Scientist of the Day - Peter Apian
Peter Apian, a German mathematician and printer, was born Apr. 16, 1495. After publishing in 1524 a book on cosmography (a Renaissance genre that combined geography and astronomy), Apian moved to Ingolstadt and set up his own printing press, and in 1532 he began to issue beautifully-printed folios on astronomy and astronomical instruments. The most attractive features of these books were the large woodcut vignettes on the red-and-black-printed title pages. Title-page vignettes were not a complete novelty at the time, but Apian was unusual in commissioning vignettes that were designed specifically for a particular book, usually showing practitioners deploying the instruments that were being discussed in the book. We see above the titlepages for his Instrument Buch (1533, second image above), his Introductio Geographica (1533, third image above), and his Instrumentum primi mobilis (1534; fourth image above), as well as a detail of the vignette from the Instrument Buch (first image above).
Apian's Cosmographia liber of 1524 blossomed into the most popular cosmography book of the century, printed in dozens of editions, with the title usually simplified to Cosmographia. We have several editions in the Library, but the edition of 1550 is special, because it is the source for the single most reproduced woodcut in the secondary literature of the geocentric cosmological system that held sway until the early 17th century (fifth image above).
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City