Auction 116, Lot 59

"[Lot of 2] Selenographia P. Francisci Mariae Grimaldi... [and] Pro Nomenclatura, et Libratione Lunari…", Riccioli/Grimaldi

Subject: Moon

Period: 1651 (dated)

Publication: Almagestum Novum

Color: Hand Color

See Description

This pair of maps of the moon is from the rare work of Giambattista Riccioli, an Italian Jesuit priest and scholar. His Almagestum Novum was published in 1651 as a defense of the Catholic stance opposed to the views espoused by Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus that favored a heliocentric model of the solar system. The significant aspect of the work to survive to the present period is Riccioli's system of lunar nomenclature. The maps, drawn by fellow Jesuit Francisco Grimaldi, mainly confirmed and augmented the selenographies of Van Langren and Hevelius. However, Riccioli's naming scheme remains in use to this day

The nomenclature was based on a subdivision of the visible lunar surface into octants, numbered in the Roman style from I through VIII. The naming scheme had two components, the first used for the broad features of land and seas, and the second for the craters. Riccioli used the names of various historical effects and weather conditions attributed to the Moon throughout history. Thus there were the seas of rain (Mare Imbrium), clouds (Mare Nubium), crises (Mare Crisium), tranquility (Mare Tranquilitatis). The landmasses were given comparable names; thus there were the lands of sterility (Terra Sterilitatis), heat (Terra Caloris), and liveliness (Terra Vitae). For the craters, Riccioli followed Van Langren's idea of commemorating famous people. However, unlike Van Langren, Riccioli avoided political conflict by using only the names of deceased philosophers and scholars with a connection to astronomy.

First chart (16.3 x 12.8") shows the moon without names, surrounded by four figures depicting the main phases of the moon. The second chart (11.3 x 12.5") shows the moon divided into Riccioli's octans with all the major features named.


Condition: A

Some professional paper restoration at paper edges, affecting only a couple of letters in the title of the first chart, that have been replaced in expert facsimile.

Estimate: $2,200 - $2,500

Sold for: $2,500

Closed on 9/20/2006