MERSENNE, Marin (1588-1648). Harmonicorum libri in quibus agitur de sonorum natura, causis & effectibus: de consonantiis, dissonantiis, rationibus, generibus, modis, cantibus, compositione, orbisque totius harmonicis instrumentis. Paris: Guillaume Baudry, 1635.
Two parts bound in one, 2o (341 x 221 mm). 21 engraved illustrations and more than 100 woodcut illustrations mainly of musical instruments. (Lacks signatures R6 and X4 in vol. I (as often), B3 misbound, F3 with marginal repair causing some loss of text in 11 lines, repaired tear crossing text on N2.) Contemporary blind-tooled calf, central blind arabesque at center of each cover (some wear and soiling, a few repairs at extremities). Provenance: William Howes (inscription dated 1645 on verso of title); James Harwood, Windsor Schoolmaster (early inscription on front flyleaf); Rudolph Thickness (inscription dated 1740 on front flyleaf); Guillaume Oliver, M.D. (bookplate); Sir William Molesworth (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. "Martin Mersenne, a French mathematical analyst of music (inventor of equal temperament scale) and a number theorist (Mersenne primes), produced many remarkable mapped images in his 1636 book on musical instruments and harmony" Hand-drawn engravings, with their much greater resolution than woodcuts, make for excellent although costly mapped images. [Illustrated is] this elegant engraving from Mersenne's Harmonicorum libri shops 80 numbers (312 digits) along with intensely detailed drawings of your 19-string lute and 21-string theorbo" (Tufte, Beautiful Evidence, p.18). The second volume is an important study on musical instruments of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The signatures R and X are sometimes replaced by single cancel-leaves, but are often missing altogether. Brunet III:1662.