December Highlight - Librarian's Choice
Astronomer, Mathematician, Librarian, Printer
Johann Müller Regiomontanus, 1436-1476. Kalendarium. [Augsburg], Erhardt Ratdolt, xij. kal. Aprilis. 1499.
Regiomontanus’ Kalendarium contains 30 woodcut diagrams of phases of the moon for 1499-1530, printed in red and black; a calendar to 1513; and solar movements to 1554; as well as four full page woodcut peper instruments, three with movable parts (one with original brass pointers). These instruments—paper wheels called volvelles—demonstrate the movement of the moon.
The Kalendarium and another work by Regiomontanus—Ephemerides, which describes how to use the moon to determine longitute at sea—were reprinted many times. Columbus and Vespucci both used the Ephemerides. In 1504, on his fourth voyage to the Americas, Columbus subdued hostile natives by using the tables in the Ephemerides to predict a lunar eclipse.
When Henry Posner Sr. (1888-1976) purchased Kalendarium in 1961, the book dealer William Schab of New York averred that it was one of only seven copies extant.
Selected by Matthew Marsteller, Senior Librarian, Engineering & Science