A milestone of science, from the library of the Nuremberg humanist Joachim Camerarius

Agricola, Georg. De re metallica.

Basel, J. Froben and N. Episcopius, 1556.

Folio. (10), 538 (but: 502), (74) pp. With 2 (1 folded) woodcut plates and about 280 woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, partly full-page. Contemporary vellum with ms. title to spine. Edges in blue.


First edition of "the first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy, and one of the first technological works of modern times" (PMM), an immaculate copy with outstanding provenance. Dealing with "everything connected with the mining industry and metallurgical processes, including administration, prospecting, the duties of officials and companies, and the manufacture of glass, sulphur and alum" (PMM), Agricola's main work paved the way for further systematic study of the earth and of its rocks, minerals, fossils, refinery and oil. Illustrated with 2 plates (one folding) and more than 280 woodcuts in the text attributed to Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch (1525-72), some very large, showing the different stages of the extraction and transformation of metals.

From the library of the famous German physician and botanist Joachim Camerarius the Younger (1534-98) with his autograph ownership to the title page ("Joachimo Joach[imi] F[ilio] Camerario"; the Morgan Library holds another book from his library with an identical inscription, cf. Accession no. PML 129904) and a very few underlinings and marginalia most likely also in his hand. Unidentified 18th c. engraved bookplate with the motto "simulare nescit" on verso of title. Acquired from the library of Werner Habel, with his stamp, signature and acquisition date (1977) to front pastedown. First and final pages very lightly brownstained in the edges, otherwise clean and crisp throughout. Complete with the two inserted plates following page 100. A very appealing, wide-margined copy in its first binding.

PMM 79. Adams A 349. Sparrow (Milestones of Science), 4 and pl. 26.

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