Hoaxes, Counterfeits and Deception in Early Modern Science

Ed. by  Marco Beretta and Maria Conforti

July 2014 xv+280 pp., illustrated, 6 x 9, gatefold paperback (ISBN 978-0-88135-495-9) $47.96



“—Cleverly titled, its combination exclamation/question mark evokes surprise and uncertainty, practically radiating a tone of incredulity. The stated aim of the editors is to examine a myriad of fakes on their own merit—that is, without the imposition of an overarching theme—in order to generate ‘surprises and new ways to look at this complex and fascinating question’ (p. vi).

Fakes!? is thought provoking and intellectually engaging; it is a valuable contribution to early modern history of science scholarship that opens up important new considerations about the nature, and the production, of scientific knowledge” —Isis,v.106, No.2 (June 2015)

“­—The essays collected in Fakes!? fulfill the premises of the introduction remarkably well and all of them are extremely well documented and well illustrated…Overall, this book is an important and original contribution to the history of early modern science, outlining a fruitful project of a materialistic history of fake objects and texts as productive and positive historical entities.” Metascience. (online 6 February 2015)

Table of Contents

Introduction v
by Marco Beretta and Maria Conforti

Is Doctoring Data Always Misconduct? Case Studies: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Lansbergen
Owen Gingerich

File down the Data!
Data Treatment Procedures and False Positives for Fakes in Ptolemy’s Almagest 
Giorgio Strano

The Significance of Transmutation in Early Modern Alchemy The Case of Thurneysser’s Half-gold Nail
Didier Kahn

Transmutations and Frauds in Enlightened Paris Lavoisier and Alchemy
Marco Beretta

Coloring Topaz, Crystal and Moonstone
Factitious Gems and the Imitation of Art and Nature, 300–1500
Marjoljin Bol

Divers, Sirens and Fishes
The Anatomy of Underwater Creatures
Maria Conforti

Contrivances of Art
The Power of Imagery in the Early Modern Culture of Curiosity
Alessandro Tosi

Athanasius Kircher’s Palingenetic Plant
Ingrid Rowland

Certain Fakes and Uncertain Facts
Jan Jonston and the Question of Truth in Religion and Natural History 
Daniel Margocsy

An Original Fake
Closing the Debate on Flammarion’s Engraving 

Stefano Gattei Index of Names

Notes on Contributors