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Rare, richly illustrated 17th-century guide to chiromancy: the practice of fortune-telling through the study of the palm (palm reading)

[TAISNIER, Jean (?)].
La science curieuse, ou traité de la chyromance, récueilly des plus graves autheurs que ont traité de cette matiere, & plus exactement recherché qu'il n'a esté cy-devant par aucun autre.
Paris, Francois Clousier, 1665. 4to (21.5 x 16.5 cm). Illustrated with 90 engraved plates (9 showing 1 full-page hand each, 1 table and 80 showing 16 smaller hands each, with the relevant lines for reading palms). With 1 woodcut decorated initial, and several woodcut head- and tailpieces. Contemporary mottled calf, sewn on 5 supports, gold-tooled board edges, gold-tooled spine with the title lettered in gold. [1], [1 blank], [6], 212 pp.
€ 2,950
First edition of a rare, complete, and richly illustrated guide to chiromancy, better known as palmistry or palm reading. It describes and explains the practice of fortune-telling through the study of the palm of one's hand. The present work is often attributed to Jean Taisnier (or Johannes Taisnerius, 1508-1562), but the name of the author is not mentioned anywhere on the title-page or in the text. The text starts with the definition of the practice of chiromancy, a compilation of information by other authors, and an explanation of the basic principles of palm reading. The majority of the work is dedicated to an extensive explanation of the location, name, meaning, and importance of every line to be found on hands. The whole is illustrated with 90 engraved plates of hands and the different lines different hands can have, showing a total of nearly 1300 hands with varying sets of lines.
The purported author of the present work, Taisnier, was a 16th-century musician, astrologer, mathematician, occultist, and possibly even a priest.
With an owners inscription and an owners stamp on the title-page: "Ex libris Gaspar: Rayon doct. Medic." and "R. Barocheau.". Some wormholes in the foot margin, not affecting the text or images. Binding shows some signs of wear, internally slightly soiled. Otherwise in good condition. A rare, remarkably early and richly illustrated guide palm reading. Caillet 10053; Sabattini 589; cf. (2nd ed.) Bibliotheca Esoterica 4478; Krivatsy NLM 11671.
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Science & technology  >  Optics & Perspective