King Joao IV’s copy Bound in Richly Gilt Contemporary Olive Green Morocco
GALILÉE, Galileo
Systema Cosmicum
Jean Antoine Huguetan, Lyon, 1641.
4to (229 x 174 mm) engraved frontispice, 6 unn.ll., 1 unn.l. with author’s engraved portrait, 377 pp., 11 unn.ll. (index and et errata). Contemporary olive green morocco, covers richly gilt, central gilt coat of arms of of Joao IV King of Portugal, spine gilt with raised bands, inner dentelle, marbled and gilt edges.
45 000 
See Cinti 96, Casapr, 88, Horblit, Heralds, 8 (first Latin edition 1635); DSB, V, 245;

In stock

Second Latin edition in the translation by Mathias Bernegger, the summatin of Galileo’s astronomical work and his celebrated advancement of the Copernican system.


Soon after its first publication in Italian in 1632 (see lot 267), the Dialogo was banned by the Pope, withdrawn from circulation and its author imprisoned, but almost immediately, in 1633, work on a Latin translation was underway north of the Alps. It appeared in 1635, the work of the Protestant Bernegger, with collaboration from Galileo, and with two important appendices by Kepler and Foscarini addressing the compatibility of the theory of the earth’s movement with Scripture.


“The title of his final work, Discourses and Mathematical Demontrations Concerning Two New Sciences (generally known in English by the last three words), hardly conveys a clear idea of its organization and contents. The two sciences with which the book principally deals are the engineering science strength of materials and the mathematical science of kinematics. The first, as Galileo presents it, is founded on the law of the lever; breaking strength is treated as a branch of statics. The second has its basis in the assumption of uniformity and simplicity in nature, complemented by certain dynamic assumptions… Of the four dialogues contained in the book, the las t two are devoted to the treatment of uniform and accelerated motion and the discussion of parabolic trajectories. The first two dal with problems related to the constitution of matter; the nature of mathematics; the place of experiment and reason in science; the weight of air; the nature of sound; the speed of light; and other fragmentary comments on physics as a whole” (DSB).


Exceptional provenance


Presentation copy to Joao IV King of Portugal, preserved in a richly decorated Lyonnese binding.


This edition bears a dedication by the printer Huguétan to Balthasar de Monconys (1611-1665). Diplomate, scientist and magistrate in the city of Lyon, he accomplished many missions in Europe and the near East, often accompanied by his disciple the young Duke de Luynes. One of his journeys brought him to Portugal in 1646 where he personally met the Prince of Braganca, equally passionate about Galileo and an ardent advocate of his theories at the Portuguese court. It is most likely that Moncony, who had supported this Lyonnaise edition, had ordered a special copy to be remitted to the Portuguese King.


The fine frontispiece, recut after Stefano della Bella and captioned Dialogus de Systemate Mundi, shows Aristotle, Ptolemy and Copernicus.


Paper flaw to corner of p. 260 slightly affecting the printing of marginalia, old ownership on the title verso covered in white, quires 2P and 2T slightly toned; old restoration to foot of spine.


Other provenances: AUDJ 1742 (initials on front fly-leaf with acquisition note 28 September 1724 at Amsterdam, sale Henrik Pelgrom Engebregt) – Maurice Burrus (book plate, purchased from Vénot in 1934, his sale in Paris, Christie’s, 15.12.2015, lot 77).