De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium

Mar 15, 2023universe


I don’t know about you, but I love to read and I read about an assortment of things from gardening to gravitational lensing. This is a story avid readers simply do not want to miss!

Nicolaus Copernicus was an astronomer and mathematician. He was born February 19, 1473 and died in 1543. Both of his parents came from merchant backgrounds and continued that throughout their lives. His father died in 1483 and his uncle, Lucas Watzenrode, took over as the head of their household. He was a cleric and assisted Nicolaus in obtaining an education in ecclesiastical studies. While studying he discovered an interest in mathematics and astronomy.

Watzenrode arranged for Nicolaus to take an administrative job that was just under the direction of the Bishop. Once there his finances were secured. He continued his studies of canon law at the University of Bologna.

Nicholaus Copernicus

While studying at the University of Bologna he lived with an astronomy professor, Domenico Maria Novara. It was during this timeframe that he made his first astronomical observations. He was proficient in Greek, Italian, German, and Latin and did many translations.

A bit later Copernicus went off to study medicine at the University of Padua. He also studied astronomy and astrology. His foundation of the Greek language assisted him in this vein.

Eventually, he obtained his Doctorate from the University of Ferrara in canon law. Afterward he moved to the episcopal palace in Lidzbark-Warminski with this uncle. He fancied taking over for his uncle one day but instead moved to Frombork.

He continued his administrative job for the church from Frombork. He tended to some of the church’s holdings, kept accounts, provisioned funds, attended meetings, and adjudicated disputes there. All this time he had been writing De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestrium. He also penned Johann Werners Letters. The latter made claim of inaccurate calculations of time and the fixed movement of stars.

Nicolaus Copernicus completed writing De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, a groundbreaking tome on the topic of astronomy in 1543. It is about our solar system.  Five hundred of them were published. It is believed that a mere two hundred seventy-seven of these first editions may still be in circulation.

When this book was published it was terribly controversial because it challenged what had been previously believed about the solar system. It stated that the earth moved around the sun and not vice versa. The Vatican promptly banned the book.

After the banning, the only known copies were housed in museums and not thought to be in the homes of collectors. This perfect copy of De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestrium is about to go up for auction and is believed to sell for around two and a half million dollars.

In 2002 another copy of this book sold for $2.2 M. It was of similar condition according to Christie’s.

Christie’s New York City, NY

This copy has some hand-penned annotations and two names. They were only visible under UV light. The words were “Jacobi Du Roure” and “Brugiere”. It will be on exhibit at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair from April 27th thru 30th, 2023.

If you get the chance to see this book in person – go, and if not then stand by to see how much it fetches in the auction.






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