Paris, in casa del autore, 1588.
Folio [320 x 210 mm], 16 ll., 338 ll., 194 engraved plates including 20 on double-page. Last plate slightly stained, pale waterstain in the lower margin of ll. 58 to 63. Full red morocco, covers decorated, spine ribbed and decorated slightly faded, inner border, gilt edges. Binding from the end of the 17th century.
First edition of Agostino Ramelli’s important illustrated treatise, dedicated to this monarch. Ramelli was the Italian engineer of Henry III. Brunet, IV, 1095; Mortimer, French, 452; Dibner, Heralds of Science, 173; Norman, 1777.
The Duke of Anjou, future Henri III, saved him by paying his ransom when he was dangerously injured and taken prisoner at the siege of La Rochelle in 1573. As Henri III became a king he kept Ramelli close to him by awarding him a considerable pension.
This fundamental treatise of mechanics is therefore dedicated to Henri III and Ramelli expresses all his gratitude towards the royal favour in his dedication. The author is also complaining in his address to the reader, of the piracy of his drawings unused and unwittingly published. In order to make up for this, Ramelli scheduled and oversaw himself a specific layout intended to avoid any mutilation. The work has been printed at the writer expenses, in his own house “In casa del autore”.
Thus it explains the traditional character of the impression and the fact that some privileged copies count a few additional prints contemporarily mounted and pasted by Ramelli and his team of printers.
This is the case of the present copy, one of the purest and finest copies to appear on the market since a long time, with the engravings I-V and CXXVIII contemporarily mounted by Ramelli “In casa del autore”.
“This work, written in Italian and French, is rare and sought-after.” (Brunet).
“His machines became part of the common stock of mechanical knowledge and his mechanical treatise remained a primary influence for at least two centuries.” (Norman).
The outstanding illustration consists of 194 large engravings, including 20 double-page plates.
Of a major interest for history of engineering, they describe extraordinary hydraulic or war machines, represented in action, such as these machines made to raise water, carry heavy weights, throw burning grenades, ballistas or catapults. Some of the engravings also represent ingenious machine for domestic use, such as the famous “the book wheel”, water mills, fountains, automatons. We notice the application of the angled axis, the sucking and force pump, Archimedes’ screw and Heron’s fountain. There is also, less the steam, the paddle boat as well as a mechanical sawmill.
“The engravings are among the best in technological illustration”. Dibner.
This fine work, printed in French and Italian, is also illustrated with a title and an architectural engraved frame and with a portrait of the author by Leonard Gaultier. All these illustrations are presented in engraved frames.
The most important illustrated technical treatise from the 16th century. A very pure copy of great beauty, rarely found bound in such antiquarian decorated morocco with a very lightly faded spine.