50 years ago, on 23 March 1967, the first edition of complete edition of Nicolaus Copernicus’ works had been published. To celebrate this anniversary Dom Emisyjny Manuscriptum put out a manuscript book with the most important positions from Jagiellonian University Library’s collections of the astronomer’s works, entitled Copernicus’ Autograph DE REVOLUTIONIBUS.
The cover of the book, which proved to be quite challenging to create, is undoubtedly visually stunning. The cover is adorned with 24 carat gold, silver and over 300 gemstones. The front, upholstered with hand-tinted goat skin, features an oil painting of Copernicus and his heliocentric model of the Solar System. The Sun is replaced with a sunstone and the earth is depicted with a lapis lazuli. Apart from these and many other stones, a piece of a genuine stone from outer space is used – meteorite Muonionalusta which landed in Scandinavia in 1906 and is almost 4.5 billion years old.
This spectacular covers protects a perfect copy of almost 30 years of Copernicus’ work. This, however, is not the first time an idea like this was conceived. Back in 1970s attempts to do so have been made, however the copies were not accurate enough, as technology of that time didn’t allow for a decent recreation, there were also problems with creating paper similar to the one the astronomer used. However, nowadays polygraphy is advanced enough to be able to scan old prints and precisely reproduce them. Only 99 copies of finished book have been printed.
The manuscript marks the inauguration of the whole series, Polonia 2018, which is to commemorate and remind Polish breakthroughs in culture, arts and science. It is, therefore, quite obvious that it was opened with Copernicus’ work. De Revolutionibus was, for many years, a book forbidden by the church and authorities. It was also responsible for so called Copernican Revolution, where the astronomer removed the Earthfrom the centre of the universe, set the heavenly bodies in rotation around the Sun and introduced Earth’s daily rotation on its axis. Nowadays, the original manuscript is stored in Jagiellonian Library’s vault, however the history of its finding and road to the vault is quite a tale. It was found in 1830s in Nositzes’ Library in Prague by professor Jan Baranowski, then-director of Astronomical Observatory in Warsaw. He then borrowed it, copied and published it, for the first time, in Polish.
Polonia 2018 series, as it was announced by Dom Emisyjny Manuscriptum, is supposed to consist of hand-made facsimiles (faithful reproductions of the originals) or research papers on epochs. Outlay is said to not exceed 200 copies for each book. Apart from Copernicus’ breakthrough work, in the series one will find Manuscript of Chopin’s F-Moll Concerto, Golden Millennial Prayer-Book with illuminations taken from Tyniec Sacramentarium (which dates back to 11th century), manuscript of Golden Royal Bible, as well as manuscript of Gallus Anonumus Chronicle.
Edited by NS, based on materials provided by Dom Emisyjny Manuscriptum. Translated by AS.