2 p.l., xii, 124,  pp. 12mo, cont. blond calf (two corners a tiny bit worn), triple gilt fillet round sides, spine finely gilt with chevrons “à la grotesque,” red morocco lettering piece on spine. Paris: F.A. Didot & De Bure, 1776.
First edition of this introduction to precious stones written for collectors and jewelers; according to the author this is the first complete treatise on precious stones. Dutens describes the chief varieties including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc. He has also provided an interesting table at the end of current prices of diamonds of increasing carats. In the Preface, Dutens reviews the writings on precious stones of earlier authors including Pliny, Theophrastus, Boyle, and Romé de l’Isle.
This work is a notable work in typography as well: it is the first book printed by François Ambroise Didot, l’aîné (1730-1804), who promoted technical innovation in printing and papermaking and introduced the new form of typographical measurement, the “point Didot.” We quote from the 1783 catalogue of Mérard de Saint-Just: “Ce petit Traité est le premier Ouvrage sorti des presses de M. Didot l'aîné, où l’on ait aperçu cette supériorité de talents qui l’a mis tout de suite au-dessus de tous ses confrères de France, d’Italie, d’Allemagne et de Hollande, et qui l’associe dès lors à la gloire de Baskerville, et surtout à celle d’Ibarra.”–from André Jammes’ wonderful Les Didots catalogue, no. 73.
Dutens (1730-1812), diplomat and man of letters, edited the works of Leibniz (1768), was a fellow of the Royal Society, and was historiographer to the King of England.
An uncommonly fine copy.
❧ Sinkankas 1819–“Dutens’ work did provide useful accurate information and received acclaim and wide distribution.”.
Item ID: 6040