Second edition, expanded with additional plates, of this encyclopedic natural history work, published in the era when observational science began to eclipse superstition.
Very good plus.
"PHYSICA CURIOSA represented a critical step along the journey of accepting science over superstition." – Grace Costantino
PHYSICA CURIOSA blends the outright mythical with human and animal birth defects, as well as more observation-based natural phenomena. Angels, demons, witches, and monsters rub elbows with more conventional animals such as lions and armadillos, sometimes in the same plate. While Schott was unsure about the veracity of some of the more fantastic creatures in his work, he opted to include them as uncertainty in Europe about much of the rest of the world remained prevalent.
Though the categories of demonstrably true and potentially supernatural seem to be at odds with each other, historian Paula Findlen notes that the classification of humans and animals "became an organizing principal that described the process of diversification in nature" – a way to explain what, to a 17th-century scientist, was otherwise inexplicable. Indeed, Schott's work on birth defects as a scientific topic makes the PHYSICA CURIOSA a foundational text in the field of Teratology: he drew distinctions between the more unusual, "perhaps manifestly false" components of his work and those "proved true by frequent experiment" (Costatino).
Gaspar Schott was a keen encyclopedist; a disciple of Athanasius Kircher, his PHYSICA CURIOSA references the works of fellow natural history compilers Gesner, Aldrovandi, Paré, and others. The first edition rarely appears on the market; the second, with additional text and plates, is not often found with all seven folding plates.
Read more: Grace Costatino, "Monsters, the Scientific Revolution, and Physcia Curiosa," Biodiversity Heritage Library Blog; Grace Findlen, "Jokes of Nature and Jokes of Knowledge," Renaissance Quarterly vol. 43 no. 2.
Herbipoli [Würzburg]: Johannis Andreæ Endteri & Wolfgangi, 1667. Quarto, 8.25'' x 6.25''. 17th-century speckled sheep binding (distinct follicles visible under speckling) with gilt tooling and red goatskin title plate to spine. Edges with gilt dentelles, textblock edges speckled blue. Engraved frontispiece by Jacob von Sandrart and coat of arms, with 61 engraved plates (seven fold-out). , 1389,  pages, collated and complete. Early shelfmark to verso of front flyleaf. Light scuffing to boards, with mild shelfwear and corner bumping. Some toning and spotting to leaves, repairs to upper margins of a couple leaves around page 1196. Shows nicely.
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