ACCADEMIA DEL CIMENTO. Saggi di naturali esperienze fatte nell'Accademia del Cimento. Edited by Lorenzo Magalloti. Florence: Giuseppe Cocchini, 1666.
2 (418 x 274mm). Half title, title in red and black with engraved alchemical device of the Academy, engraved portrait of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany by Lotaringus after Franois Spierre, 75 full-page illustrations of experimental apparatus printed from 30 plates, engraved by Modiana possibly after Stefano della Bella, engraved head- and tailpieces by V. Spada, large historiated woodcut initials. (Some light browning, heavier on the two dedication and 3 other leaves, portrait cut down and window-mounted, A1 waterstained, P2 with tear at lower margin.) Contemporary Italian red morocco, sides with two gilt fillet and roll-tool panels, the inner panel with cornerpiece design of a half-open and centre-piece of a fully-open fan, the central fan imposed on a design in blind of two crosses, spine in 7 compartments with raised bands, green morocco lettering-piece (possibly added in the 18th century) in one, the remainder richly tooled, gilt edges (extremities a little rubbed, two tiny wormholes in spine).
LARGE-PAPER COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, IN A MAGNIFICENT PRESENTATION BINDING. It is likely that this sumptuosly-bound large-paper copy was commissioned by the Academy's patrons, Prince Leopold de' Medici and his brother Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany, as gifts for other members of the nobility interested in the scienza nuova which the Academy supported. The surviving correspondence of Lorenzo Magalloti, who became secretary to the Academy and edited the Saggi, records a press run of 800 copies, 25 on 'carta detta de' frati' (friar's paper), 50 on royal paper and 725 on ordinary paper. The Norman copy of the second issue of this work was also printed on large paper and is nearly identically bound (Christie's NY, 15-16 June 1998, lot 237).
This was the only publication of the earliest scientific society. Although short-lived, it was highly active in the ten years from 1657 to 1667 and was highly influential through its experiments and discoveries. The Saggi contains a description of the first true thermometer and first true hygrometer, describes an improved barometer, and also gives the results of classic experiments on air pressure, sound velocity, radiant heat, phosphorescence, and the expansion of water on freezing. The Academy was so exclusive that it consisted of only 10 members, among them Galilei's pupil Vincenzo Viviani, Giovanni Borelli, Francesco Redi and Niels Stensen. The delicate glass tubes, pendulums, thermometers and other measuring devices, which are so finely depicted in Modiana's plates, were provided by Prince Leopold, himself an amateur scientist, who guided the Academy's experimental agenda. Dibner Heralds 82; NLM/Krivatsy 25; Riccardi I(2); Norman 486.