Peter Apian’s Cosmographia, originally published in 1524, was based on the writings of Ptolemy. It provided instruction in astronomy, geography, cartography, navigation, instrument-making, weather and climate, and map projections. It is illustrated with some of the earliest maps of the Americas and includes a number of moveable parts, also known as volvelles or the “Apian Wheel.”

A volvelle is a paper instrument that dates to the 11th century and is made of rotating paper disks attached to the center. In the 16th century they were used to calculate time and distance and were used in many different subject areas such as astronomy and astrology.

At Special Collections you can find the 1553 and 1584 edition. The images above are from the 1584 edition. If you are interested in seeing images from the 1553 edition, take a look at this earlier post from last year.

-Jennifer Needham


Hello, all my lovely followers! Long time no see! Sorry for the prolonged lack of original posts, but I’ve been crazy busy at my new job as Library Technician at Smithsonian Libraries (@smithsonianlibraries)! I’m working primarily at the Cullman Library in the Natural History Museum, which houses the Smithsonian’s special collections relating to natural history, although I’ve also spent some time at the Dibner Library, which is home to special collections relating to the physical sciences.

Although I’ve only been there for two months, I’ve had the opportunity to do and see some amazing things! From a shelving unit for miniature books to a well-loved 13th century Armenian manuscript (MSS 1675B), the Libraries are truly full of wonders great and small. One of my favorites is the volvelle, or rotating calculator, found in a 16th century alchemical manuscript (MSS 867B)– I just love it when books are interactive! Expect more from that one in the future.

Written in the 16th century by Peter Apian (1495-1552), Cosmographia provided instruction in astronomy, geography, cartography, navigation, and instrument-making and was based on the writings of Ptolemy. 

The most surprising feature of the book, given the time as which it was created, is the use of three-dimension, interactive additions to the text that are offered for the reader to use as reference, referred to as volvelle, or the Apian wheel. Star charts like these consist of multiple layers of cut and shaped paper fastened together with string, that can be rotated to find information about stars at different times.  

There is also an exquisitely drawn fold-out map of the various winds, depicted as Gods.

It’s no surprise that this book remained in use for hundreds of years, and continues to be used even today. At Special Collections, you can find the 1553 edition.

-Written by Katharine Pigliacelli, graduate student employee

Apian, Peter. Cosmographia. Antverpiae: Ex officina Arnoldi Coninx, 1584.

Treasure Thursday (because we totally didn’t forget to post this on Tuesday)

This is an animation of the  Astronumicum Caesareum (Astronomy of the Caesars). It is a masterpiece of printing.

Apian sought to make astronomy easy in this lavish book for royal patrons. He reduced complex astronomical computation to simple mechanics with the aid of paper volvelles – those pictured are for Mars – adapted from the astrolabe. The discs enabled the casting of horoscopes (used by doctors to treat patients), and the forecasting of eclipses and comets. The reader was expected to know little more than the most basic mathematics.

volvelle  asked:

Like Series 1 was intense, but the ending wasn't too bad! But THIS EPISODE. Their kiss I was so happy, but then Lix and randall's daughter, and then Freddie. he should have just left with her, instead of going to see them!

EXACTLY. Series 1 was captivating and full of intrigue, but we cannot say it ended badly.
No, really, how could they just end it like this? Why did they even fell the need to finish it like this? 

volvelle  asked:

Well, I loved your blog. Then you started blogging about The Walking Dead and Norman Reedus and now I LOVE IT TIMES INFINITY. I adore him and TWD so freaking much.

You have no idea how happy i am right now because i’ve convinced so many people irl to watch TWD and now you say this and i just-

[you should also follow this blog i co-run and it’s all about TWD/Reedus/stuff,things]