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    One of the Most Celebrated Polemics in the History of Science

    Galileo Galilei. Il Saggiatore nel quale con bilancia esquisita e giusta si ponderano le cose contenute nella libra astronomica e filosofica di Lotario Sarsi Sigensano ... Rome: Appresso Giacomo Mascardi, 1623.

    First edition, first issue, with the shorter errata list (eight lines in two columns) on the verso of 2F6 and bound without the introductory verses by Johannes Faber and Francesco Stelluti (a1-a4) which were printed later, on different paper. Small quarto (7.8125 x 6 inches; 199 x 153 mm). [6], 236 pages. With engraved title and engraved portrait by Francisco Villamena. Eighteen engraved diagrams in the text, typographic head-piece, and woodcut initials and tail-pieces.

    Contemporary half vellum over rose, yellow, and green decorated boards. Gilt lettering and rules on the spine in imitation of a lettering piece. Edges sprinkled rose. Previous owner's inscription in ink, dated 1789, on front free endpaper. First two leaves starting but still holding tight. Boards slightly soiled and rubbed, especially to extremities. Some light dampstaining to first five leaves. Some pages slightly darkened throughout. Small marginal closed tear to leaf K3, just touching page numbers, and a dark spot on leaf P2. Overall a very good copy of this important book.

    "Galileo's masterful polemic on the new science was written in response to Orazio Grassi, mathematician at the Jesuit Roman College, who in 1619 had published, under the pseudonym Lotario Sarsi, an attack on Galileo after the latter had criticized his views on comets. Unable to defend the Copernican doctrine, declared heretical in 1616, Galileo avoided all discussion of the world's movement in his response, addressed to a young admirer named Virginio Cesarini, concentrating instead on a general discussion of the proper scientific approach to the investigation of celestial phenomena. The crux of his argument was that no theory of comets could be advanced unless it could be proven that they were concrete moving objects rather than mere optical effects of solar light, a proof that he considered impossible

    "Il Saggiatore was dedicated at the last minute to the new Pope Urban VIII, Maffeo Barberini, Galileo's friend and a patron of science and the arts. Galileo was in Florence during the printing and could not supervise the corrections, so the first issue contains only 16 errata; Galileo had an additional errata leaf printed for the second issue, which was revised to a total of 137 errata for the third and final issue ...The engraving on Ee1r is the earliest published illustration of the ring of Saturn, the planet Mars in inferior and superior conjunction, and the phases of Venus" (The Haskell F. Norman Library, Christie's New York, 15 and 16 June 1998, lot 456).

    "In the course of his argument, Galileo distinguished physical properties of objects from their sensory effects, repudiated authority in any matter that was subject to direct investigation, and remarked that the book of nature, being written in mathematical characters, could be deciphered only by those who knew mathematics" (DSB).

    Carli & Favaro 95. Cinti 73. Honeyman 1405. Norman Library 857. Riccardi I (1), col. 511.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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