Del terremoto.

Bologna, per Alessandro Benacci, 1571.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv) 56. Roman letter. T-p with fine woodcut of crown, decorated initials and headpieces. Lower outer corner of first few ll. very slightly thumbed, an excellent, well-margined copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, lower part of spine repaired. In folding box.

Excellent copy of the first edition of Lucio Maggio’s major work on seismology. Written in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Ferrara in 1570, this is one of three pamphlets printed in Bologna in 1571 discussing this devastating event, which caused the last stretch of the nearby river Po to shift to a different site. The Bolognese Maggio (d. 1589?) was part of the circle of the Duke of Urbino, on whose behalf he visited Ferrara to report on the disaster. He presented his work in the form of a dialogue between three learned gentlemen leaving the ruins of Ferrara by sea, after witnessing the earthquake. With the help of ancient authorities like Aristotle, Anaximenes, Pliny and Democritus, their debate touches on all aspects of early modern seismology, blending scientific observations with traditional beliefs: e.g., are earthquakes caused by the four elements? What are their warning signs and types? Why do subterranean fires and odd natural phenomena precede and plagues follow earthquakes? How do earthquakes affect the sea? ‘Del terremoto’ suggested that earthquakes were caused by underground exhalations escaping under the reaction of the heat of the sun and the earth. The final section is devoted to collateral seismic effects, including tsunamis (‘the sea rises and swells and floods whole provinces’), the formation of new mountains, higher mortality and plagues generated by the poisonous exhalations long trapped underground. The well-documented Ferrara earthquake generated widespread debate in Europe, leading to the development of the earliest examples of quake-proof architecture. Maggio’s work was translated into French in 1575 and remained influential in seismological studies throughout the C17.

USTC 839587; BM STC It., p. 403. Not in Brunet, Graesse, Honeyman or Riccardi.


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AGRICOLA, Georgius (BAUER, Georg)

De re metallica libri XII. De animantibus subterraneis liber.

Basle, Hieronymus Froben and Nicolaus Bischoff, 1561.


Folio, pp. [xii] 502 [lxxiv]. Roman, Greek and Gothic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title and verso of last, two woodcut plates, one folding, a total of 273 large woodcut illustrations and diagrams in good clean impression, some full-page, white on black initials. Light age yellowing, a few marginal spots and splashes, clean tear without any loss in one leaf, early ms press mark to t-p and later, but not modern, to pastedown. A good, clean wide-margined copy. Formerly in contemporary 1/4 pigskin over paste-boards, the pigskin removed exposing stitching and binder’s waste, cover from a ms. on vellum in red and brown ink, decorated initials, early 1400’s. In folding box.

SECOND EDITION of the “first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy and one of the first technological books of modern times” (PMM), the earliest and pre-eminent early work on metallurgy and mining. It is remarkably richly illustrated with technical woodcuts of the highest quality, largely by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch (after Blasius Weffring). All of them are based on Agricola’s own drawings of processes and phenomena he personally observed. The work “embraces everything connected with the mining industry and metallurgical processes, including administration, prospecting, the duties of officials and companies and the manufacture of glass, sulphur and alum. The magnificent series of two hundred and seventy three large woodcut illustrations…add to its value. Some of the most important sections are those on mechanical engineering and the use of water power, hauling pumps, ventilation, blowing of furnaces, transport of ores etc., showing a very elaborate technique” (PMM). It is “one of the great monuments of technology by reason of the comprehensiveness of its text and the detail and intelligibility of its numerous illustrations” (Singer, vol II, p. 27), and became “the early standard treatise” on the subject (Horblit, 2b). It is also one of the important contributions to physical geology, in particular the influence of wind and water erosion on landscape and its clear account of the order of strata exposed by mines. The work concludes with a 20 page glossary of technical terms and names in Latin and German which contains a new scientific classification of minerals based on their physical properties; the mode of occurrence and mutual relation of some 80 minerals and ores are discussed, no less than 21 of them for the first time.

Written over two decades, the work illustrates Bauer’s familiarity both with the technical and financial aspects of mining as well as his concern for the health of the miners. Bauer had studied medicine in Leipzig before moving to the important mining centre of Joachimstal (in latter-day Czechoslovakia) as the town physician. There, Bauer observed both by day and by night the unceasing activities of the mines, “and his interests were aroused by the metallurgical, mineralogical and chemical problems of the trade. He published several books relating to these, the above is outstanding in the field of all science and technology; it was published posthumously. Many large woodcuts present vivid pictures of men at work, machines pumping, ventilating, smelting, assaying, transportation, and hoisting equipment and methods of his time” (Dibner, Heralds of Science, 88). The work was translated into English in 1912 by Herbert Hoover, afterwards president of the United States.

BM STC Ger. p.8; Adams A-350; PMM 79 (1st edn); Brunet I, 113; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 2 (1st); Duveen pp. 4-5; Ferguson I, p.9; Kress I, 71 (1st); Ford, Images of Science, pp. 124-5; Norman 20.


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BOODT, Anselmus


Gemmarum et lapidum historia. Nunc vero recensuit, à mendis repurgavit, commentariis et pluribus melioribusque figuris illustravit & multo locupletiore indice auxit Adrianus Toll.

Leiden, Joannis Maire, 1636.


8vo. [viii], 576 p., [xxiv] (last leaf blank), 2 folding tables. Woodcut printer’s device on title, foliated woodcut initials and tailpieces, forty three woodcuts in the text, early ms. shelf mark on title. Light age yellowing. A very good, clean copy, with folding tables in excellent condition, in three-quarter vellum over marbled paper boards c. 1700, title gilt on spine, all edges speckled red.

Second corrected and improved edition (including new illustration) by Adrianus Toll, of this important work on gemstones and minerals, first published in 1609, the definitive work of the Belgian mineralogist, alchemist and physician, Anselmus Boodt. “In his Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia, Boodt made the first attempt at a systematic description of minerals, dividing the minerals into great and small, rare and common, hard and soft, combustible and incombustible, transparent and opaque. He uses a scale of hardness expressed in three degrees and notes the crystalline forms of some minerals (triangular, quadratic, and hexangular).

Boodt criticizes some of the views of Aristotle, Pliny, Paracelsus, and others. He also mentions atoms. He enumerates about 600 minerals that he knows from personal observation, and describes their properties, values, imitations, and medical applications. There are also tables of values of diamonds according to their size and a short description of the polishing of precious stones. Boodt cites nineteen authors and, besides the minerals known to him, gives a list of 233 minerals whose names he knows from Pliny and Bartholomeus Anglicus, among others.” D.S.B., II, p. 293.

From 1583 Boodt lived Bohemia as physician to Wilhelm Rosenberg, the burgrave of Prague. In 1584 he was nominated physician in ordinary to Rudolf II (with a considerable salary) and retained this position until 1612. There is no evidence however that he ever seriously practiced as a physician; Rudolf clearly saw him as one of his alchemists. Boodt was placed in charge of Rudolf’s collection of gems in his ‘Kunstkammer’. The ‘Naturalia’ (minerals and gemstones) were in a 37 cabinet display with the gems and minerals systematically arranged, the large uncut gemstones held in strong boxes. De Boodt was an avid mineral collector and travelled widely on collecting trips to the mining regions of Germany, Bohemia and Silesia, often accompanied by his Bohemian naturalist friend, Thaddaeus Hagecius.

This work also gives us our most important source of knowledge of Renaissance gem cutting, the carving of precious stones, the making of jewelry, forgery and trade of precious stones. “De Boodt assembled virtually all of the knowledge then extant… by far the most thorough and complete up to date… [his work] is further distinguished by its intimate knowledge of the art of the lapidary and must therefore be regarded as the first treatise to offer more than the briefest views of gem cutting” Sinkankas. The woodcuts include illustrations of corals, geodes, fossils, gems, minerals, along with tools and methods of working them. A very good copy of this seminal work.

Brunet I p. 1108. ‘Ouvrage assez curieux’. Graesse I p. 493. “The most important lapidary of the seventeenth century and exerted a widespread influence” Partington II pp 101-2. Wellcome I 981.


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