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Athanasius Kircher (1602 - 1680)



November 20, 2003
London, United Kingdom

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Mundus subterraneus, in XII libros digestus... Editio tertia. Amsterdam: Joannes Janssonius à Waesberge & filios, 1678

2 volumes in one, folio (378 x 245mm.), 2 engraved title-pages, printed title with engraved vignette in vol. 1, 19 engraved plates and maps (most double-page or folding), numerous engraved or woodcut illustrations in text, 5 tables (3 double-page), contemporary Dutch vellum, without the engraved portraits of Kircher and Pope Alexander VII and slips with engraved volvelles at pp. 165 & 167 of vol. 1, first double-page table loose, some light spotting, binding somewhat soiled, lacking 2 pairs of ties


cf. Merrill 17 (first edition); Sommervogel iv 1060-63; Caillet 5738; Ferguson i 467


The third edition of Kircher's description of the contents of the subterranean earth, which was first printed in 1665. His observations, based on his witnessing eruptions of Aetna and Stromboli during a visit to Sicily in 1637-38, are of both a scientific and fantastical nature. They include speculations on a vast underground network of springs and reservoirs, for which volcanoes act as safety valves, inhabited by fanciful subterranean monsters. He also discusses subjects such as the transmutations of metals, weathering, fossils, metallurgy and mining, pyrotechnic arts, poisons, hydraulics, distillation and meteorology.

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