Rare Gemology-Mineralogy Book by Thomas Nicols; A Lapidary or, The History of Precious Stones
Item Number: Book-607a
Nicols, Thomas.; A Lapidary or, The History of Precious Stones: With Cautions for the Undeceiving of all those that deal with Precious Stones. By Thomas Nicols, sometimes of Jesus-Colledge in Cambridge. Inest sua gratia parvis. Cambridge: Printed by Thomas Buck, Printer to the Universitie. 1652. Octavo, pp. 8, 239, folded printed table.
The work is complete and in a contemporary half calf over marbled boards with gilt titles. Binding is tight and has been restored along edges and spine. Text has light staining to gutter of title page and toning to first several pages. In good to very good condition.
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The first book in English devoted to precious stones. Very little is known of Nicols except that he was an educator at the University of Cambridge and died in 1659. The importance of this landmark gemology lies in several features among which is the attempt of the author to provide a classification of precious stones and he often cites the earlier work of Anselm de Boodt. Nicols discusses the origin of gemstones and describes the gemstones beginning with diamonds. A striking feature of the book, perhaps gained from personal experience, is his familiarity with the methods of enhancement of gems in their jewelry settings, and he warns of falsifications and adulterations providing examples of each. His statements regarding these areas are fresh and authoritative and suggest recent experience with gems and the manufacture of jewelry. The work went through three printings, each with a different tile. The above is the 1st edition, 1st printing. A second state of the title page exists where the words "of Cambridge" have been removed from the imprint.
The text of the treatise also provides a definition of precious stones, general divisions, manner of their generation, gemstones of the ancients, the reasons for transparency, color and hardness. Sections are provided on false gems, including artificially colored crystal, how to cut, engrave and polish gems, and supernatural properties. Nichols includes lists of names by which the gems are called in various countries, locations where they are found and the relative values of different stones. (Schuh)