640. [World - Cosmography]
2 parts in 1 vol., folio: [30 incl. engr. title]-346-, -487- pp., 24 pl. (sm. water stains).
Contemp. vellum over wooden boards, spine with 6 raised bands, brass clasps (spine part. broken, leather strips of the clasps missing, sl. soiled).
First edition of Athanasius Kircher's most curious and lavishly illustrated work. The "Mundus Subterraneus" was written after a visit to southern Italy and Sicily in 1637-1638 when Kircher (1602-1680) was lowered into the crater of Vesuvius, then on the brink of eruption, to examine its interior. Its content covers geological and geographical investigations into the Earth's geography and interior, such as caves, mountains, vulcanoes, fossils, and the inhabitants (dragons, giants and demons), as well as the art of metals, a long disquisition on alchemy and the problem of what he calls the principle of the “panspermia”. Kircher's predilection for the mystical results in a great variety of topics, including also astrology, kabbala, Rosicrucianism etc. and it is illustrated with idealised or supposed depictions of the Earth's interior. Engr. ill.: 2 frontispieces, the 1st by Theodorus Matham after Johann Paul Schor and the 2nd by Anthonie Heers Sioertsma after Crispijn van de Passe, the 2 portraits of Kircher and Alexander VI, 12 pl. in 1st part, 8 pl. in 2nd part (Mount Vesuvius, Moon, Sun, hydrographical maps of the continents and the world, the "Systema Ideale Quo Exprimitur Aquarum" (Subterranean Aquifers) and the "Systema Ideale Pyrophylaciorum Suberraneorum", Mount Etna, the "Fornax spagyrica" etc.). Plenty of in-text illustrations and tables, as well as 3 cosmographical diagrams with moving parts.
Ref. Caillet 5783. - Duveen 322. - Ferguson I-467. - De Backer-Sommervogel II-1060, p. 453/17. - Honeymoon 1823. - Macclesfield Library 1163 (3rd ed.).
Prov. Mod. bookpl.
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