([Paris: Académie Royale des Sciences], 1761-62). 413 x 286 mm. (16 1/4 x 11 1/4"). 1 p.l., 113 pp.; 1 p.l., 52 pp.; 77 pp. (without section title); 54 pp. (without section title). 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 23 OFTEN VERY PLEASING ENGRAVED TECHNOLOGICAL PLATES: eight in the first work, two in the second, seven in the third, and six in the last. Brunet II, 618-19. Minor worming on front board, a hint of rubbing to joints and extremities, but A VERY FINE AND TALL COPY, especially bright, clean, and fresh inside and out.
These works describe the arts of making wax, producing vellum, making pins, and forging anchors. Wax, it seems, cannot just be left to bees--there are many steps in making the proper sort of wax for a given purpose, be it ordinary candles, large ceremonial candles, torches for use as beacons, or seals for letters or legal documents. The production of vellum, or parchment, is a malodorous and generally unpleasant process that changed little in the centuries before or after this was published. In the introduction to "The Art of the Pin-maker," editor Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau expresses wonder at the low cost of pins, given the very complicated process required to produce them. He discusses how the various steps can be broken up into a "division of labor"--one of the earliest uses of this phrase that was to be so significant in subsequent works on economics. Despite being notably more cumbersome, anchors seem to be easier to manufacture than pins. 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. (ST12366c)
Add to Cart Price: $3,000.00
PJP Catalog: CABF17.037