(Firenze: Giuseppe Cocchini, 1667). 337 x 241 mm. (13 1/4 x 9 1/2"). 8 p.l., CCLXIX pp.,  leaves (last blank). FIRST EDITION, Second Issue (with the date 1667, not 1666, and with the dedication to Duke Ferdinand II, which is not present in the First Issue).
ANIMATED 19TH CENTURY DICED RUSSIA, EXTRAVAGANTLY GILT IN A 17TH CENTURY DESIGN, covers with gilt palmette frame enclosing a bold design of painted black strapwork forming a number of geometrical compartments around an elaborately gilt central wheel device with black center, each compartment densely gilt with repeating small tools creating a filigree effect; raised bands, spine in compartments each featuring four intricately gilt lozenges stacked on top of each other at center and flanked by five triangles of similar design, turn-ins gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt and gauffered in a ribbon design. Engraved device on title page with the motto "provando e riprovando" ("try and try again"), very large historiated woodcut initials, engraved vignette headpieces and tailpieces, engraved frontispiece portrait of dedicatee (Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany), and 75 FULL-PAGE ENGRAVED ILLUSTRATIONS (including several repeats), MOSTLY OF SCIENTIFIC APPARATUS. (Norman mentions that there is a portrait of Duke Leopold that is "added to only part of the edition, and [that] is often lacking.") Title printed in red and black. Thorndike VIII, 216; Brunet V, 29; Graesse IV, 335. A hint of flaking to joints, three corners worn through, light glue stain around turn-ins, but the glimmering binding quite solid and with only very modest signs of use. Title page with brown thumb-sized stain to head, touching but not obscuring text, the two dedication leaves on poorer quality paper and consequently with significant overall browning, persistent (but always minor) mostly marginal smudges or freckled foxing, but the text and plates--done on high quality paper--generally fresh and appealing, with generous margins.
This is a handsomely bound copy of the "Essays on Natural Experiments" produced by the Accademia del Cimento, the most significant expression of post-Galilean scientific progress in Italy. Founded in 1657, the Accademia was the first organization formed for the sole purpose of making scientific experiments, and so it occupies a singular position in the history of the development of science. Prince Leopold of Tuscany, the last exceptional member of the Medici family, and his brother Ferdinand, who followed the Medici family tradition of patronizing the arts and sciences, provided the support, free-thinking direction, and financial patronage for the Academy. A well-equipped laboratory and an apparently inexhaustible supply of apparatus and materials helped to make the work of the 10 scientists associated with the Academy more sustained and broader in scope than anything that had come before it. (W. E. K. Middleton, "The Experimenters") Among many other subjects, the experiments described here "were concerned with air pressure, and freezing; or [they] aimed to prove that water was incapable of compression and that there was no such thing as lightness or positive levity. Some [experiments] were magnetic and others electric, the latter being chiefly performed with amber. Other subjects investigated were the change of colors in fluids, the motion of sound, and projectiles." (Thorndike) Although no author is given by name, the title page indicates that this account was written by the secretary to the academy, Lorenzo Magalotti (1637-1712). A pupil of Viviani and a friend of Boyle, Magalotti was celebrated for his highly finished, colorful, almost dramatic descriptions of experiments. "He has the distinction . . . of having written the best scientific prose in Italian after that of Galileo." (DSB) Although the illustrations of instruments and apparatus are characterized by a functional simplicity and absence of ornament, this volume, with its fine headpieces, tailpieces, and initials as well as its wide-margined and thick textured leaves, was obviously intended to be a luxury production. The binding--which is unsigned but clearly the product of an extremely skilled craftsman--is a powerful augmentation that magnifies this luxury almost to the point of opulence. (ST12561)
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PJP Catalog: 71.117