Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

Two Works on Astrology – Venice 1485 – Composition Attributed to Abraham ibn Ezra – Incunable – Incomplete Copy

Opening: $1,000
Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500
Sold for: $1,625
Including buyer's premium
Liber Abraham Iudei de Nativitatibus [Book of the Nativities of Abraham the Jew]. With: Magistralis Compositio Astrolabii by Hanrici [Henry] Bate. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 1485. Latin. Incunable.
A volume comprising two early works on astrology (originally printed together):
• Liber de Nativitatibus, a work on the subject of nativities, by "Abraham Iudei" ("Abraham the Jew").
• Magistralis Compositio Astrolabii, a work by the Flemish philosopher, astronomer, astrologist, and poet Henry Bate (1246-1310) on the subject of the astrolabe, a compact instrument, used for measuring and calculating the angles and positions of celestial bodies relative to the horizon.
Both works are illustrated with a number of woodcuts: decorative initials, and ten astrological or horoscopic diagrams.
The identity of the author of "Liber de Nativitatibus" is a matter of debate. The bibliographer Moritz (Moshe) Steinschneider (1816-1907) and other scholars ascribed the work to Abraham ibn Ezra; some were convinced it was a translation of the Hebrew composition entitled "Sefer HaMoladot" ("Book of Nativities"). Renate Smithuis, an authority in medieval Jewish studies (see below), insisted that the work was written "directly in Latin for a Latin readership, if not by ibn Ezra himself, then in his name and under his direction." But in an article published in 2018 (see below), Professor Shlomo Sela argued that although the archetype of the text was written in Hebrew by ibn Ezra, the composition itself could not be attributed to him.
[22] leaves Missing [8] leaves (gathering "b" of Liber Abraham Iudei de Nativitatibus, containing a number of illustrations), 22 cm. Good condition. Minor worming to all leaves (with minor damage to text). Foxing. Several (very old) notations in ink in text margins. Card binding with vellum spine and corners. Notations in pencil and bookplate on endpapers.
1. Renate Smithuis, "Abraham Ibn Ezra's Astrological Works in Hebrew and Latin, New Discoveries and Exhaustive Listing, " in "Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism, " Volume 6, 2006.
2. Shlomo Sela, "Origins and Transmission of Liber Abraham Iudei de Nativitatibus: A New Appraisal Based on the Scrutiny of the Available Manuscripts and other Sources, " article published in "Revue des Etudes Juives" (2018), pp. 317-352.
Early Printed Books – 15th-16th Centuries