GUYBERT, Alexandre

A TRUE RARITY ON MENSURATION AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF DAMS AND CANALS IN C16TH SOUTHERN FRANCE

GUYBERT, Alexandre. Traicte familier pour toiser, mesurer et exactement calculler toute maçonnerie…

 Paris, Chez Charles Massé, 1580.

£3750

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. 72, A-I8. Roman letter, sporadic Italic. Printer’s device on title page (a pyramid and motto “stans penetro”), floriated initials, headpieces and several numeric diagrams and calculations. Leaf edges browned and somewhat worn, dampstaining to foot of pages throughout. C19th autograph of “…Duchasseint” on front pastedown. In deliciously aged contemporary limp vellum with intact laces. A good copy of this very practical and handy masonry manual.

First edition of this handbook including computational methods in order to achieve exact measurement and proportions in masonry, geometry, architecture and building practices in general. These rules are applicable also to “turcies et levées” (dams and weirs). The Ancien régime’s Service des turcies et levées was a French organisation aimed to build, oversee and carry out maintenance on the numerous dams of the Loire and its canals, which helped regulating the stream of the river during exceptional rains, preventing flooding, and, above all, made navigation and trade via water possible across southern France. The sixteenth-century religious and civil wars disrupted this service putting at stake the safety of the population dwelling in the Loire valley. In order to settle this issue, in 1573 King Charles IX introduced the election of a local commissioner. The majors of Orléans, Bois, Tours and Amboise had to name three suitable candidates for each city, so that the King could then choose one among the twelve selected competitors. King Henry III changed this system and appointed this task to the General of Finances, based in Orléans, assisted by two commissioners from this city. However, the French Department of Finances soon absorbed the role of the General and usurped the power of the local commissioners elected by the citizens of Orléans. This usurpation required the intervention of the King in 1588. The author of the present work defines himself as “King’s counsellor” and “Eleu” of Orléans, that is, the person elected in the provincial election to become a general Assessors of Subsidies, such as “aides and tailles”, meaning “state grants and land taxes”.

Extremely rare. We could only trace about ten copies: nine in Europe and just one in the US. No copy in the British Library.

USTC 30305