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Curious, Unusual, Interesting & Occasionally Useful Books of the 16th-20th Centuries exploring the skills, trades, lives and ways of other times...

 Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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Grollier de Serviere, Gaspard.
Recueil d'Ouvrages Curieux de Mathematique et de Mecanique, ou Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere...

Lyon David Forey: 1719.

A descriptive and illustrated catalog of the marvelous and curious mechanical models and ivory turnings constructed by Nicholas Grollier de Serviere, a soldier, turner, inventor and the author's father. Nicolas Grollier de Serviere (1596-1689), a descendant of Jean Grolier, was indeed a multi-talented man. In his youth he was a soldier and engineer, serving in Flanders, Germany, Italy and Constantinople. As a military engineer he specialized in moveable bridges and other such inventions, and when he retired to his estates in Lyon he constructed numerous fantastic models, which included floating bridges, water pumps, fantastical regulator clocks, his famous "reading wheel" machine, artistic machinery for rendering perspectives, and all sorts of other devices. His "Cabinet" fast became a wonder to be visited by, among others, Louis XIV, as well as a host of politicians, scholars, and other inventors and craftsmen. In addition to being a skilled model-maker, de Serviere was also amongst the leading turners of his time, constructing inexplicably intricate and unlikely forms in ivory on the turning lathe. After his death his son, the Grand-Prieur de l'Abbaye de Savigny, kept the Cabinet up and published this volume dedicated to illustrating and describing its objects. Amongst those who visited and marveled was the young Monk Charles Plumier, who wrote the first book on the subject of turning, "L'Art du Tourner", in 1701. The plates in this book begin with examples of de Serviere's intricate workmanship on the lathe, starting with a plate of very delicate and intricately carved ivories, followed by "pieces excentriques", a series of Escher-esque carved balls within balls and sharp, pointy things sticking out of carved balls, followed by more spheres within spheres, and then some marvelously turned and carved "pieces hors du rond", wooden tower-like pieces of great ingenuity and delicacy these are followed by a plate of carved rosettes. But this is more than a book of lathe-work (interesting as that may be). The second section illustrates a series of ingenious clockworks invented by de Serviere, many with an elaborate series of rails winding down the frame there are also clocks with carved serpents, an hourglass, and one with Atlas holding up the Earth. The third section features elaborate machinerey invented or envisioned by de Serviere, such as devices for raising water from streams, watermills, water wheels, and other water related apparatus, including several paddle-wheeled boats there follows a group of bridges, including pontoon bridges and other sectional works there are also gates and portable ladders for military use. Interestingly, in retirement Grollier de Serviere did not limit his tinkering to miniatures- he constructed a full-sized pile-driver in his gardens, powered by a water wheel held steady by two boats. The book ends with some ingenious plans for furniture, including the reading "wheel, where the sitter sits in front of a ferris wheel device of shelves, on each of which in an open book a wheeled chair a portable screen device for accurately sketching buildings, and something having to do with lamps which looks fairly lethal. As a collection of designs and inventions, the Cabinet of Nicholas Grollier de Serviere is as awe-inspiring and fanstastic today as it was in 1719, and it remains an important record of the work of one of the 17th century's most accomplished turners. This book was reissued in 1733 and 1751.

Hardcover. 7.5"x10", (28) + 101 + (8) pages, plus 85 copperplate engravings (numbered 1-88 nos. 39, 48 and 76 were never issued) with several woodcut head and tailpieces and decorative vignettes in the text title page printed in red and black. Bound in old full calf with appropriate wear, with a new spine label hinges tight and apart from some minor soiling and several minor marginal dampstains, a very nice, wide margined and clean copy.

Inventory #: 20741
Price: $ 3000.00      



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