Marburg: Eucharius Cevicornus, 1537
FIRST EDITION, 4 parts in one volume, 4to (198 x 150mm.), large woodcut of an armillary sphere on first title and on verso, woodcut devices, woodcuts and diagrams in text, large historiated woodcut initials, printer’s device on verso of final leaf, old vellum,ms title to spine, old ink annotations to last leaf.
Johann Dryander (1500-1560) was an anatomist and physician as well as a mathematician and astronomer. He taught for a time at Paris and performed several dissections there, before being appointed Professor of Medicine and Mathematics at the University of Marburg in 1535. His astronomical publications, which include a work on astrolabes, as well as this treatise on astronomical rings, suggest that he was interested in the practical aspects of astronomy.
The astronomical rings consist of three rings fashioned into one instrument. The instrument was invented by Gemma Frisius, who published a work on the rings in 1534, and so it is sometimes known as Gemma’s rings. The instrument could be used to tell the time and had the advantage that no further instruments were used to orientate it, since the meridian could be identified as the line of orientation at which the shadows of the instrument’s rings align. It also had applications in surveying.
Around two thirds of Dryander’s work was devoted to describing the parts of his new version of the instrument and its markings, and there was a lengthy section on measuring the heights of objects. Following this section came a series of short treatises on different forms of the rings, listed on the verso of the title page, so that the whole work acted as a comprehensive guide to astronomical rings of all sorts.
This page formed the frontispiece of Dryander’s work and shows the two forms of ring that were covered in the treatises collected in the book. This suggests to the reader the breadth of material that they can expect to find in the work.
About two-thirds of the book is devoted to the author’s version of the instrument and the remainder to astronomical rings of other sorts, including Regiomontanus’ Metheroscope, and the rings of the Jewish physician Bonet de Lattes.
Adams D940; Houzeau and Lancaster 2459; Honeyman Collection 930; Zinner 1661