Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Cardano's Remarkable Observations and Ideas
    Regarding the Physical World

    Girolamo Cardano. De Subtilitate Libri XXI. Nunc demum ab ipso autore recogniti, atque perfecti. Lyon: Guillaume Roville, 1559. Octavo. a-z, A-Y8,*-3*8,4*4 [4*4, blank]. 718, [58] pages. Printer's mark on title page, numerous illustrative text cuts. Eighteenth century Italian vellum, rear joint cracked, diagonal tear across the backstrip, paste-paper end sheets in floral patterns; contents browned, light dampstain to lower margins, previous owner's name and inscription on verso of front free endpaper and facing page respectively, old inscription on title page scored, scattered text passages inked out. Clean tear in Y8; small rust hole in S7 (some text affected). The text block has small margins and was likely trimmed. Early Italian manuscript instructions for making a sundial on the blank verso of 4*4. Otherwise a nice copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit for an extended description of this lot.

    More Information:

    "Cardano (1501-1576) published two encyclopedias of natural science. The two works, written in an elliptical and often obscure Latin contain a little of everything: from cosmology to the construction of machines; from the usefulness of natural science to the evil influence of demons; from the laws of mechanics to cryptology. It is a mine of facts, both real and imaginary; of notes on the state of the sciences; of superstition, technology, alchemy, and various branches of the occult...Cardano must always be credited with having introduced new ideas that inspired new investigations." [DSB]

    "Cardano's encyclopedic De Subtilitate was the most advanced presentation of physical knowledge up to its time. It contains many remarkable observations and ideas, including Cardano's distinction between the attractive powers of rubbbed amber (electric) and the loadstone (magnetic), his pre-evolutionary belief in creation as progressive development, and the premise that natural law was unified and could be known through experiment." - NormanCat.

    This edition contains Cardan's response to Julius Caesar Scaliger's attacks on this work. Sir Thomas Browne noted of Scaliger's criticisms, "If Cardan saith that a Parrot is a beautiful Bird, Scaliger will set his Wits o'work to prove it is a deformed Animal." Among other topics Cardan discusses demonology, the power of stones, the sensible and insensible worlds." -NormanCat.

    Bruning 313. Adams A672. Norman 401. Galland, Cryptography,34. Wheeler Gift 37a. Riccardi I,252. Duveen 117.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 612

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 41 days left to consign to the 2020 February 22 - 23 Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The resulting auction of my property overwhelmed me. I want to thank Tom Slater and the Heritage team for a very satisfactory experience and profitable result with my historical consignment.
    Henry L.,
    Lexington, KY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 November 14-16 Space Exploration Auction Featuring The Armstrong Family Collection Part IV - Dallas
    2019 November 14-16 Space Exploration Auction Featuring The Armstrong Family Collection Part IV - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $2,567,851