First Book of Modern Mineralogy and Mining Engineering

Agricola, Georg. De ortu and causis subterraneorum… De veteribus et novis metallis… Bermannus sive de re metallica Dialogus…

Basel: In Officina Frobeniana, 1558. 320 x 220mm (12½ x 8¾ in). Folio; [8], 470, [42] pp. Index. With the blank leaf after page 470. A wide margined copy. Includes what may be the first Latin-German dictionary of mining terms (comprising 10 pages). In Latin, except for the dictionary which is obviously in Latin and German. Second edition. 

Early vellum, spine lettered by hand. All edges gilt. G. R. Nicolaus’s copy with his engraved bookplate dated 1929. The bookplate depicts the hammer and pick” symbol for mining along with illustrations of books such as: Economic Mining, Metallurgy of Gold, and Gold Mining—all giving a clear indication of Nicolaus’s interests. Large woodcut device of H. Froben on title and verso of final leaf. One full page woodcut illustration showing thermal baths and energy from beneath the surface of the earth. Large woodcut initials. 

Hinges a bit rubbed and some occasional light soiling of the text and light, old, water stains to top margin of some leaves (not affecting text). Overall very good plus. A bright and crisp copy. 

The first silver mining geologist in the world. Georgius Agricola (1494–1555) was a German mineralogist and metallurgist with a particular interest in mining and refining of metals. He is often referred to as the Father of Mineralogy. Although he practiced as a physician, he lived in Joachimsthal in the Bohemian Erzgebirge, where significant silver ore deposits were found in 1516 and there he consulted with local miners on mining and smelting. He constructed a logical system of the local conditions, rocks and sediments and combined this with a discourse on extraction processes, which he laid out in his work Bermannus, sive de re metallica dialogus [Bermannus, or a dialogue on metallurgy]. That writing is included in this book. The Bermannus has two indexes, one of them a Latin-German dictionary of mining terms. 

A milestone of science. This book is the collected works of Agricola, which was the first handbook of modern systematic mineralogy” (Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science #2A). First published in 1546, this is the second and definitive edition. In addition to Agricola’s most famous work, the above referenced Bermannus, this book includes four other important geological and mineralogical treatises. The book starts with De ortu et causis subterraneorum [On Subterranean Origins and Causes] in which he laid out the foundation of modern physical geology. This is followed by De natura eorum quae effluunt e terra [The nature of the things that flow out of the earth’s interior], dealing with the properties of water and his argument that temperatures under the earth are responsible for earthquakes and volcanoes. The third part of the book, De veteribus et novis metallis and De natura Fossilium [Old and New Metals and On the Nature of Fossils] discusses minerals, ores, metals, and gemstones. There are multiple and extensive entries in the book on both gold and silver mining. 

An early and important book on the history of our understanding of the physical structure of earth. 

VD 16 929


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Stock Code: 1127B16 Collections: , , Catalogue:


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