De Re Metallica
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“ONE OF THE FIRST TECHNOLOGICAL BOOKS OF MODERN TIMES”: FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF AGRICOLA’S DE RE METALLICA, ANNOTATED BY HERBERT HOOVER
(HOOVER, Herbert and HOOVER, Lou Henry) AGRICOLA, Georgius. De Re Metallica. Translated from the First Latin Edition of 1556. London: Mining Magazine, 1912. Folio (9 by 14 inches), original full cream parchment, uncut. $1600.
First edition in English of this lavishly illustrated landmark scientific work, “the first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy and one of the first technological books of modern times,” one of an estimated 1,476 copies (Norman 21) annotated by the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, and translated by his wife, with reproductions of all 273 woodcut diagrams and illustrations by Hans Rudolf Manuel Deutsch from the 1556 first Latin edition.
Town physician Georg Bauer (Latinized to “Georgius Agricola”) lived in the mining region of Jachimsthal in Bohemia all his life, where he would take a special interest in mining practices and make first-hand observations of mining techniques. First published in Latin in 1556, De Re Metallica “embraces everything connected with the mining industry and metallurgical processes… Some of the most important sections are those on mechanical engineering and the use of water-power, hauling, pumps, ventilation, blowing of furnaces, [and] transport of ores… Agricola also made an important contribution to physical geology… Writing on the origin of mountains, he describes the eroding action of water as their cause with a perspicacity much in advance of his time… Agricola supplied new scientific classification of minerals based on their physical properties. He described 80 different minerals and metallic ores (including 20 new ones), their mode of occurrence and mutual relation” (PMM 79). President Hoover, a mining engineer before entering politics, annotated this first edition in English, translated by his wife Lou, a former Latin teacher. It also includes a life of Agricola, and an appendix of his works. Honneyman I, 36. Hoover 28. See Dibner, Heralds of Science 88 (1556 first edition).
A fine copy, with only a small archival tape repair to the margin of page 307.