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(TANGRAM.)

Al gioco cinese chiamato il rompicapo. Appendice di figure

rappresentanti l'alfabeto, le nove cifre dei numeri arabi, uomini, bestie, case, cocchi, barche, urne, vasi, ed altre suppellettili domestiche. Preceduta da un discorso sul rompicapo e sulla cina intitolato passatemo preliminare scritto dall'autore.

Florence, all'insegna dell'ancora, 1818 Stock Code: 134823
£3,000.00
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Notes

First edition of this uncommon and early work on Chinese tangrams, the Florentine issue. There was also an issue published in Milan the same year by Pietro and Giuseppe Vallardi (no priority established, though the Milanese issue appears to have had hand-coloured plates rather than sepia).
Both issues are scarce in commerce and institutions, with the Milanese issue surfacing slightly less regularly. OCLC and Copac locate five copies of the Florentine issue (four in the US - Harvard, Cleveland Public Library, Princeton, University of Utah - and one in Australia - University of Sydney). Just Yale houses a copy of the Milanese. At auction, Florentine copies have appeared three times (Dominic Winter 2018, Bolaffi 2014, Bloomsbury 2007) and one Milanese is recorded (Christie's 2016, the Giancarlo Beltrame copy).
Psychologist Jiannong Shi has called the tangram, a Chinese tile puzzle thought to have been developed in the Song Dynasty, "the earliest psychological test in the world" (p. 330). Tangrams arrived in Europe from 1817 onward and quickly became a popular craze; tangram sets became increasingly elegant and expensive, the pieces (or 'tans') made from ivory, tortoiseshell, or mother of pearl, and elaborately carved. A number of accompanying books were published. John and Edward Wallis's The Fashionable Chinese Puzzle and its companion solution book, Key (both 1817), were among the earliest and most successful; the first tangram book to be published on the Continent was a near-copy of Wallis's work, Énigmes Chinoises (Paris, 1817). Demaine and Rodgers state that "the first Italian tangram book, published in 1817, was a copy of the British book by Wallis. But in 1818, G. Landi of Florence produced Metamorfosi Del Giuoco Detto L'Enimma Chinese, a beautiful book of 100 miniature pictures of architectural features such as monuments, buildings, fountains, and bridges, that were so artistically made that each problem was a beautiful picture" (p. 66). The present work, anonymously published, is therefore one of the very earliest Italian books on the subject.

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Description

Octavo, pp. 42, [2]. Original printed pink wrappers, spine lettered in black, boards with decorative rectangular panel in black, front board with inner roundel, edges uncut.

Illustrations

Engraved vignette title page (the word "Appendice" spelled using tangrams and set amid a black ground, with an almond shape containing the 7 tangram pieces above the imprint). 12 sepia-tone engraved plates of tangrams showing 133 problems total; plates I-

Condition

Contemporary ink diagrams (two square-format tangrams) to front pastedown, remnants of shelf labels to foot of spine. Wrappers worn, spine chipped with loss to ends, contents mildly spotted, cords between quires 2 and 3 split but the binding still firm, small patch of worming to rear free endpaper and pastedown, three small remants of blue card to the latter, overall a very good copy.

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