The gunner shevving the vvhole practise of artillerie:

London, Printed by A[ugustine] M[athewes] for Humphrey Robinson, 1628.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xvi], 100, 99-158, [iv]. first and last leaf blank (last blank torn),33 full and half-page plates. A⁶ B-Y⁴. Roman letter, floriated initials, woodcut initials and headpieces, woodcut ornaments, many woodcut diagrams of mathematical figures, instruments and diagrams in text, title within architectural border of upright cannons (McKerrow and Ferguson 291) just trimmed at fore-edge, 14 double page, 17 single, and 2 folding engraved plates, [lacking plate 7 and one half plate], “Cap Molineux enginer Generall for the Parliment” in contemporary hand on rear fly. Light age yellowing, first blank browned at margins and a little chipped tiny worm trail in lower blank corner of a few leaves, the odd mark or spot. Plate one just trimmed at head, lower portion of plate 14 lacking, plate eight placed upside down. A very good, tall copy, in contemporary English calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands, rebacked and remounted, slightly later morocco label gilt. a.e.r. 

First edition of Robert Norton’s important work with substantially all of the plates, which are almost always very incomplete, and a very nice copy of a work usually in a very poor state. Norton undertook to provide the English reader and especially gunner “who wants respect and encouragement” with the best continental writings on gunnery, artillery and all sorts of fireworks “for pleasure, triumph and war service”; largely adapted from Uffano’s “Tratado de la artileria”, reusing the splendid de Bry plates produced for that work. The text opens with definitions of terms, such as ‘swiftnesse’, ‘to mount’ and ‘to expell’. Next are the physical requirements of the gun, e.g. “That the superficies of the Columne of the Peece bee perfectly round,” followed by maxims:e.g. “The lighter are more moveable than the heavier.” The section concludes with 67 theorems of general and gun-related science: e.g. “A peece reverseth when it dischargeth”. “The sinewes of the art of artillerie,” including mathematics and its practical applications in calculating numbers of troops, optimal formations and measuring towers etc are discussed, accompanied by numerous woodcut diagrams. 

The main section of the text then addresses the practise of artillery, beginning with a definition. Topics covered are the inventors of guns and gunpowder, the distribution and use of early forms of weaponry in Europe, with their weights and measures included in tabular form, the materials required for the fabrication of various kinds of gun and cannons and potential problems, the construction of moulds for cannons and other weapons with diagrams illustrating the firing power of various guns, techniques and calculations to assure the gunner of a good shot, defend a besieged fortress, make counter-batteries, to tell if powder is suitable to fire, plant mines, transport equipment, and to make ‘ordinary and extraordinary matches’. The work concludes with a chapter on ‘artificiall fireworkes for tryumph and service,’ followed by engraved plates featuring armies, cannons, firing trajectories, calibre gauges, sailors coming into land, elaborate fireworks, and cavalry.

Robert Norton (d.1635) studied engineering and gunnery under John Reynolds, England’s master gunner, later becoming a royal gunner. He published several works on mathematics and artillery, of which this was the last. His works were notable for their scientific explanation of gunnery and that of the mathematical principles on which it relied.

A nice copy, in a good contemporary binding. Both BL copies are incomplete. 

ESTC S115254. [Calls for 27 plates.] STC 18673 (both BL copies incomplete). Cockle 114. Riling 100. Spaulding & Karpinski 116.

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