HAÜY, l’Abbé [René Just].

Traité des Caractères Physiques des Pierres Précieuses, pour servir a leur détermination lorsqu’elles ont été taillées.

Paris: Mme Ve Courcier,... .1817

8vo, pp. xvi, xxii, 253, 16 (inserted adverts dated 12 April 1855), 3 folding engraved plates by Cloquet. Half-title. Original pink wrappers from printer’s waste dated 1861, lettered on spine in manuscript, uncut. Paper slightly browned or foxed, wrappers a little dust-soiled.

FIRST EDITION of “the first determinative gemology worthy of that name” (Sinkankas). Haüy is considered the founder of the science of crystallography. In this book, which was principally intended for collectors of precious stones, he gives a survey of the physical characteristics of cut gems, followed by tables showing the properties of the different precious stones. An important section (pp. 113–185) deals with pyro-electricity — Haüy was the first to relate crystal structures to electrical properties. “In brief, what Haüy accomplished here was to provide the first handbook for the practical determination of gemstone species by observing and/or measuring properties… A work of fundamental importance in the science of gemology and marking the transition from a purely descriptive method to accurate determination of properties and applying them to identification” (Sinkankas 2811, from a long descriptive note on the book).


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