RAMELLI, Agostino. Le diuerse et artificiose machine del capitanoAgostino Ramelli dal ponte della Tresia ingegniero del christianissimo re di Francia et di Pollonia. Nellequali si contengono uarij et industriosi mouimenti, degni digrandissima speculatione, per cauarne beneficio infinito in ogni sorte d’operatione; composte in lingua italiana e francese

Paris,  in casa del’autore.,  1588

Folio (325 x 217 mm.), [16] leaves, 338 pages. Text in French and Italian, in roman and italic types respectively. Engraved title within architectural frame, engraved portrait of the author on verso of title, title and portrait by Leonard Gaultier, 194 engravings, of which 174 full-page and 20 double-page, three signed with the monogram “JG”, text and engravings printed within borders of typographic floral ornaments, 4-line historiated and 2-line floriated initials, woodcut tail-pieces and corner ornaments. Provenance: Fuggerische Bibliothek Augsburg, stamp on title-page. Contemporary French calf, spine with raised bands gilt in compartments, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, fleurons gilt at corners, gilt arabesques lozenge at centers, gilt edges. A few pages lightly browned, binding restored at jonts and corners. A very good copy.

First edition of a fundamental book in the history both of technology and of book design, and ‘one of the most elegantly produced of all technological treatises. The scientific import of Ramelli’s work resides in his demonstration of the unlimited possibilities of machines. For example, the dozens of water-powered pumps and mills shown in his treatise clearly demonstrated that non-muscular power could be substituted for horse- or human-power in any mechanical task requiring continuous or repetitive application of force, and the portrayal of over twenty types of water pump ... destroyed the notion that there were necessary limits the configuration or arrangement of a machine. Approximately half of the engravings depict hydraulic devices, the rest showing military machines as well as fountains, bridges, cranes, foundry equipment, etc., and a smattering of innovative devices such as the famous ‘reading wheel’ or the bouquet with artificial singing birds. The influence of the illustrations was far-reaching and were copied in a number of technical books over the next two centuries. In his preface, Ramelli explains that the exceptional care lavished upon the design and printing of his treatise was due as much to his wish to foil a crudely pirated publication of some of his designs (probably in the ca. 1583 Timon of Ambroise Bachot, future ingenieur dv roi), as to his desire to show gratitude to his patron Henri III. The work was reprinted only once, in 1620’. (Norman catalogue). Ramelli was born in northern Italy, probably in 1531. As a young man he served under the famous Italian warlord, Gian Giacomo de’ Medici, Marquis of Marignano, and became trained in mathematics and military engineering. His reputation grew and he eventually left for France to serve under the Duke of Anjou, later King Henry III.

Heralds of Science 173; Mortimer, Harvard French 452; Norman 1777 Riccardi I, 341.

Other Books

MEDA RIQUIER rare books ltd.
4 Bury Street St James's
SW1Y 6AB London

Phone +44 (0) 7770457377