• <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Thomas Paine ALS Confirming Christmas Eve Attack Likely Based on Anti-Christianity, “The account you heard of a man firing into my house is true.” $24,000 to $35,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Washington Gives a Horse and Guns to His Loyal Guard 10 Days Before Resigning as Commander-in-Chief. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> John Hancock ALS, “General Howe is bent on coming here” - Troops, Martha Washington, & 1777 Continental Congress, to Wife Dolly! $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Abraham Lincoln Boldly and Fully Signs Appointment of Consul Who Would Facilitate Bond Sales in Europe Financing Civil War. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> The Rarest of Dual Signed Kennedy Items! 1963 Christmas Card with "Blessed Christmas" Removed at the Last Minute for Kennedy's Jewish Friends. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Gershwin Signed Contract for 1st Production of <i>Porgy and Bess,</i> Also Signed by Dubose Heyward & Ira Gershwin, Historic! $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Einstein Signed, “Two years after the fall of the German Goyim” 1st Ed. of <i>Mein Weltbild.</i> $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Walt Disney <i>Fantasia</i>-Era Boldly Signed TLS Re: "Special Effects Department," PSA Certified Authentic & With Phil Sears COA. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> 1996-97 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls Home Game-Worn Jersey Showcasing "Light" Evident Use, MEARS A5. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Wayne Gretzky’s 1994 All-Star Used Game Jersey, Inscribed to Former MLB Player! $4,500 to $5,500.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> <i>The Astronauts</i> Signed by All 7 Mercury Astronauts! $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Fabulous Edison, Firestone, Burroughs Signed Journal With 44 Original Photos, Very Rare. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> BLAEU, Joannes and Martinus MARTINI - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Novus Atlas. Pars sexta. Novus Altas Sinensis.</i> Amsterdam: Blaeu, 1655. €8.000 to €12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> ORTELIUS, Abraham - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum.. Nomenclator ptolemaicus.</i> Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1579. €10.000 to €15.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista - <i>Carceri d'invenzione.</i> [Rome: G.B. Piranesi, second half of the 18th century]. €20.000 to €30.000.
  • <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2023 Issue

Lurking Deep Under the Print of an Ancient Manuscript Lies an Even Older, Missing Astronomical Masterpiece

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Picture shows how erased older writing (yellow) is brought out by multispectral imaging (photo credit: Museum of the Bible).

You never know what you may find if you examine an old book very closely...v e r y closely. An amazing discovery of ancient Greek astronomical readings, a star chart, has been found beneath the writing of a more recent work, a mere one millennium old. What is remarkable is this contains part of the star chart created by Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer and mathematician who lived from roughly 190-120 BC. Hipparchus was known to have created the first comprehensive chart of the stars but no one outside of antiquity had ever seen it. It was known only from later writings referencing it.

 

The manuscript in question is Codex Climaci Rescriptus, an important Christian document. It is a palimpsest. For those unfamiliar with the term, that is when an old vellum or parchment manuscript has its writing scraped off so new text can be entered. It was a common practice before the use of paper as vellum pages were expensive to make. It was cheaper to simply remove old, no longer needed text and reuse the vellum page for something new. The Codex was underneath the more recent writing and under some of it the star chart.

 

It has been known that this was a palimpsest for many years, but more recently, multispectral imaging has been developed that can “see” through the surface text to the washed text below. It is never completely removed. Light at various wavelengths is shined on the document and with the aid of a computer program it is able to reveal the underlying text.

 

On the surface there were Syriac texts from the 10th or 11th century. Under it, was the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a perhaps 6th century work in Palestinian Aramaic. It is considered extremely important as it contains some of the Gospels in the language closest to that Jesus spoke. It was believed to have been created in Judea, a mountainous region in what is now southern Israel.

 

The original manuscript made its way to St. Catherine's Monastery in Egyptian Sinai. That was perhaps in the 8th or 9th century, and that is where the original text was scraped and washed and the newer text inserted. It was there for many centuries until its pages, in separate groups, appeared for sale in Cairo. At that time, British twin sisters and biblical scholars Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson were looking for ancient biblical texts to purchase. In three stages between 1895-1906, they purchased most of the manuscript.

 

When the sisters died, they left the manuscript to Westminster College. They had earlier given the college a tract of land in Cambridge for a new campus. In 2009, Westminster decided to sell the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, and delivered it to Sotheby's, which put an estimate of £400,000-600,000 on it. It did not sell. However, in 2010 it was sold to the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, for placement in their planned Museum of the Bible. That is where it resides today.

 

While the Green family's interest was biblical, later multispectral imaging found something different on some of the pages. It is scientific rather than theological material. Imaging has revealed a portion of Hipparchus' star chart, in particular, the part around the constellations Corona Borealis, Draco, Ursa Minor and Ursa Major.

 

Not a lot is known about Hipparchus other than he is said to have been born in Nicaea, now located in Turkey, and that he died on the island of Rhodes. That leaves a lot of time, roughly 70 years, in between. Only one of his works is known to still exist and his star chart wasn't it. However, he was cited in various later texts which is why we know of his extensive work. This star chart is not his original work but was likely copied six centuries after he lived. Among those who used his work was Ptolemy, the best known astronomer from antiquity.

 

A report was recently published in the Journal for the History of Astronomy by Victor Gysembergh, Peter J. Williams, and others entitled New evidence for Hipparchus’ Star Catalogue revealed by multispectral imaging. This is a fairly technical article, not easy for non-astronomers to fully understand. Most notable among their findings was that Hipparchus' celestial map was amazingly accurate, within 1° of the actual stellar coordinates. There had been speculation that Ptolemy simply copied Hipparchus' catalogue. This has been shown not to be true, because while Ptolemy referenced Hiapparchus, his star catalogue is not the same. Despite his coming along centuries later, Ptolemy's was not quite as accurate.

 

Hipparchus' star catalogue listed 850 stars. Computerized ones today now list over one billion stars. That in no way diminishes Hipparchus' accomplishment as his chart was created long before telescopes, let alone computers, were invented. It was the most accurate one for a good 1,500 years.


Posted On: 2023-01-03 02:41
User Name: mairin111

Very informative, Michael; and your
coverage is better than what I spotted
in the recent news cycle. A real education
here for readers unfamiliar with a range of
terms, subjects, historical figures.
- M. Mulvihill, Collector.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Brontë, <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell,</i> three volumes, first edition, 1847. Sold June 16, 2022 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. Sold October 13 — $106,250.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Winfred Rembert, <i>Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959,</i> dye on carved & tooled leather, 1999. Sold October 6 — $233,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> M.C. Escher, <i>Relativity,</i> lithograph, 1953. Sold November 3 — $81,250.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Original Film Posters<br>27 January - 10 February 2023</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Lawrence of Arabia (1962), roadshow poster, US. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Star Wars (1977), style C poster, printer's proof, US. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> The Navigator/ La Croisiere du Navigator (1924), re-release poster (1931), French. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • <b><center>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 28 & 29, 2023</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Gurrey, Alfred Richard, Jr. <i>The Surf Riders of Hawaii,</i> Gray version, Honolulu, circa 1910-14. Important, hand made publication. $16,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Scarce Benjamin Owen Tyler 1818 copy of the Declaration of Independence, engraved by Peter Maverick, Newark, NJ. Considered the first copy of the Declaration produced for commercial purposes. $6,000 to $6,400.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Henry Mouzon 1775 1st State Map of North / South Carolina With Indian Frontiers. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b><center>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 28 & 29, 2023</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Gurrey, Alfred Richard, Jr. <i>Idyls of Hawaii,</i> Honolulu, circa 1910-15. Exceptionally rare self-published and hand made. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> McCarthy, Comrac. <i>Suttree,</i> New York, 1979. First edition, signed by the author. $2,600 to $3,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> 375 Different Bound Minstrel & Civil War Songs, 1830-1870, Black Americana. $2,400 to $2,800.
    <b><center>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 28 & 29, 2023</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> President Andrew Jackson Signed Letter to Andrew Jackson Donelson, 1836. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Civil War Robert E. Lee Signed Letter to William Jackson. Gaines Mill, Virginia, dated June 11, 1864. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson ALS to His Sister Laura, New Orleans Barracks, 1848. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <b><center>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 28 & 29, 2023</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> McCarthy, Cormac. <i>Blood Meridian,</i> New York, 1985. First edition, first printing. $1,800 to $2,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Archive of 8 Civil War CSA Cabinet Member Letters, incl. Seddon, Randolph, Walker, Mallory, Memminger, Stephens, Tyler. $1,600 to $1,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 28-29:</b> Napoleon I Autograph Letter Signed and Portrait Engraving, framed. $1,000 to $1,200.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th January 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first hardback edition, Bloomsbury, 1998. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> America.- Popple (Henry). <i>A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent thereto,</i> 1733 [but circa 1740]. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> America.- Martyr d'Anghiera (Peter). <i>De Orbe Novo,</i> edited by Richard Hakluyt, with the exceedingly rare Hakluyt-Martyr map, Paris, Guillelmum Avvray, 1587. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th January 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Chess.- Johannes Gallensis [John of Wales]. <i>Summa collationum, sive communiloquium,</i> ?first edition, Cologne, Ulrich Zel, [c.1472]. £18,000 to £22,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Marvell (Andrew). <i>Miscellaneous Poems,</i> first edition, for Robert Boulter, 1681. £8,000 to £10,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th January 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Tennis.- Sambucus (Johannes). <i>Emblemata, cum aliquot nummis antiqui operis,</i> first edition, Antwerp, Christopher Plantin, 1564.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> China, America & Canada.- Photograph album of views of China, America and Canada, [c.1870s]. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Bond (Michael). <i>A Bear Called Paddington,</i> first edition, signed by the author and dated October 1958, 1958. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th January 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Bedfordshire, Luton.- Archive of 33 charters from the reign of Henry VI relating to Luton and environs, manuscripts in Latin, on vellum, in charter bookhands, 1422-52. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Medicine.- Obstetrics.- Katakura (Kakury?). <i>Sanka Hatsum? [Enlightenment in Obstetrics],</i> 6 vol. in 4, Tokyo, 1799. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum, Jan. 26:</b> Bawden (Edward).- Richards (J.M.) <i>High Street,</i> first edition, presentation copy signed by the author, Edward Bawden's copy, 1938. £1,000 to £1,500.

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