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    A Classic Scientific Work on Fire Arts
    and Metallurgy

    Vannoccio Biringuccio. Pirotechnia. Li Diece Libri Della Pirotechnia, nelli quali si tratta non solo la diversita delle minere, ma ancho quanto si ricerca alla prattica di esse... Venice: Comin da Trino for Curzio Navo, 1559 (1558 on title). Third edition. Quarto. *8, A-X8 (8), 168 pages. Decorated woodcut title page and numerous text cuts throughout. Contemporary vellum over boards, red label title in gilt at head of spine. The covers are lightly worn and there are two small spots of vellum loss on the back cover. Title page with some spotting, old ink signature at bottom, leaves trimmed affecting a few old ink notes in the outer margins, but not affecting the text. Few small dog ears to bottom corner and few very small ink stains to outer margins. Some light foxing, several pages with damp stains to top right corner, at end of book, else very good condition. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    "Biringuccio (1480-1539?), after travelling throughout Italy and Germany inspecting metallurgical operations and running an iron mine and forge at Boccheggiano, was appointed director of the mint at Siena. He later cast cannon and built fortifications for the Este and Farnese families. At the time of his death he was head of the papal foundry and director of papal munitions at Rome. This work embraces the whole field of technology. It was written for the practicing metallurgist, foundryman, dyer, type-founder, glass-maker, and maker of gunpowder, fireworks and chemicals used in warfare." -Dibner, Heralds of Science, 38

    "This is the first comprehensive book on the fire-using arts and one of the classics in the history of science and technology. Biringuccio was born in Siena, operated mines and forges and mints, and cast cannon and built fortifications for some of the leading families of the Italian republics. He stressed the use of minerals and metals--their alloying, working, and art of casting, and he gave the earliest account of typecasting and the making of statues, medallions, and bells." -Hoover

    "Among the highly skilled craftsmen on the Renaissance were those who worked with ores and metals. The author of this book, Vannoccio Biringuccio, was a master craftsmen in the practices of smelting and of metalworking. Contrary to the customs of a trade, Biringuccio was moved to impart his book on metallurgy - in fact, the first printed book dealing with the applied metal arts and the processes of ore reduction.... Biringuccio was certainly popular among men of his own kind, attested by the fact that no fewer than nine editions of the Pirotechnia appeared over a period of 138 years. Men like Robert Hooke used it for practical information... While Biringuccio was perhaps unduly hopeful in using the expected longevity of his book as a yardstick for the enduring qualities on one of his fires, that of love, there is no doubt that he has achieved a measure of immortality. The Pirotechnia was the first compilation of practical metallurgical knowledge to be printed and hence to achieve wide distribution.... Biringuccio's work first appeared in 1540, the year following the death of its author...the third edition which is dated 1558 on the title page and dedication, though the colophon reads MD LIX. This third edition is dedicated by Navo to Monsignor M. Mario Caboga, Archdeacon of Ragusa, and contains the interesting statement that the earlier editions had likewise been embellished and amended by Caboga, their various patrons being hypothetical." - The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio, Smith & Gnudi, 1943.

    "Biringucci's description of metal alloys and their casting excels those of Ercker and Agricola, and his sections on glass, steel and the purification of salts by crystallization were copied by Agricola in his famous De Re Metallica (First edition, Basilae, 1556). For its account of the methods of casting medallions, statues, and bells, the Pirotechnia is important in art history. It also contains an important account of typecasting. In chemistry Biringucci includes the first account of silver amalgamation, and early descriptions of antimony, cobalt blue and manganese." - Curtis Schuh's Bibliography of Mineralogy.      

    Adams B2083. STC Italian I: 245. Wellcome I: 874. Index Aurel 119.633. Brunet I: 954. Duveen p.81. Brock p.29-31. Philip B110.3. USTC 814621. EDIT 16: 6158.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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