"Second only to Agricola in the number of original contributions to the literature of mining and metallurgy and the beauty of the graphic treatment of the crafts."(Dibner)

Ercker, Lazarus (ca. 1530-1594)

Aula Subterranea domina dominantium subdita subditorum, das ist, Untererdische Hofhaltung: ohne welche weder die Herren regiren, noch die Unterthanen gehorchen können : oder, Grundliche Beschreibung derjenigen Sachen so in der Tieffe der Erden wachsen, als aller Ertzen der königlichen und gemeinen Metallen…

Frankfurt: Johann David Zunner, 1684


Large Quarto: 22.5 x 19.5 cm. [1] leaf (engraved t.p.), [14], 220, 123, [5], 68 p. COLLATION: )(-)()(4A-Dd4Ee2(A)-(Q)4a-h4i2.

First printed in 1574, this is the second edition to include Christian Berward’s important lexicon of mining terms, “Interpres Phraseologiae Metallurgicae”.

Complete with the engraved title page, which has been folded at the bottom to avoid trimming by the binder. Bound in near-contemporary quarter vellum and marbled paper over thin wooden boards with some minor wear and soiling. The contents are in very fine condition. The engraved title folded in at lower margin to avoid trimming. Illustrated with 41 large woodcuts.

"Ercker's treatise is the most authoritative contemporary work on 16th-century metallurgy and assaying. Ercker gave a systematic review of methods of testing alloys and minerals and of obtaining and refining various metals, as well as methods of manufacturing acids, salts and other chemical compounds, including saltpeter. He described the apparatus and laboratory equipment used in metallurgy and assaying and gave a detailed account of laboratory methods, all of which he himself had used." (Norman)

"Erker's Beschreibung may be regarded as the first manual of analytical and metallurgical chemistry. The only one of Ercker’s works to contain many drawings, it presents a systematic review of the methods of testing alloys and minerals of silver, gold, copper, antimony, mercury, bismuth, and lead; of obtaining and refining these metals, as well as of obtaining acids, salts, and other compounds. The last chapter is devoted to saltpeter. Ercker's account of the fact that zinc precipitates other metals from solutions is to be found only in the 1684 and later editions" (DSB).

Hoover 284; Darmstaedter, Probierbüchlein p. 92; DSB IV, 394; Lipperheide 4