Item Details

Price: $5,500
PJP Catalog: 66.053

With Two Dozen Double-Page Military Plates


(Frankfurt: Lukas Jennis [second part: Jakob de Zetter], 1620). 292 x 191 mm (11 1/2 x 7 1/2"). 6 p.l., 145, [3] pp.; 4 p.l., 71, [5] pp. Two parts in one volume.. First Edition in German.

VERY FINE LATE 18TH CENTURY TREE CALF, flat spine handsomely gilt in compartments filled with closely spaced horizontal rows of alternating strapwork and flowing floral and foliate stamps, reddish-orange morocco label. Historiated headpieces and tailpieces, both title pages attractively framed with a design of military implements, and WITH 24 DOUBLE-PAGE ENGRAVED MILITARY PLATES, 15 accompanying the first section and nine the second. Front pastedown with the armorial bookplate of Lt. Gen. G. L. Parker (the 4th Earl of Macclesfield), and front free endpaper with the similar armorial bookplate of the Macclesfield Library, first three leaves with small embossed Macclesfield stamp. Cockle 663. Bottom of second title page just barely touched by binder's knife, three gatherings with inoffensive dampstain at lower inner margin, light offsetting on some of the plates, a handful of leaves (including the first title) with light overall browning, additional trivial defects, otherwise A REALLY FINE COPY, the lovely binding lustrous and scarcely worn, and the text very clean and exceptionally fresh.

This is a rare copy of the first German version of Girolamo Ruscelli's "Precetti della Militia Moderna," describing different types of military equipment, especially cannons and various other forms of projectile weaponry. The first part concentrates on artillery, and the second on the manufacturing of rockets and mines. The plates illustrate battlefield explosives as well as fireworks and diving equipment, and illustrations of projectiles are particularly intriguing, being done in a style that makes them look at once primitive and lethal. When our work first appeared is a bit of a mystery. Cockle says that Mariano d'Ayala (in his "Bibliografia Militare-Italiana Antica e Moderna") claims to know of editions printed in 1548 and 1562, but the earliest one known for certain is the 1568 edition, which appeared two years after Ruscelli died. The title page tells us that our author compiled his material from the works of Baptista de la Valle Venafrano, Alexandro Capo Bianco, and other Italian military authors. The works by the named writers--as well as all editions of the present book--are extremely rare. It is certainly probable that Ruscelli culled his information from earlier sources, as he was a literary man, not a soldier. Born in Viterbo in humble circumstances, Ruscelli (1500-66) migrated first to Rome and then to Venice, where he corrected proofs in the printing house of Valgrisi. A friend of Bernardo Tasso, Ruscelli was one of the few to recognize early the genius of Bernardo's son Torquato. Like a number of military books from the Macclesfield library, this one is in almost amazing internal condition as well as in an extremely pretty tree calf binding commissioned ca. 1790 by General Parker.