The gunner shevving the vvhole practise of artillerie:

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

£7500

FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xvi], 100, 99-158, [iv]. first and last leaf blank, 30 leaves of plates (22 folded). A B-Y. Roman letter, floriated initials, woodcut initials and headpieces, woodcut ornaments and printed diagrams, title within architectural border of upright cannons (McKerrow and Ferguson 291) just trimmed at fore-edge, slightly soiled at upper edge, 15 double page, 8 single, and 7 folding engraved plates, remarkably complete, engraved bookplate of Baythorne park on pastedown, contemporary manuscript note on final blank, (a recipe for powder?) A very good copy, crisp and clean, entirely unsophisticated in contemporary English calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands a.e.r., chip at head of spine, joints rubbed.

First edition of Robert Norton’s important work, remarkably complete with all plates placed in the text in their appropriate place. 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.

An excellent copy, completely unsophisticated in a contemporary binding, very rare complete with all the plates.

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

L2833

Print This Item Print This Item