(Mailand [Milan]: Kaiserl. königl. Buchdruckerey, 1827). 246 x 160 mm. (9 3/4 x 6 1/4"). xvi, 327 pp. Translated from the Italian by S. Poschacher. First Edition in German. A Large Paper Copy.
Unusual contemporary red straight-grain morocco decorated in gilt and blind, covers with gilt Greek key frame, large blind-stamped centerpiece of cathedral design, flat spine divided into compartments by decorative gilt rolls, botanical centerpiece, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, edges untrimmed. With engraved frontispiece and title page, and 22 FOLDING ENGRAVED PLATES, as called for. Extremities a little rubbed, small dark spot to spine, front board with shallow three-inch scratch and two small divots, occasional faint foxing or minor dust soiling to untrimmed edges, a couple of short marginal tears (from rough opening), but AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY, quite clean, fresh, and bright internally, in a solid, lustrous binding.
Printed on thick, smooth handmade paper and very handsomely bound--almost certainly for presentation--this is a lovely copy of an early work on gymnastics and exercise, complete with instructive illustrations. First printed in 1819 in French and appearing later in Italian and English, "Elementary Gymnastics, or Step-By-Step Instructions for those Learning Exercises which Are Suitable To Develop, Train and Strengthen the Human Body" is based on the teachings of pioneering gymnasts and instructors Peter Heinrich Clias (1782-1854) and Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths (1759-1839). The frontispiece here shows an exercise facility outside a military institute in Milan, and the first folding plate is a diagram of the arrangement of its equipment. The remaining plates contain multiple images (139 figures in all) of muscular young men executing various gymnastic moves. Clias was born in Boston to Swiss parents, and his father was an officer in the American army during the Revolutionary War. His parents sent him back to Europe to be educated, and Clias began studying gymnastics in Holland and Germany, becoming an instructor in the discipline by 1810 and following the methods introduced by GutsMuth, an educator who is considered the "grandfather of gymnastics." Believing that physical activity was vital for young men, he introduced a system of physical education into schools, basing his program on the gymnasium in ancient Greece. GutsMuth published "Gymnastics for Youth" in German in 1793, with an English edition appearing in 1800. Inspired by these writings, Clias produced his own guide for beginners in 1806, followed by the 1819 work on which our volume was based. We have been unable to find any information on the editor Young; OCLC attributes only the Italian and German editions of this work to him. With its expensive handmade paper, large margins, fine press work, and morocco binding, this volume was surely meant as a gift for a person of importance, since the subject matter would normally invite a much more pedestrian packaging. In any case, the quality of the materials used is a major factor in its present fine condition. The unsigned binding combines elements of several popular 19th century styles--Neoclassical, Cathedral, and Romantic--into a very pleasing composition. Copies of this edition are uncommon, especially outside of Germany, with only three copies recorded in North American libraries. (ST15178)
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