Engraved frontis., three folding printed plates (one in red & black), and numerous woodcut diagrams & illus. in the text. 8 p.l. (incl. frontis.), 301,  pp. 4to, cont. vellum over boards, green silk ties. Rome: Varesi, 1665.
First edition of Kircher’s treatise on numerology, the “hidden mysteries” of the origins of numbers. “The Arithmologia, one of Kircher’s more curious works, is a veritable gold mine of curiosities: magic formulas, amulets, and symbolic matrices. For Kircher all knowledge was to some extent bound up in mystery, and this was particularly true of numerology…Kircher did not accept the mysticism uncritically, however. Indeed much of the work is dedicated to discrediting common superstitions about numbers. He begins the book with a speculative history of the origin of the Greek and Roman numerals; he later gives the history of the Hebrew and Arabic numerals. Much of the work deals with the alleged mystical numerology of the Gnostics, Cabbalists, and Neopythagoreans. Kircher is not slow to accuse these groups of superstition and paganism…
“For Kircher, as for most of his contemporaries, the universe was hierarchical and orderly. He was convinced that that order could be represented by numbers in a mystical and meaningful way. The work of his contemporaries Leibniz and Newton resulted from this faith in mathematics and its power to circumscribe the universe. The Arithmologia, like most of Kircher’s works, appears at the juncture between the mystical numerologies, handed down from antiquity, and modern mathematics.”–Merrill 19.
The fine frontispiece depicts Pythagoras, with his 3-4-5 triangle, and another, unidentified mathematician, contemplating various mystical symbols, magic squares, and an angel, who is exhorting them to “measure and think.”
A very fine copy, preserved in a box. Engraved bookplate of Antonius Biderman, dated 1654, on verso of frontispiece. Biderman (d. 1679), was in service to the princely Fürstenberg family, which purchased his library following his death. From the library of His Serene Highness Prince Fürstenberg at Donaueschingen, with his stamp on verso of title and final leaf.
❧ Tomash & Williams K45.
Item ID: 6743