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Musaeum Kircherianum

[KIRCHER, Athanasius]; BONNANI, Filippo

  • Publisher: Roma: Georgius Plachi, 1709
Roma: Georgius Plachi, 1709. The Rare Catalogue of the Great Kircher Museum [KIRCHER, Athanasius]. BONANNI, Filippo. Musaeum Kircherianum, sive Musaeum a P. Athanasio Kirchero In Collegio Romano Societatis Jesu jam pridem incoeptum Nuper restitutum, auctum, descriptum, & Iconibus illustratum... Roma: Typis Georgii Plachi Caelaturam Prositentis, & Characterum Fusoriam propè S. Marcum, 1709. First edition of Bonanni's catalogue of the Kircher Museum in Rome. Folio (14 5/8 x 9 3/4 inches; 372 x 247 mm.). [xii], 1-39, [40, blank], [21 leaves of illustration numbered 40-60], 61-79, [80, blank], [4 leaves of illustration numbered 60-63], 84-115, [12 leaves of illustration numbered 116-127], 128-146, [147, blank], [14 leaves of illustration numbered 147-160], 161-183, [184, blank], [15 leaves of illustration numbered 184-197.2], 198-224, [225, blank], [2 leaves of illustration numbered 248-226], 225-247, [248, blank], [18 leaves of illustration numbered 284-300], 264-283, [21 leaves of illustration numbered 284-300], 302-312, [313, blank], [4 leaves of illustration numbered 313-316], 316-319, [2 leaves of illustration numbered 320-321], 322-361, [28 leaves of illustration numbered 362-387, 391], 392-411, [1 leaf of illustration numbered 412], 412-522, [1, blank], [48 leaves of illustration numbered a-bbb], [7, index], [1, blank] pp. Plate numbers 299 & 364 are double-page folding. A4-H2, I4-N4, O6, P4-T4, U6, X4-Z4, Aa4, Bb6, Cc6, Dd4-Gg4, Hh6, Ii4-Zz4, Aaa6. Text printed in two columns. Engraved portrait frontispiece of Prince Ruspoli, and 190 engraved plates, two of which are double-page. Leaf Hh2 (pp. 352/353 with small, neatly repaired lower marginal tear. Some light occasional browning to a few leaves, otherwise fine and clean. Contemporary vellum, manuscript title on spine, all edges sprinkled red. Slight cracking to upper and lower portions of spine. Engraved portrait of Athanasius Kircher on front paste-down, rectangular bookplate of Bibliotheca Kircheriana on front paste-down. Albert Vialis was an early twentieth century French translator and avid collector of Kircher material. Most copies that have appeared at auction have lacked plates or other imperfections. Just four copies have appeared at auction over the past fifty years, with only two of those purportedly complete. Our copy has 190 engraved plates which is 28 more than any other copy cited. In 1698, Jesuit Filippo Bonanni (1638-1723) was appointed curator of the internationally known cabinet of curiosities, the Musaeum Kircherianum, gathered by Athanasius Kircher and lodged in the Jesuit Collegio Romano. The museum was created in the middle of the seventeenth century. Because Kircher was interested in everything the museum included objects of every kind from many emerging disciplines: antiquities, archaeology, ethnography, natural history, etc., and also included a number of mathematical, scientific, and physical instruments. The Museum does not exist any more as such, its collections having been disbursed among the other Roman museums. It is possible, however, to reconstruct it in one's imagination, because of the elaborate description of it by Buonanni, who published this detailed, if not exhaustive, catalogue of the amazing collection of his Jesuit colleague, which, in addition to the items above, clocks, artwork, coins, mummies, a "mermaid's tail," an extraordinary collection of shoes, the first cuneiform document known in Europe, and a large collection of seashells. The catalog is divided into twelve sections (Classes) concerning the various categories of objects. These range from antiques to the natural sciences, physics and mathematics, in order to illustrate what Nature "his sinus inexausto effluxu produxit" (Proemium). The antiquities occupy the first five sections and are collected in ethnographic criteria. The critical assumptions cards to each category focus on the use and characteristics of individual types of objects. Cicognara 3372. Caillet 5784. Honeyman 550. Brunet I,1086. Nissen ZBI 2198.

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