20 November 2002
BESSON, Jacques (d.1569?). L'Art et science de trouver les eaux et fontaines cachees soubs terre, autrement que par les moyens vulgaires des agriculteurs & architectes. Orleans: Eloy Gibier, 1569.
4° (199 x 140mm). Woodcut printer's device on title. Woodcut headpieces and initials. (Lightly browned, light marginal staining on quire a.) Late 17th/early 18th-century French speckled calf, spine gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece, red-speckled edges (extremities lightly rubbed, occasional slight scuffing or flaking). Provenance: Madame de Boigilbert (late 17th/early 18th-century inscription on rear free endpaper, further inscribed on the facing pastedown 'e Monsieur') -- early underlinings and annotations in pencil and ink -- Joseph A. Freilich (booklabel; his sale, Sotheby's NY, 10-11 January 2001, lot 58).
BESSON'S RARE WORK ON SUBTERRANEAN SOURCES OF WATER. Divided into three books, it first considers the origin and location of the planet's water, as much above as below ground, since the beginning of the world; the second discusses how this water has changed course since that time in many countries, the quantity and depth of hidden water sources, and how to find the shallowest sources; and the third describes how to improve the quality of the water if it is poor, and how to divert it to places where it is needed. In the course of the work, Besson takes into account the geological factors affecting lakes and seas, the effects of various minerals that water passes through, and meteorological phenomena. The present copy is the only one recorded at auction since 1975. Brunet I, 829; Cioranesco 3773 (with erroneous collation 85pp.); Wellcome I, 830.
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