Basel, J. Froben & N. Episcopius, 1556.
Folio [332 x 226 mm] of (5) ll., 1 bl.l., 502 pp. and (37) ll., complete with its rare blank leaf. Bound in quarter vellum, red edges. Binding from the 19th century.
First edition of Agricola’s most famous work, the first treatise about mines and metallurgy and “one of the first technological books of modern times”. P.M.M., n°79.
Georges Bauer Agricola (1494-1555) studied in Leipzig, Bologna and Padua before becoming doctor and mineralogist in the mining center of Joachimstral in Bohemia then in Chemnitz, main mining center of Saxe. He continuously followed his scientific research, supporting them with very concrete observations that made his work particularly believable and attractive.
Agricola is considered, with this work “De Re Metallica”, as one of the founders of systematic mineralogy, which subject had not been treated before in the “Probierbüchlein” in 1510 and the “De la Pirotechnia” by Biringuccio in 1540.
The “De Re Metallica” divided into 12 books is a true encyclopedia of the mining industry.
The first six books deal with “the art of extracting metals”, therefore of the actual mining exploitation. The 7th book deals with the ovens and the operations regarding the tries of ores and metals.
The illustration is composed of 273 woodcuts by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch.
Some of the woodcuts are in full-page (235 x 140 mm), other are in half-page. They are impressive by their realism and present with precision the daily universe of an active mining center in the middle of the 16th century while illustrating the state of mechanical, physical and geological knowledge of the time.
The most important passages of the treatise deal with mechanics, the use of water energy, the pump systems, the ventilation system, the ore transport and prove a very elaborate technology.
A very pure and wide-margined copy (height: 332 mm) of this first edition of one of the first works of European technology.
It comes from the collection of Horace William Sandars with ex-libris, and bears its contemporary signature on the title leaf.