Pirotechnia… Nella quale si tratta non solo della diversità delle minere, ma ancho di quanto; si ricerca alla pratica di esse. E di quanto s’appartiene all’arte della fusione, ò getto, de metalli. Far campane, arteglierie, fuochi artificiati, & altre diverse cose utilissime. Nuovamente corretta, et ristampata.

In Venetia: Appresso P. Gironimo Giglio, e compagni. 1559

Small 8vo, ff. 345, (7). Woodcut device on title, historiated woodcut initials, numerous pictorial woodcuts in the text, text printed in italics. Some foxing, dampstain in fore-edge margin of first and last leaves. Contemporary vellum, spine lettered in gilt, upper cover a little stained, a few small holes in the vellum. Early inscription erased from title leaving two tiny holes. Bookplate of Clifton College Science Library.

Fourth edition of the only printed work to cover the whole field of metallurgy as known at that time, and the first comprehensive account of the fire-using arts. This work is the fruit of Biringuccio’s actual experience, and embraces virtually the whole field of technology. It is divided into ten books, which deal with (1) metallic ores; (2) the “semi-minerals” (including mercury, sulphur, gems and glass); (3) assaying and preparing ores for smelting; (4) the parting of gold and silver, both with nitric acid, and with antimony sulfide or sulphur; (5) alloys of gold, silver, copper, lead, and tin; (6) the art of casting large statues and guns; (7) furnaces and methods of melting metals; (8) the making of small castings; (9) miscellaneous pyrotechnical operations, including alchemy, distillation, smithing and pottery; and (10) the making of saltpetre, gunpowder and fireworks. “Virtually all of Biringuccio’s descriptions are original. He is important in art history for his description of the peculiarly Renaissance arts of casting medallions, statues, statuettes, and bells. His account of typecasting, given in considerable detail, is the earliest known. The Pirotechnia contains eighty-three woodcuts, the most useful being those depicting furnaces for distillation, bellows mechanisms, and devices for boring cannon and drawing wire... “[It] is a prime source on many practical aspects of inorganic chemistry... Biringuccio’s approach is in strong conflict with that of the alchemists, whose work he evaluates in eleven pages of almost modern criticism, distinguishing their practical achievements from their theoretical motivations... Duveen pp. 79–80. See Dibner 38; Parkinson, Breakthroughs, 1540; Stillwell, The awakening interest in science, VI, 827. Partington, II, pp. 32–37. Singer, History of technology, III, p. 27, etc.


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