Inventioni nelle quali si manifestano varij secreti, & vtili auisi a persone di guerra, e per i tempi di piacere.Parma: Seth Viotto, 1579.

ISACCHI Giovanni Battista (1579)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.


Full-page coat of arms of dedicatee and patron, Cornelio Bentivogli, full-page portrait of the author and 2 full-page heraldic crests; text illustrated with 39 full- and half-page drawings of weapons, war machines, explosive devices, fortifications, and other inventions, three of which are signed "CR", possibly initials of Cosma Rossellio, whose Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae appeared in Venice in the same year; first word of title within ornamental woodcut cartouche; Viotto's unicorn device on title-page, repeated on p. [9] with motto "Virtus securitatem parit", large historiated initials and tail-pieces.

4to (198 x 150mm). [8]ff. 170pp. [5]ff. 19th-century embossed red boards, red leather spine decorated in gilt (spine faded).


Parma: Seth Viotto, 1579

First & only edition of this remarkable 16th-century illustrated work, containing over 50 inventions and 'secrets' connected with weapons, firearms, fireworks and mechanical contraptions.

Many of the mechanical devices shown relate to the art of warfare, but others are for industrial, surveying or even leisure purposes, even including designs for a horseless carriage. Perhaps most remarkable are the 'recipes' for fireworks intended for both recreational and military use. Also of note is the principle behind the modern-day telegraph. The text is interspersed with addresses to illustrious persons to whom the inventions are dedicated. 

Isacchi, born at Reggio Emilia, was an engineer and is recorded as being in charge of the decorations for festivals in Bologna, Mantua, Novellara and Reggio. In 1596 he became chief artilleryman for Duke Alfonso II of Mantua. The Burndy Library has a copy of the book with a manuscript letter from the author, dated January 1595 from Reggio. It has been suggested that Isacchi was a Jewish convert to Christianity but there seems to be no evidence for this. A possible relation, Alfonso Isachi (1561-1643) was a priest in Reggio who published three works there at the end of the 16th century and in the first two decades of the 17th, including an account of the Madonna of Reggio and work on hunting (1625).

Provenance: From the military library of Thomas Fremantle, 3rd Lord Cottesloe (1867-1956), with his armorial bookplate.

Cockle 547. Censimento Edit 16, CNCE 39144. Mortimer, Italian, 242. BMSTC (Italian), p.431. Riccardi I, 651.

[OCLC: Rare outside Italy, in US: Getty, Harvard, Huntington, LoC, Michigan, Penn, Yale].

Stock Code: 234084

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