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PETTUS, John, Sir (1613–1690)

Fodinae regales . Or The history, laws and places of the chief mines and mineral works in England, Wales, and the English pale in Ireland. As also of the mint and money. With a clavis explaining some difficult words relating to mines, &c

London: printed by H[enry]. L[loyd]. and R[obert]. B[attersby]. For Thomas Basset, 1670
Folio: π2 A–2I2, 66 leaves, pp. [16] 108 [8] (first leaf blank, errata on last leaf, verso blank). Woodcut headpieces and initials, two circular engraved coats of arms printed on pp. 22 and 23, the latter with a printed slip pasted beneath it ‘This Coat is blazoned in Page 24, and the other Coat in Page 23. above it.’
3 engraved plates: portrait frontispiece in first state signed ‘W. Sherwin ad vivum facibat’ and two plates with letterpress captions on the versos (bound at p. 34 as directed on the plates).
Condition: 288 x 188mm. Isolated spotting and soiling, light waterstain in lower blank margins in the gutter; plates shaved in lower margins.
Binding: Contemporary blind ruled unlettered sprinkled sheep, later paper spine label. Abrasions to leather on lower cover, corners worn.
Provenance: Samuel Faiclough of Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, inscription ‘Samuel ffairclough ejus Liber Cai: et Gon: coll: Cambridge August the 18th 1696’ on free endeaf. Fairclough was admitted to Caius as a sizar, aged 17, in this year; he was the son of John, rector of Kennett, Cambridgeshire and was born there (Venn); J. A. Freilich, sale at Sotheby's, New York, 10 January 2001, lot 430.
First edition. The first part was reprinted in duodecimo in 1706.
Bibliography: Wing P1908; ESTC R190; Hoover 634; Duveen p. 468; Goldsmiths’–Kress No. 1930; Neville II, p. 296.

The standard seventeenth-century English treatise on mining, including the first attempt in English at a dictionary of mining terms. Besides the abstracts of legal documents and acts it contains considerable technical information on mining, metallurgy and coinage. Pettus writes of the vast range of metals and chemical products obtained from the mines. ‘In short’, he says ‘From these Metals and Minerals digged out of the Subterranean world, may be studied the greatest part of NATURE, all Arts imployed, Labours encouraged, and the chiefest Sciences demonstrated’. For further reading, Pettus recommends Pliny, Ercker – whose work he was to publish in English in 1683–Agricola, Jean d'Espagnet and Basilius Valentinus. For the better understanding of these authors he says he is preparing ‘a Dictionary of such words as concern the Metallick and Chemick Arts with their Interpretations; a Specimen whereof is at the end of the Book’ (C2r). For Pettus the art of metals was wholly a matter of chemistry, but though the translation of Ercker is included in the standard chemical catalogues of Cole, Duveen, Ferguson and Neville and Neu, only Duveen and Neville include Fodinae regales.
Knighted by Charles I in 1641, Pettus was captured and imprisoned by Cromwell in 1651. In 1655 he petitioned the Protector, expressing his fidelity to the government, and was rewarded with the deputy governorship of the Royal Mines in 1655, a post he kept for more than 35 years. The title of his translation of Ercker, Fleta minor refers to his imprisonment for debt in the Fleet prison while he was working on it.
Keywords:     geology