Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas. Jacques BESSON.
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas...
Rare First Edition in Spanish
“The First Independent Work on Machinery Published” (Zeitlinger)
Lyon, Horacio Cardon, 1602.

Teatro de los Instrumentos y Figuras Mathematicas y Mecanicas.

Folio [44 x 29.3 cm], (3) ff. (without the blank as usual) & 60 full-page plates. Bound in 18th-century marbled paper, wear to corners, spine chipped, in a custom quarter leather and marbled paper case. Scattered light foxing and soiling, with some waterstaining in gutter, plates worn, reflecting late stage in publication history. Genuine and untrimmed.

Rare first edition in Spanish of the most influential illustrated technological compendium of the Renaissance, “the first independent work on machinery published” (Zeitlinger). The work is at least partly based upon the unpublished notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci: According to A.P. Usher, several inventions formerly ascribed to Besson are derived from Leonardo.

As well as being a landmark of early technology, the Teatro is also considered one of the most beautifully illustrated books of the Renaissance. The splendid series of engravings are for the most part the work of Androuet Du Cerceau (except for nos. 17, 35, and 51 which were executed by Rene Boyvin). They illustrate all kinds of engines, instruments, machinery, ships, waterwheels and furnaces as well as musical clocks and drawing instruments. In 1569 King Charles IX appointed Besson “master of the King’s engines,” and gave him exclusive rights to publish his designs. Besson quickly produced a lavishly illustrated showcase of his mechanical inventions, setting a contemporary standard for technological publications in the process. The work contains the first printed descriptions of such inventions as the screw-cutting lathe and the water turbine—the latter considered a great advance in the exploitation of water power—and describes also other kinds of engines; ships, waterwheels, furnaces, musical clocks and drawing instruments.

Mathematician, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, Besson lived an erratic life, moving between his native Grenoble, Zurich, Geneva and Paris, and failing to win the most frequent sinecures of the technologically inclined (a university chair or post as an army engineer), he was unusually dependent upon publication as a source of income and measure of professional standing. Although the Theatrum was his most famous and influential title, he wrote a number of other instrument books and is properly credited with introducing Copernicus into France.

The first edition of 1569 was in French, and two Latin editions were produced in 1578. This Spanish edition appears to be the rarest of the succeeding vernacular editions (OCLC locates U.S. institutional examples at Harvard, Columbia, Burndy, Huntington, Smithsonian, Hawaii, and Chicago).

* Usher, History of Mechanical Invention, 223, 361, 383; Wolf, History of Science & Tech., 537-38.

 

Price: $5,500.00

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