1533 Apian Introductio Geographica Werner Ptolemy Geography Astronomy Instrument

1533 Apian Introductio Geographica Werner Ptolemy Geography Astronomy Instrument

This item has been shown 0 times.

Buy Now

1533 Apian Introductio Geographica Werner Ptolemy Geography Astronomy Instrument:

[Early Printing - Post-Incunabula - Germany - Ingolstadt] [Early Book Illustrations - Scientific Illustrations]
[History of Science - Astronomy, Geography, Geometry, Cartography, Geodesy] [Scientific Instruments - Renaissance Period]

Printed [by Peter Apian himself at his press], Ingolstadt, 1533.
First Edition. VERY RARE: WorldCat locates only one copy in the US.
Folio, illustrated with numerous woodcuts.
Dedicated to Johann Wilhelm van Loubemberg, with his large woodcut coat of arms on verso of the title-page.

Rare and beautifully printed first edition of Apian's commentary on his teacher Johann Werner's annotated translation of the First Book of Ptolemy's Geography (containing a reissue of gatherings b-k from the Werner edition of Ptolemy, entitled Nova translatio primi libri geographiaae C. Ptolemaei, printed in Nuremberg in 1514), as well as several other works by Werner and Apian on geometry, theoretical geography and cartography.

Johann Werner (1468 - 1522) was a parish priest in Nuremberg and a noted mathematician, astronomer and a theoretical cartographer, as well as a skilled instrument maker. In his commentary on Ptolemy (included in this volume) Werner developed and promoted the cordiform (heart-shaped) map projection, initially proposed by Johannes Stabius of Vienna around 1500. Often referred to as Werner projection, it was commonly used for world maps and some continental maps through the 16th century (by Apian, Mercator, Oronce Fine, and Ortelius) and into the 17th century.

"Apian is thought to have studied theoretical cartography and geography under Werner; the former's Introductio geographica incorporates many of Werner's geographical, mathematical and astronomical findings." (W.Killy, ed., Dictionary of German Biography, vol.X, p.468)

The beautifully printed volume contains "besides Werner's notes and Apian's upon them, a Latin translation of the first book of Ptolemy's Geography, with the description of Apian's astronomical radius, and a letter of Regiomontanus [to cardinal Bessarion. ...The Introductio Geographica [...] contain[s] tables of sines to every minute, which, with the posthumous tables of Regiomontanus, printed in the same year, were the earliest tables of sines printed: Apian says they are of his own calculation." (The Biographical dictionary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Volume 3, Part 1, p.145)

The title page is adorned with a fine large woodcut showing the use of a cross-staff to determine longitude by measuring lunar distances - the method apparently pioneered by Werner: "John Werner of Nuremberg appears to be the first who proposed the method of finding the longitude by observing the distance between the Moon and a star, in his annotations on the first book of Ptolemy's Geography, printed 1514. He recommends the cross-stuff as a very proper instrument for the purpose of observing the distance between these objects." (A. Mackay, The Theory and Practice of Finding the Longitude at Sea or Land, vol.I, p.62)

Another remarkable illustration in the book is the magnificent full-page woodcut of the torquetum, a complex and sophisticated instrument characteristic of Medieval astronomy and the Ptolemaic tradition. The first torquetum is thought to have been built by Jabir ibn Aflah (Geber) in the 12th century, though the only surviving examples date from the 16th century, when there was much interest in designing various versions of it. The one designed by Peter Apian is, perhaps, the best known. This 1533 illustrated description of the torquetum is probably the earliest Apian's account of this instrument. Later it was described by Apian in his celebrated Astronomicum Caesareum (1540).

Torquetum is designed to make measurements in the three sets of astronomical coordinates: horizon (alt-azimuthal), equatorial, and ecliptic. It also provided a mechanical means to interconvert between these sets of coordinates without the use of calculations (and, thus, serves as a fine example of a very early analog computer), and to demonstrate the relationships of these coordinate sets. The instrument could be used to determine the relative positions of the heavenly bodies and tell the time with some accuracy. Its complex construction allowed it to be adjusted for latitude and date; altitudes were measured against a plumbline on the pendant semicircular flap.

The instrument has also become quite famous due to its appearance in the celebrated painting The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger (now in the National Gallery, London), where a torquetum is pictured standing on the right side of the table, next to and above the elbow of the ambassador clad in a long brown coat (see thumbnail on the left). Remarkably, the Holbein's painting featuring a torquetum is dated by the same year - 1533 - as our first edition of Apian's Introductio geographica with its detailed full-page (in-folio) woodcut of the instrument!

For a more detailed discussion of the torquetum in The Ambassadors see, e.g., W. F. Dickes, The Mystery of Holbein's Ambassadors, The Magazine of Art, 1892, Vol. 15, p.1-6)

This rare volume also includes the letter from Johannes Regiomontanus to his patron, Cardinal Bessarion, regarding the construction and use of the meteoroscope. In this letter Regiomontanus (Johannes Müller von Königsberg, 1436 - 1476) "explains how an instrument which he has constructed (meteoroscope) can be used in measuring latitudes and longitudes of cities. If any point on the earth's surface be chosen arbitrarily as a zenith or origin, all other positions may be referred to it in terms of spherical coordinates (azimuths and equidistances) precisely as a star is located with reference to the celestial zenith" (Dana Bennett Durand, The Vienna-Klosterneuburg Map Corpus, p.178). Regiomontanus was the foremost mathematician and astronomer of 15th-century Europe, a sought-after astrologer, and one of the first printers.

A pioneer in astronomical and geographical instrumentation, and one of the most successful scientific popularizers of the sixteenth century, Petrus Apianus (1495 - 1552) was born as Peter Bienewitz, a son of a shoemaker in Leinig in Saxony and was educated at the University of Leipzig in 1516-19. In 1519, Apianus moved to Vienna and continued his studies at the University of Vienna, which was considered one of the leading universities in geography and mathematics at the time. When the plague broke out in Vienna in 1521, he moved to Regensburg and then to Landshut, where in 1524 he produced his Cosmographicus liber.

In 1527, Peter Apian was called to the University of Ingolstadt as a mathematician and printer. His print shop started small. Among the first books he printed were the writings of Johann Eck, Martin Luther's antagonist. Later his print shop became well known for its high-quality editions of geographic and cartographic works.

Through his work, Apian became a favourite of emperor Charles V. Charles had praised his work (the Cosmographicus liber) at the Imperial Diet of 1530 and granted him a printing monopoly in 1532 and 1534. In 1540, Apian printed the Astronomicum Caesareum, dedicated to Charles V. Charles promised him a truly royal sum (3,000 golden guilders), appointed him his court mathematician, and made him a Reichsritter and in 1544 even an Imperial Count Palatine. All this furthered Apian's reputation as an eminent scientist.

Despite many calls from other universities, including Leipzig, Padua, Tübingen, and Vienna, Apian remained in Ingolstadt until his death. Although he neglected his teaching duties, the university evidently was proud to host such an esteemed scientist. Apian's work included in mathematics (in 1527 he published a variation of Pascal's triangle, and in 1533 a table of sines) as well as astronomy. In 1531, he observed a comet and discovered that a comet's tail always points away from the sun. He designed sundials, published manuals for astronomical instruments, and crafted volvelles ("Apian wheels"), measuring instruments useful for calculating time and distance for astronomical and astrological applications.

Bibliographic references:

Adams A1294; Graesse vol.VII (Supplement), p.39; Van Ortroy, Apian, 101; Sabin 1757.

Physical description:

Folio (textblock measures 282 mm x 200 mm). Bound to style in modern blindstamped quarter-pigskin over wooden boards with paper title-label lettered in gothic affixed on front cover.

Unfoliated. [88] leaves (forming 176 pages).
Signatures: A-E4 a4 b-c6 d8 e-h6 i8 k-l6.

Title page printed in red and black, with a large woodcut illustrating the method of Lunar distances. Woodcut arms of the dedicatee, Johann Wilhelm van Loubemberg, on verso of title (A1v), facing Apian's dedication to Loubemberg on A2r, with another Apian's epistle also addressed to Loubemburg on A2v.

Numerous woodcut Illustrations and diagrams throughout, including a fine full-page woodcut of the torquetum (l4v), and numerous tables in text, including the extensive tables of sines (tabula sinuum) on leaves B2v-C2v. Several historiated woodcut initials, including two magificent 11-line initials ('Q' and 'G') with geometrical themes some capital spaces (unrubricated) with guide initials.

Werner's translation of the First Book of Ptolemy's Geography on leaves a2r-b5v, followed by his Paraphrase and Annotations on b6r-g4v.

Letter from Regiomontanus to Cardinal Bessarion about the meteoroscope on l1r,v.

Errata on leaf l6r.


John (Ian) Bartholomew (1890 - 1962). a Scottish cartographer and geographer, a member of the prominent dynasty of Scottish cartographers, founded by his great-grandfather John Bartholomew Senior (1805 - 1861) who established the engraving and mapmaking firm of John Bartholomew and Son Ltd. in Edinburgh in 1826. He studied cartography in Leipzig, Paris and at the University of Edinburgh and took over the family business in 1920 upon the death of his father John George Bartholomew. He inherited the task of completing the Times Survey Atlas of the World (1921), (Loosely laid in is an envelope addressed to Bartholomew, with a stamp dated 1944, with his handwritten notes including the English translation of the full title of the book).

16th-century English (?) ownership signature of Walter Mantell (?) on bottom margin of E4v. Some scholarly manuscript marginalia in a (not very legible) 16th-century cursive hand.


Good Antiquarian condition; complete. Title leaf slightly creased with minor chipping to edges. Textblock with top margin shaved close (and uneven) throughout, mainly without loss of text, except for 2 leaves: l1 (letter of Regiomontanus) with a loss of one and a half lines at top on both recto and verso, and l4 just cutting very slightly into the full page woodcut on verso (no loss on recto). Final leaf l6 with a piece torn off at top with some loss of text to Errata on recto (verso blank). Leaf l5 slightly chipped and torn at top edge causing loss of about three words. A piece of blank outer margin of l3 torn off without loss. Some scattered early manuscript marginalia (and a few minor ink corrections in text); occasional light soiling. Outer margin of leaf C5 left wider to preserve marginalia, and, hence, folded. Otherwise a complete, clean and solid example of this very rare work.

Please click on thumbnails below to see larger images.

The winner must contact us within three days, and payment is due within seven days after the end of the sale. Please be responsible and offer only if you have a serious intention to purchase the item.

The book will be shipped by FedEx FREE of charge to any US location. International Express shipping offered at discount cost.

1533 Apian Introductio Geographica Werner Ptolemy Geography Astronomy Instrument:

Buy Now

Phunology-1930-by E O Harbin-cokebury Publ picture
Phunology-1930-by E O Harbin-cokebury Publ

Classic Lines: A Gallery Of The Great Thoroughbreds By Richard Stone Reeves  picture
Classic Lines: A Gallery Of The Great Thoroughbreds By Richard Stone Reeves

Pheasants Their Lives & Homes ~ Beebe ~ 1931 Color & B&w Illustrations Vol.1 & 2 picture
Pheasants Their Lives & Homes ~ Beebe ~ 1931 Color & B&w Illustrations Vol.1 & 2

Modern Library ~the Collected Poetry Of Dor0thy Parker ~ #23dus7 ~  Hc/dj ~ 1936 picture
Modern Library ~the Collected Poetry Of Dor0thy Parker ~ #23dus7 ~ Hc/dj ~ 1936

Ca 1900 - 3 Volume Set - Plutarch's Lives Of Illustrious Men - Hc - Vg picture
Ca 1900 - 3 Volume Set - Plutarch's Lives Of Illustrious Men - Hc - Vg

Antique Book- Where The Blue Begins- Christopher Morley- Arthur Rackham Art picture
Antique Book- Where The Blue Begins- Christopher Morley- Arthur Rackham Art