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Paolo Sylvius Boccone
BOCCONE, Paolo Sylvius.

BOCCONE, Paolo Sylvius.
(1633 - 1704)

(Born: Palermo, Italy, 24 April 1633; Died: Palermo, Italy, 22 December 1704) Italian botanist.

Boccone was a longtime professor of botany at the University of Padua. He traveled widely throughout Europe collecting various natural species and attending scientific meetings. He is best remembered for an important flora of Sicily, Icones & Descriptiones Rariorum Plantarum Siciliæ (Oxonii, 1674). Boccone was a pioneer in the description of the natural history of the Island of Sicily (particularly plants) and his works show the typical 17th century penchant for curiosities, destined for an imaginary or real Museum. He was a member of the Leopoldina Academy. When he became a Monk he adopted the name Silvius.

Biographical references: ABI: I 169, 170-204; II 68, 208-210; II S 11, 249. Accordi, B., "Paolo Boccone (1633-1740)-a practically unknown excellent geo-paleontologist of the 17th Century", Geologica Romana, 14, (1975), 353-9, figs. 1-3. Imperatori, Dizionario di Italiani all'Estero, 1956. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Mazzuchelli, Gli Scrittori d'Italia, 1753-63. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer): 6, 302-3. Poggendorff: 1, col. 216. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 2, 574. WBI.

1. Italian, 1669.
Della Pietra | Belzvar Minerale | Siciliana | Lettera Familiare | Di | D. Paolo Boccone | Panormitano, | Botanico del Serenissimo Gran Duca di | Toscana, scritta ad vn Vir- | tuoso, e | Dedicata | All'Illustrissimo Signor | Don Giacomo Rvffo | Visconte de Francauilla, &c. | Con le Virtù, esperienze, luoghi doue si produce, | fedi de' Medici, modo d'adoperarla, con al- | cune figure in rame, che dimostrano la | forma, e varietà di essa Pietra | Belzuare. | [ornament] | In Monteleone Appresso Domenico Ferro M.DC.LXIX. | Con Licenza de'Superiori.

4°: [4], [1]-30 p., including one nearly full-page engraving (p. 19) and one blank page.

Very rare. Printed by Domenico Antonio Ferro, this monograph describes the minerals found in the author's native Sicily, with special attention to their supposed medical applications. In particular, Boccone describes the virtues of the bezoar stone, a petrified secretion of an animal intestine. Boccone gives unusually careful descriptions of the sites where specimens are found, describes their structure and expounds on some medical applications for which he has received endoresements from Sicilian physicians. This work is also an example of a rare Monteleone (di Calabria) imprint (Printing came to Monteleone only in 1635!).

Bibliographical references: Fumagalli, Lexicon Typographicum Italiae, 1905: p. 245. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 184. LKG: XVI 304. Mira: I.111. NUC [no copy listed]. Thorndike, History of Magic, 1923-58: 8, 38ff.

Researches et Observations Naturelles

2. French, 1671 [First edition].
Recherches et observations naturelles sur la production de plusieurs pierres principalement de celles qui sont de figure de coquille, & celles qu'on nomme corne d'ammon, sur la petrification de quelques parties d'animaux sur les principes des glossopetres, sur la pierre etoilée, et sur l'embrasement du Mont Gibel ou Etna arrivé en l'an 1669 par Mr. Boccone. A Paris, Chez Claude Barbin ..., 1671.

2 parts. 4°: a4 2a8 b-f4/8 A-I4/8; ??l.; [8], 69, [4] p.; [4], 112 p., 8 plates. Part 2 has its own title page. Very rare.

Bibliographical references: Hoover Collection: no. 138.

3. French, 1674 [2nd edition].
Recherches | Et | Observations | Naturelles | De Monsieur Boccone | Gentilhomme Sicilien; | Touchant | Le Corail, la pierre Etoilée, les Pierres de figure de | Coquilles, la Corne d'Ammon, l'Astro{\"\i}t Undula- | tus, les Dents de Poissons pétrifiées, les Herissons | alterez, l'Embrasement du Mont Etna, la Sangsüe | du Xiphias, l'Alcyonium stupposum, le Bezoar Mi- | neral, | les Plantes qu'on trouve dans la Sicile, avec | quelques Reflexions sur la Vegetation des Plantes. | Examinées a diverses fois dans l'Assemblée de Messieurs de la So- | ciete Royale de Londres, & Conferences dans les | de Monsieur l'Abbé Bourdelot a Paris. | [ornament] | A Amsterdam. | [rule] | Chez Jean Jansson à Wasberge l'An 1674.

8°: *4 (including frontispiece) A-V8 X4; 168l.; [8], 1-328 p., 14 plates (pp. 8, 15, 34, 121, 143, 219, 226, 273, 296, 298, 304, 306, 314 and 314). Ornamental initials and headpieces. Page size: 140 x 92 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Blank, verso frontispiece.; [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [3 pgs], Dedication to Cosme de Medicis, signed Boccone.; [1 pg], "Le Libraire an Lecteur."; 1-328, Text.

Very scarce. Deals with ants, etc., and a view of Mt. Etna. A remarkable work by the celebrated Sicilian naturlist Paul Boccone [1633-1704]. It is written in the form of letters addressed to the celebrated scholars of the age, such as Lor. Bellini, Franc. Redi, Nic. Steno, Jean Swamerdam, Nic. Tulpius etc. and covers a wide miscellany of topics in natural history.

Bibliographical references: Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 2, 345. Hoover Collection: no. 138. Hunt Botanical Catalog: no. 330. LKG: XVII 9. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 126. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 735.

Osservazioni Natvrali

4. Italian, 1684 [First edition].
Osservazioni | Natvrali | Ove Si Contengono | Materie Medico-Fisiche, e di | Botanica, | Produzioni Naturali, Fosfori di- | versi, Fuochi sotteranei | d'Italia, & altre curiosità | Disposte In Trattai | Familiar | Da D. Paolo Boccone, | E dirette a varij Cavalierj, e Letterati | del nostro Secole, si condo lo stile delle | Accademie Fisico-Matemata- | tiche d'Europa. | [ornament] | In Bologna per li Manolessi Stamp. Camer. | [rule] | Con licenza de'Superiori, 1684.

12°: A6 A-Q12 R8; 206l.; [12], 400 p., 2 plates (one after dedication, one facing page 228). Page size: 158 x 80 mm.

Very scarce. Contains essays on medicine and natural history, written in a series of letters to various savants throughout Europe, including Steno, Redi, Hooke, Grew and John Ray, cover a variety of topics, including corals, ammonites, petrified shark' teeth, the bezoar stone, the eruption of Mount Etna, shells etc. Other topics include the Italian amber, Bologna stone (Barite), native animals and plants (especially Sicily). On pages 329-337 is included a catalogue of rare plants of Sicily, "Delle cause della viridita perpetua di alcune piante." The author was later to establish himself as a pioneer botanist of Sicilian flora.

Bibliographical references: LKG: VI 2. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 737.

Dutch Editions

5. Dutch, 1744 [Dutch transl.].
Natuurkundige Naspeuringen op proef- en waerneemingen ... Groey der planten ... wonderbare versteeningen van verscheide lighamen; De wording van het Corael, de Star-steenen, de Mynstoffige Bezoar en het verschil van deeze met de dierlijke, de versteende Vis-tanden, Ammon-hoorn, Schelpen, enz... Brandende en vuurbrakende bergen; Inzonderheid van den Etna... alles vervat in verscheide brieven tusschen den Heer Paul Boccone, die van de Koninglijke Societeit der Weetenschappen te Londen, en de grootste geleerden van Europa als Professor Ruysch, Swammerdam, en andere gewisselt. Amsterdam, Steeve van Esveldt, 1744.

4°: [6], 293, [1] p., engraved frontispiece, 16 (2 folding) engraved plates.

Very scarce. Dutch language edition of Boccone's epistolary essays on wonders of geology, paleontology, zoology, and the plants of Sicily.

6. Dutch, 1745 [Another issue].
Natuurkundige naspeuringen op proef- en waerneemingen gegrond. Zynde behalven een uitvoerige navorssing van den groey der planten ... ook een bestipt onderzoek van de oorzaek der wonderbare versteeningen van verscheide lighamen ... Alles vervat in verscheide brieven tusschen den Heer Paul Boccone ... als den Professor Ruysch, Swammerdam, en andere gewisselt. s'Gravenhage, J. de Cros, 1745.

8°: 293 p., plates. Very scarce.

Museo

Mvseo di Fisica e di Esperienze, 1697

7. Italian, 1697 [Collection catalog].
Mvseo Di Fisica | E Di Esperienze | Variato, e decorato | Di | Osservazioni | Naturali, Note | Medicinali, e Ragionamenti secondo i Principij de' Moderni. Di | Don Pavlo Boccone | [...4 lines of title and memberships...] | Don Silvio Boccone | Monaco del Sacro Ordine Cisterciense della Provincia | di Sicilia: Con vna Dissertazione dell'Orgine, (alla | p. 262) e della Prima Impressione delle Produzzioni | Marine, come Fucus, Coralline, Zoophite, | Spongie, ed anche, intorno l'Orgine | dè Funghi, con Figure in Rame. | E Si trova in Bottega di Giacomo Combi Librario in Merzaria, | & in Casa del Dottor Io Bohem Medico Tedesco à Santa | Marina in Borgo all'Oco. | [ornate rule] | In Venetia, M.DC.XCVII. | Per Io: Baptistam Zuccato. | [rule] | Con Licenza De' Svperiori.

4°: π4 A-Qq4 Rr3; 164l.; [8], [1]-319, [1] p., frontispiece (portrait of Boccone), 19 plates (pp. 56, 101, 116, 127, 259, 266-2, 270-2, 289-2, 300-2, 302-2, 303-2, and 305-2.) Page size: 240 x 179 mm.

Contents: [Frontispiece.]; [1 pg/=π1r], Title page.; [3 pgs/=π1v-π2v], Dedication.; [2 pgs/=π3], "Lo Stampatore | Al Lettore." (=preface).; [2 pgs/=π4], Ad Plvrimvm Reverendvm | Et | Illustrissimvm P.D. Silvium Boccone." (=laudatory poems).; [1]-296 (=A-Oo4), Text.; 297-319, (=Pp-Rr3), "Index."; [1 pg/=Rr3v], Blank.

Plates: Frontispiece shows a portrait of Boccone's head and upper torso in an oval frame. Text at the bottom reads: "D. Paulus Boccone, modó Sylvius, Inde | fessus Scrulator Rerum Naturalium | Ætatis LXIII."

Very scarce. Dedicated to Leupold the second, the text consists of some forty-six "Osservazioni" on particular topics in natural history addressed to as many different persons, all prominent individuals from throughout Europe, where Boccone traveled extensively. The first four describe a Sicilian earthquake of 1693. Other topics include alkali and medicinal earths, Terra Lemnia, manna, an urn containing ashes, and a balsamic liquor manufactured on the island of Malta, tarantuals and snakes and antidotes to their bite, regular periods of fevers, curious animals, the extraordinary effects of certain plants, mushrooms, common plants, Italian cheeses, alum di Rocca, and marine plants. Also included in the text are references to amber, description of an eruption of Vesuvius in 1694, and an account of the geology of Sicily.

Boccone presented a number of items to the Royal Society of London (see The Philosophical Transactions Abridged, 2 (1673), p. 116).

Bibliographical references: BMC: 1, p. 181. Gascoigne, Historical Catalogue of Scientists, 1984: 2421.3. LKG: VI 3a. Murray, Museums, 1904: 2, 123. Nissen (BBI): no. 180 [12 plates only]. NLM 17th Century Books (Krivatsy): 1407. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: 861. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 126. Thorndike, History of Magic, 1923-58: 8, 37-41. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 2, 185.

8. German, 1697 [German transl.].
D. Sylvii Bocconis | [...5 lines of titles and memberships...] | Curiöse | Anmerckungen | Über | Ein uñ ander natürliche Dinge. | Aus seinem | noch nie im Druck gewesenen | Mvseo, Experimentali-Physico | zusammen gezogen/ | Und im Durchreisen durch Teutschland/ | zum Andencken seiner in Teutscher Sprach | zum Druck hinterlassen. | [rule] | Franckfurt und Leipzig/ | In Verlegung Michael Rohrlachs seel. Wittib. | und Erben. 1697.

8°: [20], [1]-501, [2] p., frontispiece (portrait of Boccone), 4 engraved plates (3 folding).

Plates: The engraved frontispiece shows a portrait (age 67) of the upper torso of Boccone seated in a chair. Below is a long inscription that begins "Paulus Boccone Modo Silvius | [...10 more lines...].

Very scarce. Translation of Mvseo di Fisica e di Esperienze (Venetia, 1697) that was published in the same year as the first edition.

Bibliographical references: Gamba: no. 1806. Graesse, Trésor de Livres Rares, 1859-69: 1, 457. NLM 17th Century Books (Krivatsy): no. 1405 [without portrait]. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 738 [not seen]. STC: B-1562. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 239. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 2, 185.

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