The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Mitchell gift: Herhert Mitchell, recently retired curator of rare books at
the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, has donated an extremely
rare book that fills a significant gap in Avery's collection: A Description of
theFive Orders ofColumnes and Te.arms ofArchitecturehy Hans Blum, printed
in London in 1668, shortly after the great fire.
Not much is known about Blum. He was a German who spent some
time in Rome and was settled in Zurich bv 1550. In that vear he pub¬
lished, in Latin, what proved to be the most sticcessful architectural book
of the Renaissance. Percei\'ing the need, he produced the first easv-to-
use, clear and simple manual showing the correct proportions of the
classical columns (Doric, Ionic, etc.), with full instructions for their de¬
sign. The book consists mainh' of diagrammatic illustrations with rele¬
vant texts on the same page. Between 1554 and 1678 thirtv-one editions
translated into modern languages appeared in Switzerland, Germanv,
France, the Netherlands, and England.
English language versions of Blum's book ^\■ere issued seven times
between 1601 and 1678, but onh' thirteen phvsical copies are known to
exist today, including the one just donated by Mr. Mitchell to Avery. The
reason for the scarcity may be explained by the subtitle of Cohimbia's
copy: For the use and benefit of free masons, carpenters, joyners, ca niers, pain lers,
bricklayers; in general, for all that are concerned in the famous art of building.
Apparently most of the copies were used by these craftsmen until the)'
wore out and were thrown away. Very few entered libraries, public or