18. Gerard Mercator’s copy of Nicolaus Copernicus, De revolutionibus orbium cœlestium (Nuremberg, 1543)

Type: book
Inv. No. n/a
Source: Special Collections Department, University of Glasgow Library

Mercator was the first owner of this copy of the first edition of De revolutionibus. There are annotations in the distinctive calligraphic italic handwriting he reserved for special use (as in this opening), as well as his more functional cursive hand. This exhibition demonstrates that many of the leading astronomers of the 16th century were directly involved with printing and the production of globes and instruments. This book provides vital evidence that someone most closely associated with cartography, engraving and instrument-making saw his astronomical activity extending to engage with the most innovative and challenging work of his time.

Mercator’s ownership was identified by the historian of astronomy Owen Gingerich. The book later belonged to the mathematician of Leiden University, Willebrord Snell.

On loan from the Special Collections Department, University of Glasgow Library, Sp Coll Hunterian Cz.1.13

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