VERANZIO, Fausto (Faust Vrancic, 1551-1617). Machinae novae. [Venice: c. 1616].
First edition of an extensive survey of mechanical, architectural and technological inventions by the Croatian polymath, Fausto Veranzio. The finest, most complete copy on the market in over 50 years, with the full complement of the four vernacular texts; without the Latin text. Other copies sold in recent decades have lacked two or more languages.
The handsome plates depict designs for diving, flotation devices, suspension bridges, a rope bridge as a precursor of the modern funicular railway, oil and wine presses, clocks, mills, fountains and, famously, a man ‘flying’, i.e. jumping - safely - with a parachute from the campanile of St Mark's in Venice. Veranzio also proposes methods for harnessing solar and hydraulic power, and one etching is a fine depiction of the church at Šibenik, his birthplace. Engineer and lexicographer, Veranzio was secretary to Rudolph II at Prague, at whose court he may have encountered European luminaries in the world of mathematics and science such as Brahe, Kepler and Dee. The printing history of the work has been little studied but several anomalies suggest that Veranzio may have printed (and issued) it over the course of time. Copies are known on thin and thick (as the present copy) paper, two versions of the title are known, with short or extended text, and with text in up to 5 languages, but none with date of printing. It has been variously dated between 1595-1615. Brunet V,1128; Riccardi II,592 (‘Raro e pregiato’).
Folio (363 x 240mm). Letterpress text in Italian, German, French and Spanish, vignette headpiece opening each language section, etched title with contemporary manuscript additions and 49 double-page numbered plates, a little light colour on pl.2 (title supplied with 17th-century inscription of Joan. Biré and 18th-century inscription of Arthaud and with lower edge preserved by folding up, a few small wormholes in Spanish text, tiny wormhole, short, neat tear or light adhesion at fold of about 15 plates, minor paper flaw in pl. 8, neat repaired tear into plate 37). 17th-century mottled calf with the French royal arms of Louis XIV [Olivier 2494, fer 7] in gilt at centre of both sides (somewhat restored). Provenance: LG (bookplate with monogram) – Federico Caproni (Italian industrialist; Biblioteca Caproni bookplate).