Spinning around the New World: Peter Apian's Cosmographia (1575)


I just can't get over how cool this 1575 Spanish edition of Peter Apian's Cosmographia is.

Let me give 3 reasons why this book excites me so much:

• Volvelles.

With three moving peices within the book, and instructions on how to use them to calculate times,distances, & locations it's kind of like a precursor technology to an iPhone.

• The Long Booklife on Display.

Each of the volvelles is backed with scraps from a 16th c. Dutch law text (which was used in the witch trials!). There's also binding waste from a later 16th Marian poem re-enforcing the spine. A Spanish owner has written about "Hombres notales" on the back fly leaf. Just so many moments in history representing where this book has been.

• Contemporary Descriptions of the New World.

The 16th c. was the Age of Discovery as Europe began to explore America, bringing back details of the New World. St. Augustine, Florida, was founded by European explorers in 1565-- only ten years before this book was printed with its description of Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As a Floridian, it's so cool to be the custodian of this historic description of the swampy state.

• Language.

Apian's Cosmographia was originally composed & printed in Latin, but its popularity quickly demonstrated the need for translations into more accessible vernacular languages. This edition includes an introduction explaining that some will think the translation dimishes the importances of the work, since it is no longer accessible only to learned men with Latin literacy. But nevertheless, this was the second of only two Spanish-language editions, with 14 other vernacular languages represented over the course of 45 editions-- demonstrating the public thirst for this scientific & geographic knowledge.

Check out the catalogue listing here