Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois. Alexius Pedemontanus.
Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois
Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois
Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois
Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois
Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois

Les secrets du seigneur Alexis Piemontois

Rouen: Chez Raphael du Petit Val 1588. 32mo. [approximately 4.5 (tall) x 3 inches]; pp. 911, [81]; old calf rubbed and lightly worn at tips, recently rebacked in morocco retaining earlier boards; contemporary endpapers spotted and stained; title page with wood engraved device; some text leaves shave at top edge with slight loss of lettering at headers; worming to margins and text with scattered loss of letters, though not entire words, in portions of the text; else generally clean throughout; a good, sound copy overall. Good. Boards. [27960]


Revised, corrected and enlarged edition. (There were more than one hundred editions of this book in at least six languages to the late eighteenth century.) Illustrated with six woodcuts in the text (from pp. 850-863) showing an alchemist’s workshop with various instruments, including the “Balneum Marie” or “Mary’s Bath” a type of double boiler used by alchemists. The engraved device at the title page is of interest for the Hermetic legend “Deo Duce” (“God as my guide”) which surrounds a scene wherein an angel with a canine companion surprises a fisherman who has caught a large fish. “Deo Duce” may be a shortened form of “Deo Duce Comite Ferro” (“God as my guide; my companion a sword”), an ancient motto understood as a magical talisman.

This edition also prints introductory letters from the first and second editions, a seventh book instead of the usual six, also known as the “book of Distillations”, plus additional material likely under the authorship of 16th century physician Christophe Landre of Orleans. (The “book of distillations” first appeared with the attendant woodcuts in the 1576 Paris edition.) Alexius Pedemontanus, the Latinized name of Alessio Piemontese, is presumed by some to be a pseudonym for the Venetian humanist and cartographer Girolamo Ruscelli (1500-1566). However, according to a WorldCat note, there apparently is scant evidence for this association. Ruscelli is credited as one of the founders of a Neopolitan “Academy of Secrets” in the 1540s which, according to the Wikipedia entry for Pedemontanus, is “the first recorded example of an experimental scientific society.” The search for natural and technological secrets was key in the establishment of the experimental method in science. Several other early editions noted at auction and trade. Evidently a rare imprint for this title: WorldCat records a seemingly identical 1588 edition by Thomas Mallard of Rouen, but no mention at all of this imprint. Raphael du Petit Val was the appointed printer to the court in Rouen. It is possible a few copies of the Mallard edition were done up under the Petit Val imprint, though it is indeterminate to this cataloger whether the title leaf is a cancel.

Price: $1,250.00

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