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Barth, Jacob [XVI secolo]. Astronomia.// Teutsch astronomei// Von Art/ eygen-schafften/ vnd wirckung.// Der xij. Zeychen des Himels.// Der vij. Planeten.// Der xxxvj. Himelischen Bildern vnd jren Sternen.// Von den Spheren des Himels.// Bedeutung der finsternus Sonn vnd Mon.// Gestalt vnd bedeutung der Cometen.// Verenderung des luffts/ nach art der Planeten vnd Zeychen.// Aspect vnd anblick der vij Planeten.// Exaltation vnd erhoehung eynes Planeten vber den andern &c.// Auß den alten hochgelerten der kunst Astronomei gezogen/ vñ// in eyn kurtze summ gestelt/ yetzt new in truck verfertiget.// Jtem C. Ptolomei.// Von Vffgang vnd Nidergang bedeuttung vnd wirckung der Himelischer// bilder vnd jrer sternen// verteutscht. [Al colophon: Getruckt zů Franckforth am Meyn// bei Cyriaco Jacob zum Barth.// am xxii tag Maif. Anno M.D. XLV. (1545)].

In 4° (28.6 cm), A-M6 N4, cc. [76]. Incisione al frontespizio (un cosiddetto aspettario) e 94 xilografie nel testo. Tra queste, una mappa collocata al verso della carta 28 (E4 verso) nella quale è raffigurato un continente denominato Australia. Al recto è incisa la sfera armillare. Carattere gotico.

Non ho visto questo raro libro, ma posso darne descrizione grazie a Bill Cotter, bookseller di Austin, Texas, che ne ha avuta una copia e mi ha consentito di riprodurre la sua scheda. Eccola:

This extraordinary work, illustrated with 94 woodcuts of stylized comets, anthropomorphized eclipses, armillary spheres, historiated zodiacal symbols, and a diminutive world map, is one of the earlier printed vernacular astrological texts, and contains a survey of astronomy at the juncture of the Medieval and Early Modern eras. Its author is unknown, but the variable writings are an epitome of works originally compiled in manuscript by Hans Orth von Bacharach in the 15th century. Among the authors we find Albumasar, Sacrobosco, Macrobius, Alfraganus, Alchindus, Messahalla, Ptolemy, and Butzahan. The text is divided into six parts. The first is devoted to imagery and signs of the zodiac; the second is a study of the seven planets; the third is a section on the current state of the science of astronomy; the fourth is an overview of eclipses and comets; the fifth is a short section on weather and climate; and the sixth is a perpetual calendar. The most comprehensive chapter is that on astronomy, and includes an Explanation of the Spheres, an Explanation of the Circles of Heaven, the Meaning of the Height of the Spheres, the Size of the Planets, the Size of the Fixed Stars, the Eighth Heaven, Of the Epicycle, Of the Movement of the Planets Against the Firmament, Of the Four Parts of Heaven, Of the Movement of the Heavens, The Seven Climates, The Sphere of the Winds, and The Four Regions of the Heavens. Most remarkable perhaps is the world map on E4v illustrating a land mass clearly labeled Australia—259 years before the circumnavigation and naming of the continent by explorer Matthew Flinders. In 1814 a work appeared by Flinders that included an 1804 map with the continent designated Australia—for two centuries considered the first to do so until 2005, when curators at the National Library of Australia discovered, in their copy of the Astronomia the world map with the Australia nomination. Though it is unknown whether Flinders had access to a copy of the Astronomia, or was simply using the Latin proper noun form of australis (as did the engraver of the world map), it is certainly possible he had seen the book, as he would have been familiar, as navigator, with a host of salient maps and texts.”

Aggiungo che nell’opera si trovano non pochi riferimenti di carattere squisitamente astrologico, quale la specificazione delle esaltazioni e delle cadute dei Pianeti nei vari Segni zodiacali, uno dei punti-chiave della disciplina astrologica.

L’opera fu stampata in due varianti, con o senza il privilegio al frontespizio.

Esemplari: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München; Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbütel; Stadtbibliothek Trier; Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Wien; National Library of Australia.

Bibliografia: Zinner 1869; Graesse I 242.