PALISSY, Bernard. Discours admirables, de la nature des eaux et fonteines, tant naturelles qu’arti cielles, des metaux, des sels & salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu & des emaux. Avec plusieurs autres excellens secrets des choses naturelles. ...

Paris, Chez Martin le Ieune à l’enseigne du Serpent, devant le college de Cambray., 1580

Octavo (165 x 108 mm), [16], 361, 23 pages; historiated initials, head and tail pieces. Early XX century brown morocco by Hardy, gilt edges. A very good copy.

First edition, very rare. ‘A book of great importance in the history of chemistry and science generally, written in a dialogue form. First dialogue is very important and treats of hydrology: Palissy in fact was one of the few men of his day to have a correct knowledge about the origin of rivers and streams. The second of the 11 treatises in the book approaches chemistry in general with a strong attack on the pretentions and obscurities of goldmakers; while the sixth and the seventh dialogues contain definitions of saltpetre, borax and other substances, investigations of the effects of manure and fertilizers on the soil, and describe how by continuous cultivation the ground becomes sterile as it loses its saline contents; and the eleventh treatise discusses marl and its value for improving the soil. The tenth treatise contains an ex position of Palissy’s famous discoveries in the field of enamels and the ceramic arts. The eighth treatises discusses gems and precious stones, investigating their weight and hardness in quite a modern scientific spirit.’ (Duveen) Bernard Palissy (1509-1590) was a French potter and ceramic artisan, he became famous for constructing elaborated rustic enameled earthenware and was appointed, in or about 1565, ‘inventeur des rustiques gulines du Roy et de la Reyne sa mere’. From 1575, although he was an autodidact without any formal education, Palissy gave public lectures in Paris on natural history, which he published as Discours admirables. He became extremely popular, revealing himself to be a writer and scientist, a creator of modern agronomy, and a pioneer of the experimental method, with scientific views generally more advanced than those of his contemporaries.

Duveen p.446; Torndike V, pp. 596-599; Norman 1629.

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