([Paris: Académie Royale des Sciences], 1761-62). 413 x 286 mm. (16 1/4 x 11 1/4"). iv, 30 pp.; iv, 66 pp.; 66, 31, 141 pp. Three works bound in one volume. FIRST EDITIONS.
ESPECIALLY ATTRACTIVE CONTEMPORARY MARBLED CALF, raised bands, spine heavily gilt in compartments with unusual centerpiece composed of shell forms and drawer handles, and with intricate volute cornerpieces, red morocco label, blue paste paper endpapers. WITH 27 OFTEN VERY PLEASING ENGRAVED TECHNOLOGICAL PLATES: one in the first work, four in the second, and 22 in the last. Brunet II, 618-19. Occasional faint marginal foxing, but A VERY FINE COPY, the binding especially lustrous and showing only quite minor wear, and the text and plates especially clean, fresh, and bright.
This is part of the "Description des Arts et Métiers," a series of 75 treatises published in more than 100 parts that, together, formed the outstanding 18th century work on handicrafts. Issued over a period of almost three decades, these works contain often splendid engravings of the industrial contexts of artisans making paper, candles, hats, playing cards, iron, sugar, wool, and many other products. Published at roughly the same time as Diderot's great "L'Encyclopédie," these volumes are larger than those making up that better-known publication, and the cuts here are even more striking that those in the Diderot, which includes some plagiarized illustrations taken from the present series. This ambitious undertaking, sponsored by the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris, "constituted an effort to present a scientific picture of all the industrial processes employed in France in the 18th century. Since no corresponding survey was carried through in any other country at so early a date and since this one in France anticipated but briefly the industrial changes commonly associated with the phrase, 'the industrial revolution,' these volumes are worthy of particular notice. In a sense, they portray the maxima of skills attained at the end of a social period, the age of the handicraftsman." (Cole and Watts) Work on "Arts et Métiers" was begun under the auspices of scientist René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683-1757) and was brought to publication under the editorship of the multitalented French physician, botanist, and naval engineer Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700-82), who also contributed a number of articles. As in the other works listed in the immediately following entries, the plates here provide special understanding of the manufacturing environments of the period at the same time as they give particular aesthetic pleasure to the modern reader. The present volume discusses the heavy industries of making charcoal from wood, mining and cutting slate, and working with iron. The extended three-part section on iron covers mining, smelting, and forging. Its co-author, the Marquis de Courtivron (1715-85), was a military hero as well as a man of science. He also wrote a commentary on Newton's "Optics" and an epidemiological study of a veterinary disease outbreak in Burgundy. (ST12366a)
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PJP Catalog: Cat 69.056