First Edition of John Webster's Classic
John Webster. Metallographia, Or an History Of Metals.
Wherein is Declared the signs of the Ores and Minerals both before
and after digging, the causes and manner of their generations,
their kinds, sorts, and differences; with the description of sundry
new Metals, or Semi-Metals, and many other things pertaining to
Mineral knowledge. As also, The handling and shewing of their
Vegetability, and the discussion of the most difficult questions
belonging to Mystical Chymistry, as of the Philosophers Gold, their
Mercury, and the Liquor Alkahest, Aurum potabile, and such like.
Gathered forth of the most approved Authors that have written in
Greek, Latin or High-Dutch. With some Observations and Discoveries
of the Author himself. London: A.[ndrew] C.[lark] for
Walter Kettilby, 1671. First edition, "St. Paul's" variant imprint.
Quarto. A-3D4, 3E2 [-3E3 ads and E4 blank]. xvi, 388 pages. Modern
half calf over marbled boards, ruled in blind on spine, gilt
lettered morocco label, new endpapers, title page stained, trimmed
and laid down on old paper, two neat ownership inscriptions in top
margin, offsetting from old dutch-paper wraps; next three leaves
worn and chipped, lacks final advertisement leaf; occasional light
marks and chipping to margins, soiling, one top corner tip missing,
small areas of worming in lower margins, mostly affecting end of
the book, not affecting text, and at top blank edge of last two
gatherings; previous owner's inscription on verso of A3, occasional
early neat ink notes in margins, pale dampstain to lower corner of
second half of the book; else in very good condition with wide
margins. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
Treatise on Metallurgy
Please visit HA.com/6127 for an extended description of this lot.
John Webster (1611-1682), schoolmaster and polemicist.
"The reformed universities, according to Webster, had to promote experimental and utilitarian learning, which should include alchemy and natural magic, which he vindicated against the impostors' misuse. His philosophical views, as expressed in his project of reform, are eclectic: besides Baconianism and Helmontian iatrochemistry, he also supported the theosophy of Fludd and Boehme, and the atomism of Digby and Gassendi. Along with Van Helmont, he attacked the Aristotelians' overestimate of human reason and stressed the role of divine illumination as the foundation of true learning...
"The Metallographia, or, An History of Metals is Webster's major scientific achievement. (The book was dated 1671, though it may have been published during the previous two years.) As attested by internal evidence, the work, containing references to a huge volume of alchemical, chemical, and mineralogical literature, was completed after 1666. Webster's professed end was that of stimulating metallurgical knowledge and the exploitation of mines in England. The work, however, deals with a wide range of topics, including a vindication of the ancient origins of alchemical knowledge, the generation of metals, their use in medicine and their transmutation. Helmontian chemical views are strictly linked with the corpuscular theory of matter, which is mainly based on the works of Robert Boyle. The Metallographia had a noticeable impact on the world of learning. It was reviewed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of 1670 and in the Journal des Sçavans of 1678. John Beale praised it in a letter to Henry Oldenburg of January 1671, while D. G. Morhof (De metallorum transmutatione, 1673) dismissed it as scarcely original. Webster's proficiency in chemistry was extolled by a Durham schoolmaster, Peter Nelson, in a letter to Oldenburg of 25 March 1671, where he spoke of him as 'a man of more than ordinary acuteness and very fit for your Correspondence' (Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, 7.535). With a few exceptions, historians now recognize Webster's Metallographia as a valuable contribution to seventeenth-century science of metals." -Oxford DNB.
Wing W1231A. Bruning 2235. Duveen 611. Ferguson, 1:268. Honeyman 3096. ESTC r34737 (with imprint at "S[aint] P[aul's]".) Pritchard 282. Neville II, 614.
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