Berlin: Imprimé chez George Jacques Decker, 1788.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #003623
4to (260 x 210 mm). xvi, 313 (i.e., 315)  pp, 1 folding letterpress table, errata on final page. Contemporary sprinkled calf, flat spine with gilt decoration and gilt-lettered label, red-dyed edges, original endpapers, remnant of shelf-mark label at foot of spine (leather over boards somewhat scratched, extremities rubbed, corners bumped and scuffed). Text crisp and clean throughout, the title slightly browned at outer margins from binders glue. Provenance: inner front board blindstamped "LAVY 1814", unidentified collectors ink stamp to title verso. A fine copy in untouched binding. ----
RARE FIRST EDITION of this landmark work in metallurgy representing the first assembly of data on alloying systems, including the newly discovered platinum. "So far only the properties of relatively pure platinum had been studied, but in 1788 there appeared a remarkable book from the hands of Franz Karl Achard in Berlin. He will be remembered as the discoverer of the arsenic process for preparing malleable platinum [...], but he now published the results of a laborious and comprehensive programme on the alloys of eleven metals, including platinum, with each other. In this he pointed out that the properties of alloys are quite different from those of the pure metals and are unpredictable. All the alloys were in the as-cast condition and on these he carried out tests for density, hardness, resistance to impact and to the file and then on the effects of exposure to air, to hydrogen sulphide and to acids on polished surfaces. He attempted to alloy platinum in the proportions of 1:2 and 2:1 with cobalt, copper, iron, lead, tin, zinc, bismuth, antimony and arsenic, and finally produced a ternary alloy of equal parts of copper, iron and platinum which he found to give considerable hardness as measured by the diameter of the flat small impression made on a small sphere falling repeatedly from successively greater heights. Not all of the binary alloys were of course sufficiently sound to withstand his series of mechanical tests, while his specific gravity figures he admitted were so low as to indicate considerable porosity. These results were published in a book 'Recherches sur les Proprietes des Alliages Metalliqucs', written in the French language insisted upon by Frederick the Great, but unfortunately it was virtually ignored by metallurgists everywhere, while Achard himself turned to the development of the beet sugar industry in Germany. This rare work was brought to light only in recent years by Professor Cyril Stanley Smith" (McDonald & Hunt).
References: Partington III, 593; DSB I, pp. 44-45; McDonald & Hunt, A History of Platinum and its Allied Metals, 1982, pp. 120-21; Smith, Four Outstanding Researches in Metallurgical History, Philadelphia, A.S.T.M., 1963, pp.11-17. - Visit our website to see more images!
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