APPIER HANZELET, Jean. La Pyrotechnie... ou sont representes les plus rares & plus appreuvez secrets des machines & des feux artificiels.

Pont-à-Mousson, Jean & Gaspard Bernard, 1630


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. (viii) 264. A4, A-Kk4. Roman letter, some Italic. Finely engraved architectural title, columns of cannons at sides, crossed cannons below, exploding device at centre, authors arms at head, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments, very numerous engravings in the text, some full page, early mss shelf mark on fly, armorial bookplate of Thomas Francis Fremantle, (Baron Cottesloe) on pastedown. Light age yellowing, rare spot or mark, tiny worm trail in endpapers just touching t-p, and lower blank margin of next few leaves. A very good copy in contemporary English reverse calf, with very good impressions of the plates, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with raised bands, ruled in blind, gilt paper label lettered in black, all edges sprinkled red.

Beautifully illustrated first edition of Appier’s book on pyrotechnics, though closely based with regard to both text and illustrations on his 1620 work on military machines and fireworks. “Dedicating the book, it is believed, to Gaston, duc d’Orleans, the younger brother of Louis XIII, Hanzelet sought to instruct the royal prince in ‘the most ingenious, proven secrets of machines and fireworks for besieging, attacking, surprising and defending all places.’

The running head of this military manual reads ‘Machines and Fireworks for War and Recreation,’ but only 30 of its 264 pages would be of an help to ‘le Maitre du grand feu d’artifice’ preparing a spectacular pyrotechnical display for royal fete. Written midway through the Thirty Years War (1618 -48) Hanzelet’s work is principally concerned with artillery, fortifications, bridges, barricades, pontoons, scaling ladders, mines, mortars, bombs, petards, and other infernal machines used to attack, besige and defend. It is profusely illustrated, almost every page carrying a well-executed engraving. Many appear fanciful rather than practical, but the only one showing how black powder was made is the last one in the volume.” Norman B. Wilkinson. ‘Making Powder, by Jean Appier Hanzelet.’

“Appier had previously published Recueil de Plusiers Machines Militaires, et feux Artificials, pour la Guerre s Recreation (Pont-a-Mousson, 1620), in collaboration with Francois Thybourel, a self-styled “Maistre Chyrurgien.” It is to that volume that Francis Malthus referred in the preface to his 1629 English edition of A Treatise of Artificial Fire-vrorkes. Following a bitter dispute with Thybourel concerning the order of names on the title-page of ‘A description of many military machines, and artificial fireworks for war and recreation’ [the first edition was printed with two variant title-pages], Appier made certain that there would be no doubts about the authorship of The Pyrotechnics of Hanzelet Lorraine where are described the most rare and most learned secrets of machines and of fireworks when it was issued one decade later. Most of the text is cast in the form of a dialogue between a General and a Captain, with the reader benefiting from the Captain’s sage advice; a literary device later used by Galileo in his Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (Florence, 1632). Even though Appier introduced much new material on rockets, stars and other fireworks, such as squibs and crackers, in The Pyrotechnics, he also reused many of the engravings as well as some text from his earlier volume on military machines and fireworks.” Brown University Library.

BM STC Fr. C17th p. 15 no. 607. Cockle 938. USTC 6805289. Brunet I 358.
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