De Natura Rerum et Temporum Ratione. Libri Duo. Nunc recens inventi, & in lucem editi.

16 p.l., 74 leaves. Folio, later vellum-backed boards (foot of spine defective, occasional light soiling & dampstaining). Basel: H. Petri, 1529.

First edition of the two texts together. The De Temporum Ratione is a significant book in several ways. Most notably, “this book helped to establish the custom of counting years from the birth of Christ. When we say that Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926 (not ‘in the 16th year of the reign of George V,’ or ‘in the year 2678 after the foundation of Rome,’ or in the ‘2nd year of the 481st Olympiad’), we are indebted to the Venerable Bede.”–Printing & the Mind of Man 16n.

“Bede’s greatest practical effect was on the Western calendar. His decisions (beginning the year, calculation of Easter, names of days and months, calculations of eras, and so forth) in most instances finally determined usage that was only refined, not changed by Gregorian reform.”–D.S.B., I, p. 565.

“The De Ratione Temporum, first published in 1505, is particularly important. It contains a remarkable theory of tides based upon Pliny, but also upon personal observation; first mention of the establishment of a port (i.e., the mean interval between the moon’s meridian passage and high water following; this interval is different in different ports).”–Sarton, I, p. 511. Pierre Duhem described Bede’s establishment of a port as the only original formulation of nature to be made in the West for some eight centuries.

This is the first printing of De Natura Rerum, which contains such physical science as was then known. It collects the wisdom of the ancient world on these subjects and has the special merit of referring phenomena to natural causes. It contains a particularly important section — the “De Comptu vel Loquela digitorum” — which is “our main (almost our only) source for the study of mediaeval finger reckoning or symbolism.”–Sarton, I, pp. 510-11. See also Smith, History of Mathematics, II, p. 200.

This work was edited by Johannes Sichardt (1499-1552), professor of law, who, during the years 1526-30, lived in Basel and, while teaching, also edited and prepared for printing Latin manuscripts he had found in libraries in monasteries. He also served as adviser to the Basel printers Cratander, Bebel, and Henricus Petri.

Good copy, preserved in a box. Early signature of “Mallarii” on title with motto in Greek. Armorial bookplate dated 1915 of Bishop’s College, Cheshunt, an Anglican theological college that closed in 1968.

❧ Sichardt: Bietenholz, ed., Contemporaries of Erasmus, Vol. III, p. 247.

Price: $5,500.00

Item ID: 6758

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