Own a Piece of Mnemonics History for $48,500
An antiques dealer in New York is selling a copy of The First Printed Treatise On The Art Of Memory. Here is what you get for $48,500:
The First Printed Treatise On The Art Of Memory
The First Use Of “Visual Alphabets”
Unrecorded Variant Issue
MEMORY. PUBLICIUS, Jacobus [Venice, 30 Nov. 1482]
Oratoriae artis Epitomata 4to. [17 x 14 cm]. 67 (of 68) ff., without initial blank, including numerous white-on-black woodcut initials, and 11 full-page woodcuts: full-page woodcut of a tree of oratory, mnemonic diagram with a moveable pointer in the shape of a snake, another mnemonic diagram consisting of 25 animals, 42 roundels of a pictorial alphabet, chessboard with pieces in opening positions. Ruled in red throughout. Bound in modern morocco by Matthews, edges gilt; re-backed with earlier gilt spine laid down. Duplicate stamp on Royal Library, Munich in lower margin of a2; expertly washed, with some residual spotting. Otherwise good.
…First edition, unrecorded variant issue of the first printed treatise on the art of memory, containing as well the first printed visual alphabet. The work inaugurated a tradition in education and humanistic culture aimed at improving the use of memory, whether simply to retain whatever one learned, memorize a speech etc., or to aspire to the mnemotechnical feats of daring recorded by the ancients (repeating 100 proper names heard for the first time in reverse order etc.) This tradition would last well into the 17th century, spawning a large number of successors, of which Peter of Ravenna, Romberch and Rossellius are considered by Yates the most important (pp. 114/5).
I will write more about Jacobus Publicius in the near future.