With 75 full-paged Engravings of Scientific Instruments

Magalotti, Lorenzo (1637-1712).

Saggi di Natvrali Esperienze Fatte Nella Academia del Cimento Sotto la Prtotezione del Serenissimo Principe Leopoldo di Toscana e Descritte dal Segretario di essa Accademia. Seconda Edizione.

Florence: Nella Nuova Stamperia di Gio: Filippo Cecchi, 1691


Large Quarto: 360 x 258 mm. π4, †4, A-Z4, Aa-Nn4, π2.

Second edition.

Illustrated 75 full page copper engravings. This copy is bound in contemporary thick paper boards, laced through, backstrip repaired. Internally, this copy is in near pristine condition with exceptionally wide, clean margins. Complete with the half-title and the added engraved portrait of Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, engraved by Arnoldus Van Westerhout. The title page is printed in red and black.

This highly esteemed work represents the first group effort at scientific investigation on the part of about ten scientists, including Galileo’s pupil Viviani, the anatomist Alfonso Borelli, the embryologist Francesco Redi, the geologist Steno, Marcello Malpighi, Vicenzo VI, and the astronomer Cassini. The subjects of the experiments described here include air pressure, speed of sound, radiant heat, vacuum effects, hydrostatics, and optics. Among the instruments illustrated are the first sealed thermometer (made for the Academia about 1660) and an improved barometer.

“The Academia del Cimento... was the first organized laboratory devoted entirely to experimental science in the modern sense.” (Knowles) The Academia was founded in 1657, five years before the Royal Society of London, by Galileo’s most famous pupils, Torricelli and Vincenzo Viviani, under the patronage of Ferdinand II de Medici and his brother Prince Leopold, specifically to extend the work of Galileo by making scientific experiments which would demonstrate the folly of continued opposition to the new science. The first edition of this work, the sole publication of the Academia del Cimento, was published in 1667. In all there have been thirteen editions of the Saggi in its original language. “

Apart from the dedication (with full page engraved portrait), it was clearly intended to make this (2nd) edition an exact copy of the editio princeps. The plates (for the 2nd edition) were re-engraved with remarkable accuracy and are on the average better than in even a very good copy of the earlier edition, being more strongly delineated and better struck.” (Knowles)

Count Lorenzo Magalotti, an Italian philosopher and poet, was born at Rome in 1637. The text, which has been much admired for its style, was written over a period of several years by Count Magalotti, secretary to the society. Experiments were conducted on air pressure, the speed of sound, radiant heat, phosphorescence, magnetism, amber and other electric bodies, the compressibility of water and its expansion on freezing and the discovery of the plane of oscillation of a pendulum. The plates were engraved by Modiana, possibly after drawings by Stefano della Bella. Among the instruments illustrated are the Florentine thermometer and an improved barometer. The Academia’s scientific apparatus is still preserved in the science museum of Florence.

Graesse vol.4, 335; Brunet V/29 (on the edition of 1666 and this, the 2nd edition of 1691); Dibner 82; Cinti 163; Riccardi II/407; Knowles Middleton, The Experimenters: A Study of the Accademia del Cimento.