The Left Hand as Calendar - "The Beautiful Almanac that God and Nature has Given us"

Engalfred, Manauld

Le manuel calendier, par lequel est facile savoir le lieu & discours du soleil & de la lune, ensemble les festes fixes ou mobiles, en leglise Romaine celebree

Lyon: Jean de Tournes, 1548


Octavo: 16.3 x 10.3 cm. 55 p. Collation: A-C8, D4


A very fine, clean copy with rubrication bound in modern vellum. With a woodcut device on title, 2 initials, and 12 large illustrations of hands. Very rare. Only 2 copies in North America: Harvard and Smithsonian.

Manauld Engalfred may be an anagram for "André Ugel, Flamand", though nothing is known of either person. The book describes a perpetual calendar using the fingers and joints of the left hand ("le beau Almanac que Dieu & Nature nous ha donné dens nostre main gauche") (A3r)

There is no ability to calculate with this technique; it serves only as an aide- memoir for the user. The text is divided into eight chapters, each of which deals with an aspect of the calendar—cycles of the sun, the moon, leap years, the fixed and movable feasts of the Catholic church, etc. 

Engalfred wrote a provocative preface in which he pleads for others to share their knowledge. Such sharing, he believes, would lead in the future to men learning to fly like birds just as in the past men had learned to conquer the sea and swim like fish.

Tomash & Williams E11; Cartier, de Tournes, 121; FB 18217; Mortimer, Harvard French, 199; USTC 8268