Ritter, Franz | Astrolabium

  • A fine copy, with the rare suite of fifteen folding plates which is missing from almost all copies, of this magnificently illustrated treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes. These fifteen plates appear first in this edition. In an attractive binding incorporating a late-medieval manuscript leaf, and from the library of astrolabe collector Samuel Verplank Hoffman with what is presumably his typescript translation into English.

    Franz Ritter (b. Nuremberg, d. 1640) was an astronomer and innovative cartographer, famous for his ‘sundial’ world map. He had studied under Johann Praetorius at the University of Altdorf and specialized in the design and manufacture of astrolabes, sundials, and other astronomical, horological and cartographical instruments.

    The two parts of this text were first published separately in Nuremberg in 1613, and there appear to be numerous variant editions. This one conforms to that of Yale and Brown, which they date to the 1640s, but other authorities give 1659 and 1660 as the dates of publication. The plates in the first part are printed from the same coppers used in the 1613 edition. The second part of the 1613 edition was unillustrated and the publisher of this edition, Paul Fürst (1608-1666), added the suite of engravings and signed the first plate. The fourth plate is a map of the southern hemisphere.

    The previous owner, Samuel Verplank Hoffman (1866-1942) studied and taught astronomy at Johns Hopkins University until his father’s business interests commanded his full attention. He was president of the New York Historical Society between 1903 and 1912 and his exceptional collection of astrolabes was acquired by the Smithsonian in 1959. The typescript translation with this volume was presumably by, or commissioned by, him.

  • ...Das ist: Gründliche Beschreibung und Unterricht, wie solches herrliche und hochnützliche Astronomische Instrument, auff allerley Polus Höh, so wol auch nach eines jeden selbst gefälligen Gröss auffgerissen, und verfertigt werden soll. Darnach wei dasselbe vielfältig zu gebrauchen: Mit Kupferstücken verfertiget. Nuremberg: Christoff Gerhard for Paul Fürst, [mid-17th century].

    2 parts in 1, quarto (174 x 142 mm). Contemporary binding of vellum manuscript leaf over boards, manuscript title to head of spine. In a brown morocco-backed folding box, together with an early-20th century 112-page typescript English translation bound in half brown morocco with marbled sides, top edges gilt. Engraved half title and 21 integral engravings in the first part, 15 folding plates in the second part. Elaborate head and tail-pieces and decorative initials. Engraved seventeenth-century armorial bookplate with initials “OGHZS” to front pastedown. Inked initials “OG” in the margin of the frontispiece, next to a faint signature in ink. Bookplate of Samuel Verplank Hoffman (1866-1942) to the front free endpaper and also the front pastedown of the typescript. Some loss from the lower half of the spine and the upper joint, a little spotting to the frontispiece, a little offsetting affecting gatherings G and H in the second part, tiny spots of dampstain on the first two folding plates, some small closed tears in the folds. A very good, unsophisticated copy.