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Reprint of Rare Geology Book: Hamilton, William; Campi Phlegraei: Osservazioni sui Vulcani del Regno delle Due Sicilie

$370.00

Reprint of Rare Geology Book: Hamilton, William; Campi Phlegraei: Osservazioni sui Vulcani del Regno delle Due Sicilie

$370.00
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BOOK 233-E
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15.00 LBS
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Hamilton, William; Campi Phlegraei: Osservazioni sui Vulcani del Regno delle Due Sicilie Comunicate alla Società Reale di Londra (Observations on the Two volcanoes of the two Sicilies, as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London). With "Supplement to the Campi Phlegraei being an Account of the Great Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Month of August 1779". Naples, 1776 & 1779. 1985 reprint of original printing of 1776 and supplement of 1779. Folio (18.5 x 13 inches), pp. title, 1, colored frontispiece, colored double page map, 90, 4, 1, title page, 54 colour plates, each with descriptive text page in Latin and English. Supplement title page, colored frontispiece, 28, 5 colour plates, each with descriptive text page, 2, 2.

Original maroon colored morocco spine, marbled boards, gilt titling on the spine. Binding is tight and clean, very small scuff blemish to center of rear board, text and all plates are pristine. In very good condition. circa 1985 reprint of original printing of 1776 and supplement of 1779 titled "An Account of the Great Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Month of August 1779". In the main work and the supplement, the text is printed in both English and Italian.

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The reprint of Hamilton's superbly illustrated work on the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius.  The Campi Phlegraei, or the 'flaming fields', is the area around Naples in the immediate vicinity of Mount Vesuvius, which throughout history has frequently been engulfed by the violent eruptions of the volcano. In 1774 Hamilton was appointed the British envoy to the Court of Naples. During this time he made important observations on the volcanoes of the region including Etna, Vulcano, Vesuvius and also the extinct volcanoes in the Rhineland. Despite repeated eruptions of Vesuvius during his time in Naples, Hamilton made numerous excursions to; or as close to as possible, the crater of Vesuvius. Many scenes from these excursions are depicted in the beautiful plates.
Needing funds to support a lavish life style, Hamilton returned for a short time to London to sell much of his art collection to the British Museum with a grant given to preserve it in the nation's interest. On that visit, Hamilton was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Hamilton had already made repeated correspondence to the Society about the increasingly violent  activity of Vesuvius.
Upon his return to Naples his attention was devoted to challenging commonly held assumptions about volcanic activity by documenting what he saw in the Vesuvius eruptions. The excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, along with stories of the effects of Vesuvius' eruptions within living memory of Naples' inhabitants, reinforced the view that the volcano was a purely destructive force. However, Hamilton sought to show that over time, volcanoes had been responsible for the mountainous landscape and rich, fertile soils that characterised the area. He offered proof that heat formed basaltic rocks and that the stratified appearance of the land both in exposed rock faces and in the excavated Roman towns was due to a build up of layers of ash, lava and debris from Vesuvius. Hamilton wrote to the successive Presidents of the Royal Society, Sir John Pringle and Sir Joseph Banks, about his discoveries. All of his observations and correspondence were to form the basis of Hamilton's beautifully illustrated work "Campi Phlegraei" and its supplement. The very rare first edition of this work will commonly sell for over $200,000.

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