Early Egyptian Astronomy in a Deluxe Binding

Seyffarth, Gustav. Beitraege zur Kenntniss der Literatur, Kunst, Mythologie und Geschichte des alten Aegypten. Erstes Heft: Bemerkungen ueber die Aegyptischen Papyrus auf der Koeniglichen Bibliothek zu Berlin.

Leipzig, J. A. Barth, 1826.

4to (225 x 264 mm). X, 42 pp. With 4 lithogr. folding plates. (And:) Beitraege [...] Zweites, Drittes, Viertes, Fünftes Heft. Systema Astronomiae Aegyptiacae Quadripartitum. Ibid., 1833. XXX, 445, (10) pp. (series titles and separate half-title for no. 2). With hand-coloured frontispiece and 10 large folding plates, lithographed throughout. Contemporary polished red morocco, spine, leading edges, inner dentelle and covers richly gilt and blind-tooled in the Romantic style. Glazed green endpapers; all edges goffered and gilt. Bound by the Leipzig master Anton Stumme with his label on the first flyleaf.


A fine morocco volume comprising the first five of Seyffarth’s monographic "Contributions" to Egyptology (apparently all published at the time of binding; two more were to follow by 1840). While the first fascicle contains the earliest catalogue raisonnée of the substantial Berlin collection of papyri, fascicles 2-5 (published with continuous pagination) constitute a bold investigation into early Egyptian astronomy and its all-pervading cosmological cult. This section includes a hand-coloured frontispiece of astronomical animal forms and ten large folding plates, all lithographed, showing important pieces of archeological evidence: the Navicula astronomica (Paris), Zodiacus Tentyriticus (Paris), Zodiacus Taurinensis (Turin), Sarcophagus Sethi (London), Sarcophagus Ramsis (Paris), Monolithus Amosis (Paris), Mensa Isiaca (Rome), and a Papyrus funeralis formerly in the d'Hermand collection. The final part is an astronomical lexicon, a typographical masterpiece that fits more than 1300 lithographed hieroglyphs precisely into their letterpress explanations.

Seyffarth, an opponent of Champollion's, emigrated to the U.S. in 1855. His thousands of transcriptions and sketches are preserved in the Brooklyn Museum as the "Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca Manuscripta".

A luxury copy printed entirely on wove paper and bound in elaborate morocco with finely goffered edges (unusual for a secular binding of the time) by the Leipzig master Anton Wilhelm August Stumme (1804-67), who also worked for Robert Schumann. Minor wear to binding, occasional foxing as typical for wove paper. Coloured frontispiece browned evenly; largely insignificant gutter tears to four folding plates. A crisp, unused copy in a magnificent binding.


Ibrahim-Hilmy II, 229f.

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