Astronomiae instauratae Mechanica.

Wandesburg (i.e. Wandsbeck, for the author by Philip Ohrs), 1598.

Small folio. In the original blue silk binding with richly gilt ornamentation to boards. Professionally recased in the 1970'es with 90% of the original silk boards preserved over new blue silk. Green silk ties. A small, neat restoration to the border of the title-page, barely noticeable. A4 and H2 restored and at margins with newer paper margins in perceftly matching paper. The restoration touches the outer borders, most significantly on H2, where the inner border is almost covered by the new paper. The lower blank border of A4 cropped. Otherwise in splendid condition.

42 ff. With 22 magnificent full-page illustrations, of which 4 are engraved and the rest are woodcut. Title printed in red and black and all pages, including the title-page, printed within woodcut ornamental border. Large woodcut device to title-page, with spere and compass, and allegorical woodcut to colophon. Title-page (which is printed in red and black) is uncoloured, but all other leaves are in magnificent contemporary handcolouring, and many of the illutstrations are illuminated in gold. All woodcut borders couloured in green and greeninsh blue, and large initials, head-and tail-pieces and devise on colophon are coloured in various colours, as are all illustrations.

The word "INGENIOSE" of the imperfectly printed headline on G3 supplied on manuscript (as in most known copies), presumably in Brahe's own hand.

Exceedingly scarce first edition, hand-coloured gift-copy in the original gift-binding with a remarkable provenance, of Tycho Brahe’s monumental work, in which he depicts and describes his groundbreaking astronomical instruments as well as his observatory on Hven, gives an account of his contributions to astronomy, and showcases the beginning new astronomy and the invention of modern empirical science.

One of presumably 60 copies printed, all produced for private distribution only, as the entire print run of the first printing were meant as presentation-copies, and one of ab. 40 copies known. Almost all surviving copies are in
institutions. Lauritz Nielsen traced 42 copies, four of which were destroyed by war, and Norlind added a further five copies, plus ab. 9 copies mentioned in contemporary correspondence to have been sent by Brahe to
luminaries of the period.

This magnum opus of astronomy describes and depicts the astronomical inventions of Tycho Brahe, especially the instruments, through which the stars and planets could be observed and by which distances and ascensions
could be measured. 
Brahe had invented three types of instruments of monumental importance to the beginning of modern empirical science and crucial to the new astronomy that he invented. He describes three types of these instruments: 1.
quadrants and sextants used for determining altitudes and azimuths; 2. armillary instruments for measuring right ascensions and declinations, or longitudes and latitudes with respect to the ecliptic; and 3. instruments
designed for the determination of angular distances between celestial bodies (sextants and the bipartite arc). 

“The instruments of Tycho Brahe represent a major achievement in astronomical science, because they provided much more accurate readings than previously possible, and on the basis of Tycho Brahe's observations Kepler
determined the laws of planetary motions and from these laws Newton discovered the law of gravity. Not until the invention of the telescope some years after Tycho Brahe's death was it possible to get more accurate
readings.” (From the Brahe exhibition at the Royal Library of Denmark).

“Tycho Brahe’s instruments were at the heart of his contribution to the invention of modern empirical science.” (J.R. Christianson: Tycho Brahe’s Instruments).

The instruments were built by Tycho Brahe and his staff between the 1570's and the time he left Hven. All of his instruments are now lost, and the primary source we have to the fountain of knowledge that they represent is the present work containing his own illustrations and descriptions of them.

After his death, the instruments were kept in a cellar, where they were destroyed during the uprisings in Prague in 1619. The great globe ended up at the Round Tower in Copenhagen, where it was destroyed in the fire of
1728. The building, including the observatories, on Hven are also destroyed and only few remains are left. A replica of the garden of Uraniborg and the foundations for the instruments at Stjerneborg has been created in
newer times.

The present copy has a remarkable provenance, as it comes from Brahe’s childhood home, Tosterup Castle, where he lived since the age of one, with his uncle and aunt, who had “adopted” him and were the only parents
he was to know. The book has been at Tosterup for almost four centuries and has only changed hands once before now. 

The copy bears no markings of ownership, but was presumably sent by Brahe from Wandsbeck to his family at Tosterup Castle in Denmark right after printing. It remained there until ab. 50 years ago, when it was gifted
away by the owners of Tosterup.

Tycho Brahe’s birth parents, Beate Bille and Otto Brahe had been married for two years and already had a daughter, when they had Tycho. One year after his birth, in 1547, they had a second son. “Now, Otto and Beate
had two healthy sons, and “it happened by a particular decree of Fate” that Tycho was taken away “without the knowledge of my parents” by “my beloved paternal uncle Jørgen Brahe, who… brought me up, and thereafter he
supported me generously during my lifetime until my eighteenth year, and he always treated me as his own son… For his own marriage was childless.” Jørgen Brahe of Tosterup was married to “the noble and wise Mistress
Inger Oxe, a sister of the great Peder Oxe, who later became [Steward of the Realm] of the Danish royal court [and who] as long as she lived regarded me with exceptional love, as if I were her own son”.” (J.R.
Christianson: Tycho Brahe and the Measure of the Heavens, pp. 13-14).

“Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a Danish astronomer who built the best observatory in Europe and set a new standard for accurate celestial observations in the era before the invention of the telescope. Tycho had the
advantage of being born into one of the most important noble families of Denmark. Raised by his uncle, Tycho managed to avoid the usual custom of becoming a courtier or armed knight, ending up in the service of the
King.” (Smithsonian)

At Tosterup, with his aunt and uncle, Brahe received his basic learning and early on began showing his extraordinary skills. At the age of 12, his uncle sent him to the University of Copenhagen, where he was able to
continue his studies. It was here that he became interested in astronomy and became determined that this was the only thing for him. His uncle wanted him to study law, as would be beneficial and fitting for someone of his
status and upbringing, but Brahe found his own way around this and kept nurturing his passion while formally studying law in Leipzig, where he went after Copenhagen.

Already in the early 1560’ies, during his own private parallel studies, he discovered mistakes in the calculated planet tables that were used by all leading astronomers at the time and realized that in order to get correct
results and make reliable predictions, calculations would need to be made from more accurate measurements. This is what sparked his urge to invent new instruments for observations and what sparked the beginning of new,
accurate astronomy.

After Leipzig, Brahe travelled to Wittenberg and Rostock (where he lost his nose during a duel) and then returned to Denmark, where in 1568 he was granted a canonry at Roskilde Domkirke. Having secured his future
economy, he could travel abroad again, this time to Augsburg. In Augsburg, he spent a couple of years with the astronomical brothers Hainzel, and it was here that he designed his first instrument. His famous quadrant was so large, so heavy and so clumsy that it took 20 men to operate it, and it was extremely difficult to transport. All of his later instruments would be smaller. It was also in Augsburg that Brahe began working on his great celestial globe, which he finished on Hven.

From 1571, Brahe stayed in Denmark and taught at the University of Copenhagen. It is during this time, in 1572, that he discovers “the new star”. After having made this seminal observation, he was once again
confirmed in the knowledge that new exact instruments were needed to measure and understand the heavens; he used a newly constructed sextant to calculate the distance from the new phenomenon to the fixed stars of closer proximity and was thus able to prove that this “new star” was farther removed from the earth than the moon and was amongst the heavenly bodies in the sphere farther away than the planets - a discovery that turned the traditional world picture upside down.

Brahe had planned to move to Basel, but when King Frederik II, impressed with his astronomical advances, offered him a small island, Hven, and money to build whatever he needed to continue his observations and
calculations, Brahe’s dreams had come true and he decided to stay in Denmark. On Hven, a little island in the north of Øresund, across from the king’s new castle, Kronborg, in Helsinore, Brahe began building a castle
along with an observatory – arguably the most famous observatory in the history of astronomy. On August 1576, the first stone for Uraniborg is laid and a new chapter in astronomy begins.

Uraniborg comes to be the centre of something bigger than Brahe himself. It is the centre of astronomical observations in Europe, but it is also the centre of a new form of learning and dissemination of knowledge.
Brahe opens up his home and his observatory to the learned world and students and astronomers flock to his island to partake in the marvels that take place here. He created an extraordinary environment of leaning that
was the first such centre in the modern world. 

“This was far different from university studies. European universities did not have observatories or research laboratories, and universities north of the Alps did not have aviaries or museums, although a few had begun to
lay out botanical gardens. Uraniborg had all of these facilities, plusan unprecedented array of astronomical instruments. In Tycho’s learned spaces, hand-on techniques and problem-solving took precedence over
theoretical academic learning. Students worked with Tycho and collaborative experimenters like Flemløse, Morsing, Croll and Steenwinckeland learned how to produce and verify new knowledge. This lively, innovative
household laid down models for the rest of their lives and became the prototype of future scientific academies real or imagined.” (Christianson p. 131).

During the 21 years that Brahe spends on Hven, a remarkable life emerges on this island, and extraordinary knowledge is created. Together with a large number of assistants and students, Brahe constantly observes the
heavens and in order to get satisfying results, he builds a number of new and groundbreaking instruments that revolutionize astronomy and basically founds modern empirical science.

“Tycho brought in five or six master artisans with various skills to build Uraniborg’s instruments. His instrument factory came to have a horse-powered trip hammer, iron and steel smithy, brass foundry, engraving and gilding
shop, cabinetmaker’s shop and instrument-maker’s shop.” (Christianson p. 95).

In the beginning, the instruments were placed in Uraniborg, but the balconies of wood were not secure enough, so in 1584, Brahe began building an underground observatory, Stjerneborg, where different instruments were
placed in five circular crypts.

It is all of this, the splendor of observatories, instruments, and observations that came to change modern science for good, that Brahe documents in his seminal “Astronomiae Instauartae Mechanica”.

Brahe was well aware of the importance of his observations, and he wanted to share his discoveries with the world. But he was also aware of the possibilities of results being stolen by others and wanted to be in full control
of the publishing process. He also wanted to make sure that his books were printed with the splendor and accuracy that he intended. Thus, in 1584, he created his own printing press that was placed in one of the corner
buildings of Uraniborg. “As historian Sachiko Kusukawa points out, “it was very rare for an author to be in full control of the production of both images and text”, but Tycho had the will and the means to achieve such
control” (Christainson p. 121). He soon discovered that it was difficult to get enough paper for his books, and in 1590, he started building a paper mill, on which he produced his on paper. When he left Denmark, he brought
with not only his instruments, but also his paper and his printing press.

The success of Uraniborg was not recognized by all, and after King Frederik II had died, Brahe had lost his great patron and his endless supply of means. In the beginning, the relationship with the new king, Christian IV,
was not bad, and the young crown prince had also visited Hven in 1592. The relationship soured, however, for a number of reasons, and eventually Brahe saw no other way forward than to leave his beloved island. The
buildings he could not take with him, but he did bring almost everything else of significance.

Thus, in early spring 1597, Tycho Brahe left Denmark and Hven, never to return again. After the death of Frederic II, his opponents at court had succeeded in turning the young king Christian IV against him, and without the financial support of the king, he could not afford to stay at Hven. Brahe had to find a new patron. He would eventually find this in Emperor Rudolph II in Prague. Before he left the country, he stayed in Copenhagen for a couple of months, and from there he traveled over Rostock to the castle Wandsbeck close to Hamburg. Here, he stayed as the guest of Henrik Rantzau, until his further plans had fallen into place. As mentioned above,
on his departure from Denmark, he brought with him most of his instruments as well as his printing press, which is witnessed among other places in a letter he writes to Anders Sørensen Vedel in 1599; here, he recounts his
departure from both Hven and Copenhagen and explicitly states what he brought with him.

Brahe stayed in Wandsbeck for an entire year. As soon as he had settled in, he resumed his observations and his literary work, and already in 1598, he was ready to publish a book that was printed in Wandsbeck. He had long
prepared a publication of a collected, illustrated description of his instruments and further anatomical devices, and this seemed like the perfect time to get it out. It would be of the utmost importance to finding and introducing himself to a new patron. More than anything, this magnificent publication bore witness to his achievements, his extraordinary skills, his astronomical brilliancy and his many new inventions.

Brahe had actually finished several of the woodcuts on Uraniborg on Hven, and the rest he finished and printed in Wandsbeck. Four of the new illustrations were from engraved plates of the highest quality, whereas the rest
were woodcut, also of remarkable quality. The paper is wonderfully heavy and is presumably produced by Brahe
himself on his paper mill on Hven.

“Tycho was ready to move on. He decided to publish a description of his instruments and facilities on Hven with an autobiography and an agenda for future achievements under a great monarch, perhaps an emperor, willing to
support such unprecedented marvels. He set up his printing press at Wandsburg and brought in a Hamburg printer named Philip von Ohr, together with copperplate engravers, calligraphers, manuscript illuminators,
bookbinders and others to produce fine books and manuscripts. The book was entitled “Astronomiae instauratae mechanica” (Instruments for the Instauration of Astronomy).” (Christianson, p. 185).

Brahe had not yet quite given up hope of returning to Denmark, to Hven and his beloved observatories, and several people tried to intervene and get King Christian IV to change his mind so that the great astronomer
could return.

“Around the time it [i.e. “Astronomiae instauratae mechanica”] went to press, King Christian IV arrived in the Duchy of Schleswig. An outbreak of plague had moved his wedding to Princess Anna Catherine of Brandenburg
to Haderslevhus Castle, where it took place in November. After the wedding, Rantzau arranged for Tycho to meet the bride’s parents. They received him warmly, agreed to write to Queen Anna Catherine and King Christian IV
on his behalf, and sent Johannes Müller to study with him until the summer of 1598, but their letters to King Christian had no effect.

By August 1598, however, he “no longer cared”. Having failed to penetrate the shield of enemies around King Christian IV, he turned to other courts and especially to that of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague.

In June 1598 Tycho sent Tengnagel to present Prince Maurice of Orange and Elector Ernest with sumptuously illuminated and autographed copies of his latest works. The Elector was astonished to learn that Tycho had left
Denmark. Tycho was renewing astronomy for the first time in more than a thousand years. How could King Christian IV allow this to happen? He asked how much Tycho Brahe cost the Danish crown… “What?” erupted
the Elector. ”Should such a man leave the country for so little money? What a disgrace! A lord gambles away more in an evening. Gold one can always get, but not always such people.” He said he would recommend Tycho
Brahe to Emperor Rudolf II and wanted to meet him personally… [He] immediately wrote to urge Rudolf II to take Tycho Brahe into his service, which the emperor was eager to do.

”Astronomiae instauratae mechanica” was dedicated to Emperor Rudolf II. It contained 22 woodcuts and engravings of Tycho’s instruments, a new engraving of Uraniborg, and woodcuts of Hven, Stjerneborg and
Tycho’s “imprese”. Tycho’s innovative methods for collecting and verifying observational data were laid out in detailed descriptions of instruments.” (Christianson, pp. 185-88).

Tycho presented Rudolf II with a copy of his “Astronomiae instauratae mechanica”. “the book described each of his instruments in turn, its size and material, advantages, shortcomings and verified standard of deviation,
concluding with the Great Celestial Globe that described precise positions of 1,000 stars. He described Hven, Uraniborg and Stjerneborg. All in all, this book illustrated how Tycho Brahe had transformed astronomy from an
academic exercise into a courtly public endeavor.” (Christianson, pp. 194-95).

Brunet I, 1200.
Kayser & Dehn, Bibliographie der Hamburger Drucke 88.
Laurits Nielsen, Dansk Bibliografi 432.
Houzeau & Lancaster 2703.
Rosenkilde and Balhausen, Thesaurus Li

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