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Modestinus Fachs
FACHS, Modestinus.

FACHS, Modestinus.

German master of the mint.

Biographical references: ADB: I 304, 367-370. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, 1835-52. WBI.

Probier Büchlein, 1595

1. German, 1595 [First edition].
[In red:] Probier Büchlein/ | [in black:] Darinne | [in red:] Gründlicher bericht | vormeldet/ wie man alle Metall/ vnd | [in black:] derselben zugehörenden Metallischen Ertzen | vnd getöchten ein jedes auff seine eigen= | schafft vnd Metall recht Pro= | bieren sol. | [in red:] Deszgleichen lehr vnnd vnterricht/ der | [in black:] rechten Probier Oefen/ Gewichten/ Capel= | len vnd Flüssen. | [in red:] Zusampt angehengtem bericht/ aus der heiligen | Schrifft/ vnd erfahrung durch die Proba/ was vor= | [in black:] zeiten die alten Patriarchen/ Römer vnd Jüden zu Babylon/ Jeru= | salem/ vnd an den Grentzen derselben Länder/ für vnd nach der Ge= | burt Christi/ bifs zu dem 1569. Jahre/ für Gewichte/ Schrot/ | Korn vnd Gepräge zu den alten Müntzen gebraucht | vnd genommen haben. | [in red:] Allen Müntzmeistern/ Wardienen/ Probierern/ | [in black:] Goldschmieden vnnd andern/ so mit Silber oder ge= | bürnt handeln/ sehr nützlich vnd diestlich/ vnd jetzo zum | ersten mal in Druckverfertiget/ Durch | weylande | [in red:] H. Modestin Fachsen/ Fürstlichen | [in black:] Anhaldischen gewesenen Müntzmeister; | vnd Wardien zu Leipzig. | [ornament] | [in red:] Cvm Privilegio.

8°: a8 b4 A-P8; 132l.; xvii, v, 236, ix p., one folding plate, woodcut initials, ornaments and tail-pieces. Title page printed in red and black. Gothic type. Page size: 152 x 95 mm.

Very rare. This first edition is not cited in many of the standard bibliographies, although Ferguson knew of its existance and Darmstaedter gives a good description. The preface to the work is dated 1567 and was published by his son Louis Wolfgang Fachs. Incredibly, the work suggests that when tin and lead are heated they increase in weight. It was not until Lavoisier demonstrated this fact in 1772 that it was accepted by the scientific community, but here Fachs clearly describes weight increase of metals during calcination. As the master assayor of the mint for the Prince of Anhalt, Fachs devotes large sections of his text to describing the testing, refining and assaying of gold and silver, while another portion describes managerial aspects of the mint's operation.

Other editions: The British Library has editions of 1669, 1678 (7th ed., Leipzig, Groß, 1678. [22], 173 p., [10], 49, 142 p., one folding table) and 1689 (Leipzig, Gedruckt im Jahr 1689. a8-b8 c7; 23l.; [2] 3-39, [7] p.). Ferguson describes an edition of Leipzig, 1622 and notices editions published in Leipzig of 1636, 1671 and 1680 and an Amsterdam edition of 1669. Clearly a popular and much reprinted work.

Bibliographical references: BL. Darmstädter, Berg-Büchlein, 1926: pp. 95-6. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 1, 261. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 180 [title page reproduced]. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 67-8. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 2136.

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