GUIDO, Giovanni

MINES, PRECIOUS MINERALS AND ALCHEMY

GUIDO, Giovanni. De Mineralibus tractatus abssolutissimus.

Frankfurt, E. Emmelius, 1627.

£4,250.00

4to. pp. [8], 201, [21]. Roman letter, with Italic, double column. Printer’s device to title, decorated initials and ornaments. Browning (poor paper) as usual, fore-edge of title frayed (prob. paper flaw), couple of ll. a little creased. A perfectly acceptable copy in early carta rustica, book label of Risenfels family library to front pastedown.

Rare second edition of this most interesting chemical and legal work on mining and metallurgy. ‘De Mineralibus’ contains ‘a complete summary of all the questions concerning the extraction of minerals in the C17, with references to theories of medieval glossators up to early modern jurists’ (Mordini, p.263). Giovanni Guidi (or Guido, 1464-1530) was a Tuscan jurist from an influential family, acquainted with major figures such as Guicciardini and Ficino. ‘De Mineralibus’ begins with the Aristotelian theory of ‘causae’ (material, formal, efficient and final) for the examination of natural changes or movements; each of the four parts of ‘De Mineralibus’ tackles one of the Aristotelian causes. Part I is devoted first to miners and those who manage a mine, and their legal sphere: i.e., who is considered a miner (they include stone-cutters and miners’ children); the skills required; that miners could be lay or clerics (e.g., some friars near Volterra had an extraction business); taxation on miners’ profits (with gold dealt with separately); how to proceed if one owns or is renting an estate with minerals for extraction (with sections devoted to different kinds of ownership or land management); and specific regulations applying to gems. Second, to the various trades related to metals, e.g., goldsmiths and ironmongers (but not those who simply trade in precious metals), and all the regulations pertaining to them, e.g., that goldsmiths should not make jewels with very little gold. Third, to alchemists and the legal implications of the sale of ‘sophisticated’ (or alchemically produced) substances. Part II discusses the chemical properties of metals and the legislation pertaining to the discovery and exploitation of ore mines, with dedicated sections on legislation for gold and silver, gemstones, iron and iron weapons, and salts. Part III discusses the legal principles surrounding metal coins, with sections on value, deterioration and especially forgery; treasure, i.e., wealth physically concealed, unknown, randomly found or unclaimed; silver and gold objects; metal ornaments; and golden clothes (with a discussion of prohibited fashions or attire). Part IV examines the public and private utility of minerals (i.e., taxation, levies, etc.).

The wealthy family library of the Freiherrn von Risenfels, in Austria, was sold in 1924

Only Illinois copy recorded in the US.

USTC 2085533; VD17 7:703892C. Not in Ferguson. M. Mordini, ‘La figura e l’opera di Giovanni Guidi senior (1464-1530)\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\', Rivista Internazionale di Diritto Comune, 27 (2016), pp.263-99.
Stock Number: L4329 Category: