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THE FIRST SYSTEMATIC TREATISE ON MINING

AGRICOLA, Georg. De re metallica Libri XII quibus officia, instrumenta, machinae ac omnia denique ad Metallicam spectantia... . Basel, [Froben], 1561.

Folio [32 x 22 cm], (6) ff., the last blank, 502 pp., (37) ff.. with two leaf unsigned plate misbound between 96-7 rather than following p, 100. Bound in contemporary blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards, spine with raised bands, clasps and catches present but ties only partially so. Ownership inscription of H.I.V. LaBrouste (?) on title. Some minor staining, worming in gutter; author’s name stenciled over on title; extended illustrations on h7 & h8 cropped as usual, minor soiling on scattered leaves; withal a very genuine and appealing copy

$14,500

An appealing copy of the second Latin edition of “the first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy” (PMM 70, 1556 ed.), by Agricola, town physician in Joachimsthal, a silver-mining community in the eastern side of the Erzegebirge mountains in modern-day Czechoslovakia.

“The twelve books of Agricola’s treatise...embrace everything connected with Renaissance mining and metallurgical industries, including administration, the duties of companies and workers, prospecting, mechanical engineering, ore processing and the manufacture of glass, sulfur and alum. Book VI provides detailed descriptions of 16th-century mining technologies, such as the use of water-power for crushing ore and the improvements in suctions pumps and ventilation that became necessary as mine shafts were sunk deeper underground; it also includes an account of the diseases and accidents prevalent among miners, along with the means of preventing them. De re metallica remained the standard textbook on mining and metallurgy for over 200 years” (Norman Catalogue 20).

The nearly 300 woodcuts illustrate all aspects of mining, metallurgy, mining tools and machinery are attributed to Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch and Blasius Weffring.


* Hoover 18; Adams A-250; Ferguson I.9; cf. Dibner 88; Horblit2b; Wheeler 44 (1556).

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