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Magnes, sive, De arte magnetica opus tripartitum

Gallery of 223 pages.

Magnes, sive, De arte magnetica opus tripartitum

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The full title reads as follows:

“Athanasii Kircheri / Fuldensis Buchonii, e Soc. Iesu, Mathematum in Collegio Romano Eiusdem Societatis Professoris Ordinarii / MAGNES / Sive / De Arte Magnetica / Opus Tripartitum, / Quo /Praeterquam quod Universa Magnetis Natura, Eiusque in Omnibus Artibus & Scientiis usus nova Methodo explicetur, e viribus quoque & prodigiosis efefctibus Magneticarum, aliarumque abditarum Naturae motionum in Elementis, Lapidibus, Plantis & Animalibus elucescentium, multa hucusque incognita Naturae arcane per Physica, Medica, Chymica & Mathematica omnis generic experimenta recluduntur. / Editio secunda post Romanam multo correctior. / Coloniae Agrippinae, / Apud Iodocum Kalcoven, / Anno M.DC.XLIII [1643]. / Consensu Auctoris, Superiorum Facultate, & speciali / S. Caesareae M. Privilegio.”

Issue Points

The 1643 second edition, much expanded and improved over the 1641 edition, and known to have been a direct influence upon Otto van Guericke in a way that the 1641 edition was not (Norman 1215).

Text Notes

As the Norman catalogue states, ‘[This is] Kircher’s second and largest work on magnestism. 'The work is divided into three parts: the first on the magnet itself; the second on its application (encompassing magnetic statics, magnetic geometry, magnetic astronomy and magnetic natural magic); and the third on such topics as the magnetism of the earth and other heavenly bodies, the use of the thermometer, natural and artificial weather, magnetism of medicines, poisons and antidotes, the attractive force of the imagination, and the magnetism of music and of love. The second edition of this work (Cologne, 1643) had great influence on Otto von Guericke' 

Historical Importance

The 'Magnes' is also a landmark of horology, as noted in Kircher’s wikipedia entry:

“Kircher also constructed a magnetic clock, the mechanism of which he explained in his Magnes (1641). The device had originally been invented by another Jesuit, Fr. Linus of Liege, and was described by an acquaintance of Line's in 1634. Kircher's patron Peiresc had claimed that the clock's motion supported the Copernican cosmological model, the argument being that the magnetic sphere in the clock was caused to rotate by the magnetic force of the sun. Kircher's model disproved the hypothesis, showing that the motion could be produced by a water clock in the base of the device. Although Kircher wrote against the Copernican model in his Magnes, supporting instead that of Tycho Brahe, his later Itinerarium extaticum (1656, revised 1671), presented several systems — including the Copernican — as distinct possibilities. The clock has been reconstructed by Caroline Bouguereau in collaboration with Michael John Gorman and is on display at the Green Library at Stanford University.


1. 17th or early 18th century oval engraving of a rose wreathed in laurel pasted to the verso of the engraved title - probably to indicate ownership in the manner of a bookplate.

Early Modern17th CenturyScienceScientific RevolutionOccultMagnetismHorologyOtto van GuerickeGeometryStaticsAstronomyNatural MagicThermometersMeteorologyMedicineMedicalPoisonMusic

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