JOHN EVELYN’S PYROTECHNY
Modelles artifices de feu et divers instrumens de guerre.Chaumont, Quentin Mareschal, 1598
FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. , 203 [i.e., 204], last blank. Roman letter, little Italic. Charming engraved architectural t-p with cannons, grenades and rockets, 90 elegant full-page copperplates with handsome illustrations of war machines and pyrotechnical weapons, one with the inventor of gunpowder being counselled by the Devil, 9 spaces blank for further copperplates (as usual), decorated initials and ornaments. Few outer edges untrimmed, slight marginal inking from the press to title, C1, E1 verso and last verso, small oil stain at upper blank gutter of B5, light water stain to upper outer corner of 4 ll., clean tear (from pressure of copperplate) to blank gutter of H3-4, I3 and N3, 3 strengthened, small editorial slip pasted over one word to H5 recto. A very good, clean copy in contemporary limp vellum, lacking ties, early ms ‘Engenery’ inked to spine, C18 ‘P.1.1’ (casemark) and Christie’s Evelyn library label to front pastedown, John Evelyn’s casemark above, C18 ‘L 46’ inked at foot of title, header of B5 recto retouched in ink by early hand (Evelyn’s?).
A very good clean copy of the first edition of this most remarkable vernacular work on military machines and defence architecture, illustrated with 90 handsome copperplates by the author himself, here in strong and fine impression. ‘The first book printed at Chaumont’ (Cockle). Joseph Boillot (1546-1605), a French artist, architect and military engineer, was the officer in charge of gunpowder and saltpetre in his native Langres. His most important work, ‘Modelles artifices’ includes both those that had by then become common weapons of artillery as well as some of his own invention. It begins by highlighting the importance of the human senses when at war. There follow illustrated accounts of the use of military machinery, from levers (with an interesting engraving illustrating Archimedes’s statement ‘If you give me a lever and a place to stand, I can move the world’), to augers, instruments to calculate distances and triangulation, sundry kinds of modular ladders, improvised bridges, reinforced gates (‘against the monsters who are the rage of today’s France’), gunpowder, sulphur, cannons, the structure of carts and horse harness strong enough to carry or draw heavy machinery, tools for the cleaning of cannons and adjusting the aim. The last 60 ll. consist of descriptions of extraordinady pyrotechnical artifices, all handsomely illustrated at work. Most handsome is the engraving of the German alchemist Berthold Schwarz (fl. C14), the legendary inventor of gunpowder, being counselled by the Devil, surrounded by alchemical instruments and a finely bound book. A scarce, most interesting and exquisitely printed work.Cockle 933: ‘91 copperplates’; Brunet I, 1064: ‘peu commun’; USTC 21154; Pettegree & Walsby 6277.