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Inventioni nelle quali si manifestano varij secreti, & utili auisi a persone di guerra.Parma: Seth Viotto, 1579.
Rare first and only edition of one of the most remarkable 16th century illustrated works of engineering, containing one of the earliest printed descriptions of a prototype automobile, a device which embodies the principle of the modern-day telegraph, as well as over 50 other inventions and 'secrets' connected with weapons, firearms, fireworks and mechanical contraptions. Many of the machines shown relate to the art of warfare, but others are for industrial, surveying or even leisure purposes.

The book is well known for its strikingly early description of the 'horseless carriage': "Far caminare una Carrozza senza Cavalli, ma con industria di Ruote, o Molinelli." "Isacchi da Reggio in his Inventione 1579, a very rare volume, describes and illustrates in great detail a means of propelling a carriage without horses by means of the hand labour of four persons applied to spoke-wheels; he gives instructions for making the steering gear and proposes to run at the rate of two miles an hour" (J. E. Hodgkin, Rariora III, p. 8). From its inclusion in a book about military weapons, artillery, fortifications and siege engines it would appear to have been conceived as some sort of armoured car.

Also remarkable are the 'recipes' for fireworks intended for both recreational and military use. "A rare book of considerable chemical interest containing over fifty inventions and secrets of gunpowder formulations...for making fireworks for military and festive use" (Neville). "This is in some respects one of the most remarkable books on fireworks I possess. I have never seen another copy, nor is the book described in any work I have consulted" (Hodgkin, loc. cit.).

The work also explores modern day principles behind the telegraph with a machine (p. 59) that codes and transmits letters and words over distances. Finally, the book holds an important, yet overlooked, part in the history of theatre with descriptions of devices used in contemporary festivities and theatrical productions.

Isacchi (b. 1536?), born at Reggio Emilia, was an engineer and is recorded as being in charge of the decorations for festivals in Bologna, Mantua, Novellara and Reggio. In 1596 he became chief artilleryman for Duke Alfonso II of Mantua. His text is interspersed with addresses to illustrious persons to whom the inventions are dedicated.

Adams, I-190; Brunet, III, 460-1; Cockle, Military Books, 547; Mortimer/Harvard Italian, 242; Riccardi I (1) 651.. 4to (188 x 145), pp [xvi] 170 [10], woodcut printer's device on title, larger device at end, 18 woodcut historiated initials, numerous small foliated and grotesque woodcut initials and tailpieces, type ornaments, 43 woodcuts, including the arms of the dedicatee, Cornelio Bentivoglio, portrait of the author, two full-page devices and 39 full-page blocks, three signed 'CR'. 18th century calf backed boards, hinges worn and cracking, booksellers ticket to front paste-down, crossed out rubber stamp to fly-leaf, invoice from German bookseller dated 1920 pasted to free end-apper, old inscription to title, a very fine and fresh copy

      [Bookseller: Sophia Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-15           Check availability:      Antikvariat    


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