Saturday, December 8, 2012

Architecture and Engineering in the Construction of Bridges

Bridges were one of Giovanni’s interests as an architect.  He even went so far as to patent one of his original designs. Naturally he was also interested in collecting books pertaining to bridge construction and technique.

   It was immediately apparent this book was one of his favorites and an important work in his collection as it had been carefully wrapped in order to preserve it from further deterioration. The cover is in poor shape and perhaps in need of replacement, but there are two very good reasons to refrain from altering it in any way.  Attached to the cover of the book is a label indicating where the book was originally sold.  Inside the front cover, is a handwritten inscription and name of a former owner.

"Se vend chez Jean-Pierre Giegler, Libraire, cours de' Servi

vis-à-vis l'Auberge della Città, à Milan."

1806 Catalog
"Sold at Jean-Pierre Giegler, 
Bookseller, Largo Corsia dei Servi
across from the City Hotel, in Milan." 

Jean-Pierre Giegler, also known as Giovanni-Pietro, was a well-known Swiss bookseller and publisher operating in the heart of Milan. Little more information is available about him, but several sources use the following quote:   "Giegler (1772-1828), apparently started in Kehl and Lausanne and, in about 1799, moved his business to Milan. While in Lausanne, he published his own novel La Seduction, ou, Histoire de Lady Revel. Nouvelle (1795), which seems to have enjoyed considerable notoriety. In Milan, Giegler issued a series of catalogues, of which several from 1804 and 1805 still survive."  According to another source, he had opened a bookshop and reading room in Lausanne before 1792, moved to Milan and established a bookstore around 1797, also published under the name "Giegler et compagnie" and was the author of two travel guides to Italy.  "His widow Françoise Barrat and his heirs succeeded him in 1828 before selling their patent in October 1831 with Carlo Branca and Alessandro Clemente Dupuy."  Some of Giegler's catalogs have been digitized, including one from 1806 in which Giovanni's book appears on the list:

See page here

Ingegnere Francesco Buzzi (1789-1839)

of the Engineer Francesco Buzzi - Dell' Ingegnere Francesco Buzzi (1789-1839) 1833
     It would seem this book passed through the hands of at least one other well known person.  Though most of the handwriting is hard to read, the name of Ingenere Francesco Buzzi is easily identifiable.   Originally from Dervio, he was the nephew of a well-known opthamologist of the same name.  He excelled in school and studied both architecture and engineering at the University of Pavia.  He entered into public service in 1811, eventually becoming Engineer in Chief in Bergamo in 1830 moving to Milan to take the same office there and then moved back to Bergamo in 1836 where he remained until he died in 1839.  His obituary which appeared in the Giornale d'indizi giudiziarj della provincia di Bergamo was several pages long and makes it clear he was a celebrated person in his time.

Recueil de divers mémoires extraits de a 

Bibliothèque des ponts et chaussées à l'usage des élèves ingénieurs 

Pierre Charles Lesage
2 Dec 1740 - 20 Dec 1810

(Collection of various memoir extracts from the Library of roads and bridges for use by engineering students), by Pierre Charles Lesage was printed in 1806.  There don't appear to be any translations or later updated editions published, however it has been digitized and is available to read as a free ebook online at either Google Books or  It is essentially a textbook which Lesage compiled for students from the resources available at l'École des Ponts et Chaussées (the School of Bridges and Roads) which was founded under King Louis XV and remains one of the oldest engineering schools in operation.
"The Corps of Engineers of Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Roads) was created in 1716. A decree issued by the Royal Council in 1747 entrusting Jean-Rodolphe Perronet with the task of setting up a training programme specific to state engineers is regarded as the act which led to the founding of the School....From its fondation in 1747 to 1794, the School essentially bore the stamp of one man, its director, Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, engineer, administrator, and man of learning whose name is associated with the Encyclopedia of d'Alembert and Diderot..."    
 - The École des Ponts school website

Jean-Rodolphe Perronet
(27 October 1708 – 27 February 1794)
Today the library at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech is named after  Lesage.  He initially entered the school as a student, but remained as an instructor and eventually became Deputy Director and then Inspector of the school.  One of his many tasks was to organize the reference materials in the building and in effect served as the first school librarian.  Many of these materials had once belonged to his predecessor and original director of the school, Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, who donated all of his materials to the school upon his retirement.   Perronet was a prominent architect and engineer whose work under King Louis XV led to the creation of the engineering school for the purpose of training new students.  He had been friends with the King from a very early age and remained close to him for many years.  He was the "spiritual founder" of the school and a statue of him can be found near the campus today.

The book compiled by Lesage, honors Perronet from the beginning with a portrait of him next to the title page and then followed up with a biographical historical notice.  A summary of his completed projects is then provided.  Most of the book provides histories of various bridges in Europe.  There are also several pages of useful tables of measurement in the back half of the book. Folded illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book.  The plates below were beautifully illustrated but unfortunately didn't seem to transfer as well during the process of digitization.  Below are images of these plates taken from Giovanni's copy of the book.

Plan de Plusieurs Etoile Et Avenues - PL. XI.

Vue Perspective de la place et de pont de la concorde a Paris
Close up of Vue Perspective de la place et de pont de la concorde a Paris

Angleterre - Pont a Bascule de Birmingham 1784 PL VI

Details du Pont a Bascule de Birmingham -  Plan VII

Plan General Du Canal Projette - PL XIV

Elevation d'une Maison de la Rue d'Oxford a Londres - Plan 1re

Profil d'une des Rues de Londres, qui fait voir la maniere dont les lanternes sont placees Pl 11

Profil de la Rue Piccadilly - PL III

Profils - Pl IV

Pont a Bascule Barriere Picadily a Londres - Plan V

Autre Balance a Peser Les Voitures Chargees Executee en Angleterre - PL VIII

Plan Coupe et Elevation Du Pont En Fer - PL IX
Machine en usage dans les Ports D'Angleterre Pour Decharger a Quai les Navires Qui Sont Dans Le Port - PL XV

Profils des Principales Routes Executees en France - PL X

Vers A Tuyaux - PL XII

Machine pour connaitre les sous-courans dan une riviere qui a son embouchure a la Mer - PL XIII

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