Description: Stempel, Gerard; Zeelst, Adrian
Utriusque Astrolabii tam particularis quam universalis fabrica et usus. Sine ullius retis, aut dorsi adminiculo. Auctoritate, auspiciis, et empensis Ser.mi Principis Ernesti Electoris Coloniensis, Ducis Bavariae, &c. Studio verò & industria D. Gerardi Stempelii Goudani, & M. Adriani Zelstii, in lucem iam primum emissa.
Leodii (Liege): Typis Christiani Ouvverx, Typ. S.C. Jurati. 1602
Quarto: 20 x 15.8 cm. ¶4, A-E4, A-E4, ††4, †††2, A-N4 , 40, 40,  99,  pp. With 8 added, folding engraved plates.
FIRST EDITION. Illustrated with 8 folding engraved plates by the Louvain instrument maker Adrian Zeelst. Bound in contemporary brown morocco, possibly by Clovis Eve (1584-1635), with the monogram and arms of the famed book collector and historian Jacques Auguste de Thou (1553-1617). The binding has been carefully rebacked, preserving the gilt monograms "IAM", from De Thou's marriage to Marie Barbançon, in each compartment. The boards bear the gilt arms of De Thou along with those of his wife and the IAM monogram. This copy is in very good condition throughout. A few signatures are evenly toned or lightly browned, due to the paper quality. The 8 folding engraved plates are all in fine condition.
This is the only complete copy in the United States. The only other U.S. copy (Michigan) lacks all 8 plates. The British Museum copy has only one of the plates called for and Koenraad Van Cleempoel notes that the Oxford and Liège copies also lack the plates. While there are more European copies to be examined, ours and the Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale) copy are the only two copies that I am certain are complete. The only reference to a complete copy in the trade that I have found is to a copy, noted by Sabin, advertised by Ludwig Rosenthal's Antiquariat, Munich, on October 14, 1927.
The plates in this work show the various components of the astrolabe, including a universal stereographic projection, two fine geographical plates showing North and South Polar projections, and a beautiful plate of the northern constellations.
Location of Origin: Europe
Dimensions: Quarto: 20 x 15.8 cm.
Primary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Maps, Views and Celestials : Celestial
Secondary Classification: Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Books : Science
Expertise: The work is dedicated to the prince-bishop of Liège, Ernst of Bavaria (1581-1612), who corresponded with Kepler and whose collection of scientific instruments included works by the instrument maker, engraver and mathematician Adriaan Zeelst of Louvain, who illustrated this work. During the last quarter of the 16th century and the first quarter of the 17th, Zeelst was "an important mathematician and one of Europe's finest instrument makers." Many instruments signed or attributed to him have survived, including astrolabes, astronomical spheres, sundials and surveying instruments.
"The high reputation of Louvain instruments is due in equal measure to their combination of beauty and precision. The decorative aspects of the instruments took their inspiration from contemporary manuals by Antwerp artists, while their functioning parts embodied the most up-to-date knowledge of the time as distilled by contemporary mathematical practitioners. It is this perfect harmony of aesthetics and science that made the Louvain instruments so sought after in the European market.
"By 1600 the court of Ernst of Bavaria (1554-1612) had established a network of contacts with leading mathematicians in Europe, and with other courts where the sciences were particularly sponsored, such as that of Rudolph II in Prague. In 1602 Adrian Zeelst illustrated a treatise on the universal astrolabe in collaboration with Gerard Stempel of Gouda, Ernst's court mathematician: 'On the Use and Construction of the Astrolabe, Both Particular and Universal.' The treatise was dedicated to Ernst of Bavaria who also commissioned it. The observations that it contains were carried out in 1599 in Liège, at the court of Ernst. In the preface, dated November 1601, the authors say they wrote the book at the palace at the expense of the archbishop. A letter from an assistant of Christopher Clavius (1537-1612) to the archbishop is datable to around 1600 and shows that Zeelst was responsible for the illustrations of the treatise, the author of the letter expressing his admiration over the quality of the mathematical drawings of 'Master Adrian.'
"Nothing is known of where or when Stempel and Zeelst presented this treatise to the bishop, but an astrolabe especially made for the occasion probably accompanied it. A strong candidate would be an astrolabe attributable to Zeelst now held at the Stadtmuseum in Cologne, the city of which Ernst was archbishop."(Van Cleempoel)
Lalande p. 139; Houzeau-Lancaster 3297; Cleempoel, A catalogue raisonne of scientific instruments from the Louvain School, 1530 to 1600, especially pp. 57-71. Not in Grassi, Warner "Sky Explored", Turner "Renaissance Astrolabes", or Webster "Western Astrolabes". Gunther, "The Astrolabes of the World" has a short note.