[Cologne]: [Johannes Solter], 1533. First combined edition. 4to, [xii], cclxi pp. [numerous errors in pagination, including p. 4 here misnumbered as III, indicating that this perhaps is an earlier state than the Jung copy, which incorporates the correction - also p. xxii misnumbered as xxiiii, cclxiv misnumbered as cclxii, clxi misnumbered as clx, clxxvii misnumbered as clxxvi, ccx-ccxi misnumbered as ccviii-ccix and carried foreward, p. cclxi misnumbered as cclxiii, and cclxiv
misnumbered as cclxii, but complete and consecutive. Bound in early pigskin, with extensive decorative blind-stamping, raised in four bands at the spine, with remnants of a broken metal clasp to the fore edge of both boards. Rear board detached, but present. Boards heavily darkened, worn, and stained, with the upper 2” of the leather at head of spine missing, and with tidemarking, chipping, and staining within, including several faint burn marks.
Extensively annotated throughout, in English, Latin, and one language we’ve been unable to identify. With numerous pasted in additions, both in manuscript and with pages taken from other, later publications, including a number of holograph passages and symbols on sheets of paper that have been pasted into blank portions of pages, including a gracefully drawn lamen of the Archangel Michael on a circular sheet of paper which has been pasted onto the last page beneath the conclusion of the text. On the detached rear board, facing the lamen, there is a handwritten table of the names of spirits and planets governing the hours of the day and night. Given that the handwritten text extends to the very edge of the left margin, these annotations were likely made after the board was detached, or the board was detached for that purpose. Though not here attributed, both the hand drawn lamen and the angel chart appear to be based upon the instructions of Agrippa’s teacher Trithemius of Sponheim for drawing spirits into crystal, as they appear in the English translation by Frances Barrett in the second book of The Magus.
Provenance: armorial stamp of Comte Colonna Walewski to title page, bearing the family motto “Usque ad Fines,” and two older, indecipherable latin phrases.
The first combined edition of this foundational work of The Renaissance, originally written from 1509-1510 while Agrippa studied with Trithemius of Sponheim. Portions of the work circulated in manuscript until this combined publication, which quickly found disfavor by the forces of the Inquisition. The books are a remarkable and clear synthesis of magical thought informed by the prior work of Ficino, Pico, Reuchlin and others, systemized under the influence of Kabbalah and Neo-Platonism.
This copy once belonged to Count Walewski, who became a teacher to Gerrit Lansing and Harry Smith shortly after the two met in the early 1950’s. Walewski was one of the more mysterious figures in the mid-twentieth century esoteric underground, best known in his lifetime as the proprietor of the antiquities shop Esoterica. He belonged to a prominent European family, the Colonna-Walewski’s, descended from Napoleon through an illegitimate child. According to a 1947 news article, Walewski had the largest library relating to demonology in America, though we’ve not been able to determine the current whereabouts of his library.
The only book that Walewski published under his own name was A System of Caucasian Yoga, published by Charles Muses under his New Falcon imprint in the year of Walewski’s death. The work is a facsimile of an illustrated manuscript made by Walewski, translated by him into English from the Russian and Persian dictation, which the editor claims was dictated to him in the Caucasian Mountains before the 1920’s by two initiates “of a rarely encountered secret society, which combined indigenous doctrines and those of yoga with teachings stemming from a mystical tradition of ancient Zoroastrianism.” The work has been translated into several languages, and remains influential in certain circles.
The extensive annotations and pasted-in sections suggest that the book was an object of use as much as an object of reference by Walewski and prior owners, and perhaps Lansing, Smith, and others. A battered, transformed grimoire of the counter-culture, and one of the most beautiful books we've seen. Item #27720