(1522 – 1605)

Musaeum metallicum in libros IIII distributum.

Folio (350×236 mm). [4] ff. including frontispiece and blank, 979 [13] pp. With a fine engraved title by Giovanni Battista Coriolano and ca 1200 woodcuts in the text.Contemporary vellum with a blindpressed arabesque centre-piece on covers, spine on raised bands with later lettering piece of red morocco. Head of spine repaired, front fly-leaf frayed at gutter, else a fine and spotless copy. (Bologna, Giovanni Battista Ferroni, 1648.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Wellcome I, 172; Caillet 165; Osler 1773; Sinkankas 72; Ward & Carozzi 43; Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 19, 27-8, 158 & 201.
PROVENANCE: A duplicate of the Library of the American Museum of Natural History.
Scarce first edition of the great illustrated catalogue of the ‚metals‘ of Aldrovandi‘s museum.Inspired by Guillaume Rondelet, Luca Ghini and other scholars Aldrovandi became one of the outstanding figures in the study of natural history in modern times. In the course of his life he would assemble one of the most spectacular cabinets of curiosities comprising some 11‘000 specimens. While building up his collection, he wrote detailed descriptions of the objects and had them drawn by a series of important artists such as Lorenzo Bernini, Jacopo Ligozzi, Giovanni Neri, and Cornelio Schwindt. The collected material was then published in 11 folio volumes from 1599 to 1667. The present volume, edited by Aldrovandi‘s pupil, Bartolomeo Ambrosini (1587-1688) is entirely dedicated to objects of Geology, a term coined by the author in his will of 1603. Thus the title Metallic Museum is somewhat misleading as it does not exclusively deal with metals and ores, but also, and in particular, with fossils, shells, minerals and crystals, ethnographic stone objects and utensils, lamps, antique vases and marble busts, terra sigillata, kidney stones, or any other object with mineral properties.The work consists of a volume divided into four books: on metals, earths, succi concreti (concrete juices), and stones (minerals, rocks, and fossils). In a style typical of its time, each chapter then describes the fossil‘s medical properties, synonyms, localities, origins, varieties, and uses. Aldrovandi includes references to classical and medieval authors throughout the volume. Perhaps the most outstanding feature for the connoisseur of mineralogical literature is the several hundred woodcuts scattered throughout the volume. They are the work of the engraver Cristoforo Coriolano and allow to show the whole natural reality to all readers and to provide, by translating the words into things, a complete demonstration of what is set out in the written text (cf. Curtis Schuh‘s Bibliography of Mineralogy).. [369005].