As mentioned a day or two back, I recently bought “The Book Nobody Read” by Owen Gingerich. I’m finding it an easy read that really sucks me as he retells some of the highlights and anecdotes of his quest to inspect all the first and second editions of Copernicus’ de Revolutionibus. I’m plowing through it and approaching the halfway mark; it’s a sort of a quest for marginalia I suppose and examines some of the interesting annotations of folk who have owned the books over the centuries. Similarly such annotations have been useful tracking the development of theories of other greats of the time such as Tycho Brahe. I did briefly maintain a desire to own a copy of it, but even the second edition fetches a pretty penny. Perhaps I should settle for a nice leatherbound edition instead, or perhaps the CDROM. Though there is a cheap hardcover (US$40) that looks potentially interesting too. I’m fairly sure I have a cheap paperback edition tucked away in a box somewhere at least.
Looking around online has revealed several editions available in scanned form including a first edition from Nuremberg, and an autograph edition held by Copernicus himself in Poland. PDFs of the first edition are also available and this edition was made available by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. There’s even an english translation online. Should I decide I want to have a look at the book itself, it turns out (according to the appendix in Gingerich’s book, that the Uni of Sydney has a copy of the second edition in their rare books collection…but a 10-15 walk away. The State Library of Victoria also has a copy of the second edition.
Been a fun little exploration and I’ve come across an image of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale which I hope to visit one day as that’s the resting place for the Voynich Manuscript.