17 June 2008
AGRICOLA, Georgius. De re metallica - De animantibus subterraneis liber. Basel: Hieronymus Froben and Nicolaus Episcopius, March 1556.
2o (335 x 228 mm). Printer's woodcut device on title and at end, over 270 pictorial and technical woodcuts by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch and perhaps Blasius Weffring, many full-page, full sheet containing woodcut diagrams intended to be cut up and pasted to pp. 97 and 100 is here inserted intact before i2, including blank [Greek alpha] 6. (Some light browning and staining.) Contemporary Italian vellum (recased with later endpapers). Provenance: Jacopo Rezia of Chieri, tutor of anatomy and physiology at the Royal Academy of the Ticino (inscription dated 1811); Harrison D. Horblit (bookplate, his sale, Sotheby's London 10 June 1974, lot 16).
FIRST EDITION OF "THE FIRST SYSTEMATIC TREATISE ON MINING AND METALLURGY AND ONE OF THE FIRST TECHNOLOGICAL BOOKS OF MODERN TIMES" (PMM). The twelve books of De re metallica embrace everything connected with the mining industry and metallurgical processes of the time including administration, prospecting, the duties of officials and companies and the manufacture of glass, sulphur and alum. The integration of the vivid and large woodcut illustrations with the text was carefully planned by the publishers. Some of the most important sections are those on mechanical engineering and the use of water-power, hauling, pumps, ventilation, blowing of furnaces, transport of ores, etc., showing a very elaborate technique. Published four months after Agricola's death, De re metallica remained the standard textbook on mining and metallurgy for over two hundred years. Agricola dedicated the book to the Dukes of Saxony, while a French Royal privilege was obtained by Froben and Episcopius in 1553. The dedication of the second text in the edition to Georgius Fabricius is dated 1548; the short work deals with subterranean creatures. Adams A-349; Dibner Heralds of Science 88; Grolier/Horblit 2b; Hoover 17; Norman 20; PMM 79.
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