The Beginning of Modern Firefighting

Beschryving der nieuwlyks uitgevonden en geoctrojeerde Slang-Brand-Spuiten, en Haare wyze van Brand-Blussen, Tegenwoordig binnen Amsterdam in gebruik zijnde…

Engraved vignette on title & 32 finely engraved plates (seven are folding). 4 p.l., 50 pp., 2 leaves. Folio, cont. half-calf & speckled boards (a little worn), spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Amsterdam: printed for the Heirs of Jan van der Heyden, 1735.

Second edition, enlarged with important additions. The first edition appeared in 1690. The frequency and severity of fires in increasingly densely constructed cities was a growing and devastating problem in the 17th century. Until that time, firefighting had been quite rudimentary. But solutions were soon found with the invention of fire engines with suction and force pumps.

Van der Heyden (1637-1712), a Dutch Baroque-period painter and printmaker, was one of the most accomplished painters of landscapes and buildings of his time. But, as an Amsterdam city official, he was also concerned with the problem of fires in that city and turned his attention to the problem. In 1672 he developed a fire engine that utilized a suction hose to draw water from a reservoir. He also invented, in conjunction with his brother Nicolaes, a new and highly effective flexible fire hose made of leather and joined together using brass fittings, which was able to withstand considerable pressure while directing water at a fire.

A number of the plates depict the van der Heyden machine in operation, fighting actual fires in Amsterdam. Other plates depict earlier fires that residents futilely combatted with buckets or ineffective pumps. A number of other plates depict scenes of considerable devastation after the fires had been extinguished.

The van der Heyden brothers were engaged by Amsterdam to manage the city’s firefighting equipment and organization. They patented their inventions and created a company to manufacture the fire engines and hoses. Their inventions rapidly spread throughout Europe and England.

Our second edition has additional text describing recent improvements to the fire engine and six more plates, four of which show the latest version of the engine and hose in actual use.

Fine fresh copy.

❧ Bierens de Haan 2055.

Price: $6,500.00

Item ID: 6871

See all items in Hydraulics, Science, Technology
See all items by