JF Ptak Science Books Post 2575
Claude-Étienne Minié (1804-1879) was an influential military designer and French officer who designed what was to become know as the "Minie ball". This was a cylindrically-shaped conical-pointed bullet the design of which greatly increased fire at long ranges. The bullet was designed in 1847 and soon became standard issue in Europe and (especially?) in the U.S. during the Civil War. I'm taking notice of these projectiles after having made this very accidental discovery of the machine that formed them in the Victorian review of technology and invention, Great Inventors, the Sources of their Usefulness and the Results of their Efforts, printed in London in the rockingly good year of 1864. It makes me think about the fabulous machinery that produces stuff like bubble gum--glorious metallic ideas for production and packaging, all combined in effort to produce a piece of fluff that you chew on and then discard. With the Minie Ball, though, you have a massively-geared machine used to produce little bits of metal meant to pass more efficiently and with more accuracy through a body. (Also it is another representative of a genre of illustration of looking at the object straight on.)
The cover of the book is interesting in its own right, being bound in an elaborate publisher's cloth with gilt-stamped decorations. Books before, say, 1800, were almost entirely bound according to the wishes of the customer, who would/could purchase the sheets and have them bound according to their wishes. That, or booksellers would offer the book for sale in a small election of available bindings. The cloth binding that we would recognize today really didn't start to make an appreciable appearance until the 1830s, when a simple cloth cover replaced its more-elaborate brethren, making things much easier for the publisher and the bookbinder, allowing for much less expensive production and a quicker turn-around time. It also brought in a far greater distinction in the now-divergent industries of bookselling and publishing--and of course bookbinding. So the entry of the semi-standard plain cloth binding also brought in the possibility for design and art in standard book production, with less to the introduction of the decorated cloth cover.
The cover for the book described here comes from about the second full decade of a standardized-luxury of decoration in cloth-bound books. Over the years I've paid only a little attention to the decorated cloth bindings of scientific books, but never collected them, something I somewhat regret at this point. In any event, Great Inventors... is a good example of a relatively inexpensive but nicely-designed book cover.