NICOLS, Thomas (fl. 1659)
Arcula Gemmea: or, A Cabinet of Jewels. Discovering the Nature, Vertue, Value of Pretious Stones, with Infallible Rules to Escape the Deceit of all Such as are Adulterate and Counterfeit
London: Printed for Nath: Brooke at the Angel in Cornhill, 1653. 8vo. (7 x 5 1/4 inches). , 239, pp. 1 folding table.
Bound to style in early 18th-century calf, spine raised in six compartments, red morocco lettering piece in the second.
Very scarce first edition, second issue of the first book on gemstones by a British author.
This work on precious stones by Nicols, who was associated with Jesus College, Cambridge, was his only work and published three times throughout his life, each time with a different title. The present edition is identical to the first published in 1652 with a new title page in addition to the previous one. Nicols begins the work with an "admonition" to the reader warning against using gems for supernatural purposes and a fold-out table classifying stones (as well as fossils, coral, pearls, and amber) by size, rarity, hardness, color, and clarity. He includes general information about the definition and history of gems, drawing on works by Boethius de Boot and Pliny, plus chapters on the properties, uses, and value of various stones, from diamonds to flints. He further discusses how to polish and engrave stones, how to detect counterfeits and the supernatural effects and "dignities and vertues [sic]" of several types of stones.
Dictionary of National Biography 41:60, p. 54.