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BLONDEL, François (1613-1703)

Thermarum Aquisgranensium et Porcetanarum descriptio. Congruorum quoque ac salubrium usum balneationis et potationis elucidatio.
Aquisgrani, Antonii Metternich, 1671.

Very rare first edition. A second edition appeared in 1685 and a third in quarto in 1688, the latter which was also translated into German. A Dutch edition appeared in 1727. The hot sulphur springs of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) were known to the Romans. The Aquisgranum of the Romans, named after Apollo Grannus, who was worshipped in connection with hot springs, have been celebrated for centuries as specific in the cure of rheumatism, gout, and scrofolous disorders. The first folding plate, a plan of the city, lists six baths in all. This is an early tourist guide and a precursor to Baedeker. Of great interest are the charming small engravings of the different hostels of this famous spa, which are in fact the first illustrations of hotels (Weil). These small engravings were apparently printed several to one sheet and then cut out into smaller pieces and inserted. In later editions these engravings were printed in the text. This first edition has two plates not found in later editions: one plate of the basilica and one plate with 28 numbered figures representing various museum pieces in the basilica. llustrated by an inserted slip with engraving is also the small, hairy, red worm with eyes and numerous feet, which had caused an intense pain in the urethra of a young student. But after drinking the spa water for some days he had got rid of this small creature with the urine. The insect was kept and delineated. Francois Blondel, born in Liege, physician to the Kurfürsten von Trier (Elector of Treves), later became the Superintendent of the Spa of Aachen. On the title page he is called: “Artzeney Doctoren, ältesten Statt-Artzen, den ersten Inventeur oder Uhrheber, und über diese Wässer verordneten Superintendent.”

Collation: Pp (8), 1-128, 139-233, (1) errata. Pp 129-138 dropped in pagination. Additional engraved title leaf, large folding map of Aachen, portrait of Carolus Magnus, folding plate of the Basilica, folding view of Porcetum, and one folding plate with 28 numbered figures, one plate divided into three sections showing steam bath, one other the Imperial fountain. Moreover there are inserted 8 smaller plates and slips with engravings of houses, subterranean springs and one small strip with an insect. These small inserted slips with engravings were all printed in the text in the later quarto edition of 1688.

Binding: Early sprinkled boards.

Provenance: Early inscription on first fly-leaf refers to Nils Vallerius' Tentamina physico-chymica circa aqus thermales Aquisgranenses (Leiden 1699), reviewed in Acta Erud. Suppl. III (1702), p 396 ff. (both in the Hagströmer Library).

References: Hirsch, I, 574. Waller 1150.

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