Joslin Hall Rare Books

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

 Friday, November 24, 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       

Lair, Pierre-Aime. Essai sur les Combustions Humaines, produits par un long abus des liqueurs spiritueuses. Paris Chez Gabon: 1800. An early discussion of Spontaneous Human Combustion, citing various cases such as that of the Countess Bandi. Lair appears to have drawn much of his material from period journals such as the Annual Register and the Memoirs of the Royal Society he also quotes from Le Cat. He supports the then-prevalent view that the phenomena was linked to excessive, prolonged alcohol abuse. There was another edition in 1823. Scarce in the marketplace. Softcover. 4.5"x7", 100 pages, bound in newer plain paper covers a nice, clean, wide-margined copy in a new clamshell case.

Inventory #: 31278
Price: $ 1200.00       

Rodlich, H.F. Praktische Anweisung zur Verfertigung der Venezianischen Estriche. Berlin C.H. Platen: 1810. A very lovely book on the art of making Venetian crushed-stone floors which illustrates the tools and the step-by-step processes involved. Venetian crushed stone floors are a rather difficult subject -very little material about them is available in the literature. Certainly the neo-classic elements are unmistakable, and the influence of recently excavated Roman ruins must have played a part in their popularity in Italy and, as this book illustrates, Germany. The plates show the stone being prepared and colored, the floor surface being planned, laid-out and prepared, and the stone being applied and smoothed. The workmen are all stylishly dressed for such a dirty job, and appear very happy at their tasks. Young boys help with the work in a number of plates. Obviously a labor and time-intensive task, the laying of a stone floor is chronicled here in hand-colored plates that can only be described as jewel-like, and yet are also fairly realistic. A rare book, with only a single OCLC listing (in the Netherlands). Hardcover. 8.5"x10.5", 28 pages of text plus 24 hand-colored engraved plates on 12 leaves. Bound in new quarter leather with marbled boards. Very slight stains in several places, several very discreet remnants of old institutional stamps, but overall an exceptional copy of a rare work.

Inventory #: 30821
Price: $ 8500.00       

Zobi, Antonio. Notizie Storiche sull'origine e progressi dei Lavori di Commesso in Pietre Dure che si eseguiscono nell'i e R. Stabilmento di Firenze. Firenze 1853. Second edition. The first edition was published in 1841 and apparently lacked the 2 color plates - Sinkankas lists the first edition but was unable to locate a copy of it. Of this edition Sinkankas notes- "In this scarce work Zobi gives a detailed history of the development of the art of gemstone inlay, or pietre dure work, and of the Florentine school and its master craftsmen who helped to create the preeminent position of the school and its products... The text identifies and comments on early Florentine masters of such work and also those who cut and engraved rock crystal, after which Zobi examines the true origin of such stone work and its continuing improvement. Numerous citations from art historians and others appear throughout the text and in footnotes. ... Both (color) plates are carefully handpainted and outlined in gold paint borders... Following the text is a list of the stones adopted for use in the factory... Next is a roll of masterworkers, designers, and directors of the Florentine factory, listed from 1574 to 1824". The two colored plates are spectacular- one illustrates a round table top with marbleized edges and a bouquet in the middle, the other a garlanded plaque with a silver cup, wheat sheaves, grapes and grape leaves, etc., as well as a smaller floral frieze. A wonderful, scarce book. Hardcover. 7.5"x10", 6"x9.5", 352 pages, 2 colored plates a large-paper copy of this scarce work, whose normal size is 6"x9.5", in which format the two plates are folded to fit within the covers (they are not folded here). Bound in the original tan boards. Covers a bit soiled and worn, some rubbing, paper covering splitting along the hinges, but the hinges are tight. Contents clean and fresh one plate detached but present, and a little worn along the outer edge.

Inventory #: 30890
Price: $ 2000.00       

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