Institutio physico-astronomica adiecta in fine appendice geographica. Authore P.D. Cajetano Fontana Cler. Regul. vulgò Theatino

Autore: FONTANA, Gaetano (1645-1719)

Tipografo: Antonio Capponi & Pontiroli's heirs

Dati tipografici: Modena, 1695

4to (199x148). XVI, 230 pp. and 1 plate inserted between pp. 64 and 65. Collation: +8 A-O8 P4. Lacking the final leaf P4, a blank. With a woodcut astronomical vignette on title page and several woodcut diagrams in text. The illustration on the plate is presumably a cancellans of the quite similar illustration on p. 64. Contemporary cardboards, spine anciently reinforced with inked title. Stamps of the Milan Jesuit College on title page and following leaf, shelf mark label on half-title verso. Some manuscript annotations on the pastedowns. Marginal staining and foxing, title page a bit soiled, some quire heavier browned, all in all a good, genuine copy. Uncut with deckle edges.


Rare first edition, dedicated by the author to Giovanni Domenico Cassini, of this general compendium of astronomy, which deals with the planets' movements, the lunar phases, the different cosmographic theories (including Copernicus), as well as with physical and geographical phenomena like the air's refraction, the winds, and the causes of the movement of mercury in the barometer (on this last issue Fontana sided with B. Ramazzini against F. Torti, who replied to Fontana with a dissertation printed in Modena in 1698). At the end there are two appendices, Pro reformatione geographiae and De Italiae corographia (pp. 207 and 221, respectively), in which Fontana amends Magini's tables, especially those concerning the Duchy of Modena and its surrounding territories.

Born in Modena into a noble family, Gaetano Fontana entered the Order of the Theatines in Rome in 1665. From there he moved to Padua and Verona before coming back to Modena. He finally settled in his hometown for the rest of his life, devoting himself completely to scientific studies. A friend of L.A. Muratori, Fontana was also a correspondent of Eustachio Manfredi and Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who praised him for his observations that he considered as the most exact of all that were sent to him (cf. G. Tiraboschi, Biblioteca Modenese, Modena, 1782, II, pp. 317-319).


Italian Union Catalogue, IT\ICCU\RMSE\006395; Houzeau-Lancaster, 10929; Riccardi, I, 468; Sotheby's, The Library of the Earls of Macclesfield, London, 2004, lot 226 (lacking the half title).