The second recorded copy

Silvestri, O.

Etna. Eruzione e terremoti del Maggio-Giugno 1879. Fotografie fatte per incarico del R. Governo Italiano sotto la direzione del Prof. Orazio Silvestri.

Published 1879 [[1880]
Item ID 70412

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[Catania], A. T. Tagliarini, "1879" [1880]. Oblong folio, with 30 (of 33 or 34?) original albumen prints of slightly variable size, on average 17.5 x 32.0 cm (plates 1-22), or four times 19 x 24 cm (plates 23-24), all mounted on 24 (of 25?) very large printed boards, each 48.5 x 56.8 cm and with a gilt frame of 29.2 x 39.1 cm (plates 1-22), or four times 20.4 x 25.8 cm (plates 23-24) with printed captions mounted, and printed captions on the boards. In clamshell box of navy pebbled cloth over marbled boards (58.3 x 51.4 x 3.7 cm) with original printed labels on the front board recto and verso.

An excessively rare work with spectacular original photos of the 1879 double-eruption of Mount Etna. All gilt-captioned "Eruzioni dell'Etna" or "Terremoti successivi all'eruzione 1789", and with additional, explanatory captions laid on the negatives and thus part of the photos. The photos were made under very difficult circumstances, mainly due to the unstable terrain, heat and sulphurous damps. The author, Orazio Silvestri (1835-1890) was an Italian geologist and volcanologist. He graduated in Pisa in philology and literature. Later he devoted himself to the study of natural sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore, in Pisa, and for a time, he taught natural history at a high school in the same city. In 1862 he became assistant professor of industrial chemistry at the University of Naples. During that time he developed an interest in the geology and mineralogy of Mount Vesuvius, perhaps the most (in)famous volcano in the world. In 1863, he organized the first chemical laboratory of the University of Catania. The eruption of Mount Etna in 1865 turned his attention back to volcanology. Between 1874 and 1877 he was professor of chemistry at the Technological Industrial Museum of Turin. Then he returned to the University of Catania, to the chair of geology and mineralogy. He organized the new ‘Institute Volcanologico’ and promoted the founding of the ‘Servizio geodinamico dell'Etna’ with its purpose to observe and study the seismic and eruptive phenomena of the most famous Sicilian volcano. This 1879 publication deals with the May-June eruption and earthquakes which caused much damage. Very rare; OCLC reports only one copy, in the Biblioteca R. Malaroda in Torino. This copy is described as having three earthquake plates with, respectively, 4, 4, and 3 photos. Since the photos on our two plates are numbered 1-3, 5-7, 10 and 12, we assume that the Turino copy may not be complete either, and the total number should be 12. Some shelf-wear to the boards, the photos all clean, with clear impressions. Except for the lack of the final earthquake leaf an excellent copy. The Cat. BM(NH) lists Silvestri's work on the later, 1886 eruption, but not this one. A. Pantanè ( L'attività scientifico-operativa del prof. Orazio Silvestri a Catania), pp. 183-184.

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