Every now and again you stumble across a book.
A book which changes the way you think.
A book which offers a real insight into another world.
A book which is both practical and enlightening.
The Pirotechnia of Vannocio Biringuccio is just such a book.
First published in 1540 it has been in print almost continuosly since. It is a handbook of metals and metallurgy, with detailed information on mining, refining, casting and alloying.
A series of wonderful illustrations and lightness of touch make it a textbook which is a pleasure to read. The final chapter is particular gem, following a long treatise on the uses of fire in the art and craft of metal work it is entitled.
The last chapter
Concerning the fire that consumes without leaving ashes, that is more powerful than all the other fires, and that has as its smith the great son of venus.
Biringuccio talks of love and its incomparable power.
I have omitted to instruct you on its practice and its instruments as i did in the others, not because i could not give you some information from my own experience, but because it is too wide a sea and is full of innumerable ways of journeying to the desired haven, each one of which needs its own vessels and appropriate instruments.
The Pirotechnia was invaluable in the reconstruction of a sixteenth century bronze foundry we built at Kentwell Hall Suffolk Kentwell.co.uk