Romani Collegii Societatis Jesu Musaeum Celeberrimum, Cujus magnum Antiquariae rei, statuarum, imaginum, picturarumque partem Ex Legato Alphonsi Donini, S.P.Q.R. A Secretis, munifica Liberalitate relictum. P. Athanasius Kircherus Soc. Jesu, novis & raris inventis locupletatum, compluriumque Principum curiosis donariis magno rerum apparatu instruxit; Innumeris insuper rebus ditatum, ad plurimorum, maxime exterorum, curiositatisque doctrinae avidorum instantiam urgentesque preces novis compluribusque machinis, tum peregrinis ex Indiis allatis rebus publicae luci votisque exponit Georgius de Sepibus Valesius, Authoris in Machinis concinnandis Executor.
Amsterdam: Ex Oﬃcina Janssonio-Waesbergiana, 1678. 19 leaves of plates (9 folded) : illustrations, portrait ; First plate has engraved title page on recto and blank verso. Printer’s device on title page. First Edition. Bound in full contemporary vellum. The breath of the polymatical [ or polyhistorc?] territory represented in this work, certainly was a life source of the energy which birthed the possibility of concept of Enlightenment. And places Kircher beyond Bacon as the true homo universalis of his century. A quick look at the index of this book shows the precursor of Diderot and D’Alembert 1751, who were among the last who did not suffer from “the cult of specialisation” which in a short time redirected the epistem of western culture, fueled by capitalistic energies and moralities.
As a Historical Snapshot of Early-modern sensibilities I can think of no better book.
Kircher was born 2 May, 1601, at Geisa a small town on the northern bank of the Upper Rhone (Buchonia); died at Rome, 28 November, 1680. From his birthplace he was accustomed to add the Latin epithet Bucho, or Buchonius, to his name, although later he preferred calling himself Fuldensis after Fulda, the capital of his native country. The name Athanasius was given him in honor of the saint on whose feast he was born. John Kircher, the father of Athanasius, had studied philosophy and theology at Mainz, without, however, embracing the priestly calling. As soon as he had obtained the doctor’s degree in the latter faculty, he went to lecture on theology in the Benedictine house at Seligenstadt. Athanasius studied humanities at the Jesuit College in Fulda, and on 2 October, 1618, entered the Society of Jesus at Paderborn. At the end of his novitiate he repaired to Cologne for his philosophical studies. The journey thither was, on account of the confusion caused by the Thirty Years’ War, attended with great danger. Together with his study of speculative philosophy the talented young student devoted himself especially to the natural sciences and the classical languages, for which reason he was shortly afterwards called to teach these branches at the Jesuit colleges in Coblenz and Heiligenstadt. In Mainz, where Kircher (1625) began his theological studies, he attracted the notice of the elector through his ability and his skill as an experimentalist. In 1628 he was ordained priest, and hardly had he finished his last year of probation at Speyer when the chair of ethics and mathematics was given to him by the University of Wurzburg, while at the same time he had to give instructions in the Syrian and Hebrew Languages. However, the disorders consequent on the wars obliged him to go first to Lyons in France (1631) and later to Avignon. Folio, 37 x 23.5 cm. Signatures: *4, A-I4. Complete with all [19leaves of plates (9 folded) : illustrations, portrait ; First plate has engraved title page on recto and blank verso. Printer’s device on title page./ Dedication (unnumbered pages 5-6) by Athanasius Kircher, dated Jan. 25, 1678./ Includes index. a list of books by Kircher and a List of Illustrations. Item #865
The many fantastic illustrations in this copy include a frontispiece view of the museum’s interior display, nine large folding engravings of obelisks, seven full paged engravings, nineteen text woodcuts, and three text engravings. Bound in full early vellum, smooth spine with title in ink (contemporary binding). A very nice large copy.
I have found three digital/internet virtual copies:
“Athanasius Kircher, who was (is still) celebrated for the versatility of his knowledge and particularly distinguished for his knowledge of the natural sciences.” Collected physical representation of his intellectual voyages and his Museum/Cabinet is its manifestation.
“This book is the only description of Kircher’s museum in the Collegio Romano as it appeared in his lifetime, with the only extant depiction of the museum in all its fantastic glory.” (P.Dowling.).