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BREISLAK, Scipion.

(1750 – 1826)

(Born: Rome, Italy, 1750; Died: Naples, Italy, 15 February 1826) Italian geologist.

Breislak, who was of German descent, was professor of physics at the University of Ragusa, and subsequently at the Collegio Nazereno in Rome. He fled to France following a revolution, but returned to Italy working for Napoleon in the manufacture of gunpowder and later the manufacture of alum.

Biographical references: ABI: I 201, 121; II S 14, 89-90. Barr, Index to Biographical Fragments, 1973: 33. Casati, Dizionario degli Scrittori d'Italia, 1925-34. Configliachi, L.A., Memorie Intorno alle Opere ed agli Scritti del Geologo Scipione Breislak. Padua, 1827. 28 p. DSB: 2, 439-40 [by V. Francani]. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 57. Poggendorff: 1, col. 288. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 2, 616 & 1, 311. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 236.

Saggio, 1786

1. Italian, 1786.
Saggio | Di Osservazioni Mineralogische | Sulla | Tolfa, Oriolo, E Latera | Di | Scipione Breislak | Delle Scuole Pie | Lettore Di Filosofia Nel Collegio Nazareno | Dedicato | A Sua Eccellenza Reverendissima | Monsignor | Onorato Gaetani | De' Duchi Di Sermoneta. | [ornament] | In Roma MDCCLXXXVI. | Nella Stamperia Di Giovanni Zemple. | Con licenza de' Superiori.

8°: xvi, 110 p., ornament on title page, a few decorative initials.

Rare. This is a descriptive account of the natural resources of the West central region of Italy, and the mining areas of Tolfa, Oriolo-Romano, Civitavecchia, and Latera. After his appointment as a professor at the Collegio Nazareno, Breislak spent his leisure time in geological researches in the papal states. His account of the aluminous district of Tolfa and adjacent hills, published in 1786 as Saggio di Osservazioni Mineralogische sulla Tolfa gained for him the notice of the King of Naples. He was invited by the King to inspect the mines and related works in that kingdom, which led to his appointment as professor of mineralogy to the royal artillery.

Bibliographical references: BL [967.i.23.(2.)]. LKG: XIV 540.

2. French, 1792 [French transl.].
Essais Mineralogiques sur la Solfatare de Pouzzole par Scipion Breislak ... Traduit de Manuscrit Italien par Francois de Pommereul ... Naples, Chez Janvier Giacco, 1792.

8°: 240, [2] p.

Very scarce. Translation by Baron de François René Jean Pommereul [which see note] from an otherwise (?) unpublished manuscript. In the volcanically active district of Solfatara near Naples, mining and extraction of alum had probably occurred since ancient times. However, it was under Breislak's direction as inspector of mines for the Kingdom of Naples that a vast works for the mining and refining of sulphur was established. Sulfphur being an important component of gun powder became an important economic factor in the Naples ecomony of the nineteenth century. In this Essai, Breislak describes the minerals of the area.

François René Jean Pommereul. (Born: 1745; Died: 1823) French aristrocat & military officer. General in Napolean Bonaparte's campaigns of 1796-7.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XIV 564. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 163. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 308. (Pommereul) ABF: I 846, 181-239. Beauchamp, Biographie Moderne, 1816. Feller, Biographie Universelle, 1851. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). WBI.

Topografia, 1798

3. Italian, 1798 [First edition].
Topografia | Fisica | Della Campania | Di Scipione Breislak | [...2 lines of titles and memberships...] | Il Re Delle Due Sicilie | Dedicata | A S.E. La Signora | Contessa Skawronsky | Nata Baronessa Strogonow | Dama Di Ritratto Di S. M. Imp. Delle Russie | E Cav. Dell' Ordine Di S. Caterina. | [tapered rule] | Firenze MDCCLXXXXVIII. | [wavy rule] | Nella Stamperia Di Antonio Brazzini | Con Approvazione.

8°: xii, 368 p.

Rare. The fossiliferous zone of Pietraroia has in the past been the subject of important scientific studies executed by foreign as well as Italian experts. The first researcher to become interested in the zone was the geologist Scipion Breislak. In his work entitled Topografia fisica della Campania, he cited for the first time the Pietraroia fish: "Above Cerretto rises the high mountain of Pietraroia, which is one of the peaks of Matese, very interesting for the materials it yields. This mountain in some parts of is composed of calcareous scissile rock with fish imprints. The hardness of the shale, however, and the multiplicity of the crystalline veins intersecting in all directions, are such that only with difficulty it is possible to have beautiful specimens. They are never of that beauty and precision that one observes in the fish fossils of Bolca."

Bibliographical references: BL [175.b.29.]. LKG: XIV 541a.

4. French, 1801 [French transl.].
Voyages | Physiques | Et Lythologiques | Dans La Campanie; | Suivis D'Un Mémoire | Sur la Constitution physique de Rome; | Avec la Carte générale de la Campanie, d'après Zannoni; | celle des Cratères éteints entre Naples et Cumes; celle | du Vésuve, du Plan physique de Rome, etc. etc. | Par Scipion Breislak; | Traduits Du Manuscrit Italien, | Et Accompagnés De Notes, | Par le Général Pommereuil. | [rule] | [...2 lines of quotation, signed Pliny...] | [rule] | Tome Premier. [-Second] | [tapered rule] | Paris, | Dentu, Imprimeur-Libraire, Palais du Tribunat | galeries de bois, n.° 240. | [double rule] | An IX. (1801.)

2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: [4], xvi, 300 p., one plate, 2 maps. [Vol 2] 8°: [4], 323, [1] p., one plate, 2 maps.

Scarce. Translated by Baron de François René Jean Pommereul [which see note] of Topografia Fisica della Campania (Firenze, 1798). This first edition if French acts like a second edition to the original work, having been enlarged and corrected by Breislak for the traslator. Beyond that, Pommereul has added useful and insightful notes to the original text, as well as several maps of the region.The first great table is on strong paper and represents the region around to Naples; the others show the Vesuvio, the physical plant of the outskirtses of Rome, the extinct craters of the vesuviana zone, the design of a machine realized from the author in the crater of a Solfatara and the crystallization of blocks of branch caused from the action of washes during the eruption of 1794. " In the 1794 Breislak witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius and made direct observations at the Fields Flegrei and Pozzuoli sulfur mines. Physical topography of the Campania, which discusses his studies on volcanoes, includes his opinion that the volcanic systems of Latium and Campania to were connected at the ancient volcano Roccamonfina, eruptive whose apparatus and washes he had discovered. Considered one of founders of vulcanology in Italy, Breislak was the first to determine that basaltic rocks to were of extrusive origin. He concluded that for to long Time Monte Sum, the second summit of Vesuvius, had been active until A.D. 79; that it had been eroded; and that the cone of Vesuvius had been set upon it within historical Time " (DSB, II, p. 439). " In 1801, Scipio Breislak published to descriptive and geological work on the Phlegraean fields, the extinct volcanoes near Rocca Monfino, on Mount Sum, Vesuvius, the Baiae, Procida and Ischia. This work comprises several maps, and is in many respects supplementary to Spallanzani' s Travels. Breislak also contributed the first researches on the geology and stratigraphy of Rome, and of that part of the Apennines which surrounds the volcanic area of the Italian mainland " (K.A. von Zittel, History of Geology and Palaeontology, London, 1901, pp. 78-79). With wide final index of the matters. The Breislak, been born to Rome from Swedish, chierico father regular, was premature much in the studies, becoming teaching already in young age. In 1781 it was called to the college of Urbino, therefore it passed after some years to Rome to the Nazareno college, where it organized an important mineralogico cabinet. From 1787 it taught to Nola before, then to Naples. In 1798 it made return Rome, where it had important part in the formation of the republican government, of which minister of finances was name. Fallen the Republic Roman, one joined to the directed French troops to Marseilles. To Paris it had way to know the greatest French scientists of the age, between which Chaptal, Fourcroy and Cuvier. In 1802 it re-entered in Italy. In the ' 05 member of the Italian Real Institute was name and was already member of the Real Societies of London, Edinburgo, Berlin and Torino. In 1815 it founded, with to the Giordani and Mounts, the Italian Library. In the within of the controversy, that it then cracked the world of the geologic studies between the A.G. supporters Werner and those of J. Hutton, the position of the Breislak was much critic in the first comparisons of and far from the excesses of second (cfr. DBI, XIV, pp. 118-120).H.J. Johnston-Lavis, Bibliography of volcanoes of the southern Italy, London, 1918, p. 47.

François René Jean Pommereul. (Born: 1745; Died: 1823) French aristrocat & military officer. General in Napolean Bonaparte's campaigns of 1796-7.

Bibliographical references: BL [970.e.17.]. Johnston-Lavis, Bibliography of Volcanoes, 1918: p. 47. LKG: XIV 542b. Monglond, La France Révolutionnaire, 1930: 5, 618. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 163. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 309. Zittel, History of Geology, 1901: p. 99. (Pommereul) ABF: I 846, 181-239. Beauchamp, Biographie Moderne, 1816. Feller, Biographie Universelle, 1851. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). WBI.

5. German, 1802.
Physische und Lithologische Reisen durch Campanien nebst mineralogischen Beobachtungen über die Gegend von Rom von Scipio Breislak ... nach dem Franzosischen des Generals Pomereuil ins Deutsche übersetzt, mit Anmerkungen und Zusatzen versehen von Franz Ambros Reuss. Leipzig, Wilhelm Rein, 1802.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: VIII, 247 p. [Vol 2] 8°: 236 p., 5 plates.

Rare. Translated by Franz Ambrosius Reuss from the outstanding French edition published under the title Voyages Physiques et Lythologiques dans la Campanie (Paris, 1801).

Bibliographical references: Adams, Birth and Development, 1938: 320-1. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 94. LKG: XIV 543c.

6. Italian, 1802.
Memoria sulla fabbricazione e raffinazione de nitri da Scipione Breislak. Milano, Presso Pirotta e Maspero Stampatori-Librai in Santa Margarita, [1802].

8°: π6 A-Q8 R10; 144l.; [i]-xii, [1]-273, [3] p.

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; [iii]-v, Dedication, signed Breislak.; [vi], Blank.; [vii]-xii, "Introduzione."; [1]-273, Text.; [1 pg], Errata.; [2 pgs], "Indice | De Capitoli."

Rare. In this memoire, Breislak describes the making and refining of saltpeter, a necessary component of gun powder manufacture.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 163.

7. Italian, 1805.
Del salnitro e dell' arte del salnitrajo ... Milano, Presso Pirotta e Maspero, 1805.

8°: viii, 240 p., 4 folding plates.

Very scarce. A further study on the manufacture of saltpetre.

Introduzione alla Geologia, 1811

8. Italian, 1811 [First edition].
Introduzione | Alla | Geologia | Di | Scipione Breislak | [...4 lines of titles and memberships...] | [rule] | Parte prima. | [rule] | Milano, | Dalla Stamperia Reale, | MDCCCXI.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: [i]-xxvii, [1], [1]-36, [1]-367, [1] p. [Vol 2] 8°: [1]-490 p. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Contents: [Vol 1] [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; [iii], Dedication to Giovanni Paradisi.; [iv], Blank.; [v]-xxvii, "Proemio."; [1 pg], Errata.; [1], "Tavola | Della | Principali Altezze | Del Globo."; [2], Blank.; [3]-4, "Avvertimento."; 5-33, Tables.; [34]-36, "Nota De Volcani."; [1]-367, Text.; [1 pg], "Indice De Capitoli." (=table of contents).

[Vol 2] [1-2], Title page, verso blank.; [3]-453, Text.; [454], "Indice De Capitoli." (=table of contents); [455]-490, "Indice" (=general index).

Rare. Celebrated first appearance of this important and influential geological textbook that according to Zittel contained Breislak's "able criticism of the Neptunian dogmas was largely instrumental in eradicating them from the teaching of the universities and colleges... Breislak gives a good account of volcanic phenomena and volcanic rocks in Italy, and contributes a number of valuable observations on gaseous explosions, volcanic ejecta, and on lava and basalt." It was translated into French and German shortly after publication. Breislak is considered one of the founders of volcanology in Italy. He was a critic both of the theories of Plutonism and of Neptunism.

Bibliographical references: BL []. DSB: 2, 439. LKG: XIII 251. NUC. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 163. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 310. Zittel, History of Geology, 1901.

9. French, 1812 [French transl.].
Introduction a la Geologie, ou, A l'Histoire Naturelle de la Terre par Scipione Breislak ... Traduit de l'Italien par J.J.B. Bernard. Paris, J. Klostermann, 1812.

8°: x, 595 p.

Rare. Translated by J.J.B. Bernard from Introduzione alla Geologia (Milano, 1811).

Bibliographical references: BL [953.g.15.]. LKG: XIII 252a.

10. French, 1818.
Institutiones Géologiques | Par | Scipion Breislak | [...6 lines of titles and memberships...] | Traduites du manuscrit italien en français | Par | P.J.L. Campmas. | Trois volumes avec un atlas de 56 planches. | [rule] | Tome Primiero | [rule] | Milan | A l'Imprimerie Impériale Et Royale | 1818.

[Title of atlas reads:]

Atlas géologique, ou vues d'amas de colonnes basaltiques, faisant suite aux Institutions geologiques. 1818.

3 vols. plus atlas. [Vol 1] 8°: xxix, [1], 468 p. [Vol 2] 8°: 550, [2] p. [Vol 3] 8°: [1]-557, [1] p. [Atlas] Oblong 2°: Engraved title page, 56 engraved plates. Includes bibliographical references and index (at the end of v. 3). Very scarce.

Contents: [Vol 1]

[Vol 2]

[Vol 3] [1-2], Title page, verso blank.; [3]-476, Text.; [476]-506, "Explication Des Planches."; [507]-509, "Table Des Chapitres | Du Troisième Volume."; [510]-557, "Table Des Principales Matieres" (=index).; [1 pg], "Errata."

[Atlas] 8°: [2] p., 56 plates.

Bibliographical references: NUC: 74, 130. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 163.

11. French, 1822.
Traité | Sur La | Structure Extérieure | Du Globe, | Ou | Institutions Geologiques, | Par | Scipion Breislak, | Membre de plusieurs Academies. | Trois Volumes avec un Atlas de 56 planches. | [wavy rule] | Tome Premier. | [wavy rule] | Paris, | Chez Fantin et Comp. | Bachelier, quai des Augustins. | Deterville, rue haute feuille. | Delaunay, Palis Royal. | 1822.

3 vols. and oblong folio atlas. [Vol 1] 8°: [Vol 2] 8°: [Vol 3] 8°:

Rare. A reissue of Institutions géologiques, first published in 1819. With a new titlepage and an additional preface by the publisher, Jean-Pierre Giegler. The atlas bears the date 1818.

Bibliographical references: BL [445.b.3-6.].

12. Italian, 1822 [First edition].
Descrizione Geologica | Della | Provincia Di Milano | Pubblicata | Per Ordine Dell'I. R. Governo | Di Lomardia | Da | Scipione Breislak | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | [ornate rule] | Milano | Dall' Imperiale Regia Stamperia | 1822.

8°: [i]-xlix, [1]-260 p., one large folding map. Includes index.

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; [iii]-xlix, "Introduzione."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-214, Text.; [215]-243, "Appendix."; [244], "Indice De Capitoli" (=table of contents).; [245]-260, "Indice" (=general index).; [At end], One large folding map.

Very scarce. Subject Geology - Italy - Milan.

Bibliographical references: BL [728.h.29.].

Beiträge zur Mineralogie von Italien. (Frankfurt am Mainz, 1789).
See under: Beiträge Zur Mineralogie.