Friday, July 11, 2008

Arundell/.../Kenney/Honeyman/.../Elizabethan Club Ramelli

I've done a bit of sleuthing on the Honeyman Ramelli: where it came from, etc. The first trace I could find was from the Christie's catalogue for "Honeyman collection of scientific books and manuscripts" (1978-1981). The entry reads:

2567 Ramelli (Agostino) Le diverse et artificiose machine, FIRST EDITION, text in Italian and French, engraved title with portrait of the author on verso, 195 full-and double-page engravings illustrating a variety of machinery, principally concerned with hydraulics or the mechanism of warfare, text and plates within typographical borders, some staining an discoloration, contemporary limp vellum, gilt, soiled, from the Kenny Collection (sale in these rooms, 23 May 1967, lot 3391)
folio Paris, for the author, 1588
A fundamental work for the early history of technology, remarkable for its illustrations.
This copy is extensively annotated in English in two contemporary hands (one apparently writing at the dictation of the other) on 26 pages at the beginning and end and on many pages of the text, commenting in detail on various machines. The writer himself is evidently a designer or manufacturer of instruments. He had been at Parma and in Germany; he refers to Mr. Wollaston of Foster Lane and Mr. Hill, who 'dwelleth at ye Maydenhedde in Woodstreet' and to 'Handcocke the smith of Shaston [Shaftesbury]'.

Riccardi I(2), 341; Harvard 452; Dibner,
Heralds of Science 173; Cockle 788; Wolf, pp. 538-40; Adams R52.

The footnote provided by Gnudi and Ferguson apparently references this catalogue entry. I recently found a copy of the catalogue from the sale of C.E. Kenney's collection. Contrary to the description provided above, the Ramelli does not appear. The book does, however, include a Kenney book plate but the transfer may have taken place earlier in a private transaction.

The book was later sold by Christie's in 1999. The catalogue entry is still online and provides considerably more detail on the book:

RAMELLI, Agostino (c.1531-after 20 August 1608). Le diverse et artificiose machine ... nellequali si contengono varii et industriosi movimenti. Paris: for the author, 1588.

SALE 6200, 20 October 1999 Printing and the Mind of Man

Price Realized £36,700 ($61,025)

RAMELLI, Agostino (c.1531-after 20 August 1608). Le diverse et artificiose machine ... nellequali si contengono varii et industriosi movimenti. Paris: for the author, 1588.

2 (340 x 228mm). French text in roman type, Italian text in italic. Engraved title within architectual border by Lonard Gaultier, engraved portrait of the author at age 57 by Gaultier, 194 engravings, of which 174 are full-page and 20 double-page, three signed with monogram 'JG', typographic ornament border to all pages, historiated and ornamental initials, tailpieces and corner ornaments. (Repaired tears into title and portrait plates, marginal tear in g3, S3, and a few other leaves, paper flaw at corner of Dd1, some light dampstaining, some fore-edges lightly frayed, occasional ink and other stains, some fraying of flyleaves slightly affecting annotations.) Contemporary limp vellum gilt, the sides panelled with central and corner floral ornaments, flat spine gilt, later black leather lettering-piece (minor restorations at spine), modern half vellum solander case, two purple morocco spine labels. Provenance: Thomas Arundell, first Lord Arundell of Wardour (1560-1639, extensive autograph and dictated annotations on pastedowns, flyleaves, throughout the volume, and on extra leaves bound in); Kenney collection (booklabel, sale Sotheby's 23 May 1967, lot 3391); Robert Honeyman (sale Sotheby's, 11 November 1980, lot 2567).

FIRST EDITION OF A FUNDAMENTAL BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY, EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED BY THOMAS ARUNDELL WITH NOTES ON IMPROVING RAMELLI'S MACHINES AND THEIR APPLICATION. A favourite of Queen Elizabeth, Thomas Arundell was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire for his military bravery in the wars against the Turks in Hungary. His extensive annotations in the present copy, some in his hand and some apparently dictated to a secretary, reflect his experience of military machinery and detail his suggestions for improving Ramelli's machines, his proposals for alternative applications for the machines, and his observations on contemporary English instrument makers and their devices. He describes machines known to him elsewhere, such as an instrument 'which I brought out of Germany' for lifting heavily laden wagons, and he compares Ramelli's machines with those described in Besson's Theatrum instrumentorum et machinarum (eds. 1578, 1582), Aristotelis mechanica and Boissot's Modelles, artefices (1598). Arundell devotes much attention to a device which uses compressed air through bellows to life and lower heavy weights or turn wheels; he reports that he saw the bellows at the house of Mr. Wolleston in Fetter Lane and of Mr. Hill at the Maidenhead in Wood Street. An 11-page partial transcription of Arundell's notes are included in the lot. THE PRESENT ANNOTATED COPY IS AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT FOR THE STATE OF TECHNOLOGY IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND. Christie's gratefully acknowledge the work of the late Peter Croft of King's College, Cambridge, in identifying Arundell's hand in this volume.

Le diverse et artificiose machine is 'one of the most elegantly produced of all technological treatises' (Norman). The engravings of military machines, hydraulic devices, fountains, bridges, cranes, foundry equipment, etc. were widely influential and copied in a number of technical books over the succeeding two centuries. Adams R-52; Dibner, Heralds of Science 173; Mortimer, Harvard French 452; Norman 1777; Riccardi I (2), 341;


The book is now safely a part of the Elizabethan Club collection at Yale under the careful eye of Stephen Parks. I've secured a few page copies and they're brilliant, if illegible. I'm quite interested in the "11-page partial transcription" and I've inquired about its existence. We'll see...

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