Quilatador de la Plata, Oro, y Piedras. Juan de ARFE Y. VILLAFANE.
Quilatador de la Plata, Oro, y Piedras.
Quilatador de la Plata, Oro, y Piedras.

Gold, Silver, & Gems

Quilatador de la Plata, Oro, y Piedras.

Large woodcut device on title with arms, surmounted by papal & royal crowns and numerous woodcuts & woodcut initials in the text. Printed tables in the text. 4 p.l., 71 leaves, one leaf. Small 4to, fine 19th-cent. Jansenist binding of crushed red morocco by Thibaron-Echaubard (as usual, washed), dentelles gilt, a.e.g. Valladolid: A. & D. Fernandez de Cordova, 1572.

First edition and very scarce. Arfe (1535-95), studied anatomy at Salamanca and became a celebrated artisan in precious metals. Trained as a goldsmith by his father, he was a leading figure of the Spanish artistic style known as “Plateresque,” which was based on elaborate gold and silver designs.

“Early, much respected treatise written for the edification of apprentices, goldsmiths, and jewelers as well as those interested in precious metals and cut gems generally. The first two books describe methods of assaying, purifying, and alloying silver and gold, with several quaint woodcuts of a balance, weights, receptacles, smelting furnace, etc. The ratios of precious to base metals are carefully tabulated and explained, also the marks that must be used to signify purity, the use of the touchstone and alloy points, and other information deemed essential to the successful and legal use of the precious metals…

“For the gemologist, however, it is the last book that is of great importance because it contains some of the earliest reliable, detailed information on weighing, sizing, and valuing precious gems. Treated: diamond, ruby, emerald, spinel, balas (spinel), sapphire, emerald of Brazil (probably green tourmaline), topaz, jacinth (zircon), amethyst (sapphire in part), chrysolite, sardonyx, garnet, rock crystal, pearl, turquoise, agate, coral, ‘comerina,’ bezoar, ‘litropia,’ prase, amber, niccolo agate, jasper, and chalcedony. All are described and some discussed in terms of sources, types, and magical and medicinal virtues. More important, however, most of the gems are compared in terms of value and to other standard gemstones of top rank. An excellent feature is the insertion in the text of numerous small cuts of faceted gems of specified sizes so that visual estimates of weight can be made. Numerous tables give gemstones, weights in ‘quilates,’ and values in Spanish reales. It is this book that Lenzen, Qualitätsmerkmale des Diamanten, 1966 claims as the first printed appearance of the ‘square of the weight’ rule for pricing cut diamonds. This rule was later repeated by Tavernier in his Travels (which see), and probably due to the scarcity of the present work and the wide publicity given to Tavernier’s book, it came to be called the ‘Tavernier rule.’ Under pearl, in which is depicted a diameter gauge, a similar pricing rule is observed. Very rare.”–Sinkankas 215.

Fine copy, signed as usual, by the author on the verso of the final leaf.

❧ See Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration, pp. 218-220, for his work in anatomy. Darmstaedter, Berg-, Probir- und Kunstbüchlein, p. 89. Hoover 54. Schuh, Mineralogy & Crystallography: A Biobibliography, 1469 to 1920, 234–(with an incorrect collation).

Price: $60,000.00

Item ID: 4751