Albmair, Teodoro. I quattro elementi spiegati in venticinque discorsi [...].

Florence, all’insegna della Stella, 1668.

4to. 278 pp. 18th century half vellum with marbled covers. Edges sprinkled.


First and only edition of this rare and exceedingly curious book of secrets and popular medicine, a fantastical collection of miracles and notes on disparate topics by the native Tyrolean Theodor Albmair, former secretary to Emperor Ferdinand III.

"In the twenty-five discourses or chapters of his book, the author has something to say about not only the elements but all the fruits of the earth, whilst the most important chapter of all is the twenty-sixth; it is called 'Discorso particolare', and it deals with man in health and in sickness. The fourteenth 'Discorso' deals with bread, the fifteenth with wine" (Simon). Other subjects include gems and precious stones, moss, ambra and balms, metals, herbs, rare flowers and how to cultivate them; various animals, including such as supposedly dwell in fire, etc. "Ein rares, seltenes Buch" (Grass, Verzeichniß einiger Büchermerkwürdigkeiten, 1790, p. 8).

Binding rubbed and bumped. Interior somewhat brownstained throughout; some insignificant worming to lower corner (not touching text). Without flyleaves or final blank leaf.

Provenance: title-page has 18th century manuscript ownership of Giovanni Modesto Canciani, who probably commissioned the binding; last page of text has his handwritten statement: "1770: 20 Xbris liber iste a me Joanne Modesto Canciani totaliter usque ad hanc diem est perlectus" (last word trimmed by binder and then supplied again by the same writer). Additional stamped ownership of the Collegio Universitario Antonianum in Padua ("Antonianum Coll. Univ. Bibl.") with their shelfmarks to title-page. Very rare: OCLC lists only four copies in libraries (Wellcome Library; Univ. of Chicago; Univ. of Michigan; Bibliothèque de Genève); a single copy in auction records (André L. Simon's copy, sold at Sotheby's in 1981).

Simon 80. Wellcome II, 26. Sinkankas 60-A ("not seen"). Agassiz I, 111. Böhmer IV, 1, 281. Haym, p. 517, no. 9. Brückmann, Bibliotheca animalis continuatio (1747), p. 12. Cat. of the Science Library in the South Kensington Museum (1891), p. 242. Cat. of the Library of the Museum of Practical Geology (1878), p. 9. OCLC 23632541. Not in Krivatsy, Rosenthal, Ferguson etc.