin by Juan Badianus, illustrating the tlahcolteocacatl, tlayapaloni, axocotl, and chicomacatl plants, which were used to make a "remedy for a wounded body" and Aztec herbalism.

A portrait of Francesco Barberini by Ottavio Leoni, 1624.

A modern photograph of Lophophora williamsii, a plant in a group of peyotes used as entheogens.

In 1552 the Libellus de medicinalibus indorum herbis, an Aztec herbal manuscript with color paintings of plants describing the medicinal properties of 250 herbs used by the Aztecs, was translated into Latin by Juan Badiano from a Nahuatl original no longer extant. It is the only surviving detailed original account of the ethnobotany of the Aztecs written by Aztecs.

The Nahuatl original was composed in the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, Tlatelolco, Mexico City, in 1552 by Martín de la Cruz. Both Badiano and de la Cruz were native Aztecs who were given European names at the Colegio de Santa Cruz. The Libellus is also known as the Badianus Manuscript, after the translator; the Codex de la Cruz-Badiano, after both the original author and translator; and the Codex Barberini, after Cardinal Francesco Barberini, who owned the manuscript in the early 17th century.

"In 1552 Jacobo de Grado, the friar in charge of the Convent of Tlatelolco and the College of Santa Cruz, had the herbal created and translated for Francisco de Mendoza, son of Antonio de Mendoza, the viceroy of New Spain. Mendoza sent the Latin manuscript to Spain, where it was deposited into the royal library. There it presumably remained until the early 17th century, when it somehow came into the possession of Diego de Cortavila y Sanabria, pharmacist to King Philip IV. From Cortavila it travelled to the Italian Cardinal Francesco Barberini, possibly via intermediate owners. The manuscript remained in the Barberini library until 1902, when the Barberini library became part of the Vatican Library, and the manuscript along with it. Finally, in 1990 — over four centuries after it was sent to Spain — Pope John Paul II returned the Libellus to Mexico, and it is now in the library of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

"A copy was made in the 17th century by Cassiano dal Pozzo, the secretary of Cardinal Barberini. Dal Pozzo's collection, called his Museo Cartaceo ("Papers Museum"), was sold by his heirs to Pope Clement XI, who sold it to his nephew, Cardinal Alessandro Albani, who himself sold it to King George III in 1762. Dal Pozzo's copy is now part of the Royal Library, Windsor. Another copy may have been made by Francesco de' Stelluti, but is now lost. Dal Pozzo and de' Stelluti were both members of the Accademia dei Lincei" (Wikipedia article on Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis, accessed 11-27-2010).

Two different English translations of work, by William Gates and Emily Walcott Emmart, respectively, were published in 1939 and 1940. The Gates translation was reissued with a new introduction by Bruce Byland in 2000. A translation into Spanish by Francisco Guerra was published in 1952, and a different Spanish edition was published in 1964 and 1991.

In 1995 Peter Furst published a study of the entheogens, or psychoactive drugs, included in the codex: "This Little Book of Herbs": Psychoactive Plants as Therapeutic Agents in the Badianus Manuscript of 1552," Schultes & von Reis (eds) Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline (1995) 108-130.

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Michael Servetus: Medical Discovery, Heresy, and Martyrdom 1553

Engraved portrait of Michael Servetus.

Engraved Portrait of John Calvin, 16th century.

In 1563 Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and humanist Michael Servetus (Miguel Servet, Miguel Serveto), having exchanged unfriendly correspondence with John Calvin concerning theological disputes, published secretly in Vienne, France, his book entitled Christianismi restitutio.

This work on the reform of Christianity developed a nontrinitarian Christology which Calvin and the Catholic church considered heretical.  On pp. 168-73 the book also contained the first printed description of the lesser or pulmonary circulation of the blood. The lesser circulation had previously been discovered by Ibn-Al-Nafis in his commentary on the anatomy of the Canon of Avicenna published in manuscript in 1268, but this was not rediscovered until the 20th century. (Re Ibn-Al-Nafis see J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed. [1991] no. 753.)

"On 16 February 1553, Servetus, while in Vienne, was denounced as a heretic by Guillaume Trie, a rich merchant who had taken refuge in Geneva and was a very good friend of Calvin, in a letter sent to a cousin, Antoine Arneys, living in Lyon. On behalf of the French inquisitor Matthieu Ory, Servetus as well as Arnollet, the printer of Christianismi Restitutio, were questioned, but they denied all charges and were released for lack of evidence. Arneys was asked by Ory to write back to Trie, demanding proof. On March 26, 1553, the letters sent by Servetus to Calvin and some manuscript pages of Christianismi Restitutio were forwarded to Lyon by Trie. On April 4, 1553 Servetus was arrested by the Roman Catholic authorities, and imprisoned in Vienne. He escaped from prison three days later. On June 17, he was convicted of heresy by the French inquisition, 'thanks to the 17 letters sent by Jehan Calvin, preacher in Geneva, 'and sentenced to be burned with his books. An effigy and his books were burned in his absence" (Wikipedia article on Michael Servetus, accessed 02-05-2009).

Numerous accounts of Servetus' execution state that he was burned along with the entire edition of his book. Even if that was not the case virtually the entire printing of 1000 copies was destroyed, as only three copies of the original edition survive— Richard Mead's copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, a copy in the Austrian National Library, Vienna, and a copy lacking the title page and the first 16pp., said to be John Calvin's personal copy, in the library of William Hunter at the University Library, Edinburgh.   (J. Norman (ed). Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed. [1991] no. 754.)

♦ Though Servetus escaped execution with his books, he was arrested in Geneva a few months later after having attended one of Calvin's sermons, and was sent to trial. On October 24, 1553 Servetus was sentenced to death by burning for denying the Trinity and infant baptism. When Calvin requested that Servetus be executed by decapitation rather than fire, Farel, in a letter of September 8, chided Calvin for undue leniency, and the Geneva Council refused his request. On October 27 Servetus was burned at the stake just outside Geneva with what was believed to be the last copy of his Christianisimi restitutio chained to his leg. Historians record his last words as: "Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me" (Adapted from the Wikipedia article on Michael Servetus).

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Giovan Battista Bellaso Describes the First "Unbreakable" Text Autokey Cipher 1553

Table of reciprocal alphabet from a 1555 book by Giovan Battista Bellaso.

In 1553 Italian cryptologist Giovan Battista Bellaso published La Cifra del Sig. Giovan Battista Bel[l]aso, describing a text autokey cipher that was considered unbreakable for four centuries. "He suggested identifying the alphabets by means of an agreed-upon countersign or keyword off-line. He also taught various ways of mixing the cipher alphabets in order to free the correspondents from the need to exchange disks or prescribed tables.

"In 1550 Bellaso "was in the service of Cardinal Duranti in Camerino and had to use secret correspondence in the state affairs while his master was in Rome for a conclave. Versed in research, able in mathematics, Bellaso dealt with secret writing at a time when this art enjoyed great admiration in all the Italian courts, mainly in the Roman Curia. In this golden period of the history of cryptography, he was just one of many secretaries who, out of intellectual passion or for real necessity, experimented with new systems during their daily activities. His cipher marked an epoch and was considered unbreakable for four centuries. As a student of ciphers, he mentioned among his enthusiasts many eminent gentlemen and ‘‘great princes’’. In 1552, he met count Paolo Avogadro, count Gianfrancesco Gambara, and the renowned writer Girolamo Ruscelli, also an expert in secret writing, who urged him to reprint a reciprocal table that he was circulating in loose-leaf form, in print and manuscript. The table was to be duly completed with the instructions. Copies of these tables exist in contemporary private collections in Florence and Rome" (Wikipedia article on Giovan Battista Belaso, accessed 12-22-2008).

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The Spanish Inquistion Publishes its First List of Censored Works 1554

In 1554 the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition issued from Valladolid, Spain its first list of prohibited works— a list of censored Bible editions arranged aphabetically by place of printing: Censura Generalis contra errores, quib[us] recentes haeretici sacram scripturam asperserunt, edita a supremo senatu Inquisitionis adversus hereticam pravitatem & apostiasiam in Hispania, & aliis regnis & dominis Cesarea Magestatis constituto.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 19.

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Otto-Henry, Elector Palatine, Founds the Bibliotheca Palatina Circa 1555

Portrait of Prince-elector Otto Henry by Georg Pencz, 1530-1545. The painting now resides in St. Petersburg. 

A set of images depicting choosing the king from the Heidelberg Sachsenspiegel, circa 1300.

About 1555 Otto-Henry, Elector Palatine, (German: Ottheinrich),Count Palatine of Palatinate-Neuburg from 1505 to 1559 and prince elector of the Palatinate from 1556 to 1559, formally established the Bibliotheca Palatina in Heidelberg. At its peak this library included about 5000 printed books and "3524 manuscripts." The library expanded with important manuscripts acquired from the collection of Ulrich Fugger (d. 1584), notably the illustrated Sachsenspiegel.

"Joseph Scaliger considered this Fugger Library superior to that owned by the Pope; the manuscripts alone were valued at 80,000 crowns, which was a very considerable sum for the 16th century" (Wikipedia article on the Bibliotheca Palatina, accessed 11-23-2008).

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Brother Juan Diaz Publishes the First Treatise on Mathematics Published in the Western Hemisphere and the First Textbook on Any Subject Besides Religion Printed Outside of Europe 1556

Engraved portrait of Hernan Cortes by W. Holl and published by Charles Knight.

A page from the Sumario Compendioso.

In 1556 Brother Juan Diez, a companion of Hernando Cortès (Hernán) in the conquest of New Spain, published the Sumario Compendioso in Mexico City at the press of Juan Pablos. The Sumario Compendioso was the earliest treatise on mathematics published in the western hemisphere, and also the first textbook on any non-religious subject to be printed outside of Europe.

In his introduction to The Sumario Compendioso of Brother Juan Diez, the Earliest Mathematical Work of the New World (1921), a facsimile and translation, David Eugene Smith wrote of the existence of possibly four copies including one (incomplete) in the Biblioteca Nacional at Madrid, which he used for his edition, and a copy in the British Library.

"Not again in the sixteenth century did the Mexican printers publish any work on mathematics, except for a brief Instrucción Nautica which appeared in 1587. The press was generally true to its early purpose to issue only books relating to the conversion of the native inhabitants to the way of the cross" (Smith, introduction cited above, 6).

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Juan Valverde de Amusco Issues the First Great Original Spanish Medical Book, Illustrated and Printed in Rome 1556

In 1556 Spanish physician Juan Valverde de Amusco published Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano in Rome at the press of Antonio Salamanca. This was the first great original medical book in Spanish and the most original of the various "plagiarisms" from Vesalius's Fabrica, although Valverde freely acknowledged that he took his illustrations from Vesalius, providing only four entirely new plates in his series of 42 copperplate engravings copied from the Vesalian woodcuts. Valverde also sometimes corrected Vesalius' images, as in his depictions of the muscles of the eyes, nose, and larynx. 

Valverde probably had his book published in Rome rather than in Spain in order to have the illustrations made to standards higher than could be accomplished in Spain at the time. The engraver he chose had come from Spain, and the artist had come from France; both were drawn to Rome to work with Michelangelo. The plates for the book were engraved by the French engraver Nicolas Beatrizet, who engraved under the direction of Michelangelo between 1540 and 1560. Beatrizet probably engraved the plates from drawings by the Spanish artist Gaspar Becerra, a pupil of Michelangelo. Thus, Valverde's medical book may be said to have been illustrated under Michelangelo's influence. One of Valverde's most striking original plates is that of a muscleman holding his own skin in one hand and a knife in the other; this has been compared to Michelangelo's painting of Saint Bartholomew in the Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel.

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Georgius Agricola Issues De Re Metallica, the Most Famous Classic on Mining and Metallurgy 1556

The increased European demand for metals that came with the revival of trade in the late Middle Ages saw a corresponding growth in the European mining industry, which developed to an advanced state in the metal-rich regions of Saxony, Austria and Bohemia. In 1556 German physician, humanist and scholar Georg Bauer, better known under the Latin version of his name, Georgius Agricola, issued De re metallica from Basel at the press of Hieronymus Froben and Nicholas Episcopus (Bischoff). Agricola became interested in the theoretical and practical aspects of mining, metallurgy and geology after being appointed town doctor of Joachimsthal (now Jáchymov), a silver-mining community on the east side of the Erzgebirge mountains (Ore Mountains) in what is now the Czech Republic. He published his first work on mining, Bermannus sive de re metallica dialogus, in 1530. This dialogue, which has been called "the first attempt to reduce to scientific order the knowledge won by practical work," contained an approving letter from Erasmus at the beginning of the book. Sixteen years later, in 1546, Agricola issued a collection of five treatises on geology and metallurgy, including the first work on physical geology (De ortu et causis subterraneorum); the first systematic mineralogy (De natura fossilium); a work on subterranean waters and gases (De natura eorum quae effluunt ex terra); a treatise on references to minerals and mining in classical history (De veteribus et novis metallis); and a reprint of Bermannus. In De natura fossilium Agricola rejected the traditional arbitrary alphabetical listing of fossils (i.e., stony substances dug from the earth), and attempted to classify them according to their physical properties.

The twelve books of Agricola's De re metallica (On Metals), illustrated with over 270 woodcuts, embraced everything connected with Renaissance mining and metallurgical industries, including administration, the duties of companies and workers, prospecting, mechanical engineering, ore processing and the manufacture of glass, sulfur and alum. Book VI provided detailed descriptions of sixteenth-century mining technologies, such as the use of water-power for crushing ore and the improvements in suction pumps and ventilation that became necessary as mine shafts were sunk deeper underground; it also includes an account of the diseases and accidents prevalent among miners, along with the means of preventing them. It is thus a pioneering work in occupational medicine. De re metallica remained the standard textbook on mining and metallurgy for over two hundred years.

In 1912 American mining engineer and industrialist, and later 31st President of the United States, Herbert Clark Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover issued a semi-facsimile edition and translation, with "Biographical Introduction, Annotations and Appendices upon the Development of Mining Methods, Metallurgical provesses, Geology, Minerology & Mining Law from the earliest times to the 16th Century," in London through the offices of The Mining Magazine. The work, which remains definitive, was published in the same format as the first (1556) edition with a parchment-style binding over boards that also resembled a 16th century binding. Cyril Stanley Smith, in his catalogue of the Hoover collection, De re metallica: The Herbert Clark Hoover Collection of Mining & Metallurgy (1980), cites a summary report of March 28, 1914 stating that Hoover had received 509 copies of the translation, 31 copies had been sent for review, 814 had been sold and 122 remained in the hands of the booksellers. This gives a total of 1,476 copies printed, a figure more plausible than Hoover's later claim of 3,000 copies (Memoirs I, pp. 117-119). Mrs. Hoover, a former Latin teacher, was responsible for the translation. As far as I know, Hoover was the only U.S. President to collect rare books on a scientific or technological subject and also the only President to publish a scholarly work on the history of science and technology.

In February 2014 a searchable digital facimile of the Hoover translation was available at this link. Concerning the writing and publishing of the 1556 edition I quote from p. 19 of the Hoover edition:

"Agricola seems to have been engaged in the preparation of De Re Metallica for a period of over twenty years, for we first hear of the book in a letter from Petrus Plateanus, a schoolmaster at Joachimsthal, to the great humanist, Erasmus, 16 in September, 1529. He says: The scientific world will be still more indebted to Agricola when he brings to light the books De Re Metallica and other matters which he has on hand.' In the dedication of De Mensuris et Ponderibus (in 1533) Agricola states that he means to publish twelve books of De Re Metallica, if he lives. That the appearance of this work was eagerly anticipated is evidenced by a letter from George Fabricius to Valentine Hertel: “With great excitement the books De Re Metallíca are being awaited. If he treats the material at hand with his usual zeal, he will win for himself glory such as no one in any of the fields of literature has attained for the last thousand years.' According to the dedication of De Veteríbus et Novis Metallís, Agricola in 1546 already looked forward to its early publication. The work was apparently finished in 1550, for the dedication to the Dukes Maurice and August of Saxony is dated in December of that year. The eulogistic poem by his friend, George Fabricius, is dated in 1551.

"The publication was apparently long delayed by the preparation of the woodcuts; and, according to Mathesius, many sketches for them were prepared by Basilius Wefring. In the preface of De Re Metallíca Agricola does not mention who prepared the sketches, but does say: 'I have hired illustrators to delineate their forms, lest descriptions which are conveyed by words should either not be understood by men of our own times, or should cause difficulty to posterity.' In 1553 the completed book was sent to Froben for publication, for a letter19 from Fabricius to Meurer in March, 1553, announces its dispatch to the printer. An interesting letter 20 from the Elector Augustus to Agricola, dated January 18, 1555, reads: 'Most learned, dear and faithful subject, whereas you have sent to the Press a Latin book of which the title is said to be De Rebus Metallícis, which has been praised to us and we should like to know the contents, it is our gracious command that you should get the book translated when you have the opportunity into German, and not let it be copied more than once or be printed, but keep it by you and send us a copy. If you should need a writer for this purpose, we will provide one. Thus you will fulfil our gracious behest.” The German translation was prepared by Philip Bechius, a Basel University Professor of Medicine and Philosophy. It is a wretched work, by one who knew nothing of the science, and who more especially had no appreciation of the peculiar Latin terms coined by Agricola, most of which he rendered literally. It is a said commentary on his countremen that no correct German translation exists. The Italian translation is by Michelangelo Florio, as is by him dedicated to Elizabeth, Queen of England."

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science & Medicine (1991) nos. 19-21. Dibner, Heralds of Science, no. 88. Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 79.

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Ulisse Aldrovandi's Guide to Ancient Statuary in Rome 1556

A guidebook to the topography and antiquities of Rome, Le antichita de la citta di Roma, first issued in Rome in 1556 by Lucio Mauro, is best-known for its supplementary survey of antique sculpture in the region by the young Ulisse Aldrovandi. This survey, entitled Delle statue antiche che per tutta Roma in diversi luoghi . . . si veggono, which occupies about two-thirds of the volume, was Aldrovandi's first publication. It has been called the first lengthy and detailed guidebook to the antiquities of the city of Rome, and a landmark in the scientific recording and documentation of works of art.

Though primarily remembered for his studies of natural history, Aldrovandi was also classical scholar, well versed in the literature and archaeology of antiquity. His Delle statue antiche is one of the earliest works on statuary and sculpture in general, a topic treated by relatively few treatises, and it has been essential for documenting the sculpture gardens and collections of antiquities that existed in Rome in the mid-16th century, for reconstructing the contents and the appearance of individual collections, and for establishing the provenance and tracing the history of individual statues. 

As the only publication of the Bolognese naturalist to deal with antiquities, Delle statue antiche is an anomaly among Aldrovandi's published works. However, among the great mass of Aldrovandi’s unpublished manuscripts are extensive records of his investigations of ancient art and artefacts, and also of his studies of the habits and customs of daily life in antiquity. This broad knowledge of many aspects of the ancient world is reflected in Aldrovandi's Delle statue antiche. 

Aldrovandi's work on statuary was written in Rome between 1549 and 1550 during an unplanned sojourn. While he was studying medicine in Bologna, in June 1549, Aldrovandi was accused of heresy, as a presumed follower of the anti-Trinitarian beliefs of Camillo Renato. Arrested along with other suspected individuals, Aldrovandi publicly renounced the heretical views, but he was nevertheless transferred to Rome to await a formal review. He remained in Rome, partly in custody, and partly at liberty, for at least eight months until absolved in April 1550. During this time he was befriended by many Roman scholars, and he undertook the investigation of Roman collections of ancient statues. And it was during this sojourn, in 1550, that Aldrovandi, according to his own account, wrote the Delle statue antiche. In it he included every signficant Roman collection of ancient sculpture, including:

"statues, torsos and fragments, but also reliefs and some inscriptions as well as minor antiqutieis in the studios of such connoiseurs as Cardinal Carpi or Gerolomo Garimberto. He frequently gives find spots, and his predispoition to logical order aids in recovering iconographic programs that often governed the installation of antique sculptures in vigne and staue gardens.

"Even without the drawings that seem to have been planned originally, Aldvrovandi's guide to ninety-odd private collections is unqiuely valuable to archaeologists and art historians" (Phyllis Pary Bober, in N.T. de Grummond (ed) An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology,  I [1996] 31).

In Empire without End, Antiquities Collections in Renaissance Rome, C. 1350-1527 (2010) Kathleen Wren Christian frequently drew upon Aldrovandi's Delle statue antiche as one of her mostly extensively used primary sources.

Gilhofer & Ranchburg, The Sixteenth Century, Part XII, (2013 or 2014) no. 10.

Margaret Daly Davis, Ulisse Aldrovandi: Tutte le statue antiche. . . . Part I. Introduction and Full Text (2009).

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Robert Granjon Issues the First Book Printed in Civilité Types 1557

In 1557 typographer Robert Granjon published Dialogue de la vie et de la mort by Innocenzo Ringhieri, translated by Jean Louveau, in Lyon, France.  This was the first book set in a new script type cut by Granjon to which he gave the name Lettre françoise.  The type, based upon French cursive gothic letters of the 16th century, became known as civilité from the titles of early books in which it was used: La civilité puerile by Erasmus, published by Jean Bellère in Antwerp, 1559, and various adaptations.

The type seems to have been applied to books on civilité (manners) for the education of children since it was believed that children should learn to read from a book printed in type that resembled current handwriting.

Between 1557 and 1562 Granjon printed twenty books in what came to be known as civilité type, and other printers had typefaces cut that were similar. The type continued to be used, primarily for these purposes, to the mid-19th century.  Using the type was problematic because many ligatures were required and some letters had more than one variant.

Clair, A Chronology of Printing (1969) 55. Carter & Vervliet, Civilité Types (1966).

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Hubert Goltzius Issues the First Book Extensively Illustrated with Chiaroscuro Woodcuts 1557

Engraved portrait of Hubert Golzius by Simon Frisius c. 1610.

A self-portrait by Parmagianino c. 1524.

In 1557 German painter, engraver, and printer Hubert Goltzius, issued a folio volume from the press of Copen (?) Diesthem in Antwerp, Belgium, entitled Lebendige Bilder gar nach all Keyersern, von C. Julio Caesare, bisz auff Carolum.V. und Ferdinandum seinem Bruder, auxz den alten Medalien . . . . Goltzius also issued this book in Latin and Italian in 1557, in French in 1559, and in Spanish in 1560.  Besides illustrating medallic portraits of Roman emperors, Goltzius provided histories of their reigns. According to the Wikipedia, Golzius worked on this book for 12 years before it was published.

"Although the chiaroscuro woodcut was primarily a technique for making individual prints in imitation of drawings, it was occasionally used for book illustration. Hubert Goltzius, a pioneering numismatist, employed it to reproduce antique medals bearing portraits of the Roman emperors. . . .That book. . . was one of the earliest uses of chiaroscuro in a book and the first use of the technique in the Netherlands.

"The chiaroscuro process, with its different shades of the same hue and white highlights, defines light and tone but not local color; it was thus especiately appropriate for the reproduction of monochrome relief medals. One of the characteristics of Goltzius's work, the use of an etched plate for the black outlines and details, had earlier been invented by Parmagianino, but was not widely adopted by practioneers of chiaroscuro active in the sixteenth century. . . ." (Friedman, Color Printing in England 1487-1870 [1978] No. 2).

Strauss, Chiaroscuro. The Clair-Obscur Woodcuts by the German and Netherlandish Masters of the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries (1973) No. 113.

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Queen Mary & King Philip Concentrate the Entire Printing Business in the Members of the Stationers Company May 4, 1557

To check the spread of the Protestant Reformation, On May 4, 1557 the Catholic Queen Mary and King Philip granted a royal charter to the Worshipful Company of Stationers of London, thereby concentrating the entire printing business in the hands of the members of the Stationers Company.

"The Stationers' charter, establishing a monopoly on book production, ensured that once a member had asserted ownership of a text (or "copy") no other member would publish it. This is the origin of the term 'copyright'. Members asserted such ownership by entering it in the "entry book of copies" or the Stationers' Company Register."

The Stationers Company charter was confirmed two years later by Queen Elizabeth, but this time with the goal of suppressing Catholicism.

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Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, Founds the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 1558

A portrait of Albreccht V, Duke of Bavaria by Hans Mielich, 16th century.

A painting of Orlando di Lasso directing a chamber ensemble by Hans Mielich, 16th century.

In 1558 Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria acquired the library of the humanist, orientalist, philologist, and theologian, Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter. This was the origin of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München.

"Albert was a patron of the arts and a collector whose personal accumulations are the basis of the Wittelsbach antique collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, the coin collection and the Wittelsbach treasury in the Munich Residenz; some of his Egyptian antiquities remain in the collection of Egyptian art. His personal library has come to the Bavarian State Library in Munich, inheritor of the Wittelsbach court library.

"Like an American millionaire of the Gilded Age, he bought whole collections in Rome and Venice; in Venice, after tiresome drawn-out negotiations with the aged Andrea Loredan, he purchased the Loredan collection virtually in its entirety: 120 bronzes, 2480 medals and coins, 91 marble heads, 43 marble statues, 33 reliefs and 14 various curiosities, for the sum of 7000 ducats; 'they were all exported from Venice secretly at night in large chests'. At the same time, squabbles among the heirs of Gabriele Vendramin thwarted him in his attempt to purchase the single most important collection in Venice and paintings and antiquities, drawings by the masters and ancient coins. To house his antiquities he commissioned the Antiquarium in the Munich Residenz, the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps.

"He appointed Orlando di Lasso to a court post and patronized many other artists; this led to a huge burden of debts (½ Mio. Fl.)" (Wikipedia article on Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, accessed 01-03-2010).

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Self-Portrait of Simon Bening, One of the Greatest Manuscript Illuminators of the Sixteenth Century 1558

In 1558, at the age of 75, the Flemish manuscript illuminator Simon Bening (Benninck) painted a Self-Portrait miniature of himself. The watercolor on vellum is preserved in the Victoria & Albert Museum  (P. 159-1910). Bening was one of the most distinguished artists of the final flowering of the Ghent-Bruges school of manuscript illumination. Ironically, manuscript illumination may have reached its pinnacle about 100 years after the introduction of printing by movable type. After the death of Bening, and others of his generation, artistic achievement in this field for the most part declined or ceased. 

"Simon Benninck never travelled to England, but his daughter was one of a small band of manuscript illuminators (illustrators) who moved from the Low Countries to London in order to work for King Henry VIII. As the invention of printing gradually made both the manuscript and its illumination redundant, illuminators drew on the tradition of secular naturalism to produce equally exquisite small portraits. Thus the techniques used by Benninck in his illuminations are no different from those used in this self-portrait. A sloping easel was used for painting both portraits and more traditional subjects, such as the Madonna and Christ Child. Both illuminators and miniaturists worked by natural light and without magnification, although Benninck’s glasses hint at the strain of such intricate work" (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O74832/self-portrait-of-simon-bening-portrait-miniature-simon-bening/, accessed 01-23-2014).

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The Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition Begins Publication of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum 1559

Using print technology that it hoped to control, in 1559 the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition, in charge of censorship for the Catholic Church, began publication in Rome of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books). This was updated through 32 editions, the last of which appeared in 1948.

“The various editions also contain the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and censorship of books. The aim of the list was to prevent the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors and to prevent the corruption of the faithful. The list was not simply a reactive work. Catholic authors had the possibility to defend their writings and could prepare a new edition with the necessary corrections or elisions either to avoid or to limit a ban . . . . Pre-publication censorship was encouraged.”

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Who Discovered the Pulmonary Circulation? Servetus, Valverde or Columbo? 1559

In 1559. the year of his death. Italian physician and surgeon Realdo Colombo published De re anatomica libri XV in Venice.  Colombo's work is best known for his discovery of the pulmonary or lesser circulation, i.e., the passage of blood from the right cardiac ventricle to the left via the lungs. Although this discovery was first published in Rome in the Historia de la composicion del cuerpo humano (1556) by Colombo's friend and former pupil Juan Valverde de Hamusco, the evidence in both Valverde's and Colombo's accounts indicates that the discovery was Colombo's, made through his vivisectional observations of the heart and pulmonary vessels. Colombo's account of the pulmonary circuit was preceded by that in Michael Servetus's Christianismi restitutio, and by the thirteenth-century account of  Ibn al-Nafis. However, because Servetus's Christianismi restitutio (1553) was completely suppressed, and Ibn al-Nafis' work was not published in print until the early 20th century, there is no evidence that either was available to Colombo at the time.

Colombo's observations of the heart also enabled him to gain a more correct understanding of the phases of the heartbeat, generally confused by his predecessors, who erroneously likened the heart's action to the expansive action of a bellows. Although overshadowed by his discovery of the pulmonary circulation, Colombo's observations of the heartbeat apparently directly inspired Harvey's vivisectional studies on the heart, which in turn led to his discovery of the greater circulation.

Colombo evidently died during the printing of his work, since in most copies his original dedication letter to Pope Paul IV (who also died while the work was in progress) has been replaced with a dedication to Pope Pius IV by Colombo's two sons, mentioning their father's recent demise. According to tradition, the work was to have been illustrated by Michelangelo; however, Michelangelo left no drawings or any other evidence that he ever seriously considered the task, and we can only speculate as to what sort of artistic masterpiece he might have produced. Colombo's book was published without illustrations except for the woodcut title, which was inspired by that of Vesalius's Fabrica. Schultz (p. 103) points out that the dangling right arm of the cadaver in the title-page woodcut recalls Donatello's bas-relief, The Heart of the Miser.

Schultz, Art and Anatomy in Renaissance Italy (1985) 102-104. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 501.

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Jean Cousin the Elder Issues "Livre de perspective" 1560

In 1560 French painter, sculptor, etcher, engraver, and geometrician, Jean Cousin the Elder, published Livre de perspective in Paris at the press of Jean Le Royer. The folio volume includes a woodcut title device, a frontispiece of platonic solids and 58 geometrical diagrams (16 full-page, 5 double-page) by Jean Le Royer and Aubin Olivier. The frontispiece of the platonic solids is one of the finest examples of mannerist book illustration.

“According to the printer’s introduction, leaf A3v, Le Royer received from Cousin the text and ‘les figures pour l’intelligence d’iceluy necessaries, portraittes de sa main sus planches de bois,’ and he himself cut most of Cousin’s blocks and completed others which his brother-in-law, Aubin Olivier, had started. Several of the diagrams are extended into landscapes with figures. . . . Le Royer held the title of king’s printer for mathematics. Cousin is known to have been a successful painter and designer of stained glass windows. . . . His considerable reputation as a designer of woodcuts for the Paris printers has been developed chiefly by comparison of details from this volume” (Mortimer, Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts Part I. French Sixteenth Century Books (1964)no. 157, quote from pp. 195-97). 

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Giorgio Vasari Begins Construction of the Uffizi 1560 – 1581

In 1560 Italian painter, architect, writer and historian Giorgio Vasari began construction of the Palazzo degli Uffizi in Florence (Firenze) for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates— hence the name "uffizi" ("offices").

Construction was continued following Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti, and ended in 1581.

"The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns were filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.

"The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour" (Wikipedia article on Uffizi, accessed 09-29-2010).

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Giambattista della Porta Founds the First Scientific Society in the Renaissance 1560 – 1578

In 1560 Italian scientist, polymath, and "doctor of secrets" Giambattista della Porta founded the Academia Secretorum Naturae (Accademia dei Segreti or the Academy of the Mysteries of Nature), in Naples.

"The society met at the home of della Porta in the Due Porte section of Naples so-named in reference to two entrances to caverns that apparently served as a meeting place. (The site has recently been the object of urban archaeology.) 'Candidates for membership had to present a new fact in natural science as a condition of membership,' but otherwise membership was open. Its activities came under the subject of an ecclesiastical investigation and della Porta was ordered by Pope Paul V to close his Academy in 1578 . . . under suspicion of sorcery" (Wikipedia article on Academia Secretorum Naturae, accessed 11-27-2010).

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Florian Trefler Builds upon Gessner's Library Classifcation Scheme 1560

Methodus exhibens per varios indices, et classes subinde, quorumlibet librorum cuiuslibet bibliothecae, breve, facilem imitabilem ordinationem published in Augsburg in 1560 provided an innovative scheme for library organization. Written by the Benedictine monk Florian Trefler, the small work attempted to address the difficulty of finding books in uncatalogued libraries in which there was no discernable order.

"He devised a scheme of classification and call numbers quite advanced for his time, in spite of the fact that one unit in the call number was made to represent the color of the binding. He advocated a five-part catalogue which consisted of an alphabetical author catalogue, a shelf list, a classified index to analytics, an alphabetical index to the classified index, and finally, a list of books which, for various reasons, were not kept with the main collection. Catalogues made according to Trefler's plan would have been far ahead of their time indeed. He had a comprehension of the value of providing more than one means of access to a book, something wholly unknown in his day. In another way, too, Trefler showed himself progrssive, i.e., in following Gesner's suggestion for the use of the Pandectarum as a library catalog. Trefler recommended that a checked copy of it be used as one section of his proposed plan for a catalogue, namely the subject index to analytical entries" (Stout, "The Development of the Catalog and Cataloging Codes," Library Quarterly 26 (1956) 263).

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The Codex Selden/ Codex Añute, a Precolonial Mexican Palimpsest Circa 1560

The Codex Selden, also called the Codex Añute, a Mixtec screenfold manuscript preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, was acquired by the Bodleian in the 17th century from the estate of jurist, legal antiquary and orientalist John Selden. It is one of less than twenty precolonial Mesoamerican codices that survived the conquest of the Americas, containing information on the history of ancient cities, prescriptions on rituals and calendrical divination. Of those codices, the Codex Selden/Añute is the only palimpsest, as its currently viewable content was written on a white paint layer that covers an earlier pictographic document.

In 2013-2014 the Bodleian's Ancient Mexican Manuscripts project undertook the recovery of these hidden pictorial texts. Results were expected to be published in the summer of 2016:

"The use of exclusively organic paints to create these images presented a unique set of challenges necessitating the development of a new imaging technique. During the present intervention this new technique called Photothermal Tomography is combined with a number of other techniques such as high-resolution photography, infrared photography, and RTI imaging to gain a better insight into this important palimpsest"( http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whats-on/upcoming-events/2015/mar/precolonial-mexican-manuscript, accessed 03-18-2015).

In August 2016 the Oxford Mail reported the following:

" "After four or five years of trying different techniques, we’ve been able to reveal an abundance of images without damaging this extremely vulnerable item,' said Ludo Snijders from Leiden University, who conducted the research with David Howell from the Bodleian Libraries and Tim Zaman from the University of Delft.,,,

"Mr Snijders said: 'What’s interesting is that the text we’ve found doesn’t match that of other early Mixtec manuscripts. The genealogy we see appears to be unique, which means it may prove invaluable for the interpretation of archaeological remains from southern Mexico.'

"Some pages feature more than 20 characters sitting or standing in the same direction. Similar scenes have been found on other Mixtec manuscripts, representing a King and his council.

"The researchers analysed seven pages of the codex for this study and revealed other images including people walking with sticks and spears, women with red hair or headdresses and place signs containing the glyphs for rivers.

"The paints used to crate the vibrant images are organic and do not absorb X-rays, meaning traditional methods could not be used in trying to get a glimpse of the codex's fascinating stories.

"Working with the humanities division in the University of Oxford, the Bodleian acquired a hyperspectral scanner in 2014 with the support of the university’s Fell Fund – and the equipment was able to unmask the past.

"David Howell, head of heritage science at the Bodleian Libraries, said: 'This is very much a new technique, and we’ve learned valuable lessons about how to use hyperspectral imaging in the future both for this very fragile manuscript and for countless others like it.' " (http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/14701472.Bodleian_boffins_uncover_images_of_rare_Mexican_manuscript_hidden_for_almost_500_years/, accessed 09-03-2016).

Researchers are continuing to analyse the remainder of the document with the aim of reconstructing the entire hidden imagery, allowing the text to be interpreted more fully.

The Codex Selden/Añute was first published by Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough in his ten volume series, Antiquities of Mexico (1831-1848). 

Regarding the history of the codex I quote from John Pohl's Mesoamerica:

"John Selden died in 1654 but the last date associated with the genealogy in the manuscript is the Mixtec year 11 Flint which corresponds to A.D. 1556. A date on the cover of the manuscript (2 Flint) may correspond to 1560 (M.E. Smith 1994:122-123). How the codex got from the Mixteca-Alta, Oaxaca, into the hands of Selden remains a mystery. Smith thinks that Codex Selden was composed by the community of Jaltepec, located in the southern Nochixtlán Valley for presentation to Spanish and Indian authorities with regard to a dispute over a subject town.

The town in question was called Zahuatlán and it is represented in the codex as a hill sign qualified by a man dancing - to signify Zahuatlán’s Mixtec name "yucu nicata" or "Hill that Danced". Both Jaltepec and Yanhuitlán, a principal rival in the the northern Nochixtlán Valley, claimed the town. Lords and Ladies of Zahuatlán appear in the codex either paying homage, intermarrying, or being subjugated by Jaltepec. Since the painting of the codex was assuredly commissioned by Jaltepec, a better name for the manuscript is Codex Añute, Jaltepec’s Mixtec name."

(This entry was last revised on 09-02-2016).

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Valerius Cordus Makes the Earliest Effort to Systematize Botanical Description and Discovers Sulfuric Ether 1561

In 1561 physician, botanist, bibliographer, and naturalist Konrad Gessner (Gesner) published in Strassbourg at the press of I. Rebelius In hoc volumine continentur Valerii Cordi Simesusij annotationes in pedacij Dioscordis . . . Stirpium lib. IIII. posthumi . . . Sylva . . . De artificiosis extractionibus liber . . . Compositiones medicinales. His accedunt Stocchornii et Nessi in Bernatium Helvetiorum ditione montium . . . Conradi Gesneri de hortis germaniae liber recens . . . omnia summo studio atque industria doctis. atque excellentiss. viri Conr. Gesneri medici Tigurini collecta, & praefationibus illustrata.

Containing descriptions of about 500 plants, Valerius Cordus’s Historiae stirpium was the earliest effort to systematize botanical description; Cordus has been called the inventor of phytography. “To read [Cordus’s] description of plants after those of his predecessors and contemporaries is like entering a new world. Each description follows a regular pattern and almost always includes, in this order, the characteristic features of stem and leaves, the flower and time of flowering, the fruit and seeds, the number of loculi in the fruit, the lines of dehiscence, the appearance and the number of rows of seed, the root, whether annual or perennial, taste and smell, and habitat. Cordus thus established in principle the basis for scientific plant description and his transforming influence is evident in most of the leading botanists who followed him” (Morton, History of Botanical Science, p. 126). Gesner, who was sent the manuscript of Historiae stirpium several years after Cordus’s death, recognized the revolutionary nature of Cordus’s work, describing it as “truly extraordinary because of the accuracy with which the plants are described” (Greene, Landmarks of Botanical History, 373).

Cordus’s De artificiosis extractionibus liber, a treatise on the preparation of both simple and compound drugs, published for the first time in this work, contains the first written and published account of the synthesis of sulfuric ether (sweet oil of vitriol)  from sulfuric acid and alcohol on ff. 226v-229r. Cordus is credited with having discovered sulfuric ether circa 1540, four years before his premature death at the age of 29. Paracelsus also wrote about ether in the 1540s; however, his brief discussion of ether was not published until 1605. There is also some speculation that the Arabs, who were the first to distill alcohol and sulfuric acid, may have synthesized ether as early as the 10th century, though no record of this has survived. Cordus described ether's high volatility and noted correctly that “ether promotes the flow of mucous secretion from the respiratory tract and that it affords relief from whooping cough” (Faulconer & Keys, Foundations of Anesthesiology, 267). Cordus also listed several other ailments for which ether was recommended, although he did not mention its soporific effects.

Cordus was the son of German physician and botanist Euricius Cordus, who was the first to establish botany on a scientific basis in Germany. Valerius studied botany and pharmacy under his father and at Wittenburg University, where he gave lectures on the Materia medica of Dioscorides and performed original botanical and pharmacological research based on his own observations (a novelty at the time). Valerius Cordus’s promising career was cut short by his death at the age of 29, but he left a number of works in manuscript which were published after his death, partly from finished manuscripts and partly from notes taken by his students.

The first of Cordus’s works to be published were Pharmacorum omnium . . . vulgo vocant Dispensatorium pharmacopolarum (Nuremberg, 1546; Germany’s first official pharmacopeia), and his Annotationes . . . in Dioscoridis de materia medica, which was included in Pedanii Dioscoridis . . . de medicinali materia libri sex (Frankfurt, 1549; ed. Walther Hermann Ryff), and also appeared in Euricius Cordus’s Botanologicon (Paris, 1551). The Annotationes includes descriptions of the opium poppy and of mandrake (mandragora), a plant containing several narcotic alkaloids (see ff. 66-67). Mandrake’s soporific and anesthetic properties were known in the ancient world, and both mandrake and opium were key ingredients in the medieval “spongia somnifera,” a sponge soaked in a decoction of several herbs which was applied to the patient’s nostrils in order to produce surgical anesthesia. This method of anesthesia was largely ineffectual, however, and went out of use before the end of the 17th century. The publication of Cordus’s remaining works was largely due to the efforts of Gesner. The published volume contains the first editions of four works—Historiae stirpium libri IV; Sylva . . . ; De artificiosis extractionibus liber; and Compositiones medicinales—as well as the third edition of the Annotationes. To this collection Gesner added two works of his own, including De tulipa turcarum, the first scientifically accurate account of the tulip, which had been introduced to Europe only a few years earlier. Gesner also was responsible for issuing Cordus’s Stirpium descriptionis liber quintus in 1563.

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Gabriele Falloppio Discovers the Fallopian Tubes and Numerous Other Anatomical Features 1561

In 1561 Italian physician and anatomist Gabriele Falloppio (Falloppius) published Observationes anatomicae in Venice: a work of 232 leaves printed in the comparatively small octavo format, with no illustrations. Observationes anatomicae was the only work Fallopio published before his death from tuberculosis at age thirty-nine, and is thus the only one that can be said to be fully authentic. The remainder of Falloppio's works were edited for publication from his lecture notes, and may represent more or less than the author's original intention.

Observationes was not an all-inclusive textbook of anatomy but rather a detailed critical commentary on Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (1543), in which Falloppio attempted to correct errors in the earlier work, and to add material that Vesalius had overlooked; for this reason, there was no need for illustrations. The large amount of new material included Falloppio's investigations of primary and secondary centers of ossification, the first clear description of primary dentition, numerous contributions to the study of the muscles (especially those of the head), and the famous account of the uterine ("Falloppian") tubes, which he correctly described as resembling small trumpets (tubae). He also gave to the placenta and vagina their present scientific names, provided a superior description of the auditory apparatus (including the first clear accounts of the chorda tympani and semicircular canals), and was the first to clearly distinguish the trochlear nerve of the eye. Vesalius responded positively to Falloppio's work with his posthumously published Examen on Falloppio (1564).

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 757.

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Filed under: Medicine, Science

Gaspar de Leão Issues the Earliest Surviving Books Printed in India from Movable Type July 2, 1561 – April 10, 1563

The earliest book printed in India, of which a copy survived, is Compendio spritual da vida Christãa by Gaspar de Leão, the first Archbishop of Goa, completed in Goa by printers João Quinquencio and João de Endem on July 2, 1561. This is known from a copy in the New York Public Library.

The second book known to have been printed in India, of which copies survive, is Colóquios dos simples e drogas he cousas mediçinais de India e assi dalgũas frutas achadas nella onde se tratam algũas cousas tocantes a medicina, pratica, e outras cousas boas pera saber (Conversations on the simples, drugs and materia medica of India and also on some fruits found there, in which some matters relevant to medicine, practice, and other matters good to know are discussed) by the Portuguese Jewish physician, naturalist and pioneer of tropical medicine, Garcia de Orta. Garcia de Orta sailed for India in 1534 as Chief Physician aboard the armada of the Viceroy Martim Afonso de Sousa. He worked and carried out his research at Goa, where he died in 1568. His book was first printed by João de Endem at his press in St. John's College, Goa, and completed on April 10, 1563.

Rhodes, The Spread of Printing. Eastern Hemisphere. India. . . . (1969) 12-13. Re documented printing in Goa which preceded Gaspar de Leão's book, but which did not survive, see Rhodes, 11-12.

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Conrad Gessner Issues the First Bio-Bibliography: a Study of Galen's Writings 1562

Prologomena in Galenum, in tres partes divisa written by physician, naturalist, and bibliographer, Conrad Gessner (Gesner), and issued in volume one of Cl [audius] Galeni Pergameni [Opera] Omnia, quae extant, in Latinum sermonem convers published in Basel by Hieronymus Froben and Nicolaus Episcopius in 1562, was the first bio-bibliography.Gessner's study, which covered Greek editions, Latin editions, lost works, writers on Galen and a classified bibliography of Galen's writings, was also Gessner's most developed bibliography. The bio-bibliography occupies 37 unnumbered leaves, following the title to volume 1, and Gesner's two unnumbered leaves of dedication, dated February 1562. (α†4-6,β†6, γ†6, A†-C†6, D†4).

Besterman, Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography 2nd ed (1940) 19-20, no. XXIX.

(This entry was last revised in 08-15-2014.)

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Bishop Diego de Landa Orders Destruction of the Maya Codices July 12, 1562

After hearing of Roman Catholic Maya who continued to practice "idol worship," on July 12, 1562 Bishop Diego de Landa ordered an Inquisition in Mani, Yucatan, ending with the ceremony called auto de fe.

"During the ceremony a disputed number of Maya codices (or books; Landa admits to 27, other sources claim '99 times as many') and approximately 5,000 Maya cult images were burned. The actions of Landa passed into the Black Legend of the Spanish in the Americas" (Wikipedia article on Diego de Landa, accessed 11-30-2008).

"Such codices were primary written records of Maya civilization, together with the many inscriptions on stone monuments and stelae which survive to the present day. However, their range of subject matter in all likelihood embraced more topics than those recorded in stone and buildings, and was more like what is found on painted ceramics (the so-called 'ceramic codex'). Alonso de Zorita wrote that in 1540 he saw numerous such books in the Guatemalan highlands which 'recorded their history for more than eight hundred years back, and which were interpreted for me by very ancient Indians' (Zorita 1963, 271-2). Fr. Bartolomé de las Casas lamented that when found, such books were destroyed: 'These books were seen by our clergy, and even I saw part of those which were burned by the monks, apparently because they thought [they] might harm the Indians in matters concerning religion, since at that time they were at the beginning of their conversion.' The last codices destroyed were those of Tayasal, Guatemala in 1697. . . " (Wikipedia article on Maya Codices, accessed 11-30-2008).

Probably because they were sent out of Mexico before the inquisitorial destruction, three codices and possibly a fragment of a fourth, survived. These are:

  • The Madrid Codex, also known as the Tro-Cortesianus Codex;
  • The Dresden Codex;
  • The Paris Codex, also known as the Peresianus Codex;
  • The Grolier Codex, also known as the Grolier Fragment"
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Bartholomeo Eustachi Discovers the Eustachian Tubes and Many Other Anatomical Features 1563

In 1563 Italian physician and anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachi (Eustachius) published his Opuscula anatomica in Venice with annotations by his relative and disciple, Pier Matteo Pini. Opuscula anatomica includes 8 engraved full-page copperplate text illustrations probably drawn by Eustachi and Pini, and engraved by Giulio de Musi, probably a relation of Agostino de' Musi (Agostino Veneziano).  The illustrations are on the unnumbered pages between pp. 1-20 (first series). Pini also prepared the 168 pages of annotations to Eustachi's anatomical treatises from the writings of Hippocrates, Aristotle, Galen and other authorities. These were published at the end of the book. Pini's published dedication of these Annotationes to Eustachi is dated July, 1561. 

Written during 1561 and 1562, Eustachi's Opuscula consists of a group of anatomical treatises on the kidneys (De renum structura), the organ of hearing (De auditus organis), the venous system (De vena quae azygos graecis dicitur) and the teeth (De dentibus), which he issued together under the title Opuscula anatomica. De auditus organis is dated October 1562; De motu capitis January 1561. The dedication of Libellus de dentibus is dated December 1562.

The privilege granting rights to the publisher Vincenzo Luchino is dated May 6, 1563. Most copies of this work bear the imprint Venetiis: Vincentius Luchinus excudebat, 1564. From the setting of the type on the title page of those copies it is evident that the original imprint date was 1563 and that an additional "I" was added to the roman numeral MDLXIII to turn that number into MDLXIIII  (1564) —a contrivance since the correct roman numeral for 1564 would have been MDLXIV.

In 2010 I discovered in a group of "cripples" that I bought decades ago a very incomplete copy of the Opuscula anatomica with a titlepage dated 1563, and without the name of the publisher, confirming that some copies were issued with a 1563 date. The separate title page of Libellus de dentibus dated 1563 is similar to the first issue titlepage of the Opuscula anatomica in that it does not include the name of the publisher. Thus we may theorize that Luchino decided to add his name to the title page of the Opuscula anatomica after the printing occurred. When he did so in 1564 we may theorize most of the copies may have remained in sheets and not bound. If so, it was a matter of having the first sheet run back through the press. That may explain why both the final "I" in the roman numeral MDLXIIII and "Vincenzus Luchinus excudebat" are out of register.  In October 2012 my friend and colleague William P. Watson proposed another possible scenario: through examination of several copies of the 1564 issue Watson noticed that the printing of Luchino's name and the final "I" varies in position on different copies of the title page, and theorized that Luchino's name and the final "I" was applied through some kind of a stamp, rather than by running the sheet back through a press. Whatever the method, some copies were issued without the addition of Luchino's name and without changing the date to 1564.  Because we may never know the exact chronology or methodogy of events that occurred 450 years ago, it is reasonable to assume that the copies with the title page dated 1563 were issued before the correction, and represent an earlier state.

Eustachi's treatise on the kidney, the first work devoted specifically to that organ, showed a detailed knowledge of the kidney surpassing any earlier work; it contained the first account of the adrenal (suprarenal) gland and a correct determination of the relative levels of the kidneys. The treatise on the ear provided the first post-classical account of the Eustachian tube, while the work on the azygos vein contained the first description of the thoracic duct and of the valvula venae in the right ventricle of the heart, the so-called "Eustachian valve." In his treatise on dentistry, Libellus de dentibus, Eustachi was the first to study the teeth in any great detail: basing his work on the dissection of fetuses and stillborn infants, he gave an important description of the first and second dentitions, described the hard outer tissue and soft inner structure of the teeth, and attempted an explanation of the problem of the sensitivity of the tooth's hard structure. 

The engraved plates illustrating the Opuscula anatomica were the first eight in the series of forty-seven anatomical plates engraved by Giulio de' Musi, after drawings by Eustachi and Pini. They were prepared in 1552 to illustrate a projected book entitled De dissensionibus ac controversii anatomicis, the text of which was lost after Eustachi's death. Had the full series of forty-seven anatomical copperplates been published at the time of their completion, Eustachi would have ranked with Vesalius as a founder of modern anatomy. However, it is quite probable that because of the growing fame of Vesalius' Fabrica (1543, 1555), Eustachi did not consider publication of his remaining plates, or his accompanying manuscript worthwhile. The remaining thirty-nine plates were lost for over a century after Eustachi's death but were rediscovered in the hands of a descendant of Pier Matteo Pini by papal physician, cardiologist, and epidemiologist Giovanni Maria Lancisi, who edited them for publication, and published them, along with the previously published eight plates, under the title of Tabulae anatomicae (Rome, 1714).

Eustachi's plates are stylistically different from other sixteenth century anatomical studies, as they were produced without the conventional sixteenth-century decorative accompaniments and were framed on three sides by numbered rules providing coordinates by which any part of the image could be located. The publisher of the 1714 edition provided an unnumbered plate with graduated scales to be cut out and used as a location aid. The images are generic figures, composites of many anatomical observations, and are mathematically as well as representationally exact.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 200-202. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) nos. 739-40. Norman, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine (1995) no. 21 (stating, based on information then available to me, that the Opuscula anatomica was first published in 1563-64). When I checked OCLC in November 2010 there were four copies listed in European libraries as having the first state (1563) of the title page of the Opuscula anatomica. A somewhat larger number of listings appeared for the second state.

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In an Expose of the Witchcraft Delusion Johann Weyer Presents One of the First Scientific Approaches to the Study of Mental Illness 1563

In 1563 Dutch physician and demonologist Johann Weyer published in Basel at the press of Johannes Oporinus De praestigiis daemonum, et incantationibus ac veneficiis, libri V.  In this celebrated exposé of the witchcraft delusion Weyer presented one of the first scientific approaches to the study of mental illness. Defying the authorities of the Inquisition and the doctrines of the Malleus maleficarum (noticed in this database), Weyer asserted the most witches were actually suffering from mental illness. He backed his claim with careful descriptions of a number of case histories from his own clinical experience, containing some of the earliest references to purely psychological treatment. To emphasize the superstitious ignorance of doctors who adhered to demonological theory, Weyer analyzed the effects of the stupefying and hallucinatory drugs used in sixteenth-century medicine, attributing many aspects of witchcraft to their effects. He recognized the relationship between a highly suggestible temperament and mental instability, and described the phenomenon of mass contagion of mental illness.

Like many innovators during the sixteenth century Weyer held positions relative to witchcraft and demonology that were both traditional and new.

"While he defended the idea that the Devil's power was not as strong as claimed by the Christian church in De Praestigiis Daemonum, he defended also the idea that demons did have power and could appear before people who called upon them, creating illusions; but he commonly referred to magicians and not to witches when speaking about people who could create illusions, saying they were heretics who were using the Devil's power to do it, and when speaking on witches, he used the term mentally ill" (Wikipedia article on Johann Weyer, accessed 02-28-2009). 

Weyer "was the first clinical and the first descriptive psychiatrist to leave to succeeding generations a heritage which was accepted, developed, and perfected into an observational branch of medicine. . . . He reduced the clinical problems of psychopathology to simple terms of everyday life and of everyday human, inner experience" (Zilboorg & Henry, A History of Medical Psychology [1941] 228). 

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2209.

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Giambattista della Porta Publishes the First Known Digraphic Substitution Cypher 1563

Italian scientist, polymath, playwright, and "professor of secrets" Giambattista della Porta published in Naples at the press of Giovanni Maria Scoto De Furtivis Literarum Notis. In this work on cryptography Porta described the first known digraphic substitution cipher (cypher).

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Charles IX Forbids Any French Printer from Printing Without Permission, Under Penalty of Being Hanged or Strangled September 10, 1563

By Letters Patent of the thirteen year old Charles IX of France at Mantes, September 10, 1563 it was forbidden for any French printer to print without permission, under penalty of being hanged or strangled.

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Georg Willer Issues the First Catalogue of the Frankfurt Book Fair 1564

In 1554 Georg Willer, a bookseller in Augsburg, issued the first catalogue of the Frankfurt Book Fair. This was the first comprehensive book catalogue issued in Germany. The quarto pamphlet of 10 leaves listed 256 books under the title of Novorum Librorum quos Nundinae Atumnales, Francoforti Anno 1564 celebratae, Venales Exhibuerent.

"The catalogues of the Frankfurt Book Fair, initiated by the Augsburg bookseller George Willer in 1564, represent the first international bibliographies of a periodic character, attempting to list every six months all new publications issued in Europe, and they can be considered the prototype of today's Books in Print. The books are arranged by subject; for the first time, place, publisher, and date are always mentioned" (Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development [1984] no. 24). 

Breslauer and Folter noted that in 1984 there was no copy of the first edition of Willer's catalogue in the United States.

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Ivan Fedorov Issues the First Dated Book Printed in Russia 1564

In 1564 Ivan Fedorov (Fyodorov) issued at Moscow the Apostol (Acts and Epistles of the Apostles). This was the first dated book printed in Russia. 

In 1565 Fedorov  issued the Chasovnik, a Book of Hours. This was the earliest Greek Orthodox liturgical work printed in Russia.

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Juanelo Turriano Creates a Working Automaton of a Monk Circa 1565

In 1565 Italo-Spanish clockmaker, engineer and mathematician of Toledo Juanelo Turriano (Gianello Torriano; born Giovanni Torriani) may have created an automaton of a monk, made of wood and iron, 15 inches in height. This automaton, which still operates, was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1977. Regarding this automaton Elizabeth King wrote:

"Driven by a key-wound spring, the monk walks in a square, striking his chest with his right arm, raising and lowering a small wooden cross and rosary in his left hand, turning and nodding his head, rolling his eyes, and mouthing silent obsequies. From time to time, he brings the cross to his lips and kisses it. After over 400 years, he remains in good working order. Tradition attributes his manufacture to one Juanelo Turriano, mechanician to Emperor Charles V. The story is told that the emperor's son King Philip II, praying at the bedside of a dying son of his own, promised a miracle for a miracle, if his child be spared. And when the child did indeed recover, Philip kept his bargain by having Turriano construct a miniature penitent homunculus. Looking at this object in the museum today, one wonders: what did a person see and believe who witnessed it in motion in 1560? The uninterrupted repetitive gestures, to us the dead giveaway of a robot, correspond exactly in this case to the movements of disciplined prayer and trance" (http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v1n1/nonfiction/king_e/prayer_print.htm, accessed 01-04-2012).

A video of the automaton monk in motion, narrated by artist/ scholar Elizabeth King, and entitled A Clockwork Prayer, was available on the site of radiolab.org in January 2012.

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Samuel Quiccheberg Publishes the First Treatise on Museums 1565

In 1565 Belgian physician Samuel Quiccheberg (von Quicheberg), scientific and artistic adviser to Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria, published Inscriptiones vel tituli theatri amplissimi in Munich at the press of Adam Berg. This short work of 64 pages was the first treatise on collecting and museums. It provided a rationale and organizational system for an ideal princely collection of art and Wunderkammer. Quiccheberg combined the traditional fields of art and curiosities with naturalia, mirabilia, artefacta, scientifica, antiquities and exotica into his plans for the Munich Kunstkammer.

In several places, Quiccheberg argued that one of the primary purposes of collecting was to promote technological innovation. He recommended collecting "Tiny models of machines, such as those for drawing water, or cutting wood into boards, or grinding grain, driving piles, propelling boats, stopping floods, and the like; on the basis of these models of little machines and constructions, other larger ones can be properly built and, subsequently, better ones invented." The idea was the prince could collect or commission a library of machines, including alternative designs, and then, when the need arised, have full scale versions built.

Quiccheberg, The First Treatise on Museums. Samuel Quiccheberg's Inscriptions 1565. Translation by Mark A. Meadow and Bruce Robertson. Introduction by Mark A. Meadow (2013). 

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo Paints a Surrealist Portrait of the Librarian 1566

In 1566 Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, court portraitist to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I at the Habsburg court in Vienna, and later, to Maximilian II and his son Rudolf II at the court in Prague, painted The Librarian as part of a series of portraits in which a collection of objects—in this instance books—form a recognizable likeness in semi-human form of the portrait subject. In The Librarian, Arcimboldo used objects that signified the book culture at that time. Animal tails, which became the beard of the portrait, were used as dusters.

This painting, preserved at Skokloster Castle, Sweden, is, like others from Arcimbaldo's series, often interpretted as an expression of the Renaissance fascination with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre. 

"The bizarre works of Arcimboldo, especially his multiple images, were rediscovered in the early 20th century by Surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí. The exhibition entitled “The Arcimboldo Effect” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1987) included numerous 'double meaning' paintings. Arcimboldo's influence can also be seen in the work of Shigeo Fukuda, István Orosz, Octavio Ocampo, and Sandro del Prete, as well as the films of Jan Švankmajer" (Wikipedia article on Giuseppe Arcimboldo, accessed 01-02-2011).

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Bishop Séon Carsuel Translates the Book of Common Prayer into Gaelic 1567

In 1567 Foirm na n-Urrnuidheadh (The Form of the Prayers), Bishop Séon Carsuel's (John Carswell's) translation into Gaelic of the Book of Common Order or "Knox's Liturgy", was published in Edinburgh at the press of Roibeard (Robert) Lekprevik. This was the first work printed in either Scottish or Gaelic, or any of the Goidelic languages.

"Its language has been characterised as 'exuberant, highly decorated classical common Gaelic', and helped forward the message of Scottish protestantism from the English-speaking south-east of the country into Gaelic-speaking Scotland. It was written in the traditional orthography of Irish Classical Common Gaelic, and Donald Meek has suggested that if it were not for Carsuel's training in this form of literacy and his decision to use it, Scottish Gaelic today may be employing, like the Manx language, a script with orthographic rules more similar to English and French than traditional Irish.

"It was also ground-breaking in its use of prose for non-heroic material, 'the first to use this type of formal Classical [Gaelic] prose'. And Carsuel had indeed complained in his work about earlier Gaelic writings, slamming the

'. . . darkness of sin and ignorance and design of those who teach and write and cultivate Gaelic, that they are more designed, and more accustomed, to compose vain, seductive, lying and worldly tales about the Tuatha De Danann and the sons of Mil and the heroes and Finn MacCoul and his warriors and to cultivate and piece together much else which I will not enumerate or tell here, for the purpose of winning for themselves the vain rewards of the world.'

"In the late 19th century, his skeleton was dug up; the skeleton measured seven feet in length, making Carsuel an extremely tall man by the standard of any era or geographical location (Wikipedia article on Séon Carsuel, accessed 12-11-2009).

Of the first edition of  Foirm na n-Urrnuidheadh, only three copies—all imperfect—are known to exist. One is in Edinburgh University Library.

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Christophe Plantin Publishes the Earliest Description of the Printing Process 1567

In 1567 Belgian printer Christophe Plantin (Christoffel Plantijn) issued from Antwerp La première, et la seconde partie des dialogues françois, pour les jeunes enfans, with texts in French and Flemish on facing pages. The technical nature of the writing of this work suggests that it was intended to be read by parents, who might pass the information onto their children, rather than necessarily intended to be read by children, themselves. Though 1500 copies were printed, the work is exceptionally rare.

Dialogue IX (pp. 218-255) concerns writing and printing. It is thought that the physician and dramatist Jacques Grevin was the general editor of the Dialogues, but that Plantin, who signed the Preface, was the author, or at least the editor, of the section on writing and printing.

"The chief interest, hwoever, of the Dialogue lies in the later section, which is introducted with a reference to 'the marvellous art of printing.' Here follows an elementary account of typefounding, including a detailed description of the mould and a list of the names of the several sizes of type cast. The compositing furniture, the frames, the form and the chase are all specifically mentioned. The most important portion of the whole is doubtless the section which describes the press. It is a careful description, which, while not comparable with Moxon from the point of view of detail, is very precious as giving us a clear picture of the press nearly one hundred and twenty years earlier than that of the 'Mechanick Exercises' " (Stanley Morison, Forward to Calligraphy & Printing in the sixteenth century.  Dialogue attribributed to Christopher Plantin in French and Flemish facsimile. Edited with English translation and notes by Ray Nash [1964] 13-14).

Nash's edition was first published in an edition of 250 copies in 1940. The slightly revised version in my library is one of 500 copies issued in 1964. The translation is given on rectos with a running commentary and illustrations on versos, followed by a facsimile of the original printing. Barber, French Letterpress Printing (1969) 1.

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Archbishop Matthew Parker Assembles the First Major Antiquarian Book Collection in England 1568

In 1568 Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker secured a license from Queen Elizabeth to seek out "auncient records or monuments" from the former libraries of the monasteries suppressed by Henry VIII, and from old cathedral priories converted to the use of the Church of England.

"He thus had first choice of many hundreds of manuscripts of the very highest importance. This was the earliest major antiquarian collection ever asssembled in England, long before those of Thomas Bodley (1545-1613) or Robert Cotton (1571-1631), which became the foundations of the libraries of the Bodleian in Oxford and, eventually, the British Library in London" (de Hamel, The Parker Library: Treasures from the Collection [2000] 8). 

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Jost Amman's Images of Trades and Technologies, with Descriptions in Verse 1568

In 1568 Swiss artist and book illustrator Jost Amman and poet, playwright, and shoemaker Hans Sachs published Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, hoher und nidriger, geistlicher und weltlicher, aller Künsten, Handwercken und Händeln ... Durch d. weitberümpten Hans Sachsen gantz fleissig beschrieben u. in teutsche Reimen gefasset in Frankfurt am Mayn. This series of illustrated descriptions of trades, accompanied by Sach's text in verse, included one of the earliest accounts–however brief–of the printing art, and one of the earliest images of the press. It also described and illustrated the art of making woodcuts, papermaking and bookbinding. 

In March 2015 a digital facsimile was available from the University of Koeln at this link.

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Benevenuto Cellini Describes Renaissance Artistic Techniques 1568

In Due Trattati, uno Intorno alle Otto Principali Arte dell'Oreficieria. L'Altro in Materia  dell'Arte della Scultura.... issued in Florence in 1568 Italian goldsmith, sculptor, painter, soldier and musician Benvenuto Cellini presented One of the few original treatises on Renaissance artistic techniques. The only book by Cellini published during his lifetime, t described Cellini's methods in a way analogous to Leonardo da Vinci's Trattato della Pittura (1561), but unlike Leonardo's work, which was compiled posthumously from various manuscripts by Leonardo, Cellini dictated his treatise himself. Cellini is remembered chiefly for the autobiography that he dictated to an amanuensis between 1558 and 1562, but which remained unpublished until 1728. 

In October 1898 Cellini's Due Trattati was issued in English translation by English entrepreneur and designer Charles Robert Ashbee from Cellini's original manuscript in the Bibliotheca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, rather than from the 1568 edition, which was abridged, as The Treatises of Benventuo Cellini on Goldsmithing and Sculpture. Ashbee was also the founder of the Guild & School of Handicraft, much of the efforts of which were in jewelry, coppersmithing and ironwork. 600 copies were printed by Ashbee's Essex House Press by printers from William Morris's then defunct Kelmscott Press, using the original Kelmscott presses, type, and handmade paper. However, the edition contained finely engraved photo-realistic illustrations, and its format, style and cloth binding was distinctly Essex House rather than Kelmscott.

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Perrissin & Tortorel Issue the First Extended Series of Prints Attempting to Depict Great Events of the Recent Past 1569 – 1570

Between 1569 and 1570 French painter, engraver and architect Jean Perrissin, French printmaker Jacques Tortorel, and French printmaker Jacques Le Challeux — all Protestants (Huguenots) who had fled to Geneva to escape religious persecution in France— issued from Geneva an album of prints entitled Premier volume. Contentant quarante tableaux ou histoire diverse qui son memorables touchant les guerres, massacres & troubles advenus en France en ces dernieres annees. Le tout receuilli selon le tesmoignage de ceux qui y on esté en personne, & qui les on veus, lesquels son pourtrais à la verité. (First Volume, Containing Forty Tableaux or Diverse Memorable Histories Concerning the Wars, Massacres and Troubles that have Occurred in France in These Last Years. All Gathered from the Testimony of Those Who Were There in Person and Saw Them, and Truly Portrayed.) The images, of which some were copperplate engravings and some of which were woodcuts, consisted of the elaborate engraved title page and thirty-nine images, each measuring roughly 32 x 50 cm, depicting significant "wars, massacres, and troubles" in the French Wars of Religion between 1559 and 1570.

Remarkably the contract for this project between Perrissin, Le Challeux and the Geneva publishers Nicolas Castellin and Pierre le Vignon, drawn by the Genevan notary Aimé Santeur and signed on April 18, 1569, remains preserved in the archives of Geneva.

Typically attributed to Perrissin and Tortorel, as they were the artists who signed most of the plates, this work was:

"the first extended print series offering a pictorial account of recent events where the images do not simply illustrate a written history but carry the burden of telling the story themselves, and that was intended not to glorify a ruler's deeds but to show a broad general public the events of their time" (Philip Benedict, Graphic History. The Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin [2007] 4).

"Like so many works in this century when printing was still new and the Renaissance and Reformation were destabilizing old cultural forms and encouraging new ones, the Quarante Tableaux was an experimental work. It was experimental in the sense that it was produced by a group of artists and entrepreneurs with no prior experience in producing such a work. It was experimental in the more profound sense that no exact generic precedents could guide the series. Some earlier graphic works had sought to carry a historical narrative through pictures and accompanying text, but these were typically accounts of the victories of a great ruler, containing a strong element of panegyric. In proclaiming their goal to be the presentation of an impartial eyewitness view of the events in question, the makers of the Quarante Tableaux took this emerging genre in a new direciton, one inspired by both the growing market for single-sheet news prints that claimed to offer true portraits of individual events, and the prevailing rhetoric of written historiography in Geneva. . . The manner in which the creators of the series chose to relate printed text to image further heightened this indeterminacy or open-ended-ness. Reliance on Protestant networks of information recurrently subverted the creators' proclaimed goal of offering an impartial view of events, yet they used multiple informants and made a clear effort to transcend a purely partisan or one-sided view of events. The end result was a complex, even internally contradictory work that invited different forms of appropriation" (Benedict 10-11).

"The episodes depicted in the volume run from the special meeting of the Parlement of Paris in June 1559 at which Anne Du Bourg spoke out before Henry II against the harsh repression of Protestanism through a minor skirmish betwwen Huguenot and Catholic forces along the Rhône in March 1570. The first dozen or so plates show the events that led up to the outbreak of open civil war in spring 1562. The remainder of the series is composed of events from the first three French Wars of Religion (1562-1563, 1567-1568, 1578-70). Above all it is a compendium of battles (15 pictures), sieges (5 pictures, raids (4 pictures) and massacres (3 pictures-5 if the massacres prior to the outbreak of the First Civil War are included)" (Benedict 6).

Benedict reproduces all the images in fold out plates with commentaries on each image on facing pages so that the commentary may be studied with the image. In an appendix he also reproduces the original publishing contract for the work.  Through records of the quantity of paper that the publisher Castellin purchased during the printing Benedict shows that the work was a commercial success, and he traces different states of several of the prints with texts in different languages. Whether a second volume was planned remains unknown, though indication of "Premier volume" on the title page would imply as much. Unfortunately, any such project was definitively cut short by an outbreak of plague in Geneva in 1571, which killed three of Pierre Le Vignon's four children, and also killed Castellin and his three children.  Prior to that outbreak the artists Perrissin, Tortorel and Le Challeux had returned to France in 1570 once the Peace of Saint-Germain ended the civil war, and retored rights of worship in France.

Kunzel, The Early Comic Strip. Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c. 1450 to 1825 (1973) 40.

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Fulvio Orsini Issues the First Critically Assembled Collection and Edition of Ancient Portraiture 1569 – 1570

Imagines et elogia virorum illustrium et eruditor ex antiquis lapidibus et nomismatib expressa cum annnotationib ex bibliotheca Fulvi Ursini, issued in Rome in 1570 by librarian, collector, epigrapher and classical scholar Fulvio Orsini, was the first critically assembled collection and edition of ancient portraiture. An expert on ancient coins, gems, inscriptions, and statues, Orsini was most advantageously positioned to make the first critical collection of ancient portraiture. In the Imagines et elogia he combined portraits with brief biographies of subjects drawn from ancient history and literature. Unlike previous works such as Paolo Giovio's Vitae virorum illustrium (1549‑57) and Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarium iconum insigniorum (1553), Orsini emphasized the original physical state of the portraits illustrated rather than modifying his reproductions of the portraits to fit them into a uniform format. He also illustrated the marbles and coins as objects, sometimes presenting one or more examples of each subject. A special feature of Orsini's work was the large number of headless herm (ἑρμῆς) portraits illustrated with inscriptions on their pedestals, making the work first a corpus of epigraphical testimonia to famous and not so famous Greeks and Romans, and secondly a repertory of portraits. 

"Not only did Orsini have access to the most extensive epigraphical and iconographic collections in Rome but, more importantly, the critical method he employed in editing texts of classical authors and inscriptions served him well in the authentication of portraits. In making an identification, Orsini sought the evidence of an ancient inscription either directly on the marble or on a coin or medal that could be associated with a marble. He also collected ancient literary sources relating to the physical appearance or to the existence of ancient portraits of individual subjects. He did not hesitate to reject modern inscriptions whether on marble statuary or on gems, and he similarly rejected numismatic forgeries which by the late sixteenth century had flooded the Roman antiques market."

"In the majority of cases, Orsini (or his patron) owned the ancient coins, gems, busts, and statues that served his identifications. Hence, unlike virtually all of his predecessors, Orsini relied on 'autopsy' or first-hand experience as a critical method, anticipating the rigorous method of nine- teenth-century epigraphers like Theodor Mommsen. Orsini has been called the 'father of ancient iconography,' and, indeed, a glance at Gisela Richter's authoritative Portraits of the Greeks suffices to demonstrate the modern archaeologist's indebtedness to Orsini for the identification of a surprising number of heads of famous Greeks and Romans. Nevertheless, the documentary value of Orsini's earlier work is somewhat compromised by the fact that information about provenance is not presented consistently but, when offered, is usually buried near the end of the elogium" (Dwyer, "André Thevet and Fulvio Orsini: The Beginnings of the Modern Tradition of Classical Portrait Iconography in France," The Art Bulletin, 75, No. 3 (Sept. 1993), 467-480, quoting from 469).

Pierre de Nolhac, "Les collections d'antiquités de Fulvio Orsini," Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire," 4 (1884) 139-231.

de Nolhac, La bibliothèque de Fulvio Orsini (1887).

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Francisco Bravo Issues the First Medical Book Printed in the Western Hemisphere with the Earliest Illustrations of Plants Printed in the Western Hemisphere 1570

Printer Pedro Ocharte, born Pierre Ocharte in Rouen, France, working in Mexico City, issued Opera medicinalia by the Spanish physician, Francisco Bravo in 1570. Ocharte had married the daughter of Juan Pablos, the first printer in the New World, and had inherited his equipment. Opera medicinalia included a woodcut title border and a few botanical woodcuts, including images to distinguish the false sarsaparilla of Mexico from the true Spanish sarsaparilla of Dioscorides. It was the first medical book printed in the Western Hemisphere, and its botanical images were the first illustrations of plants printed in the Western Hemisphere.

Of the original edition only two copies are known, of which the only complete copy is at the Universidad de Puebla, Mexico. In 1862 American bookseller and bibliographer Henry Stevens purchased an incomplete copy at an auction sale of the library of collector/dealer/book thief Guglielmo Libri in London. This he resold to the American collector James Lennox. The Lennox copy is preserved in the New York Public Library.

In 1970 London antiquarian booksellers Dawsons of Pall issued a facsimile of the complete Universidad de Puebla copy with a companion volume of commentary by Francisco Guerra. The two volumes were printed on hand-made paper by J. Barcham Green, Ltd. and bound in parchment by Zaehnsdorf in London. The edition was limited to 250 hand-numbered copies.

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Lord Mayor of London Henry Billingsley Issues One of the Earliest Pop-Up Books 1570

In 1570 English merchant, and later Lord Mayor of London Henry Billingsley issued in London The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Ancient Philosopher Euclide of MegaraBillingsley's work was the first English translation of Euclid. The title confused Euclid of Alexandria with the Greek Socratic philosopher, Euclid of Megara; the two were frequently confused during the Renaissance. Billingsley's translation included a lengthy preface by the mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist, consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee, which surveyed all the branches of pure and applied mathematics of the time. Dee also provided copious notes and other supplementary material.

Billingsley's translation, renowned for its clarity and accuracy, was made from the Greek rather than from the well-known Latin translation by Adelard of Bath and Campanus of Novara.  In the nineteenth century victorian mathematician, bibliographer and historian of mathematics Augustus De Morgan suggested that the translation was solely the work of Dee, but in his correspondence Dee stated specifically that only the introduction and the supplementary material were his. Proof that Billingsley made the translation himself is available in Billingsley's copy of the 1533 Greek editio princeps of Euclid, preserved at Princeton University Library.  Billingsley's copy is bound with the 1558 Basel edition printed by Hervagius, which reprints the Adelard-Companus Latin translation from the Arabic first printed in 1482 and the Zamberti Latin translation from the Greek first printed in 1505. 

"On the title-page is the autograph signature 'Henricus Billingsley,' in a most beautiful antique hand. Throughout the volume are very numerous corrections, additions and marginal notes, all in Billingsley's peculiar and beautiful writing. I dare hazard that no Lord Mayor, since his time, has ever written so charming a hand. By reading what he has done, it immediately appears that though he had the Adelard-Campanus Latin before him, yet he gave his special work to a careful comparison of Zamberti's Translation with the original Greek, and the corrections he has actually made sufficiently prove his scholarship and render entirely unnecessary De Morgan's suppositious aid from Dr. Dee, while, on the other hand, they establish the conclusion about the translation to which De Morgan's sagacity had led him, that 'It was certainly made from the Greek, and not from any of the Arabico-Latin versions' (Halsted, "Note on the First English Euclid," American Journal of Mathematics II [1879] 46-48).

♦ A special feature of Billingsley's English translation of Euclid are pasted flaps of paper that can be folded up to produce three dimensional models of the propositions in Book XI, making it one of the oldest "pop-up" books.

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Opening of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana 1571

In 1571 the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (The Laurentian Library of the Medicidesigned by Michelangelo was opened to the public  in Florence, Italy.

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Jeremias Martius Issues Possibly the First Printed Catalogue of Any Private Library 1572

Issued in 1572 by the Augsburg printer Michael Mangerus, Catalogus bibliothecae, the catalogue of the private library of the Augsburg physician, Jeremias Martius (c. 1535-1585), may be the earliest printed catalogue of a private library. 

Maclean, Learning and the Market Place: Essays in the History of the Modern Book (2009) 106.

(This entry was last revised on 03-03-2015.)

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Volcher Coiter: One of the First Physicians to Draw the Illustrations for his Own Publications, and Take Credit for Them in Print 1572 – 1573

Dutch physician, anatomist and comparative anatomist Volcher Coiter published Externarum et internarum principalium humani corporis partium tabulae . . . .  in Nuremberg. It included 9 engravings (the first 4 on 2 leaves), all but 2 signed "V. C. D." for "Volcher Coiter delineavit," signifying that they were drawn by the author. The last 2 plates, of the human skeleton, were after the first and third skeleton figures in Vesalius's Fabrica.  The woodcut historiated initials in the work were  from the "Puttenalphabet" by Hans Weiditz, cut in Augsburg in 1531. 

A student under Gabriele Falloppio, Bartoloemo Eustachi , and Ulisse Aldrovandi, Coiter made several important contributions to the study of human anatomy, and was the first to elevate comparative anatomy to the rank of an independent branch of biology. His Externarum et internarum principalium humani corporis partium tabulae published in 1572 is a collection of ten short works, among which are the first monograph on the ear (De auditus instrumento); the earliest study of the growth of the skeleton as a whole in the human fetus (Ossium tum humani foetus . . .); the first descriptions of the spinal ganglia and musculus corrugator supercilii (in Observationum anatomicarum chirurgicarumque miscellanea); and Coiter's epochal (although unillustrated) investigation of the development of the chick in ovo (De ovorum gallinaceorum generationis. . .), based upon observations made over twenty successive days. This last was the first published study of chick embryo development based upon direct observation since the three-period description (after three, ten and twenty days of incubation) given by Aristotle in his Historia animalium two thousand years before.

Coiter was one of the first physicians to draw the illustrations for his own publications, and to take credit for them in print. It is believed that Vesalius may have done some of the simpler illustrations for the Fabrica; however, none of the Fabrica images are signed, and questions concerning their authorship have led to centuries of speculation and debate. Coiter's illustrations of the adult skeleton and skull, after Vesalius, are superior in anatomical detail; and his sketches of fetal skeletons are original.

Cole, History of Comparative Anatomy, illustrates a copy of this work with the title-page dated 1572, but the majority of copies probably appeared in 1573, as most of the references cite the later date. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 496.

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Book Collector Matthew Parker Donates his Library 1574

In 1574 Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker donated his library of about 480 manuscripts and about 1000 printed books to the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

"He was an avid book collector, salvaging medieval manuscripts dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries; he was particularly keen to preserve materials relating to Anglo-Saxon England, motivated by his search for evidence of an ancient English-speaking Church independent of Rome. The extraordinary collection of documents that resulted from his efforts is still housed at Corpus Christi College, and consists of items spanning from the sixth-century Gospels of St. Augustine to sixteenth century records relating to the English Reformation.

"The Parker Library's holdings of Old English texts accounts for nearly a quarter of all extant manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), the Old English Bede and King Alfred´s translation of Gregory the Great´s Pastoral Care. The Parker Library also contains key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts ranging from the Ancrene Wisse and the Brut Chronicle to one of the finest copies of Chaucer´s Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are music, medieval travelogues and maps, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles and Bibles. The Parker Library holds a magnificent collection of English illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c. 1135 and c. 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c. 1230-50)" (Parker Library on the Web [Beta] accessed 11-27-2008).

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Hieronymous Wolf, Librarian to Johann Jakob Fugger, Issues the First Printed Catalogue of a Portion of a Public Library 1575

In 1575 Hieronymous Wolf, humanist, and librarian to Johann Jakob Fugger, published Catalogus Graecorum librorum manu scriptorum Augustanae bibliothecae. Wolf's slim pamphlet of only 6 leaves listed 126 Greek manuscripts presented by Fugger to the City Library of Augsburg, Fugger's native city. It may be considered the first printed catalogue of a portion of a public library.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 25.

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François de Belleforest Describes Paintings in Rouffignac Cave 1575

In his translation of the Cosmographia of Sebastian Münster called La Cosmographie universelle de tout de monde published in 1575 French author, poet, and translator François de Belleforest described explorations of Rouffignac Cave, within the French commune of Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac in the Dordogne département, and mentioned "paintings and animal traces."  Rouffignac Cave contains over 250 engravings and animal paintings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic. Though De Belleforest wrote centuries before there was any understanding of prehistory, his comment is one of the earliest references to cave exploration.

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Discovering the Autograph Manuscript of William Bourne's Book on Military Inventions and Naval Tactics 1575 – 1578

During the 1970s I purchased from the Heritage Bookshop in Los Angeles a manuscript by the English mathematician and technician William Bourne partly written in a very distinctive Elizabethan hand, and incorporating captioned line drawings illustrating the text. The title of the manuscript was Inventions or Devices. The Weinsteins, owners of Heritage, sold the manuscript as an early copy of the book, as most of the text was written in a standard Elizabethan secretarial hand, and priced it accordingly. But the author signed the manuscript in two or three places, and the dedication was written out in the same distinctive hand as the signatures. These factors caused me to wonder if it was possibly an autograph manuscript written by and for the author himself.

There were at the time one or two reproductions of pages of Bourne's handwriting in books from examples in the British Library, and the distinctive style of writing and illustration reproduced was virtually identical to my manuscript, both in the secretarial text and Bourne's possible autograph portions. Bourne's last will and testament was also preserved in the Kent County record office, if memory serves. As wills contain a reliable example of the signer's autograph signature, I sent for a copy of that, and it corresponded exactly to the signatures in my volume. So, I was most excited to conclude that I had discovered the original manuscript— partly autograph—of a complete Elizabethan work on military inventions and naval tactics, including such inventions as fire ships used by the English against the Spanish Armada. Bourne's manuscript was written out and dedicated to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, chief advisor to Elizabeth I. It was first published in print in 1578.

"Inventions or Devises, published in 1578, is one of William Bourne's more important works. This book gives many guides and instructional tools for sailors, mostly concerning interactions with other ships. The 21st device listed is the earliest known description of a ship's log and line. The 75th device on the list is a description of a night signal or early semaphore system to be used between people on distant ships who had previously decided on a code consisting of a series of lights and fashion of standing. The 110th entry is a very early description of a telescope. He describes a device consisting of two glasses that, when arranged properly, will allow you to read a letter from a quarter-mile away or see a man, town, or castle from four or five miles away. This description predates the earliest known working telescope by 30 years.

"His design, detailed in his book Inventions or Devises published in 1578, was one of the first recorded plans for an underwater navigation vehicle. He designed an enclosed craft capable of submerging by decreasing the overall volume (rather than flooding chambers as in modern submarines), and being rowed underwater. Bourne described a ship with a wooden frame covered in waterproofed leather, but the description was a general principle rather than a detailed plan. However, Bourne's concept of an underwater rowing boat was put into action by the Dutchman Cornelius Drebbel in 1620, and Nathaniel Symons demonstrated a 'sinking boat' in 1729 using the expanding and contracting volume of the boat to submerge" (Wikipedia article on William Bourne, accessed 11-18-2013).

In those days there were, of course, no digital facsimiles available online, but I was able to obtain a xerographic facsimile of the first printed edition from University Microfilms. Comparison of the text with the printed version showed various textual differences and differences between images in my manuscript with those in the printed version. In the autograph dedication Bourne referred to his previous contacts with Burghley: ‘about 3 years past I delivered your Lordship a book’, which must have been Sloane 3651 (1572/73), which was eventually divided into two works published in print in 1578 as Treasure for Travellers and the Art of Shooting in Great Ordnance

Having worked in the antiquarian book trade for forty-nine years (as of 2013), I can report that it is not unusual for the reception of material by customers to be the converse of its historical significance. In this case the obvious institutional buyers of this invaluable manuscript passed it up through private offers and its appearance in two of our printed rare book catalogues. We catalogued the manuscript first in 1980 in our eighth catalogue entitled Twelve Manuscripts, which also contained notable items such as the autograph manuscript of J. S. Mill's Considerations on Representative Government (1860). Eventually, I consigned the Bourne manuscript to Christie's in London in their sale of November 29, 1999 where it was purchased by the American collector Lawrence Schoenberg. It is preserved in the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection at The University of Pennsylvania (ljs345). A digital facsimile is available from the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image at this link

I am very gratified that Mr. Schoenberg appreciated my discovery. From the description of the manuscript at the University of Pennsylvania I quote:

Inventions or Devices was first produced two years before its first printing and contains 133 devices, twenty more than the printed edition. This manuscript contains 10 illustrations, six more than the printed work. However, the manuscript does not have 20 devices that appear in the printed book including Bourne's original design for a submarine and a diving suit. The changes in the printed version show an increased interest in the military focus of the material over surveying and measurement. The manuscript is a complete, signed, authorial, pioneering work on military gunnery, tactics and navigation. This work formed the beginning of English literature of navigation."

In December 2016 Stephen Johnston, Assistant Keeper of the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, informed me that he incorporated details from this HistoryofInformation.com entry into his A revised bibliography of William Bourne. Johnston updated the bibliography written by D.W. Waters and R.A. Skelton published in E.G.R. Taylor's Hakluyt Society edition of A Regiment for the Sea and other Writings on Navigation by William Bourne of Gravesend, a Gunner (c. 1535-1582) (Cambridge, 1963). 

(This entry was last updated in December 2016.)


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Eliezer ben Isaac Ashkenazi Issues the First Book Printed in the Middle East 1577

Eliezer ben Isaac Ashkenazi, a printer from Prague, settled in Safad (Safed) (now northern Israel). The first book that he issued there in 1577 was Lekah Tov, a Hebrew commentary on the Book of Esther, by Yom Tov Zahalon. This was the first book printed in the Middle East. In his introduction Zahalon expressed his delight in the founding of a press in this Holy City of the Holy Land and urged authors to have their works printed there; however the press issued only six books.

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François Viète's Classic of Mathematics and Typography 1579

In 1579 French lawyer, Conseil du Roi (privy councillor), and mathematician François Viète (Franciscus Vieta) published in Paris Canon mathematicus seu ad triangula. Cum adpendicibus.

Viète's numerous mathematical works were written during two brief periods of leisure from his career as a lawyer to the French courts of Henry III and Henry IV. His Canon mathematicus, the earliest of his published mathematical works, was the first of his studies on trigonometry.

"Here he gathered together the formulas for the solution of right and oblique plane triangles, including his own contribution, the law of tangents. . . . For spherical right triangles he gave the complete set of formulas needed to calculate any one part in terms of two other known parts, and the rule for remembering this collections of formulas, which we now call Napier's rule. He also contributed the law of cosines involving the angles of an oblique spherical triangle" (Kline, Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times [1972] 239-240).

In addition, Viète called for a reform in the expression of fractions, in which decimal fractions would replace the sexagesimal fractions then used in astronomy, physics and mathematics.

Viète's work consists of two parts: "Canon mathematicus," containing a table of trigonometric lines with some additional tables; and "Universalium inspectionum ad canonem mathematicum" (with separate title), giving the computational methods used in the construction of the canon and explaining the computation of plane and spherical triangles. Viète had originally planned to include two more parts devoted to astronomy, but these were never published.

Canon mathematicus was remarkably advanced typographically for its time. It is also very rare: privately printed in a small edition, its scarcity was compounded by Viète's displeasure over its many misprints, which caused him to withdraw from circulation all the copies he could recover.

Dibner, Heralds of Science, no. 105.  Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2151.

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Ivan Fyodorov Issues First Complete Slavic Bible July 12, 1580 – August 12, 1581

In 1580 Ivan Fyodorov (Fedorov or Fedorovych; Russian: Iва́н Федоров) printed the first complete Slavic Bible. Fyodorov's book is known as the Ostrog Bible (Ukrainian: Острозька Біблія; Russian: Острожская Библия), because it was printed on the estate of the Ukrainian/Lithuanian prince, Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski (Belarusian: Канстантын Васiль Астрожскi; Lithuanian: Konstantinas Vasilijus Ostrogiškis; Ukrainian: Костянтин-Василь Острозький) at Ostrog (Ostroh) Ukraine.

"The Ostrog Bible is unique among Church Slavonic Bibles in that the Old Testament was translated not from the (Hebrew) Masoretic text, but from the (Greek) Septuagint. This translation, comprising seventy-six books of the Old and New Testaments, was based on the Gennadius Bible and a manuscript of the Codex Alexandrinus. Some parts were based on Francysk Skaryna's translations.

The Ostrog Bibles were printed on two dates: 12 July 1580, and 12 August 1581. The second version differs from the 1580 original in composition, ornamentation, and correction of misprints. In the printing of the Bible delays occurred, as it was necessary to remove mistakes, to search for correct textual resolutions of questions, and to produce a correct translation. The editing of the Bible detained printing. In the meantime, Fyodorov and his company printed other biblical books. The first were those which did not require correcting: the Psalter and the New Testament.

"The Ostrog Bible is a monumental publication of 1,256 pages, lavishly decorated with headpieces and initials, which were prepared especially for it. From the typographical point of view, the Ostrog Bible is irreproachable. This is the first Bible printed in Cyrillic type. It served as the original and model for further Russian publications of the Bible. The importance of the first printed Cyrillic Bible can hardly be overestimated. Prince Ostrogski sent copies to Pope Gregory XIII and tsar Ivan the Terrible, while the latter presented a copy to an English ambassador. When leaving Ostroh, Fyodorov took 400 books with him. Only 300 copies of the Ostrog Bible are extant today" (Wikipedia article on Ostrog Bible, accessed 01-03-2010).

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Pope Gregory XIII Promulgates the Gregorian Calendar February 24, 1582

On February 24, 1582 Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull, Inter gravissimas, the founding document of the Gregorian calendar. It was printed on March 1, 1562.

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Michele Ruggieri Issues the First Book Written by a European in China and Printed in China 1583 – 1584

In 1583-84 Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, missionary in China, and one of the first sinologists, had his Catechism (Tianzhu shilu, "True Account of God") printed in the Chinese language at Zhaoqing,  (Chao-ch’ing). Printed by wood blocks, Ruggieri's Catechism was the first book written in Chinese by a European, and the first book written by a European in China and printed in China. 1200 copies were printed of which only two seem to have survived.

It is thought that during 1583-88 Ruggieri collaborated with father Matteo Ricci "in creating a Portuguese-Chinese dictionary - the first ever European-Chinese dictionary, for which they developed a consistent system for transcribing Chinese words in Latin alphabet. A Chinese Jesuit Lay Brother Sebastiano Fernandez, who had grown up and [had] been trained in Macau, assisted in this work. Unfortunately, the manuscript was misplaced in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, and re-discovered only in 1934, by Pasquale d'Elia. This dictionary was finally published in 2001" (Wikipedia article on Michel Ruggieri, accessed 01-28-2012).

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Ferdinando de Medici & Giovan Battista Raimundi Found the Medici Press 1584

In 1584 Pope Gregory XIII founded a Maronite College in Rome to train European missionaries in various oriental languages, and to train oriental Christians in the languages of Europe. The Maronites translated books from Latin into Arabic and Syriac. To undertake the printing of Arabic and other oriental languages, Gregory appointed Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, director of what came to be called the Medici Press. Medici placed Giovan Battista (Giambattista) Raimundi in charge of the press, within ten years they issued elegantly produced editions of Avicenna, Euclid and other works in Arabic. Sales and distribution of these books were, however, very limited:

"In the 18th century, amazingly enough, many of the books printed by Raimondi were still in the Palazzo Vecchio [Florence] stacked in wardrobes. An inventory taken at the time shows that 1,039 copies of the Arabic-Latin Gospels, 566 of the Arabic Gospels, 810 of the Avicenna, 1,967 of the Euclid, 1,129 of the Idrisi, still remained unsold, along with several other titles. But early in the 19th century - the Age of Enlightenment - the government sold the remaining books for a derisory sum to a bookseller who destroyed the bulk of them to increase the rarity of the remainder. The remaining type and matrices wound up in the Pitti Palace [Florence] where Napoleon was able to loot them at his ease when he conquered Italy. In 1808 Napoleon ordered the punches and matrices to be taken to Paris, where they were used to print Arabic proclamations for distribution in the Near East. Eight years later, after Napoleon's exile, they were brought back to Florence" (http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198102,/arabic.and.the.art.of.printing-a.special.section.htm, accessed 01-29-2009)

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François Grudé de la Croix du Maine Issues the First French National Bibliography 1584

In 1584 French scholar and bibliographer François Grudé de la Croix du Maine published in Paris Premier Volume de la Bibliothèque du Sieur de la Croix-Du-Maine. Qui est un catalogue général de toutes sortes d'Autherus, qui on escrit en François depuis cinq cents ans & plus.

This was the first French national bibliography.

"The authors, numbering three thousand, as the title states, are arranged in the aphabetical order of their first names, but a list of their surnames is given in the preliminaries. Their short biographies are followed by the lists of their works and bibliographical data, as far as known to the author. Vol. II, a subject index, and vol. III, Latin works by French authors never appeared as Grudé was assassinated [as a Protestant sympathizer in 1592.

"The work contains an auto-bibliography of several hundred works on French history of which none has survived, earning Grudé in some quarters the title of impostor" (Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development [1984] no. 29).

Grudé also included a proposal for a Royal National Library with a number classification system similar to the modern decimal classification system. On p. 511 of his book there is a woodcut which may be the earliest printed representation of a bookcase.

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Franz Heim Illustrates Cats Carrying Incendiary Devices in Warfare? 1584

In March 2014 an image of a flaming back-pack carrying cat was making the rounds on the Internet. Here is my take on the story:

A German illustrated manuscript treatise on munitions and explosive devices entitled Feuer Buech, produced in 1584 by Franz Helm, contains, among descriptions of more conventional devices, an image of a cat and bird wearing flaming backpacks to attack a city under siege. This image appears on leaf 137 recto. Considering the notorious independence of cats, and the very limited carrying capacity of birds in flight, it is extremely doubtful that using a cat or a bird to set a city or building on fire was ever successfully employed. Most of the other devices in the manuscript seem more practical.

The manuscript is preserved at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Edgar Fahs Smith collection on the history of chemistry. In March 2014 a digital facsimile of the entire manuscript was available at this link.

The image was printed on page 48 of Armamentarium principale oder Kriegsmunition und Artillerey-Buch ... Beneben einen Bericht der Wagenburg, issued in Franckfurt by Johann Ammon in 1625.


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Martín de Murúa Writes the "Historia general del Piru" Circa 1585 – 1616

Historia general del Piru, written by the Basque Mercedarian friar and missionary Martín de Murúa, is an early illustrated treatise on the history of Inca and early colonial Peru, surviving in two manuscript copies. Murúa's chronicle, written during his missionary work in Peru, includes a history of Peru before and after its conquest by the Spanish.

The two surviving manuscripts of Murúa's work are the Galvin Murúa, also known as the "Loyola Murúa," sold to John Galvin by antiquarian bookseller Warren Howell of John Howell - Books in San Francisco, and the Getty Murúa, also known as the "Wellington Murúa". The Galvin copy is remains in the Sean Galvin collection in County Meath, Ireland while the Getty example is preserved at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

"The Galvin Murúa dates from the 1580s and was completed around 1600. This first version of the chronicle was compiled in Peru by Murúa with the assistance of local scribes and Indigenous artists (one of whom was Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala). By the eighteenth century, the Galvin Murúa ended up in the possession of the Jesuit College in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. Between 1879-1900, the manuscript was housed in a Jesuit enclave in Poyanne, France. Its association with the Jesuits gave the manuscript its title the "Loyola Murúa" (after Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order). . . . 

"The Getty Murúa dates from 1615–16 and was the second version of the chronicle. Most of the text was compiled in Peru and present-day Bolivia, although it was most likely re-edited in Spain. This version received the final approbation for printing, however for unknown reasons it remained unpublished during the seventeenth century. Once in Spain, the manuscript was somehow acquired by Castilian statesman and bibliophile Lorenzo Ramirez de Prado. After Ramirez's death in 1658, it was incorporated into the library of the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca in Salamanca and finally the private library of King Charles IV of Spain in 1802. As a result of the Peninsular War, it came into the possession of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Thus the manscript acquired the title the "Wellington Murúa." It was later sold at auction to a collector in Cologne, Germany, changing hands once more before its "rediscovery" by Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois in the early 1950s. Ballesteros Gaibrois published a two volume edition of Historia general del Piru in 1962 and 1964 " (Wikipedia article on Fray Martín de Murúa, accessed 07-21-2011). 

In 1983 the Getty Museum acquired the "Wellington Murúa" as part of the Ludwig collection of manuscripts (Ludwig XIII 16).

In 2004 a facsimile of the Galvin Murúa was published by Testimonio Compañia Editorial Madrid.

In 2008 the Getty Museum published a volume of research on both manuscripts together with a facsimile of the Getty manuscript. Among the research results were a demonstration that several images (including two by Guaman Poma) from the Galvin Murúa were removed and pasted into the Getty Murúa, although overall the Galvin Murúa contains more images than its counterpart. The images in both manuscripts were colored using paints, dyes, and silver from the Americas and Europe.

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Blaise de Vigenère Describes What is Later Known as the Vigenère Cipher 1586

In 1586 French diplomat and cryptographer Blaise de Vigenère published in Paris Traicté des chiffres ou secrètes manières d'escrires. Vigenère's book described a text autokey cipher that became known as the Vigenère cipher because it was misattributed to Vigenère in the 19th century. The actual inventor of the text autokey cipher was Giovan Battista Bellaso (1563).

“Vigenère became acquainted with the writings of Alberti, Trithemius, and Porta when, at the age of twenty-six, he was sent to Rome on a two year diplomatic mission. To start with, his interest in cryptography was purely practical and was linked to his diplomatic work. Then, at the age of thirty-nine, Vigenère decided that he had accumulated enough money for him to be able to abandon his career and concentrate on a life of study. It was only then that he examined in detail the ideas of Alberti, Trithemius, and Porta, weaving them into a coherent and powerful new cipher … The cipher is known as the Vigenère cipher in honour of the man who developed it into its final form. The strength of the Vigenère cipher lies in its using not one, but 26 distinct cipher alphabets to encode a message… To unscramble the message, the intended receiver needs to know which row of the Vigenère square has been used to encipher each letter, so there must be an agreed system of switching between rows. This is achieved by using a keyword… Vigenère’s work culminated in his Traicté des Chiffres, published in 1586. Ironically, this was the same year that Thomas Phelippes was breaking the cipher of Mary Queen of Scots. If only Mary’s secretary had read this treatise, he would have knownabout the Vigenère cipher, Mary’s messages to Babington would have baffled Phelippes, and her life might have been spared” (Singh, The Code Book. The Secret History of Codes and Codebreaking, 46-51).

The Vigenère cypher was regarded as unbreakable for over 300 years, until Charles Babbage and Friedrich Kasiski independently developed a method of multiple tests to carry out successful cryptanalysis.

Leaves CCCXXVII-CCCXXXVI of Vigenère's work contain the first representations of Chinese and Japanese writing in a European printed book.

Galland, An Historical and Analytical Bibliography of the Literature of Cryptography, 193.

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The Star Chamber Court Consolidates and Amplifies the Regulation of Printing in England June 23, 1586

On June 23, 1586 the Star Chamber court in London issued a decree consolidating and amplifying the regulation of printing in England.

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Pope Sixtus V Commissions the Design and Construction of the Vatican Library Circa 1587

About 1587 Pope Sixtus V commissioned the Swiss-born Italian architect Domenico Fontana to construct a new building for the Vatican Library.  

The library building is still in use today, and contains the famous Sistene Hall.

"This noble hall—probably the most splendid apartment ever assigned to library-purposes—spans the Cortile del Belvedere from east to west, and is entered at each ed from the galleries connecting the Belvedere with the Vatican palace. It is 184 fee long, and 57 feet wide, divided into two by six piers, on which rests simple quadripartite vaults. The north and south walls are each pierced with seven large windows. No books are visible. They are contained in plain wooden presses 7 feet high and 2 feet deep, set round the piers, and against the walls between the windows. . . .(Clark, The Care of Books [1902] 49-50). 

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Agustín's Study of Ancient Coinage: Probably the Earliest Book with Illustrations by a Woman 1587 – 1592

In 1592 Dialoghi . .. intorno alle medaglie inscrittioni et altre antichita. . . by archaeologist, humanist, jurist and Archbishop of Aragon Antonio Agustín y Albanell (Agostín, Augustino, Augustinus) was posthumously issued in Rome, from the press of Guglielmo Faciotto. This volume on ancient coins included over 1200 woodcut depictions of coins, and six half page woodcuts of arches and buildings. Agustín's work had previously been published as Dialogos de medallas in his native Spanish in Tarragona, 1587, just after his death. The book was written in the form of eleven dialogues between an experienced antiquarian and a pair of beginners eager to learn about coins, inscriptions, and other antiquities. Agustín began his book with an introduction on identifying medals and coins, and a discussion of their usefulness to historians. He also explained the function of ancient coins, confirming that they were meant to be circulated as currency. The next four dialogues he dedicated to what is found on the reverse of Roman coins by subject: deities, cities, rivers, buildings, animals, and other symbols. Agustín then moved on to discuss the medals of Africa, France, and Spain, with special focus on Andalucia, Lusitania (Portugal), and Barcelona. In his final chapter he discussed how to identify fakes. In the original Spanish edition there were 51 engraved plates, illustrating only dialogues 1 and 2, possibly because Agustín was unable to arrange for more illustrations before his death.

Agustín had gained fame as a jurist and humanist with the publication in 1543 to great aclaim of his edition and commentary on the sixth century Florentine codex of the Digesta or Pandectae portion of Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis. Appointed auditor of the Rota, the papal court, he became the center of an informal academy in Rome devoted to studying antiquities, along with Fulvio Orsini and Pirro Ligorio

Augustín wrote his Dialogos for a general audience, and because it was widely appreciated, two competing Italian translations were issued in Rome in 1592: that of Faciotto with over 1200 woodcuts inserted throughout the text, and Discorsi sopra le medaglie illustrated with 72 engraved plates issued by Ascanio and Girolamo Donangeli. Probably because the woodcuts in Faciotto's edition were easier to print and reprint than copperplates which could only withstand a limited number of impressions, the Faciotto edition became more widely distributed, and was reprinted and revised up to 1736.

The Faciotti edition of 1592 is also notable because of some of its woodcuts were cut by Geronima Parasole:

"Some of the large woodcuts bear the monograms P.M.F. (e.g. on the title border) or G.A.P. (e.g. on p. 124) attributed to Geronima [Cagnaccia] Parasole (fl. end of the 16th century), a Roman artist, cousin of Isabetta Parasole, who was with Vinciolo and Cesare Vecellio, the most important lace designer of the late 16th century. Apart from Geronima's contribution to the present work, only a few woodcuts by her after designs of Antonio Tempesta are known (cf. G.K. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten, München, 1919, II p. 968, no. 2715; IV, p. 926, no. 3141). It seems very likely that this is the earliest known book in which illustrations by a woman are found. In the sixteenth century only thirty-five women are known to have been artists, and according to our researches Geronima and Isabetta Parasole were the only women who contributed to book illustration in that period (cf. W. Slatkin Woman Artists in History, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1958, p. 38)" (My Gracious Silence 130).

Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs VIII, 122.

Cunnally, Kagan, Scher, Numismatics in the Age of Grolier (2001) 61-63. 

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Agostini Ramelli Describes a Renaissance Information Retrieval Device and Other Machines 1588

In Le diverse et artificose machine, elegantly published from his home in Paris in 1588, Agostino Ramelli described and illustrated, among numerous remarkable inventions, a revolving book wheel. Ramelli's book wheel was one of the earliest "information retrieval" devices. He wrote:

"This is a beautiful and ingenious machine, very useful and convenient for anyone who takes pleasure in study, especially those who are indisposed and tormented by gout. For with this machine a man can see and turn through a large number of books without moving from one spot. Moveover, it has another fine convenience in that it occupies very little space in the place where it is set, as anyone of intelligence can clearly see from the drawing.

"This wheel is made in the manner shown, that is, it is contructed so that when the books are laid on its lecturns they never fall or move from the place where they are laid even as the wheel is turned and revolved all the way around. Indeed, they will always remain in the same position and will be displayed to the reader in the same way as they were laid on their small lecturns, without any need to tie or hold them with anything. This wheel may be made as large or small as desired, provided the master craftsman who constructs it observes the proportions of each part of its components. He can do this very easily if he studies carefully all the parts of these small wheels of ours and the other devices in this machine. These parts are made in sizes proportionate to each other. To give fuller understanding and comprehension to anyone who wishes to make and operate this machine, I have shown here separately and uncovered all the devices needed for it, so that anyone may understand them better and make use of them for his needs." (Ramelli, The Various Ingenious Machines of Agostino Ramelli. A classic Sixteenth-Century Illustrated Treatise on Technology. Translated from the Italian and French with a biographical study of the author by Martha Teach Gnudi. Techical annotations and a pictorial glossary by Eugene S. Ferguson [1987] 508-9)

Historian Anthony Grafton, whom many would call a Renaissance man, had one of Ramelli's book wheels constructed, and uses it in his office. In December 2010 you could view an image of Grafton with the book wheel at the Princeton website at this link.

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Sir Robert Bruce Cotton Forms One of the Most Important Private Collections of Manuscripts Ever Collected in England 1588 – 1631

In 1588 English politician Sir Robert Bruce Cotton began collecting original manuscripts, an activity which he continued until his death in 1631. One of the foundations of the British Museum since 1753, and hence of the British Library, Cotton's library of 958 manuscripts has been called the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled in Britain by a private individual. Competing for this designation would, of course, be Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker's library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Parker, who began collecting in 1568, preceded Cotton in his collecting by a generation. The Sir Thomas Phillipps library, though formed in the nineteenth century and dispersed, was many times larger than either Cotton's or Parker's libraries, and also needs to be considered for the designation. 

Among Cotton's many treasures were the Lindisfarne Gospels, two of the contemporary exemplifications of Magna Carta, and the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf.  The first published catalogue of the Cottonian Library was Thomas Smith's Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Cottonianae, a substantial folio volume including a life of Robert Cotton and a history of the library published in Oxford in 1696. 

On October 23, 1731 Cotton's library suffered very significant damage in a fire where it was stored at Ashburnham House in London. Of its 958 manuscripts 114 were "lost, burnt or intirely spoiled" and another 98 damaged enough to be considered defective. The Wikipedia article on Ashburnham House states  

"a contemporary records the librarian, Dr. Bentley, leaping from a window with the priceless Codex Alexandrinus under one arm. The manuscript of Beowulf was damaged, and reported in 'The Gentleman's Magazine.' "  

An expert committee was formed to investigate the cause of the fire and assess the damage. This resulted in A Report from the Committee appointed to view the Cottonian Library and such of the Publick Records of this Kingdom as they think proper and to Report to the House the Condition thereof together with what they shall judge fit to be done for the better Reception Preservation and more convenient Use of the same (London, 1732). David Casley (1681/2-1754), deputy librarian of both the Royal and Cottonian collections, and a member of this committee, compiled the list of damaged and destroyed Cotton manuscripts, which was printed in an appendix to the committee's report. Casley described a number of manuscripts as "burnt to a crust." The Committee was also "empowered to investigate the state of the public records as a whole. They found that for the most part they were 'in great Confusion and Disorder' and much in need of care and attention" (Miller, That Noble Cabinet, 36).

The 1732 report also contained an appendix consisting of "A Narrative of the Fire. . . and of the Methods used for preserving and recovering the Manuscripts of the Royal and Cottonian libraries,"  compiled by the Reverend William Whiston the younger, the clerk in charge of the records kept in the Chapter House at Westminster, another notorious firetrap. Almost immediately after the fire attempts at restoration or stabilization of some of the damaged manuscripts was undertaken, mostly by inexperienced workers under the supervision of members of the committee, using whatever methods were available, and thus potentially damaging as much as preserving what remained.  

In April 1837, palaeographer Frederic Madden, Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum, was shown a garret of the old museum building which contained a large number of burnt and damaged fragments and vellum codices. Madden immediately identified these as part of the Cottonan Library. During his tenure as Keeper of MSS, Madden undertook extensive conservation work on the Cottonian manuscripts, often in the face of opposition from the Museum’s board, who deemed the enterprise prohibitively expensive.

In collaboration with the bookbinder Henry Gough, Madden developed a conservation strategy that restored even the most badly damaged fragments and manuscripts to a usable state. Vellum sheets were cleaned and flattened and mounted in paper frames. Where possible, they were rebound in their original codices. Madden also carried out conservation work on the rest of the Cottonian Library. By 1845 the conservation work was largely complete, though Madden was to suffer one more setback when a fire broke out in the Museum bindery, destroying some additional manuscripts in the Cottonian Library.  The process of restoring and conserving these precious manuscripts, which continues to this day, was studied extensively by Andrew Prescott in " 'Their Present Miserable State of Cremation' : the Restoration of the Cotton Library," Sir Robert Cotton as Collector" Essays on an Early Stuart Courtier and His Legacy, edited by C. J. Wright (1997) 391-454. This paper, and its 357 footnotes, was available online in April 2012.

"The Cottonian Library was the richest private collection of manuscripts ever amassed; of secular libraries it outranked the Royal library, the collections of the Inns of Court and the College of Arms; Cotton's house near the Palace of Westminster became the meeting-place of the Society of Antiquaries and of all the eminent scholars of England; it was eventually donated to the nation by Cotton's grandson and now resides at the British Library.

"The physical arrangement of Cotton's Library continues to be reflected in citations to manuscripts once in his possession. His library was housed in a room 26 feet (7.9 m) long by six feet wide filled with bookpresses, each with the bust of a figure from classical antiquity on top. Counterclockwise, these are catalogued as Julius (i.e., Julius Caesar), Augustus, Cleopatra, Faustina, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. (Domitian had only one shelf, perhaps because it was over the door.) Manuscripts are now designated by library, bookpress, and number: for example, the manuscript of Beowulf is designated Cotton Vitellius A.xv, and the manuscript of Pearl is Cotton Nero A.x" (Wikipedia article on Sir Robert Cotton, accessed 11-22-2008).

The most useful version of Smith's 1696 catalogue of Cotton's library, published in somewhat reduced format, was the offset reprint done from Sir Robert Harley's copy, annotated by his librarian Humfrey Wanley, together with documents relating to the fire of 1731. This annotated edition included translations into English of the Latin essays on the life of Robert Cotton and the history of the library. Edited by C.G.C. Tite, it was published in 1984. See also Tite, The Early Records of Sir Robert Cotton's Library. Formation, Cataloguing, Use (2003). 

Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton 1586-1631. History and Politics in Early Modern England (1979).

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Using an Early Dance Notation, Jehan Tabourot Describes Late Renaissance Dance 1588

Pages from Orchésographie.

In 1588, writing under the anagrammatic pen name of Thoinot Arbeau, French cleric Jehan Tabourot published Orchésographie et traicte en forme de dialogve, par leqvel tovtes personnes pevvent facilement apprendre & practiq uer l'honneste exercice des dances. Par Thoinot Arbeau demeurant à Lengres, at Langres, France. Tabourot's manual, written in the form of a dialogue between a dancing master and his student, provided critical information on social ballroom behavior and on the interaction of musicians and dancers for this period. The book included an early dance notation system that correlated the music to the dance steps.

"Orchésographie discusses a full spectrum of late Renaissance dance including the galliard, pavane, branle, volta, morisque, gavotte, allemande, and courante" (Library of Congress, Dance Instruction Manuals, where you can page through a virtual facsimile of the 1589 printing at this link, accessed 04-05-2009).

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William Lee Invents the Stocking Frame Knitting Machine 1589

In 1589 William Lee of Calverton near Nottingham, England, invented the stocking frame knitting machine for the production of stockings. Framework knitting, as the use of Lee's machine in stocking production was called, was the first major stage in the mechanization of the textile industry, a process that 200 years later led to the Industrial Revolution. 

"The machine imitated the movements of hand knitters. Lee demonstrated the operation of the device to Queen Elizabeth I, hoping to obtain a patent, but Elizabeth refused, fearing the effects on hand-knitting industries. The original frame had 8 needles to the inch, which produced only coarse fabric. Lee later improved the mechanism with 20 needles to the inch. By 1598 he was able to knit stockings from silk, as well as wool, but was again refused a patent by James I. Lee moved to France with his workers and his machines, but was unable to sustain his business. He died in Paris c.1614. Most of his workers returned to England with their frames, which were sold in London.

"The commercial failure of Lee's design might have led to a dead-end for the knitting machine, but John Ashton, one of Lee's assistants, made a crucial improvement by adding the mechanism known as a "divider".  

"A thriving business built up with the exiled Huguenot silk-spinners who had settled in the village of Spitalfields just outside the city. In 1663, the London Company of Framework Knitters was granted a charter. By about 1785, however, demand was rising for cheaper stockings made of cotton. The frame was adapted but became too expensive for individuals to buy, thus wealthy men bought the machines and hired them out to the knitters, providing the materials and buying the finished product. With increasing competition, they ignored the standards set by the Chartered Company. In 1728 the Nottingham magistrates refused to accept the authority of the London Company and the centre of the trade moved northwards to Nottingham, which also had a lace making industry" (Wikipedia article on stocking frame, accessed 06-10-2012)

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Architect Domenico Fontana Describes Moving the Obelisk 1590

In 1590 Italian Architect Domenico Fontana published Della transportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano....in Rome at the press of Domenico Basa. The folio volume contained 2 engraved titles, both signed by Natal Bonifacio, 35 full-page and 3 double-page engravings. It described one of the greatest engineering feats of the Renaissance -- the removal of the Vatican obelisk from its old location behind the sacristy of St. Peter's, where it had been since the reign of Caligula, to its present location in the center of the Piazza of St. Peter. The problem of transporting this 327 ton and fragile stone tower had occupied Italian engineers for many years, so that when Pope Sixtus V appointed a council to consider ways and means of moving the obelisk, nearly 500 men came to submit their plans.

The honor went to Domenico Fontana, the pope's official architect, who proved to the council the feasibility of his proposal by making a scale model in lead. Fontana erected a framed tower of timbers surrounding the obelisk and then by means of ropes attached to the tower raised the obelisk from its pedestal, and afterward lowered it so that it should rest on a wooden platform. This platform he had had drawn on rollers to the new site, where the tower was re-erected and the great stone raised from its horizontal position on the platform to the vertical and set on the new base.  The project required 900 men, 75 horses and untold numbers of pulleys and lengths of rope.

The plates in Fontana's volume also illustrate many of the buildings and designs that Fontana executed for Pope Sixtus V.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 812.

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Pascal Lecoq Issues the First Systematic Medical Bibliography 1590

In 1590 physician and bibliographer Pascal Lecoq (Paschalis Gallus) published in Basel at the press of Konrad Waldkirch Bibliotheca medica. Sive catalogus illorum, qui ex professor artem medicam in hunc usque annum scriptis illustraruntThis was the first systematic medical bibliography with an annotated list of 1224 authors who wrote in Latin, and lists of French, German, and Italian writers, and other material.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) No. 32.

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François Viète Issues the Earliest Work on Symbolic Algebra; A Tale of Two Printings 1591 – 1600

According to all the histories of mathematics and science, in 1591 French lawyer, Conseil du Roi, and mathematician François Viète (Franciscus Vieta) published a pamphlet that was the earliest work on symbolic algebra. This pamphlet was issued under two different titles: a version issued separately entitled In artem analyticem isagoge (Introduction to the Analytic Art), and  a version published as a collective work containing various later pamphlets by Viète entitled Opus restitutae mathematicae analyseos, seu Algebra nova. Both versions have been proposed as the first edition of the work, and I have not seen a published study providing evidence of priority of one version or the other.  

"Vieta’s greatest innovation in mathematics was the denoting of general or indefinite quantities by letters of the alphabet instead of abbreviations of words as used hitherto. It is true that arbitrary letters of the alphabet had been used to denote algebraic quantities in the thirteenth century by Jordanus Nemorarius and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by Stifel and Regiomontanus in Germany and by Cardanus in Italy; but Vieta developed the idea systematically and made it an essential part of algebra. Known quantities were represented by consonants, unknown ones by vowels; squares, cubes, etc., were not represented by new letters but by adding the word quadratus, cubus, etc. Vieta also brought the + and — signs into general use, although they are found in some earlier German works and have been traced back to about 1480... This algebraic symbolism made possible the development of analysis, with its complicated processes, a fundamental element in modern mathematics” (Carter & Muir, Printing & the Mind of Man [1967] no. 103, citing the 1591 pamphlet version).

The title page of Viète's separately published pamphlet of 9 leaves issued from Tours by printer/bookseller, and Royal Printer for Mathematics Iametius Mettayer (Jamet Mettayer) stated in Latin "Seorsim excussa ab Opera restitutae Mathematica Analyseos, Seu, Algebrâ nova." (Separately issued from Collected Works on Mathematical Analysis or New Algebra). On the back of the title page of the pamphlet Viète had the printer list ten works that he planned to issue to complete the Algebrâ nova. Viète began the pamphlet with a florid dedication to his student Catherine de Parthenay, whom he characterized as a Melusine princess.

In 1593 Viète issued four more chapters of the work through the same printer at Tours, but not in the order listed on the verso of the title page of the Isagoge. They were:

2. Zeteticorum liber primus (-quintus). No place nor date (Tours, Mettayer, 1593). With 43 woodcut diagrams in text. 24 numbered leaves. - Adams V 726. - Issued without title-page. 

3. Variorum de rebus mathematicis responsorum, liber VIII. Tours, Mettayer, 1593. With printer’s device on title and 69 woodcut diagrams in text. 2 leaves (title and preface, dated May 1593), 51 leaves (numbered irregularly 1-49), 1 blank leaf. - Adams V 725 (‘Sigs. are confused’). 

4. Supplementum geometriae. Ex opere restitutae Mathematicae Analyseos, seu Algebra nova. Tours, Mettayer, 1593. With 30 woodcut diagrams in text. 1 leaf (title), 9 leaves (numbered 13-21). - Adams V 719 (II). - With ‘Errata in Supplemento’ on verso of last leaf (Hh1).

5.  Effectionum geometricarum canonica recensio. No place nor date (Tours, Mettayer, 1593). With woodcut border on title and 25 woodcut diagrams in text. 1 leaf (title), 7 leaves (numbered 2-7). - Adams V 719 (I).

And from Paris in 1600 he issued a sixth chapter:

6. De numerosa potestatum ad exegesim resolutione. Ex opere restitutae Mathematicae Analyseos, seu, Algebra nova. Paris, David le Clerc, 1600. 1 leaf (title), 35 leaves (numbered 1 and 3-36). - Adams V 718; Sotheran 5065. - Last leaf (S2) with ‘Errata quaedam animadversa’ at bottom of verso. 

The significance of most of these pamphlets is discussed in the article on Viète in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

Viète died in 1603 before he could have the final four chapters of the work published. After his death three more chapters were issued and one chapter was lost:

Ad logisticem speciosam, notae priores (1631)

De recognitione aequationum (1615)

Ad logisticem speciosam, notae posteriores (lost)

Analytica angularium sectionum in tres partes tributa (1615)

Since copies of the collective edition contain pamphlets issued between 1593 and 1600, it would be logical to presume that around 1600 Viète, or possibly his heirs, as the date of issue is uncertain and open to debate, probably issued a collected version of the six pamphlets listed above with title pages ranging in date from 1591 to 1600. Several copies of this collected version exist. According to Andrew Pressley, some, such as the Bodleian and Trinity College Cambridge copies, contain all six works; others contain varying numbers of the six. In the Opus restitutae version the title page of the Isagoge reads as a general title to the six pamphlets: Opus restitutae mathematicae analyseos, seu Algebra nova. On this title page Viète is characterized as "Fontenaeensis" (of Fontenay), and beneath the title the dedication of the whole work to Catherine de Parthenay is stated. However, the title page bears the same imprint and date as the separate pamphlet Isagoge version with the date of 1591.

A Possible Explanation

Viète is known to have had all of his books and pamphlets issued privately at his own expense for distribution to a small number of people. Perhaps because of their rarity, to the best of my knowledge, the bibliographical history of most of them has never been studied thoroughly. Because of the close similarity of the two issues of the Isagoge, the statement on the title page of the separate issue,"Seorsim excussa ab Opera restitutae Mathematica Analyseos, Seu, Algebrâ nova", has been interpretted by some as meaning "separately issued from the Opera restitutae", or as a kind of offprint from the edition with that title. Without further research this may be a valid interpretation. However, in November 2013 it was possible to compare some of the pages from the Opera restitutae version of the Isagoge with the digital version of the separate printing available from the Bibliotheque nationale de France. This clearly demonstrated that the two versions were printed from different settings of type. Because of the time and expense of hand typesetting, and the difficulty of reproducing new technical mathematics by typesetters, if a separate printing or offprint of a larger work was called for we might assume that a sixteenth century printer would have printed the separate version from the same setting of type. Also, as a rule of thumb, until the 18th century few, if any printers could afford to leave type standing after a text was printed, so we may conclude that the two different printings from two different typesettings were done at different times.

The existence of two different settings of type would support the argument that the Opera restitutae version of the Isagoge is a reprint produced for issue with the five other available chapters of the Algebrâ nova that appeared between 1591 and 1600 when they were offered for sale as a collective work. This presumes that by the time of issue of the Opera restitutae version the supply of the original 1591 printing (the Isagoge version) was exhausted and the printer attempted to reproduce copies very closely, even to the point of reproducing the original uncorrected errata, though he used a different woodcut headpiece on p. 4 and there are numerous subtle typographical differences in the text, indicating a new setting of type. It seems strange that the printer would reprint the text without correcting the errata, but if the author was not available to verify the changes, or if the author was no longer alive, the printer might have felt the need to leave the text exactly as in the original printing.

The argument that the separate edition is an offprint from the version issued with the collected edition would appear to be contradicted that the fact that it is clearly a different printing. Furthermore, because the Opera restitutae must have been issued between 1593 and 1600, or later, based on the dates of the internal title pages, the notion that the Isagoge was first published in the Opera restitutae would suggest that Viète somehow waited until after 1593 and possibly as late as 1600 or later to issue the Isagoge. This would contradict all the historical accounts which indicate that the Isagoge was issued in 1591, as the introduction to a planned longer work. Nevertheless, this interpretation is based upon incomplete research and may not be viewed as definitive. In November 2013 it was unknown whether any of the other chapters were reprinted for the collected edition, or whether they represented copies that remained with the printer after their issue between 1593 and 1600.

In September 2015 Andrew Pressley provided information on some of the copies of the Opus restitutae preserved in institutions. He also raised the possibility that copies of the Opus restitutae might contain one or the other printing of In artem analyticem isagoge. An appropriate step to take at this point would be to compare as many copies of the Opus restitutae as possible to determine whether the version with variant typesetting is consistent throughout that edition, or whether it might have been issued during the process of selling the collected version, should copies of the "original" printing have become exhausted sometime between 1593 and 1603. As Andrew Pressley pointed out, complete copies of the Opus restitutae were presumably assembled after 1600 and should contain the later issue of the Isagoge, but incomplete copies, which contain some but not all of the separate works, might, in theory, contain the earlier printing, if the earlier printing remained available from the printer at the time they were issued.

I would welcome comments or additional information on this problem.

(This entry was last revised on 09-20-2015.)

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Israel Spach Issues the First Medical Subject Bibliography 1591

Nomenclator scriptorum medicorum. Hoc est: elenchus eorum qui artem medicam suis scriptis illustrarunt, secundum locos communes ipsius medicinae, written by physician and bibliographer Israel Spach (Spachius), and published in Frankfurt in 1591 was the first attempt at a medical subject bibliography. It was arranged under very broad subject headings with indexes of authors and subjects.

(This entry was last revised on June 21, 2014.)

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The Only Manuscript Pages Thought to be in the Hand of William Shakespeare Circa 1591 – 1596

Three pages in the manuscript of an unpublished play Sir Thomas More, probably written between 1591 and 1596, represent the only manuscript pages thought to have been written by William Shakespeare. These three pages, written in what is known as Hand D, plus six surviving signatures written by Shakepeare on four legal documents, including his Last Will and Testament containing three signatures, respresent the entire surviving body of manuscripts that Shakespeare is thought to have written in his own hand. Notably all six extant signatures attributed to Shakespeare spell his name differently.

Tbe three pages in the play Sir Thomas More are in the single manuscript of a collaborative Elizabethan play by Anthony Munday and others depicting the life and death of Sir Thomas More. The manuscript, preserved in the British Library as Harley MS 7368, contains many layers of collaborative writing by six different hands, of which five have been identified.  Hand D has been attributed to Shakespeare since 1871, supported by a minute paleographical study of the handwriting by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson in 1916, and the publication in 1923 of Shakespeare's Hand in the Play of Sir Thomas More by five noted scholars to analyzed the play from multiple perspectives, all of which leading to the conclusion that Hand D was the handwriting of Shakespeare.

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Publication of the Bills of Mortality": the Beginning of the Collection of Medical Statistics 1592 – 1593

The collection, recording, and publishing of medical statistics in the form of Bills of Mortality began in England as a result of the epidemic of plague in 1592-93.

"The epidemic of plague, which reached its height in the year 1593, began to be felt in London in the autumn of 1592, and is said to have caused 2000 deaths before the end of the year. On the 7th September, soldiers from the north on their way to Southampton to embark for foreign parts had to pass round London 'to avoid the infection which is much spread abroad' in the city. On the 16th September, the spoil of a great Spanish carrack at Dartmouth could be brough no farther than Greenwich, on account of the contagion in London; no one to go from London to Dartmouth to buy the goods. It was an ominous sign that the infection lasted through the winter; even in mid winter people were leaving London: 'the plague is so sore that none of worth stay about these places.' On the 6th April 1593, one William Cecil who had been kept in the Fleet prison by the queen's command, writes that 'the place where he lies is a congregation of the unwholesome smells of the town, and season contagious, so many have died of the plague.' From a memorial of 1595, it appears that the neighbourhood of Fleet Ditch had been the most infected part of the whole city and liberties in 1593; 'in the last great plague more died about there than in three parishes besides.' The epidemic does not appear to have reached its height until summer. . . .

"Of that London epidemic a weekly record was kept by the Company of Parish Clerks, and published by them beginning with the weekly bill of 21st December, 1592. The clerk of the Company of Parish Clerks, writing in 1665, had the annual bill for 1593 before him, with the plague-deaths and other deaths in each of 109 parishes in alphabetical order, and the christenings as well. For the next two years, 1594 and 1595, he appears to have had before him not only the annual bills but also a complete set of the weekly bills of burials and christenings according to parishes. The same documents were used by Graunt in 1662, and had doubtless been used by John Stow at the time when they were published. The originals are all lost, and only a few totals extracted from them remain on record. . . .

"The London plague of 1592-93 called forth two known publications, an anonymous 'Good Councell against the Plague, showing sundry preservatives. . . to avoyde the infection lately begun in some places of this Cittie' (London, 1592), and the Defensative' of Simon Kellwaye (April, 1593). The dates of these two books show that the alarm had really begun in the end of 1592 and the early months of 1593" (Creighton, A History of Epidemics in Britain[1891] 352-53).

The earliest surviving copy of the Bills of Mortality is:

True bill of the vvhole number that hath died At London : printed by I.R[oberts]. for Iohn Trundle, and are to be sold at his shop in Barbican, neere Long lane end, [1603]

1 sheet ([1] p.) ;c1⁰. STC (2nd ed.), 16743 1-3.


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Leiden University Library Issues the First Printed Catalogue of any Institutional Library 1595

Having been founded in 1587, Leiden University Library in 1595 issued the first printed catalogue of its holdings: Nomenclator autorum omnium, quorum libri vel manuscripti, vel typis expressi exstant in Bibliotheca Academiae Lugduno-Batavae (List of all Authors whose Books, Whether Manuscript or Printed, are Available in Leiden University Library). This was the first published catalogue of any institutional library.

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Filed under: Bibliography, Libraries

Andrew Maunsell Issues the First "Books in Print" 1595

In 1595 bookseller and bibliographer Andrew Maunsell published in London The First Part [the Seconde Parte] of the Catalogue of English printed Bookes. This was the first trade bibliography of English books, giving author, translator where applicable, a title full enough to ensure definite identification, format, and printer or bookseller and date. It listed those books printed in the preceding fifty to sixty years and which were still available from publishers and booksellers. The first part, consisting of 123 pages, listed theology-excluding anti-Reformation literature. The much shorter second part, consisting of 27 pages, listed "the Sciences Mathematicall, as Arithmetick, Geometrie, Astronomie, Astrologie, Musick, and the Arte of VVarre, and Nauigation; and also of Phisick and Surgerie."

In his Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography (2nd ed 1940) Theodore Besterman characterized Maunsell's work as the one in which a "a real technique of book-description is made use of for the first time" (p. 29). The Catalogue is also an alphabetical subject bibliography, with the larger subjects sub-divided and in each section works arranged alphabetically by author's surname—one of the earliest uses of the surname for indexing.

In his dedication to "Worshipfull the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Companie of Stationers and to all other Printers and Booke-sellers in generall" Maunsell wrote of learned men that

"have written Latine Catalogues, [Conrad] Gesner, Simler, and our countrman John Bale. They make their Alphabet by the Christen name, I by the Sir name; They mingle Diuinitie, Law Phiscke, &c. together, I set Diuinitie by itselfe; They set downe Printed and not Printed, I onely Printed, and none but such as I have seene. . . Concerning the Books which are without Authors names called Anonymi, I have placed them either upon the Title they bee entiuled by, or else upon the matter they entreate of, and sometimes upon both, for the easier finding of them."

Maunsell then explained his cross-indexing system, and how it should be used throughout the work.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 36.

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Galileo Produces his "Compasso" & The First "Computer Manual" 1597 – 1606

Beginning in 1597 Galileo Galilei developed his geometric and military compass into a general-purpose mechanical analog calculator, later known in English as the sector. Galileo produced several examples of his compasso. Images of an example that Galileo may have presented to Cosimo II are available from the Virtual Museum of the Museo Galileo at this link. During the seventeenth century the sector became one of the most widely used mechanical calculators for scientific purposes.

"The Galilean compass—not to be confused with drawing compasses—is a sophisticated and versatile calculating instrument for performing a wide variety of geometrical and arithmetical operations, making use of the proportionality between the corresponding sides of two similar triangles. It comprises three parts:

- the two legs, held together by a round disk (pivot), whose faces (front and back) are engraved with numerous scales;

- the quadrant, graduated with various scales, which is fixed by means of wing nuts to the holes in the compass legs;

- the clamp, a cursor inserted into one of the compass legs; keeps the instrument vertical and can serve as an extension for the leg holding it" (http://catalogue.museogalileo.it/object/GeometricMilitaryCompass_n01.html, accessed 01-23-2014).

As an instruction manual for purchasers of the compass, and to establish his priority for the invention, in 1606 Galileo published from his own house in Padua, printed by Peitro Marinelli, Le Operazioni del Compasso Geometrico et Militare in an edition of only sixty copies. To avoid having the compass pirated, Galileo had no illustrations of the device included in the pamphlet, which may be considered the first "computer manual."

In January 2014 a digital facsimile of the 1606 edition was available from the digital library of the Museo Galileo at this link.  A video describing Galileo's compasso and its functions narrated in English could be downloaded from the same website as a .zip file at this link.

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Emperor Go-Yōzei Orders the Printing of the Analects of Confucius, the Oldest Surviving Work of Japanese Printing by Movable Type 1598

Using Korean printing equipment brought back by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army in 1593, and type cast by the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu before he became shogun, in 1598 the Japanese printed an edition of the Confucian (Confucius) Analects at the order of Emperor Go-Yōzei. This document is the oldest surviving work of Japanese printing by movable type.

Despite the appeal of movable type, the Japanese decided that the running script or semi-cursive style of Japanese writing was better reproduced using woodblocks, and by 1640 woodblock printing was adopted for nearly all purposes in Japan. 

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Israel Spach Issues the Model for Subject Bibliographies 1598

In 1598 physician Israel Spach issued Nomenclator scriptorum philosophicorum atque philologicorum in Strassburg. Covering the works of over 4,000 authors arranged under 400 subject headings, including esoteric subjects like gladiatorial combat, glory, and sobriety, with an emphasis on contemporary writers, this was the most significant subject bibliography of the sixteenth century. It became a model for subsequent subject bibliographies.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development [1984] no. 39.

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Ottavio Ruini Issues the First Book Devoted Exclusively to the Structure of an Animal Other than Man 1598

Detail of head of horse from page of the Dell'anotomia [sic], et dell'infirmita del cavallo.  Click on link below to view and resize full image.

Detail from title page of the Dell'anotomia [sic], et dell'infirmita del cavallo.  Click on link below to view and resize full image.

Carlo Ruini.

In 1598 Conte Ottavio Ruini edited and had published in Bologna, with a dedication to Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, Dell'anotomia [sic], et dell'infirmita del cavallo [Book ii: Dell'infirmita del cavallo] by il marchese Carlo Ruini, Bolognese aristocrat, senator, and high-ranking lawyer. 

Ruini's work, was the first book devoted exclusively to the structure of an animal other than man. Following the example of Vesalius, Ruini stressed the importance of "artful instruction" about all parts of the horse's body, the diseases that afflict them, and their cures. The first part of his work gives an exhaustive treatment of equine anatomy, with especially good accounts of the sense organs; it is illustrated with sixty-four full-page woodcuts, of which the last three, showing a stripped horse in a landscape setting, were clearly inspired by the Vesalian "musclemen" plates.

The second part of the work deals with equine diseases and their cures from a traditional Hippocratic-Galenic standpoint. Some scholars, basing their arguments on Ruini's description of the horse's heart and blood vessels, believe that Ruini was active in the discovery of the greater and lesser circulatory systems. This is unlikely, but it is probable that he was one of many at that time who had a notion of the circulation of the blood.

Ruini's work appeared shortly after his death. The unusual rarity of the first edition might be partially explained by fact that a portion of the sheets of the first edition were reissued the following year by printer Gaspare Bindoni in Venice. Copies of this second issue, which is also rare, contain a cancel title and a different dedication leaf changing the dedication to César, Duke of Vendôme, natural son of Henry IV.

Cole, History of Comparative anatomy, 83-97. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1858.

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Christophorus Guyot Issues the Earliest Surviving Catalogue of a Book Auction July 6, 1599

The first book auctions with lot numbers and printed catalogues took place in Holland. The first book auction with a printed catalogue took place in Leiden in 1593, though no catalogue survives. The earliest surviving catalogue of a book auction was issued by Christophorus Guyot in Leiden: Catalogus Librorum Bibliothecae Nobilissimi Clarissimique viri piae memoriea D. Philippi Marnixii. The sale took place in the house of the widow of the owner of the library, Filips van Marnix, heer van Sint-Aldegonde, on July 6, 1599.

Marnix was a Dutch and Flemish writer and statesman and the probable author of the text of the Dutch national anthem, the Wilhelmus.

"Less known to the general public is his work as a cryptographer. St. Aldegonde is considered to be the first Dutch cryptographer (cfr. The Codebreakers). For Stadholder William the Silent, he deciphered secret messages that were intercepted from the Spaniards. His interest in cryptography possibly shows in the Wilhelmus, where the first letters of the couplets form the name Willem van Nassov, i.e. William 'the Silent' of Nassau, the Prince of Orange, but such musical games -often far more intricate- were commonly practiced by polyphony composers since the Gothic period." 

Only two copies survive. Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 40.

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