Eighteen Books of the Secrets of Art & Nature, Being The Summe and Substance of Naturall Philosophy, Methodically Digested. First designed by John Wecker Dr in Physick, and now much Augmented and Inlarged by Dr. R. Read. A like work never before in the English tongue.

First edition in English of Johann Jacob Wecker's Eighteen Book of the Secrets of Art & Nature

Eighteen Books of the Secrets of Art & Nature, Being The Summe and Substance of Naturall Philosophy, Methodically Digested. First designed by John Wecker Dr in Physick, and now much Augmented and Inlarged by Dr. R. Read. A like work never before in the English tongue.

WECKER, Johannes Jacob.

$7,500.00

Item Number: 127083

1660: Printed for Simon Miller at the Starre in St. Pauls Church-yard, London.

First edition in English of Reade’s 17th century adaptation of Johann Jacob Wecker’s De secreti libri xvii [Book of Secrets] of 1582. Folio, bound in three quarter polished calf over marbled boards with gilt titles and ruling to the spine, woodcut printer’s device to the title, woodcut head and tailpieces and initials, numerous woodcut diagrams in the text. In near fine condition. Lacking the engraved frontispiece, title page supplied. Exceptionally rare.

Based on Swiss physician and philosopher Johannes Jacob Wecker’s De secreti libri xvi [Book of Secrets], first published in 1582, Eighteen Book of the Secrets of Art & Nature was conceived as ‘an Encyclopaedia of Arts and Sciences, interwoven with facetious Conceits to recreate the fancy’. The compiler, Dr R. Read or Reade gives a long list of ‘Authors made use of in this Treatise’ which adds, Culpeper, Digby, Galileo, Harvey, Hobbs, Lady Howard and Platt to those used by Wecker. He has also inserted his own name between Rondolet and Rhasis. Wecker's original list remains one of the most unusual assortments of authors ever assembled. As is seen in other 16th and 17th century Books of Secrets, every imaginable topic of natural science, natural magic, arts, trades, sports and pastimes is included with a substantial compilation of recipes, experiments, and observations extracted from classical, medieval, and contemporary authors. Books of Secrets constituted one of the most popular genres in early modern scientific publishing and supplied a great deal of practical information to an emerging new, middle-class readership, leading some historians to link them with the emerging secularistic values of the early modern period and to see them as contributing to the making of an age of how-to. (Wing W1236; ESTC R12839; Eamon 134).

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