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First published book on heliocentric theory heads for auction

by • July 5, 2016 • No Comments

Christies can auction a work of considerable scientific gravitas on July 13 in London. It is a initially version of the initially printed book to propose that the planet Earth revolved around the Sun.

De Libris Revolutionum Eruditissimi Viridoctoris came not of Nicolaus Copernicus, but of his only student, Georg Joachim Rheticus, and when published in 1540, provided the momentum needed for Copernicus to finally have his landmark De revolutionibus orbium coelestium published in 1543.

Rheticus (1514-1574) published this initially book on the subject based on his studies under Copernicus, all the while imploring his master to finally publish the master work that had been finished for 25 years. Copernicus resisted publishing De revolutionibus orbium coelestium for 30 years due to his fear of the Catholic Church, but when Rheticus published this book in 1540, Copernicus finally gave Rheticus the go ahead to publish the leading work for him.

Rheticus is referred to as the “only student” of Copernicus, but given they worked together for many years, understudy can be a advantageous description of the relationship, as Rheticus made the De revolutionibus orbium coelestium Copernicus’ manuscript for printing, and the famous illustration above shows the finished and printed book being given to Copernicus on his deathbed.

The copy of De Libris Revolutionum Eruditissimi Viridoctoris is assumeed to sell for between £1,200,000 and £1,800,000 that due to Brexit, is a lot cheaper in US dollars this week at an estimate that translates into only $1.6 to $2.4 million. We assume it can considerably exceed its estimate as the last time a copy came to auction was at a Sotheby’s New York auction in November, 1989.

We have been next the scientific manuscripts and instruments market since we began, and we have maintained for many years that the scientific book and instrument marketplace is considerably undervalued by comparison to many other auction marketplaces.

This book is a landmark work and if it retails for the mid-point of its ultra conservative estimate, $2 million, it can become one of the top 20 many valuable scientific documents at any time sold.

Even the many valuable initially version copy of his master’s master work De revolutionibus orbium coelestiumonly achieved $2,210,500 at a Christie’s (New York), June, 2008 auction.

The Rheticus book is only one of an impressive array of significant books of the Scientific Library of Giancarlo Beltrame, and what we’re seeing at this auction is only half the collection, so given the extraordinary depth and breadth on display, we can’t wait for the 2nd half.

Giancarlo Beltrame took the helm of the family company, AFV Acciaierie Beltrame S.p.A, founded in 1896, and recast it as one of the main players in the global steel industry. Over the years, Beltrame has collected scientific instruments, rare books, autograph letters and prints.

His world-renowned scientific library comes with a few of the many significant texts on astronomy (his passion, as can be seen of the number of initially versions relating to the science), geography, mathematics, innovation and medicine, but in addition philosophical works, esoteric texts and humanist literature.


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