THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


32 Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
Drawing of a compass
Ink on paper, signed, 6.5 x 4.4 inches, late sixteenth century?
Among the mathematical books which David Eugene Smith purchased in 1908 while on a trip to Italy was one on astrology, whose title page was lacking and in which was laid this drawing of a compass, signed by Galileo. The writing resembles that of Galileo's early years, preceding the period in which he wrote such works on astronomy and mechanics as Siderius nuncius (1610), Dialogo...sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632) and the Discorsi...a due nuove scienze (1638). This drawing may relate to Galileo's activities while holding the chair in mathematics at the University of Padua, 1592-1610. During this period he invented a number of practical devices, including a type of thermometer and the sector or proportional compass, which he manufactured in his own instrument-making shop; he also gave private instruction on fortification, military engineering, and mechanics, and, after 1600, studied magnetism and fashioned magnetic devices.
Gift of David Eugene Smith

Collections and Treasures