Die Eisgebirge des Schweizerlandes. Gottlieb Sigmund GLACIERS – GRUNER.

Die Eisgebirge des Schweizerlandes. Bern: Abraham Wagner, 1760.

3 vols., 8vo (205 x 123 mm). I: 41, [3], 237, [1 bl.], [3], [1 bl.] pp. II: [4], 9, [3], 224 pp.; III: 14, 219, 2, [1 bl.] pp. 21 engraved plates: frontispiece, 2 folding maps of the Swiss Alps, including one mineralogical map, and 17 folding plates, by A. Zingg after drawings from nature by J. L. Aberli, S. H. Grim, D. Dürringer, J. H. Koch, F. Meyer, Huber (dated 1720), G. Walser, Zingg himself, and others. Some light foxing or browning, both folding maps with a short repaired tear, edges of Grindelwald view-plan (inserted before p. 91) a bit frayed and stained. Original plain boards, manuscript titles on spines; folding cloth chemise & slipcase. Provenance: Abr. Pagan, 1761, crossed-out signatures; Heilmann, signatures.***

First Edition of one of the earliest scientific surveys of Alpine glaciers, containing the first accurate mineralogical map of the Swiss Alps. An archivist and historian, Gruner served from 1749 as Hofmeister with Prince Christian von Anhalt-Schaumburg, whom he frequently accompanied on trips, collecting mineralogical and other natural specimens. This survey of the geography, geology and physics of the glaciers and glacial mountains of Switzerland (and parts of present-day Italy) was his most important work. The first two volumes contain detailed topographical and mineralogical descriptions of the areas covered, based in part on previous writers and on correspondence with contemporaries. Concluding volume II is a chapter comparing the glacial mountains of the Swiss Alps to those of northern Europe, and in the third volume Gruner analyzes glaciers generally, discussing the physical characteristics of ice fields and glaciers, various types of glaciers, their altitude, beauty, chemical and mineral properties, and age. He attempts to explain the presence of erratic blocks, whose origin he recognized, though he could not correctly account for the way in which they had been carried to their present locations. The work concludes with two interesting chapters on potential uses of glaciers and on the dangers awaiting the mountain explorer.

The striking engravings show high mountain views, many graphically depicting the enormity of glaciers 250 years before their present state of rapid regression. Most important is Gruner’s large mineralogical map (often lacking), “Die Eisgebyrge des Schweizerlandes, mit allen dabey vorkommenden Mineralien,” the first such map for Switzerland. Drawn and engraved in Paris by A. Zingg, the map contains chemical symbols (identified at bottom) signifying mineralogical deposits; the major peaks are number-keyed to a list at bottom.A large vignette at the lower left shows the human side of mineral collecting, with a man pushing a wheelbarrow of rocks out of a cave, another man carrying rocks on his back, etc.

A free (and “bad” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition) French translation by Keralio was published in Paris in 1770; it is much more common than this first edition. Haller I:1483; Lonchamp 1321; Poggendorff I:965; ADB 10: 40; NDB 7:229 ff. Item #2353

Price: $4,800.00

See all items in Illustrated, Science