Glasgow Incunabula Project update (29/5/2012)

Another ten books are now fully described and indexed on the project website:

Will I live a long and happy life as a rare books librarian? Perhaps I should consult our copy of Chiromantia.

Woodcut illustrations of palms

Woodcut diagrams illustrating palmistry (Sp Coll Ferguson An-y.31)

I was going to call this an “early” work on palmistry. Published in Padua in 1484, it is certainly an early printed work on the subject, but now that I have undertaken my extensive background blog research (namely consulting a copy of a volume entitled The book of the hand (by A. R. Craig, 1867 – no idea of its academic authoritativeness, sorry)) I discover that the science dates back to the ancient Egyptians, so perhaps we can better describe this incunable as a medieval interpretation of manual divination. Although published by Matthaeus Cerdonis, its twenty pages of woodcut illustrations were taken from an earlier edition by Erhard Ratdolt, as acknowledged in the colophon as “magistri Erhardi radolt instrumentis”.

The book is from the collection of John Ferguson – another example of his taste for weird pseudo-sciences (as is the Book of the Hand, by the way – wouldn’t you know it). Anyway, where do I start  … left hand or right?



Categories: Special Collections

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