AGRICOLA, Georgius De re Metallica.

Price : 65.000,00 

The only known copy of this original scientific edition preserved in its beautiful contemporary blind-stamped pigskin binding from Basel with its original clasps preserved.

“One of the first technological books of modern times”.

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Bâle, J. Froben & N. Episcopius, 1556.

Folio [319 x 205 mm] of (5) ll., (1) blank leaf, 502 pages and (37) ll., 2 plates out of pagination bound between pp. 100 and 101, marginal tears pp. 293, 306 and 385 without loss, lack of paper in the white margin of p. 307, some stains, old handwritten annotations in the margins. Thus complete with the rare blank leaf.

Bound in full blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, with a rich blind-stamped decoration of palmettes, biblical vignettes, portraits and fleur-de-lys, spine ribbed, brass clasps. Contemporary binding.

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First edition of Agricola’s most celebrated work, first treatise on mining and metallurgy and “one of the first technological books of modern times” Printing and the Mind of Man, no. 79.

Agricola (George Bauer) (1494-1555) studied in Leipzig, Bologna and Padua before becoming a physician and mineralogist in the mining centre of Joachimstral in Bohemia and later in Chemnitz, the main mining centre of Saxony.

He pursued his scientific research relentlessly, supporting it with very concrete observations that help make his work particularly credible and attractive.

Agricola is considered, through this work “De Re Metallica”, as one of the founders of systematic mineralogy, the subject of which had previously only been dealt with in the “Probierbüchlein” in 1510 and Biringuccio’s “De la Pirotechnia” 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” and thus with mining itself.

Book VII deals with furnaces and operations for testing ores and metals.

Book VIII studies the preparation of ores (crushing, grinding, washing, etc.).

Book IX describes the furnaces, machines and instruments required, and books X and XI the refining of metals.

Book XII deals with salts, nitrates, alums, sulphurous substances and ends with the manufacture of glass.

The most important passages of the treatise deal with mechanics, the use of water power, pumping systems, ventilation, transportation of ores and show a very elaborate technology.

The illustration contains 273 woodcuts by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch.

Some are full-page (235 x 140 mm), others half-page, and are strikingly realistic, depicting the daily life of an active mining centre in the mid-sixteenth century and illustrating the state of mechanical, physical and geological knowledge of the time.

More than a study of minerals, the author relates in this work the technical expertise applied to mining that he was able to observe during his numerous trips throughout Europe. Mechanics, the specific use of water, pumping and extraction systems, ventilation, tools and the transport of ores are some of the topics studied in this book.

The iconography offers a striking testimony to the daily environment of a sixteenth century mining centre, not only in terms of techniques and skills, but also in terms of clothing and hair styles of the time.

His living environment enabled Agricola to combine his scientific research with concrete observations that contributed to the quality of the content of his publications, including De re Metallica.

A fine copy in a well-preserved contemporary binding, with some usual wear to the pages.

Very often read and leafed through for the interest of their text and illustrations, copies that have come down to us are generally in much later bindings or even recased.

An exceptional copy, the only one recorded on the market preserved in its beautiful contemporary blind-stamped pigskin binding from Basel with its contemporary clasps preserved. It is particularly wide-margined: 319 mm.

Ref. : Adams A-349 ; Soltész A-80 ; Printing and the Mind of Man n°79 ; Van Lennep, Alchimie, Bruxelles, 1984, p 21 ; not in Machiels.

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AGRICOLA, Georgius


Bâle, J. Froben & N. Episcopius, 1556.