A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON GALILEO: GUIDO MONTE’S IMPORTANT PROBLEMATUM ASTRONOMICORUM, 1609 FIRST EDITION, WITH DIAGRAMS OF HIS NEWLY INVENTED ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTS
MONTE, Guido Ubaldo. Problematum Astronomicorum, Libri Septem. Venetiis: Bernarum Juntam, Jo. Baptistam Ciottum, 1609. Tall, slim quarto, contemporary full limp vellum; collation: +6A-Ii4. Housed in custom clamshell box. $17,000.
Scarce first edition of this Renaissance collection of problems in astronomy, including a brief chapter on comets, with engraved title vignette of a celestial map and astronomical woodcut diagrams on nearly every page. In contemporary vellum.
Known also as Guidobaldo, Renaissance mathematician Guido Monte was a prominent figure in the advance of the mechanical sciences. His first book, Liber mechanicorum (1577) “was regarded by contemporaries as the greatest work on statics since the Greeks” (DSB) and is now considered “a milestone in the history of mechanics” (René Dugas). He was among the few to “pursue the project of reconciling mathematical and physical reality through the recovery and study of the works of Archimedes, Hero, and Pappus” (Jessica Wolfe). Monte was also influential in securing appointments for Galileo, first at Pisa and then Padua, and became his friend and patron for 20 years-possibly exerting the greatest single influence on Galileo’s mechanics. Together they conducted a series of experiments on the trajectories of cannonballs, asserting that projectiles follow parabolic paths. Building on Monte, “Galileo was able to apply the principle of virtual displacements to both static and dynamic cases [of motion] and was able to frame useful principles of virtual work and inertia” (DSB). Monte’s Problematum Astronomicorum, published posthumously, treats various aspects of observational astronomy and the determination of the positions of constellations. In the first chapter, he provides descriptions and diagrams of a number of his own astronomical instruments, including a device for dividing the circle into degrees, minutes, and seconds. Through such mechanical devices, Monte maintained that abstract mathematical principles could be reconciled with physical reality. Text in Latin. See Drake, Galileo at Work, 459. Owner signatures, one, on the title page, of famous British naturalist Francis Willughby.
Faint waterstain to top two-thirds of text block, chipping to top corner of last leaf (Index) with minor loss of text, moderate soiling to contemporary vellum. A very good copy with fine provenance of a very scarce and important astronomical work.