LA CHAPELLE, Jean-Baptiste de. Traité de la construction théorique et pratique du scaphandre, ou du bateau de l’homme. Approuvé par l’Académie Royale des Sciences…Volume in-8 enrichi de Figures en taille-douce.

Price : 3.800,00 

First and only edition of the first description of the diving suit.

Very beautiful copy preserved in its unrestored elegant contemporary binding.

1 in stock

Paris, chez Debure père & chez l’Auteur, 1775.

8vo [182 x 98 mm] of xlviii pp., 328 pp., (3) ll., (1) bl. l., 4 engravings on 2 folding plates out of pagination. Marbled calf, blind-stamped fillet around the covers, flat spine decorated with gilt fleurons, red morocco lettering-piece, marbled edges. Contemporary binding.

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First and only edition of the first description of the diving suit, Jean-Baptiste de La Chapelle’s new invention.

The word “scaphandre (diving suit)”, from the Greek skaphe (boat) and andros (man), was used for the first time in 1775 by Abbot de La Chapelle in his work Traité de la construction théorique et pratique du scaphandre ou du bateau de l’homme. The invention of Abbot de la Chapelle was a costume made of cork and allowing soldiers to float and cross waterways.

The Abbot Jean-Baptiste de la Chapelle is a French mathematician, born around 1710, dead in Paris, in 1792. Royal censor, member of some Academies in the provincial France and of the London Royal Society, he spent his life retreated, sharing his time between studies and the society of some friends. He mostly dealt with mathematics, and made some useful discoveries, among which we count what he called the scaphandre, device in cork with which men can walk on the surface of still waters. The author tried it himself several times on the Seine river.” (Nouvelle biographie générale, XXVIII, 509-510).

“This sort of cuirass allows to do in the waters all kinds of maneuvers like eating, drinking,, reading, writing, fighting, loading guns or pistols, pulling, hunting, fishing, saving himself from shipwreck, without ever sinking, calking a vessel out at sea, or repairing it, […]”

The author describes thoroughly the danger of the sea as well as the slip with which he won an important notoriety by crossing many times the Seine River. Composed of cloth and leather, his invention doesn’t allow yet to evolve under the water, but offers a system of buoyancy for the marine troups and for the rescue during shipwrecks.

The illustration is composed of 4 beautiful copper engravings printed on two folding plates drawn and engraved by J. Robert. They let see the different elements of this strange suit that remains largely considered as the real precursor of the modern safety jackets.

Very beautiful copy preserved in its unrestored elegant contemporary binding.

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