September 5, 2012

Immigration Handbook for Scandinavian Settlers in Canada, with Comprehensive Descriptions of Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia

This immigration handbook was published by the Canadian Department of Interior in 1889 for the express purpose of recruiting settlers from Sweden. It includes an introduction to Canada and Canadian society, an immigration procedures handbook, and a topographical description of Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. Special attention is paid to already-existing Scandinavian settlements.

In Praise of the Most Serene Ferdinand, King of Spain, 'Baetic' and Ruler of Granada, Besieger, Victor, Triumphant: And On the Recently Discovered Islands in the Indian Sea

This book is a compilation of two texts, both relating to events in the momentous year of 1492. The first is a drama in Latin by an Italian author, Carlo Verardi (Carolus Verardus), written in a combination of verse and prose, which recounts the military campaign during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to capture Granada, the last Moorish territory on the Iberian Peninsula. The annexation of Granada marked the end of eight centuries of Muslim rule in Spain and Portugal and concluded the long struggle known in Spain as the Reconquista. The second text is Leandro di Cosco’s Latin translation of the letter by Christopher Columbus to Raphael Sánchez, in which Columbus recounted his voyage to America in 1492-93. Printed in Basel in 1494, it is one of six versions of the Columbus letter that were published in 1493-94, and the only one to include woodcut illustrations.

September 10, 2012

A Guide to Geometry, Surveying, the Launching of Missiles, and the Planting of Mines

This work, primarily intended for the training of military men, is a translation from a number of sources originally written in German and French. It was presented to the Bureau of Warfare and Jihād (Dār al-naṣr wa al-jihād) in Muḥarram, AH 1193 (early winter, 1779), or nearly two decades before Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. The work’s compiler, ʻUthman ibn ʻAbd al-Mannān, a translator at the Ottoman court in Belgrade, had converted to Islam from Christianity. The title of the work hints at his sincere effort to make himself useful to his patrons as a Muslim, committed to fostering Muslim ascendancy. Earlier he had prepared translations of other books, one on medicinal herbs and another on geography and maps. The work covers five topics: arithmetic, geometry, surveying, shooting projectiles, and the planting of explosive mines. Elementary arithmetic, planar geometry, and conical sections are covered. Following a discussion of the mechanics of motion and magnetism, the book introduces, in adequate detail, the basics of making and shooting cannonballs. This is an important work that documents Muslim interest in and familiarity with Newtonian mechanics in the 18th century. Schematic drawings are included. The amounts of explosives needed to bring down walls and the proper precautions to be observed in storing gunpowder are discussed. The present manuscript was completed in 1791 (AH 1206).

British Empire Throughout the World, Exhibited in One View

John Bartholomew and Co. was a mapmaking firm established in Edinburgh, Scotland, by John Bartholomew, Sr. (1805-61). His son, John Bartholomew, Jr. (1831-93), carried on the business. In the 1830s, the firm secured the commission to produce the maps in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which it held for the next 90 years. The business grew in the late 19th century as the British Empire expanded abroad and educational opportunity increased at home, driving up demand for maps. Among the cartographic innovations attributed to the firm were the use of red to indicate British possessions around the world and the technique of contour-layer coloring to represent topographical features through gradations in color. In this map, which probably dates from the 1850s before contour coloring was used, a note at the top states: “The British Possessions are engraved in a bolder character and coloured Red.” The use of red or pink for this purpose became common practice in the Victorian age. The map is also framed by idealized images of friendly encounters between British colonists and indigenous inhabitants in four different parts of the globe: Australia, North America, British Asia and the East Indian Islands, and the Cape Colony and Southern Africa.

Flowers of Abu Ma'shar

Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī (787–886), known as Abū Ma‘shar, lived in Baghdad in the 9th century. Originally an Islamic scholar of the Hadith (the prophetic traditions of Muhammad) and a contemporary of the famous philosopher al-Kindī, Abu Ma’shar developed an interest in astrology at the relatively late age of 47. He became the most important and prolific writer on astrology in the Middle Ages. His discourses incorporated and expanded upon the studies of earlier scholars of Islamic, Persian, Greek, and Mesopotamian origin. His works were translated into Latin in the 12th century and, through their wide circulation in manuscript form, had a great influence on Western scholars. This book is the first edition of Abū Ma‘shar’s Kitāb taḥāwīl sinī al-‘ālam (also known as the Kitāb al-nukat) as rendered into Latin by the 12th century translator Johannes Hispalensis (John of Seville). The text concerns the nature of a year (or month or day), as determined by the horoscope, and was intended as a practical manual for the instruction and training of astrologers. Included in the book are numerous illustrations of the planets and constellations. The printing is by Erhard Ratdolt, a famous early printer from Augsburg, Germany who, with two compatriots, established a printing partnership in Venice in 1475.

September 11, 2012

Complete Book on the Judgment of the Stars

Abu al-Hassan Ali Ibn Ali Ibn Abi al-Rijal (also known as Haly or Hali, and by the Latinized versions of his name, Haly Albohazen and Haly Abenragel) was a late 10th-century–early 11th-century Arab astrologer and astronomer who served as court astrologer in the palace of the Tunisian prince, al-Muizz Ibn Badis. His best-known treatise, Kitāb al-bāri' fi ahkām an-nujūm (Complete book on the judgment of the stars), was one of the works translated by the team of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim scholars that King Alfonso X of Castile (reigned 1252–84) assembled in Toledo to translate works of Arabic science into Latin and Castilian Spanish. A manuscript copy containing five of the eight books of a translation into Old Castilian by Yehuda ben Moshe Cohen survives and is in the National Library of Spain. De Judiciis Astrorum (Complete book on the judgment of the stars), a Latin translation of the Old Castilian manuscript, was published in Venice in 1485 and became an important source in Renaissance Europe for the understanding of medieval astrology. Presented here is the very rare 1523 edition of the same work, also printed in Venice.