THE SECRETS OF GLASS
L’arte vetraria distinta in libri sette.
Florence, Giunta, 1612.
FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. (8), 114, (6). Roman letter, little Italic; printer’s device on title, large historiated and decorated initials, typographical head- and tail-pieces; title backed with contemporary blank, clean marginal tear to 87, light water stain to gutter of first gathering, very occasional marginal foxing. A good, large, uncut copy in early nineteenth-century marbled paper over boards; spine edges rubbed.
Rare first edition of the earliest treatise on glassmaking, revealing some of the secret techniques developed by Italian artisans. The Florentine priest Antonio Lodovico Neri (1576-1614) was a well-known alchemist and glassmaker, associated with the Medici court. A follower of Paracelsus, he seems to have learned how to produce and shape glass directly in Murano, the island near Venice still famous for its glass manufacturing. Later, Neri established in Florence his own laboratory, which he also used for his research on the philosopher stone and metal transmutation. Partially written during Neri’s stay in Antwerp, this book deals with glassmaking fundamentals and especially with colouring of glass with metallic oxides. It provides a hardly comparable example of the perfect combination of alchemical knowledge with first-rank craft-making.
Ferguson, II, 135 (‘Hardly any of the older authorities seem to know this edition’); Gamba, 567; Giunti of Florence, 338; Wellcome, I, 4526.