Girolamo Cardano De svbtilitate. Basel, 1554.
One of the greatest encyclopaedic works of the Renaissance, this book is a mine of information about contemporary sciences, superstition, technology, alchemy and various branches of the occult. The author, Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576), was an Italian mathematician, adventurer, scientist, and physician, who made the first rigorous study of probability. He did so of necessity since he made his living as a gambler. The image shown here is a decorative initial letter from De svbtilitate, and is typical of the often comic designs of the period.