Pirotechnia...nella quale si tratta non solo della diversità delle minere, ma ancho di quanto; si ricerca alla pratica di esse. E di quanto s'appartiene all'arte della fusione, ò getto, de metalli. Far campane, arteglierie, fuochi artificiati, & altre diverse cose utilissime. Nuovamente corretta, et ristampata.

Woodcut device on title & numerous woodcuts in the text. 345, [7] leaves. Small 8vo, cont. vellum (some foxing, dampstain in fore-edge margin of first & last leaves). Venice: P.G. Giglio, 1559.

Fourth edition of the first systematic book on mining and metallurgy. Biringuccio (1480-1539?), after travelling throughout Italy and Germany inspecting metallurgical operations and running an iron mine and forge at Boccheggiano, was appointed director of the mint at Siena. He later cast cannon and built fortifications for the Este and Farnese families. At the time of his death he was head of the papal foundry and director of papal munitions at Rome.

This work embraces the whole field of technology. It “was written for the practicing metallurgist, foundryman, dyer, type-founder, glass-maker, and maker of gunpowder, fireworks and chemicals used in warfare.”–Dibner, Heralds of Science, 38–(1st ed. of 1540).

“Virtually all of Biringuccio’s descriptions are original. He is important in art history for his description of the peculiarly Renaissance arts of casting medallions, statues, statuettes, and bells. His account of typecasting, given in considerable detail, is the earliest known.

The Pirotechnia contains eighty-three woodcuts, the most useful being those depicting furnaces for distillation, bellows mechanisms, and devices for boring cannon and drawing wire… “The Pirotechnia is a prime source on many practical aspects of inorganic chemistry. Biringuccio emphasizes the adaptation of minerals and metals to use — their alloying, working, and especially the art of casting, of which he writes in great detail. In this area he is far better than the two other sixteenth-century authors with whom he is inevitably compared, Georgius Agricola and Lazarus Ercker…

“Biringuccio’s approach is in strong conflict with that of the alchemists, whose work he evaluates in eleven pages of almost modern criticism, distinguishing their practical achievements from their theoretical motivations…

“Biringuccio has been called one of the principal exponents of the experimental method.”–D.S.B., II, p. 143.

A very good copy. Upper cover of binding a little stained and with a few small holes in the vellum. Early inscription erased from title leaving two tiny holes. Bookplate of Clifton College Science Library.

❧ Brunet, I, 954. Duveen, p. 80. Partington, II, pp. 32-37. Singer, History of Technology, III, p. 27 & passim. Wolf, History of Science, I, p. 486.

Price: $4,000.00

Item ID: 2483