Item #08166 Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.
Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.
Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.
Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.
Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.
Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.

Arbatel. Von der Magia der Alten Väter.

[Southern Germany], c. 1600.

4to (190 x 149 mm.). [ii], [28]p. Interleaved. In a single cursive hand (Kurrentschrift) in brown ink, marginal annotations in a second contemporary hand.

Contemporary binding of a 15th-century vellum document in German over paste-laminate paper boards (base of the spine slightly damaged), old manuscript spine shelfmark magia 63, edges sprinkled red.

With:  Semmantia…Das ist…Wunderbarliche Nammenskunst.  [Southern Germany], c. 1596-1600. 4to. [iv blank], 163 [r. 164], [2 blank]p. Interleaved. In the ?same cursive hand (Kurrentschrift) in brown ink, ruled in purple ink, twenty-five full-page and nine smaller tables of occult alphabets, astronomical symbols, letters and numbers.

            Ad I-II: TWO UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS. A MAGICIAN’S READY REFERENCE. The two volumes were bound together shortly after the transcription of Arbatel, its paper stock used to interleave both texts (watermark like Heawood 919: Bavaria 1598 or after).
            Ad I: “THE FIRST BOOK OF WHITE MAGIC IN GERMANY…ALL THOSE WHO WOULD SUBSEQUENTLY WRITE ON MAGIC MADE REFERENCE TO ARBATEL” (Gilly), including English occultists from John Dee to Aleister Crowley. THIS PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED COPY IS APPARENTLY THE EARLIEST SURVIVING TRANSLATION. In forty-nine aphorisms, this anonymous grimoire reveals the key to human communication with the spirits governing the universe. “The secrets…range from the highest achievements of reputed mystical science to the bourgeois ambitions of daily life” (Waite) — from controlling the forces of nature to making money.
            Three German translations are known of the original Latin text (first printed Basel 1575). One was published in 1686 (Gilly’s Version B; no copy in the U.S.). The other two circulated in manuscript only. Ours —Version A — is closest to the original and was hitherto known in two later codices, both in Prague (Strahov, ms. DG IV 63 and National Museum, ms. XI C 46). The other (Version C) is heavily corrupted with text from Agrippa.
            Ad II: UNSTUDIED TREATISE ON NAME MAGIC AND NUMBER SYMBOLISM steeped in Kabbalah, gematria, astrology and the Bible. In the first part, tables transpose letters and numbers into FIVE FULLY EXPRESSED AND EXPLAINED OCCULT ALPHABETS, LINKING COLORS, PLANETS, CRYSTALS, ZODIAC SIGNS AND CELESTIAL BEINGS. Calculations of solar and lunar signs begin with the year 1596, dating the compilation.
            The second part centers on the true meaning of names — biblical, place, baptismal, marriage, etc. — and their connection to numerology and astrology. On the interleaves an 18th-century reader provided the full text of some biblical passages cited in the book. I have located only one other manuscript of Semmantia (British Library, Sloane ms. 2705, dated 1598).
            Both manuscripts are in good condition; the 18th-century annotator made notes on astrology and future predictions on the front pastedown and on a laid-in paper slip.
¶Ad I: Gilly, “Zwischen Erfahrung und Spekulation. T. Zwinger und kulturelle Krise seiner Zeit” in Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 77 (1977) 65-66 & 87-88; Gilly, “Il primo prontuario di magia bianca in Germania” in Magia, alchimia e scienza dal ‘400 al ‘700 edd. Gilly & Van Heertum 199-217; Waite, The Book of Ceremonial Magic 24-35; Paulus, “A Catalogue raisonné of Pseudo-Paracelsian Writings” in Pseudo-Paracelsus. Forgery and Early Modern Alchemy edd. Khan & Hirai 341-44; Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books 52-54; Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science VI: 457-58.

Item #08166

Price: $36,000.00

Status: On Hold