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FIRST PERMANENT WIRE-CABLE SUSPENSION BRIDGE.

DUFOUR, Guillaume Henri (1787–1875)

Description du pont suspendu en fil de fer construit à Genève

Paris: (imprimé à Genève.) Se vend à Paris, chez Bachelier, 1824
4to, pp. 89 [3].
3 folding engraved plates, the first signed ‘Anspach sculpt.’ (bound at the end).
Condition: 242 x 200mm. Light foxing and a waterstain in the lower inner margins towards the end.
Binding: Contemporary quarter roan over marbled paper boards. Spine very worn.
First (only) edition
£1,500

The history and description of the first permanent wire-cable suspension bridge in the world, the Pont St Antoine in Geneva completed in 1832. It was the direct successor of the experimental bridge erected in France in 1822 by Marc Séguin (Séguin ainé), who collaborated with Dufour on the Geneva bridge. ‘Although Dufour’s contribution to the successful development of this type of structure went largely unacknowledged, the collaboration with this academic, Ecole Polytechnique-trained engineer was of immense benefit to the gifted, self-taught Seguin and his brothers who went on to become the most prolific cable-bridge builders in Europe.’ (Julia Elton).
Seguin had seen substantial suspension bridges with wrought iron chains in Britain, and a few small bridges had been built with wire cables, but his proposal for an 85m span bridge, based on his experimental 18m span bridge, was unprecedented. However it was Dufour’s Geneva bridge, with two 40m spans that was the first to be built and this is the first description of the bridge.
After an historical introduction, Dufour describes his experiments with different kinds of wire, confirming Seguin’s results, the dimensions of the bridge, and his calculations of its weight and the stresses in the cables and hangers. He then describes the actual construction of the bridge, including a number of inventions such as his method of splicing the wires which became standard.
Literature: Julia Elton, Elton Engineering Books, Cat. 13, 1998, no. 23
Keywords:     civil engineering