ELEMENTAR-GYMNASTIK, ODER ZERGLIEDERTE, STUFENWEISE ANLEITUNG ZU JENEN LEIBES-ÜBUNGEN, WELCHE VORZÜGLICH GEEIGNET SIND, DEN MENSCHLICHEN KÖRPER ZU ENTWICKELN, AUSZUBILDEN UND ZU STÄRKEN . . . NACH DEN WERKEN DER . . . GYMNASTIKER UND PROFESSOREN CLIAS UND GUTS-MUTHS.
(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 just slightly rubbed, front board with shallow three-inch scratch, a couple of short marginal tears (from rough opening), other trivial defects internally, but AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY, remarkably clean, fresh, and bright internally, with spacious margins, and in a lustrous binding with only insignificant wear.
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 multiplicity of images here (139 figures on the 22 plates) features muscular young men executing various gymnastic moves. Born in Boston, Clias was sent by his parents to study in Europe, where he became a gymnastics instructor by 1810, following the methods introduced by GutsMuth, an educator who is considered the "grandfather of gymnastics." Believing that physical activity was vital for young men, Clias 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, and 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 Young beyond his editorship here. 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. (ST15178)