Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

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PRYCE, William.

(1725? – 1790)

(Born: Redruth, Cornwall, England, 1725?; Died: Redruth, Cornwall, England, 17 December 1790) English antiquarian, apothecary & surgeon.

Pryce had an interest in the Pednandrea mine for ten years. During that time, he made a detailed examination of Cornish mining. He was fascinated by the Newcomen engine and had a chance to study it firsthand because there were more than 70 of those marvelous engines working in Cornwall. (For a discussion of the steam pumps and the engines used in the tin mines of Cornwall, see: Fleming and Brocklehurst, A History of Engineering, pp. 114-8.) He had a tremendous interest in ancient Cornwall and formed a renowned collection of antiquities of the region. His Archæologia Cornu-Britannica (London, 1790) contains Pryce's observations including a valuable vocabulary and grammar of the Cornish language.

Biographical references: BBA: I 901, 213-214. Biographie Universelle: 34, 433. DNB: 46, 429. Watt, Bibliotheca Britannica, 1824. WBI.

1. English, 1774 [Prospectus].
The Plan of a work, entituled, Mineralogia Cornubiensis et Leges Stannariae, ... Falmouth, [1774?].

2°: Very rare.

Bibliographical references: BL [B.551.(5.)].

Mineralogia Cornubiensis, 1778

2. English, 1778 [First edition].
Mineralogia Cornubiensis; | A | Treatise | On | Minerals, Mines, | And | Mining: | Containing | The Theory And Natural History Of | Strata, Fissures, and Lodes, | With The Methods Of | Discovering and Working of Tin, | Copper, and Lead Mines, | and of | Cleansing and Metalizing their Products; | shewing each particular process for | Dressing, Assaying, and Smelting of Ores. | To Which Is Added, | An Explanation of the Terms and | Idioms of Miners. | By W. Pryce, of Redruth in Cornwall. | [...2 lines of quotation in Latin...] | London: | Printed And Sold For The Author, | By James Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard-Street. | Sold Also By B. White, Fleet-Street; And J. Robson, | New Bond-Street. MDCCLXXVII.

2°: *2 ****1 b-c2 d3 e1 B-Z2 2A-2Z2 3A-3Z2 4A-4P2; 192l.; [36], [i]-xiv, [2], [1]-331, [1] p., engraved frontispiece, 6 engraved plates, 2 folding tables. Page size: 340 x 215 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [1 pg], Dedication to George, Prince of Wales, signed William Pryce.; [1 pg], Blank.; [9 pgs], "The | Names | Of The | Subscribers."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "Directions to the Bookbinder."; [1 pg], Blank.; [5 pgs], "Preface."; [1 pg], Blank.; [14 pgs], "Contents."; [i]-xiv, "Introduction."; [1 pg], "An Account of all the Copper Ores sold in Cornwall the last | fifty years; ..."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-295, Text.; [296]-305, "Tables."; [306], Blank.; [307]-313, "Appendix."; [314], Blank.; [315]-331, "An | Explanation | Of The | Cornu-Technical Terms and Idioms | Of | Tinners, | Including those which are used in the Lead-Mines and Collieries | of Great-Britain."; [1 pg], Blank.

Plates: The plates and tables comprise the following: Frontispiece, Portrait of Pryce showing his bust within an oval frame. A rectangular plaque underneath has the wording "William Pryce." The plate is signed Clifford Pinx, engraved by James Basire. Pl. I (p. 110), A section of Goon-Laz and the Pink Mine in the Parish of St. Angnes, Cornwall, signed Barber. Pl. II (p. 147), The Vergula Divinatornia, &c. Pl. III (p. 160, folding), Steam Fire Engine. Pl. IV (p. 172, folding), Parallel section of the Bullen Garden Mine, signed J. Barber & T. Kitchin. Pl. V (p. 232), Stamping mill. Pl. VI (p. 280), Furnaces for assaying, smelting, etc. Pl. VII (p. 137, folding), Plan and map of the North Downs Mine, signed James Basire. Table I (p. 160), Table Calculating the Power of Fire-Engines. Table II (p. 288), Ticketing Offers for Copper Ores.

Very scarce. Mineralogia Cornubiensis is the first great classic devoted to mining in Cornwall and it was considered the standard for its time. It as been called the Cornish "De Re Metallica," with some justification, since it is a comprehensive digest of mining practices in the region. In it are described the mineral structure of the Cornish metal mining areas and the relationships between the various kinds of ore-bearing lodes. This encyclopedic work is embellished with diagrams, glossaries of technical terms and fine engraved plates. A large plan and map of North Downs Mine, a depiction of a section of Bullen Garden Mine, and a detailed engraving of a "Steam Fire Engine" (the Newcomen engine) with a table caluculating its power to draw water are included. Pryce also discusses at length the "rag and chain pump" which was still used by manual labor to dewater mines, although the method had fallen into disfavor during it the early 1770s. The author also describes the mineralized zones of Cornwall and their relationships with each other, finally tabulating the knowledge in diagrams and glossaries.

Facsimile reprint, 1972: Truro, Bradford Barton, 1972. 8°: 36, xv, 331 p. Reprint in a reduced format of the original 1778 edition.

Bibliographical references: Agassiz, Bibliographia Geologiæ, 1848-54: 4, 138. BMC: 4, 1620. Challinor, History of British Geology, 1971: 66. Dana's 7th (Bibliography): 78. DNB: 16, 429. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 488. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 90. Hoover Collection: no. 666. LKG: XIV 434.

3. English, 1810? [2nd edition].
Mineralogia Cornubiensis; a Treatise on Minerals, Mines, and Mining ... London, 1810?.


Extremely rare. Apparently a reissue of the 1778 sheets with a new title page.