Discours Admirables, de la Nature des Eaux et Fonteines, tant naturelles qu'artificielles, des metaux, des sels & salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu & des emaux. Avec plusieurs autres excellens secrets des choses naturelles...Le Tout dressé par Dialogues, lesquels sont introduits la theorique & la practique. Bernard PALISSY.
Discours Admirables, de la Nature des Eaux et Fonteines, tant naturelles qu'artificielles, des metaux, des sels & salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu & des emaux. Avec plusieurs autres excellens secrets des choses naturelles...Le Tout dressé par Dialogues, lesquels sont introduits la theorique & la practique.

A Pioneer Work in Many Fields

Discours Admirables, de la Nature des Eaux et Fonteines, tant naturelles qu'artificielles, des metaux, des sels & salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu & des emaux. Avec plusieurs autres excellens secrets des choses naturelles...Le Tout dressé par Dialogues, lesquels sont introduits la theorique & la practique.

8 p.l., 361, [23] pp. Small 8vo, cont. flexible vellum, ties gone. Paris: Martin le Jeune, 1580.

First edition, and a splendid pure copy in its first binding, of a rare and important book in the history of chemistry, hydrology, geology, agriculture, etc., etc. Palissy (ca. 1509-89), who is best known for his discovery of the secret of enamelling pottery, was far in advance of his time in scientific ideas.

The “Discours admirables, probably incorporates Palissy’s Paris lectures. It…deals with an impressive array of subjects: agriculture, alchemy, botany, ceramics, embalming, engineering, geology, hydrology, medicine, metallurgy, meteorology, mineralogy, paleontology, philosophy, physics, toxicology, and zoology. The book is divided into several chapters, the first and longest of which is concerned with water. The others take up metals and their nature and generation; drugs; ice; different types of salts and their nature, effects, and methods of generation; characteristics of common and precious stones; clay and marl; and the potter’s art…

“Palissy’s views on hydrology and paleontology, as expressed in the Discours, are of particular interest. He was one of the few men of his century to have a correct notion of the origins of rivers and streams, and he stated it forcefully, denying categorically that rivers can have any source other than rainfall…

“Palissy discussed fossils extensively…[He] held other advanced views. From experimentation he concluded that all minerals with geometric crystal forms must have crystallized in water; his classification of salts was nearly correct; and he suggested the concept of superposition for the development of sedimentary rocks…

“Palissy was probably one of the first men in France to teach natural sciences from facts, specimens and demonstrations rather than hypotheses.”–D.S.B., X, pp. 280-81.

In the eighth section, Palissy investigated the hardness and properties of gems and precious stones.

The Discours was written in the form of a dialogue between “Theory” and “Practice” and it is always “Practice” that instructs “Theory.”

A fine copy in its first binding, preserved in a box. Contemporary signature on title of “G. Passart” (maybe) and with a number of knowledgeable contemporary notes in many margins. This book is extremely rare; Ferguson acquired his copy, now in the University of Glasgow, after years of searching and has written on the flyleaf: “At last, after long, long waiting and watching.” It is one of the very few books in Denis Duveen’s collection of which he reproduced the title-page in his Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica.

❧ Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences, pp. 90, 261, & 446-48. Brunet, IV, 319-20 & Suppl., II, 133–“une pièce aussi intéressante que rare.” Duveen, p. 446–“A book of great importance in the history of chemistry and science generally.” Geikie, The Founders of Geology, pp. 104 & 118. Hoover 621. Partington, II, pp. 69-77. Zittel, pp. 18 & 132.

Price: $45,000.00

Item ID: 3096