(Leipzig: Zufinden bey dem Autore und J. F. Gleditschens, 1724-27). 375 x 242 mm. (14 1/2 x 9 1/2"). Eight volumes (of 10) bound in four. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary sprinkled calf, covers with gilt-ruled border and gilt supralibros of Franz Ferdinand, Graf und Herr zu Sprinzenstein, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with intricate lozenge centerpiece and filigree cornerpieces, two ivory morocco labels. WITH 447 FINELY ENGRAVED TECHNOLOGICAL PLATES. Ferguson, "Bibliography of the History of Technology," pp. 45-46; Berlin Catalogue 1786, 1787, 1788. Small chips to head or tail of a couple of spines, joints and extremities a little rubbed, boards with a handful of small wormholes and half a dozen short abrasions, but still IN VERY FINE CONDITION: the bindings entirely sound, scarcely worn, and quite lustrous; the text entirely clean, fresh, and bright, with only insignificant imperfections; and THE PLATES REMARKABLY CRISP AND RICHLY IMPRESSED.
This is an especially attractive copy of an important series that is considered the most comprehensive illustrated survey of engineering and technology published up to the date of its issue, surpassing all predecessors in scope and scale. And considered apart from their scientific content, these volumes represent, as large format 18th century technological books, a visually impressive group of publications of very considerable interest. The present set contains the "Theatrum Machinarum Generale" (1724) with 71 plates illustrating a range of devices from weights and measures to water wheels; "Theatrum Machinarum Hydrotechnarum" (1724) with 51 plates of water-powered technology; "Theatrum Machinarum Hydraulicarum" volumes I (1724) and II (1725), with 107 plates illustrating very imaginative inventions, including one that looks like a "tilt-a-whirl" for cows; "Theatrum Machinarium [sic]" (1725) illustrating ways of lifting and hauling objects--from simple baskets to very complicated hoists--in 56 plates; "Theatrum Staticum Universale," parts I-IV (1726), with 57 plates that range from balancing poles for acrobats to scales and intricate mechanical toys; "Theatrum Pontificiale" (1726) with 60 plates demonstrating ways of crossing rivers, from rafts and stilts to sophisticated arched bridges; and "Theatrum Arithmetico-Geometricum" (1727) with 45 plates--including one with a volvelle--showing methods of calculating and measuring, from finger-counting and Napier rods to calculating machines and compasses. (Our set lacks the 1735 "Theatrum Machinarum Molarium" and the 1739 "Theatri Machinarum Supplementum," printed by a different publisher.) Norman remarks that each of the volumes is complete in itself and that "the volumes are more often found separately than together"; Ferguson notes that he has never seen a complete set. As a young man, Jacob Leupold (1674-1727) practiced his father's trade of carpentry. He then studied mathematics and theology at the University of Wittenberg, and began to manufacture various machines and instruments used by scientists, doctors, and miners. He became a commissary of mines for the state of Prussia in 1725. These volumes were bound for Count Franz-Ferdinand von Sprinzenstein (1671-1728), and remained in the family (where they were obviously treated very well) until sold as lot 138 in the auction of the Graf Sprinzenstein Library, held by Gilhofer and Ranschburg in Lucerne in 1937. (ST12783)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS21.050