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AGRIPPA, Heinrich Cornelius.

De occulta philosophia libri tres.

[Cologne?: Johannes Soter,] July 1533 Stock Code: 136927

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A masterpiece of Western Renaissance magic

First collected edition of this masterpiece of Western Renaissance magic. The first part of this summa of occult and magical thought was originally published in 1531, probably under the influence of Johannes Trithemius, abbot of Würzburg, whose notable students included Agrippa and Paracelsus.

The privilege of the Emperor Charles V, to whom Agrippa was archivist and historiographer, is printed in French on the title verso, a "double anomaly", as Caillet notes, for a Latin work printed in Germany. Adams gives the place of publication as Basle.

There are several variants with the same anonymous imprint; the present work shows, to name but a few, the correct spelling of "Romains" in the first line of the dedication (others have "Romaine" or "Romaines", both grammatically incorrect), and the proper use of French "ss" instead of the German "ß" seen in the digitized copies from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Bibliothèque municipale d'Orléans. These two copies also differ from each other in textual layout and spellings, but have matching opening initials, although different from the ones in this copy. No precedence has been established between these variants: this copy has the same setting of the Ad Lectorem leaf as the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel copy.

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Folio (279 x 185 mm). 18th-century marbled boards, rebacked and recornered to style in vellum, blue sprinkled edges.


Title incorporating woodcut portrait of the author, letterpress astrological tables, woodcut figures (including 7 cuts showing the proportions and properties of the human body), decorative and historiated woodcut opening initials.


Partly erased early ink ownership inscription ("Temocri Jarendu … Hiernimus Von …") possibly dated 1553, occasional annotations; traces of a bookplate sometime removed from the front pastedown. Early ink ownership inscription to title. Light wear to edges, somewhat darkened, traces of abrasion and small repaired hole to title page's inscription (not affecting portrait), small repaired holes to subsequent 2 leaves, very occasional worming just touching a few letters, faint dampstaining, light finger-soiling, still a very good copy.


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