De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium

De revolutionibus orbium coelestium [with] De libris revolutionum Nicolai Copernici narratio prima.

1566 · Basel
Nicolaus Copernicus, Georg Johann Rheticus
$175,000

Second edition of the cataclysmic book that effectively dislodged the center of the known universe. First published in Nuremburg in 1543, in the author’s last month of life, the book met with immediate censorship. The second edition, published at Basel by Heinrich Petri, pairs the original text with the “first report” of the heliocentric theory by Copernicus’s student, Georg Rheticus, who was responsible for persuading Copernicus to publish the treatise in the first place. The text is otherwise a defiant page-by-page re-publication of the 1543 edition.

A series of papal decrees demanded specific alterations to surviving copies of the book, including the removal of Rheticus’s contribution. Our copy is unaltered and intact with all original text in place.

Folio ( 27 cm); 213 leaves. Woodcut diagrams and letterpress tables in text, printer’s device on title, a different device on final verso, woodcut initials by Hans Holbein. In circa 18th-century polished vellum over pale polychrome marbled boards, titled in manuscript on spine. An unobtrusive worm-hole runs through much of the text block, with little consequence. No censorship marks. No additional marginalia. An unblemished copy in remarkable condition!

References: PMM 70 (1543 ed. “It is obvious that the publication of this book at that particular moment in history powerfully helped to re-direct the whole outlook and thinking of mankind.”); Adams C-2603; Gingerich, An Annotated Census, p. xv f. Reference for Holbein’s initials: Schneeli and Heitz, Initialen von Hans Holbein, plate XLVI.

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