The world’s top 29 unsold astrology books for sale yet too expensive to buy ($5000+), December 2013
– 13 December 2013
– Footnote added 7th January, 2016
In compiling this list, I am omitting books of only tangential interest to astrology that nonetheless come up in response to searches for ‘astrology’ as a keyword, in favour of those more directly relevant. Ordered strictly in descending order of price, from most expensive. I’m excluding brief pamphlets of astrological forecasts, and suchlike. Also omitted are a few random-seeming results of 20th century books with clearly erroneous high pricing. I searched for ‘astrology’ as a keyword in Vialibri and ordered by price, then repeated the search with ‘astrologia’ and finally ‘astrologie’ for a good all-round coverage of relevant results.
1. Johannes Schöner ‘De iudiciis nativitatum libri tres’ – 45,000 Swiss Francs. Probably the most desirable printed astrology book in the world. A copy at major auction in 2007 sold for $54,000, justifying this price tag. Its value is bolstered by Schöner’s more general reputation in mathematics and astronomy, which field commands bigger bucks than astrology.
2. Claudius Ptolemy ‘Tetrabiblos’ (1535 edition) – 150,000 Danish crowns. A high price to pay for an early edition in Greek and Latin of the world’s most famous ancient astrological textbook.
But note that there is another copy of the same edition for a much lower price, EUR 9200, here:
3. Franciscus Allaeus (a.k.a. Yves de Paris) ‘Astrologiae Nova Methodus’ (1654) – GBP £20,000. The rare first printing with considerably more volvelles than the second printing produced in the same year. It has previously auctioned for around 10,000 Euros, but this asking price is pushing the boat out even further.
4. Haly Abenragel ‘Liber de Iudiciis Astrorum’ (1551) – GBP £13,000. An early edition of the Latin translation of this early medieval astrological treatise.
5. Albohazen Hall ‘Haly de Iudiciis’ (1520) – EUR 15,000. Apparently a slightly earlier edition of the above, but the much shorter page count is suspicious, given that both are folios.
6. Johannes Garcaeus ‘Tractatus brevis et utilis, de erigendis figuris coeli, verificationibus, revolutionibus et directionibus’ (1556) – US $18,500. A very high asking price for a relatively minor work by the author on astrology. Certainly not his magnum opus. Appears to be bound with a work on the doctrine of eclipses.
7. Hermes Trismegistus / Almansor ‘Centiloquium’ (1492) – EUR 13,000. A very early printed book.
8. Pedro Ciruelo ‘Apotelesmata astrologiae christianae’ (1521) – EUR 12,000. A little-known early Renaissance astrology book.
9. Abraham Ibn Ezra ‘In rei iudiciali opera’ (1507) – US $15,000. An early edition of a Latin translation of Ibn Ezra’s collected astrological works.
10. Abraham Ibn Ezra ‘De nativitatibus’ (1537) – EUR 9500. A surprisingly high price for a later edition of just one of Ibn Ezra’s works in Latin.
11. Albohali ‘De iudiciis nativitatum’ (1549) – EUR 9010. An early Latin edition of an early medieval Arabic astrological treatise.
12. Joannes Taisnier ‘Opus Mathematicum’ (1562) – EUR 8931.76. A rag-bag of chiromancy, physiognomy, and astrology.
Another copy is available for the cheaper price of 7500 Swiss Francs here:
13. Marsilio Ficino ‘De triplici vita libri tres’ (1498) – EUR 8000. Includes substantial astrological content.
There is also a cheaper copy at US $8500 here:
14. Pontanus ‘Commentationes super centum sententiis ptolemaei’ (1512) – EUR 8000. A commentary on the pseudo-Ptolemaic centiloquy.
15. John Varley ‘A Treatise of Zodiacal Physiognomy’ (1828) – US $10500. An unfinished work that was supposed to run to four parts. The illustrations by William Blake have sent auction prices through the roof compared with all other English astrology books of any age (even the best 17th century ones cost far less than this), putting the work far outside my reach although I generally collect the 19th century. This copy is arguably overpriced in view of the missing pages.
16. Pierre Godard ‘Manuel astronomic’ (1678) – EUR 7000. An extraordinarily high price for an astrological treatise of the late 17th century, probably overoptimistic on the part of the bookseller.
17. Johannes Indagine ‘Introductiones apotelesmaticae elegantes’ (1556) – EUR 6500. Another ragbag fortune-telling work with sections on chiromancy, physiognomy and astrology. It was very popular in its day and has been through several editions as well as translations into English and French. This copy is overpriced for what is far from being the first edition.
18. David Origanus ‘De Astrologia Naturalis’ (1645) – EUR 6000. An important Renaissance astrological treatise, posthumously published. I was lucky to manage to get an original copy for a fraction of this price several years ago.
19. Johannes Indagine ‘Chiromantia’ (1531) – EUR 5700. An earlier edition of the work above, but still not the first.
20. Girolamo Cardano ‘Libelli Duo’ (1543) – EUR 5656.43. This is a much higher price than the last copy sold for several years ago for Cardan’s earliest printed work on astrology.
21. Pico della Mirandola ‘Opera Omnia’ (1517) – US $7500. Includes his famous Disputationum adversus astrologos, which was later re-edited in the mid-20th century in two volumes.
22. Firmicus Maternus ‘Astronomicon Libri VIII’ (1533) – DKK 38500. An early printed edition of this ancient astrology classic. This is not the cheapest copy on the market. There is at least one at a lower price.
23. Henri de Boulainvillers ‘Pratique abrégée des jugements astrologiques sur les nativités’ (1717). Issued manuscript form only, as here, until its eventual printed publication in the mid-20th century.
24. Richard Roussat ‘De Veritatibus, & Praedictionibus Astrologiae’ (1542) – US $6500. Said to be the second edition following the first the previous year.
25. Antoine Mizauld ‘Monsluciani Phaenomena, sive Aeriae Ephemerides’ (1533) – EUR 4500. Said to be a treatise on astrometeorology.
26. Johannes Indagine ‘Chiromancie par le regard des hommes’ (1549) – EUR 3850. Yet another early edition of Indagine’s ragbag work, this one in French.
27. Claude Dariot ‘A Briefe and Most Easie Introduction to the Astrologicall Judgement of the Starres’ (1598) – $5000. The second English edition, and the first with the added treatise on medical astrology by the anonymous G. C.. This is the second of only two books in this list of which I actually own a copy, following the David Origanus work above. This copy has been on the market for at least seven or eight years now and has risen in price in that time. To the best of my recollection, it lacks the folding Table of Planetary Hours, also missing from mine. At least, the owner of Tavistock Books was not able to readily locate it in my correspondence with him in May 2007, which I still have on file. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to procure a facsimile of it from Vic Zoschak of Tavistock Books. My assumption therefore was that it was missing from his copy too.
28. Firmicus Maternus ‘Astronomicon Libri VIII’ (1551 edition), bound with Latin editions of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, Manilius’s ‘Astronomicon’, and books by Sahl (Zahel), Omar of Tiberius, Bethen and Masha’Allah, among others – in common, I believe, with the 1533 printing featured above – US $5000. Long unsold.
29. George Beaumont ‘Fixed Stars, or an Analyzation and Refutation of Astrology’ (1814) – $5000. Another book that has been long unsold, not surprisingly in view of the high price for an early 19th century attack on astrology. The price is apparently a product of it being bound with another, non-astrological work, on witchcraft. I would be glad to obtain a copy of Beaumont’s work on its own, which would probably not be worth more than a tenth of this price.
If you find any errors or omissions here, please don’t hesitate to comment so that I may put them right or add further important information.
– Footnote (7th January 2016):
NB: Many of the URL links in this article will since have expired. It is hoped that the information content of the article is nonetheless still useful as a starting point to further searches.