Amsterdam: chez Henry Wetstein, 1687. First edition of this treatise on magnetism, dealing with the invention of the compass, magnetic mountains in America, declination and the orientation of the compass-needle in a magnetic field.
First edition of this beautifully illustrated treatise on the magnet and its uses, dealing with the invention of the compass, magnetic mountains in America, declination and the orientation of the compass-needle in a magnetic field. The plates are etchings by Adriaan Schoonebeek (1658-1705), the pupil of Romeyn de Hooghe and a prolific book-illustrator. They recall Sébastien Le Clerc’s Pratique de la geometrie (Paris, 1669), where geometrical diagrams float above fanciful landscapes. In D’Alencé’s plates, however, though most of the landscapes and rustic scenes seem unrelated to the scientific content, one or two provide a commentary. For example, fig. 18, illustrated by Hofer, shows a violent explosion with bodies flying in all directions, which Hofer suggests illustrates the magnet’s potential.
The finely engraved frontispiece is described by Park Benjamin, in his IntellectualRise in Electricity (London, 1895), as follows. “The lodestone, disposed in a bowl after the mode suggested by Neckam and Peregrinus, and marked with a longitudinal directing line, appears floating in front of the vessel, which the mariner, holding a rudder in one hand and a compass in the other, is about to board. The goddess, who appears to be advising him, points to the Great Bear, represented by the actual animal in the heavens, with the Pole Star situated at its tail, and also to a compass and a dipping needle, while in her left hand she has a sounding line. The idea evidently intended is that the divinity is advising the sailor to avail himself of all these means of guidance. There is also shown on the left a suspended armed lodestone, supporting at one pole a series of keys, and at the other a number of iron plates “this being possibly designed to indicate in some way the strength and consequent trustworthiness of the magnet.”
Very little seems to be known regarding Joachim D' Alence (1640-1707); even his name is variously given as Dalance, Dalence, Dalence, etc., by different authorities. He is known almost solely because of the present work and his Traittez des barometres, thermometres, et notiometres, au hygrometers (Amsterdam, 1688), a companion volume also charmingly illustrated by Schoonebeck and important because it contains the first suggestion of the use of two fixed temperatures in thegraduation of thermometers.
Second and third editions appeared in 1691 and 1712, and a German translation in 1690.
Brunet 5, 918; Gartrell 10; Wheeler Gift 200; Hofer, Baroque Book Illustration 142.
12mo (154 x 88 mm), pp. [xx], 140,  with 33 plates by A. Schoonebeck. Contemporary speckled calf, spine gilt with red lettering-piece, gilt supralibros on both covers, hinges and capitals with careful leather restoration (not re-backed), end-papers renewed with old paper.