A few months ago I began a blog {and by my estimation unfinishable} addressing the discovery,mention,description or images of potentially man-made stone tools ( anthropogenic), in early printed books. Naturally stone tools and other chipped stone artifacts are found almost everywhere proto man existed. Projectile points, bifaces, unifies, ground stone artifacts, and lithic reduction by-products  such as flakes and cores, have been found every where there is early printing, but it appears that no-one was looking for them, and they remained undiscovered. The recognition of stone tools ‘as stone tools’ does not really appear until the birth of Archaeology.(the late 19th century) In the middle ages and until the end of the early modern period there is very little discussion (or texts at least)  putting forth conceptions of The Origins of Mankind. In Breech’s translation of Lucretius he  gives us this :

Man’s earliest arms were fingers, teeth, and nails, 
And stones, and fragments from the branching woods.
Then fires and flames they joined, detected soon ;
Then copper next ; and last, as latest traced.

But there are a few books which mention and attribute both natural and supernatural what will later be recognized as anthropogenic.,Agricola in 1558, and Gesner 1565, describe stone axes but do not put forth any theories Gesner does suggest that ceraunia sometimes are pyramidal in form but others resemble wedges or hammers, but leaves it at that.  In the sixteenth century Mercati (not published until 1717) Discusses Ceraunia:  so-called Thunderbolts,( the Latin ceraunia derives from the Greek work κεραυνοs, meaning a bolt of lightning.) and refers back to Lucretius’ description of early men using hard flint. The 1599 Historia Naturale di Ferrante Imperato has stone knives and Ceraunia and is one of the earliest examples I could find to illustrate them.

And today I have a copy to offer.


765G Ferrante Imperato (1550-1625)

Historia Naturale di Ferrante Imperato Napolitano: nella quale ordinatamente si tratta Della diversa condition di Minere, Pietre pretiose, & altre curiosità: Con varie Historie di Piante, & Animali, sin’hora non date in luce. In questa Seconda Impressione aggiontovi da Gio. Maria Ferro Spetiale alla Sanità, alcune Annotationi alle Piante nel Libro vigesimo ottavo. Dedicata all?Altezza Ser.[enissi]ma Di Giovan Federico Duca di Brunswick, et Lunenburg.

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Presso Combi, & La Noù., Venice:, 1672.                                                  $18,000

SECOND EDITION (1st 1599)… Folio 31 x 22. cm. *4, A-Z6, Aa-Zz6, Aaa-Mmm6, a4. With an added folding plate
This copy is bound stiff paper boards with a glossy sheen, making it look like clean vellum, it is a nice copy.



In this impressive and famous engraving we see Visitors to Imperato’s museum, Probably representing  Ferrante’s son Francesco pointing  to the impressive the crocodile dangling from the ceiling. This overgrown ‘Cabinet’ was without a doubt the precursor to the modern museum, This book describes and quite often illustrates what a visitor would see.  A herbalist and apothecary in Naples, Imperator privately assembled an impressive range of plant, animal and mineral specimens—possibly as many as 35,000 items. The book is also thought to be the first comprehensive natural history book written in Italian instead of Latin.


The  Dell’Historia Naturale (Natural History) consists of  nearly 800 pages, with 119 woodcuts. The woodcut showing his museum, released in 1599, is quite possibly the earliest published illustration of a curiosity cabinet.In this edition the Engraving is much more detailed than the woodcut of the 1599 edition.

This is a fine copy of the second edition (first 1599) of this beautiful catalogue of the ‘Museo’ of the Neapolitan apothecary Ferrante Imperator (1550-1625) and his son Francesco. This edition was prepared by Giovanni Maria Ferro who added new material and also new illustrations to the final chapter. Imperato’s collection of natural history specimens was one of the earliest of its kind in Italy and the catalogue was the first to contain both plants and animals.

“The museum of Ferrante and Francesco Imperato of Naples was as famous as Calceolari’s and in Ferrante’s ‘Historia Naturale’, . several pages are devoted to molluscs and some of the shells illustrated are easily indentifiable” (Dance pp. 15-16).DSC_0038 (2)

Imperato was convinced that fossils were the remains of sea animals buried in sediment, which were later turned to stone by “lapidifying juices.” He described the action of the seas in the deposition of sedimentary rocks and was the first to mention the concept of a stratigraphic sequence.? (Wilson)

“The catalogue is divided in 28 books with substantial sections on mining (5 books) and alchemy (9 books), the remainder being devoted to animals and vegetable specimens. Ferrante Imperato took a scientific interest in his collection and was one of the first people to recognise the mysterious ‘bronteae’ and ‘ombriae’ as meteoric stones and proved that ‘Jew stones’, a popular ‘Wunderkammer’ specimen, were in fact the petrified points of an ‘echinus’. In DSC_0037 (2)G.M. Ferro’s addenda to the catalogue is an interesting description and illustration of red and black indian ink in a Chinese ink bottle and decorated vase (p. 677)” (Grinke, From Wunderkammer to museum n. 22).Besides Ferro’s added illustrations and text, the second edition differs in having an engraved view of the museum interior, whereas in the first edition the scene is represented in a much cruder woodcut. The vignette on the title depicts hills, the shore, and the sea with a variety of plants, sea and land creatures, and minerals arising under the astral influence rained down from the heavens, with the motto ‘ab uno’.



Hoover 440, Schuh 2384; Sinkankas 3109; Ward & Carozzi 1172Hunt botanical cat.,; I, 321; Nissen, C. Zoologische Buchillustration,; 2111; Wellcome cat. of printed books,; III, 328; Mortimer, Harvard College Italian 16th Century Books II, 240