First edition of Guglielmini's account of his experimental study of rivers (1697)


Della natura de' fiumi. Trattato fisico-matematico.

Published: Bologna, Heirs of Antonio Pisari

Date: 1697

4to (230 × 165 mm), pp. [10], 375, [1, errata and approbation]; engraved frontispiece, ink inscription at base of frontispiece excised; 15 folding engraved plates; some ink inscriptions to margins in an early hand; uncut; fine in modern calico-texture cloth.

Bibliotheca Mechanica, pp. 151-152; Brunet II, 1802; Gamba, 1940; Graesse III, 177; Piantanida 1659; Riccardi I, 643; Roller I, 492; Wellcome III, 177

Domenico Guglielmini (1655-1710) was a native of Bologna. He studied mathematics and medicine at the university, where he went on to teach mathematics from 1690. He was simultaneously appointed Superintendent of Water for the city, and made detailed studies of hydraulics, which led to the writing and publication of the present work, his most important. The year after its publication he was appointed professor of mathematics at Padua and left off the study of hydraulics definitively when later appointed to the chair of medicine. ‘Guglielmini’s major work and one of the most important hydraulic works of its time, “The Nature of Rivers” numbers among works by Castelli and Barattieri. Gamba has praised this work not only for its classical hydraulics, but for the clarity of Guglielmini’s verbal and mathematical expression. ‘His approach to hydraulics was through extensive field observation, and his concepts “were essential links in the ever-strengthening chain of flow principles …” He was the first to indicate the existence of resistance laws, though he was unable to express it quantitatively. – Rouse & Ince, History of Hydraulics, pp. 69-70. ‘The book discusses the nature of rivers and their parts, the motion of water, confluents and estuaries, banks, and materials and application. The historic preface quotes Galileo, Torricelli, Castelli, Mariotte, Viviani, Varignon, Newton, Johann Bernoulli, Poleni, and Grandi.’ (Bibliotheca Mechanica, pp. 151-152)