Ancient Hebrew & other Middle Eastern, Greek, Roman and Arabic numbers, coins, weights and measures

Host, Matthäus (Matthaeus Hostus). Historiae rei nummariae veteris scriptores aliquot insignores [...]. Including: Host, Matthäus. Tres libros de veteribus mensuris ... Host, Matthäus. Quaedam opuscula variae ... [Sardi, Alessandro] (misattributed to John Selden). Liber de nummis ... Labbe, Philippe. Bibliotheca nummaria ... Budé, Guillaume. De asse et partibus ejus libri quinque.

Leiden, Pieter van der Aa, 1695 (colophon at the end of Host's works: Jena, Johann Zacharias Nisius, 1692).

4to. 15 works in 5 volumes, paginated as 3 and bound as 2. (36), 372, (8); (26), "637" [= 535], (9), [lacking 1-2], 3-716, (86) pp. With 2 title-pages in red and black (each with a woodcut decoration, the first of fruits and the second of flowers), 5 of 6 divisional title-pages (2 in red and black) plus numerous drop-titles; 2 engraved portraits (vol. I) and 3 folding tables (1 in vol. I, 2 in vol. II). Further with 4 woodcut foot rulers divided into 16ths, 12ths (inches) and 4ths, woodcut numerical signs, headpieces, tailpieces and decorated initials. Set in roman types with extensive italic and Greek, and incidental fraktur and Hebrew. Contemporary or near contemporary vellum, sewn on 4 vellum tapes laced through the joints, with a hollow back, with manuscript title on each spine.


A collection of works devoted primarily to the ancient Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Arabic number systems, numismatics and mensuration, more than half (nominally 3 volumes) comprising the collected works of Matthäus Host (1509-87), numismatist and professor of Greek in Frankfurt an der Oder. After these follow works by Alessandro Sardi (1520-88) (misattributed to John Selden), Philippe Labbe (1607-67) and Guillaume Budé (1468-1540). Host published his most important works on the Hebrew and other Middle Eastern, Greek, Roman and Arabic number systems (plus "astronomical" numbers probably taken from Agrippa and Noviomagus), coins and related subjects in the years 1578 to 1582. His collected works were published in three volumes at Frankfurt am Main, dated 1586 old style (1587 new style), volume 3 containing 10 short works, the first in 4 parts (here numbered I-XIII in the contents but I-X in the titles). Budé's "De asse", first published at Paris in 1514, is generally regarded as the best Renaissance attempt to determine the values of ancient coins relative to each other and to contemporary money. Sardi published his "De nummis" (on numismatics) at Mainz in 1579, but it appears here as the work of the British scholar and lawyer John Selden (1584-1654), with his preliminary note dated from Middle Temple in London, 1 May 1642. Since he does not appear to have published it himself, it is unclear whether he plagiarized it, or whether it was mistakenly attributed to him when published at London in 1675. At that time it appeared together with Labbe's "Bibliotheca nummaria" and Budé's "De asse". Labbe's work first appeared as an appendix to his 1664 "Bibliotheca bibliothecarum" and describes books on the subject of antiquarian coins, medals, weights and measures. The ESTC suggests that "De nummis" in the "1675" London edition of these three works and in the present edition (which has a 1685 Edinburgh copy imprint) are both reissues of the 1579 edition, but comparing the "1675" and "1685" versions in EEBO with the 1579 Mainz edition shows that they represent three different editions and that the "1685" version on EEBO is the present one. No 1685 Edinburgh edition is known, so the reason for the 1685 copy imprint (and for Selden's 1642 note) remains unclear. Pending further study we suppose the "1685" edition was printed ca. 1692 for issue with the 1692 edition of Host's works, which was printed (according to the colophon) by Nisius in Jena and published (according to the imprints) by Johann Georg Lipper in Leipzig and Lüneburg, and by Peter Le Clert in Amsterdam. The present version is a reissue of all these works in the same editions as 1692, but now with the two 1695 title-pages for publication by Van der Aa in Leiden.

Each volume with the 19th-century yellow bookplate on the front pastedown of the library of the Baptist Newton Theological Institution near Boston, which later merged with the Andover Theological Seminary and became associated with Harvard University.

Lacking the divisional title (A1) for the Sardi/Selden, "De nummis", with its 1685 Edinburgh copy imprint. With some browning and foxing throughout, a small tear into the text of one leaf and in the margin of the first folding table. Otherwise in good condition. The binding of the first volume is somewhat dirty and each has one or two of the vellum tapes broken at the hinge, but they are still in good condition. A detailed account of numbers, coins, etc., especially in the Middle East and Greece.

STCN (6 copies, incl. 2 incompl.). Cf. ESTC R41079 ("1685" [= ca. 1692] ed., including Host's works only in a note); Smith, Rara arithmetica, pp. 372-375 (1582 ed. of one of Host's works on numbers); for Host: ADB XIII, p. 191.

Stock Code: BN#45826 Tags: , , ,