Société anonyme des mines et fonderies de zinc de la Vieille Montagne. Album de 30 vues.
Oblong folio (555 x 385 mm). Tinted lithographed title-page and 30 tinted lithographed plates (555 x 385 mm, one slightly smaller: 350 x 505 mm), all in fine contemporary hand colour. Loose in modern clamshell box.
Extremely rare first edition of an impressive series of lithographed views showing the zinc mines, foundries and factories in Belgium and Germany owned by the "Société Anonyme de Mines et Fonderies de Zinc de la Vieille Montagne". The series includes views of Moresnet, Welkenraedt, Rabotraedt, Angleur, Saint Léonard (Liège), Valentin-Cocq and Bray, all beautifully rendered by the French landscape painter Adolphe Maugendre (1809-1895). The Vieille Montagne society was founded in 1837. Its history goes back to 1806, when Jean-Jacques Daniel Dony (1759-1819) was granted the sole mining rights to the calamine deposits of Vieille Montagne (or Altenberg), between Liège and Aachen. Dony had invented a new method for extracting zinc and casting it in ingots. In 1809 he established a rolling mill at Saint-Léonard, apparently the first plant for the industrial production of zinc. The series shows the complete process of producing zinc, from the zinc ore extraction to the stoking, pouring and refilling of the crucible, and finally the production of sheets of zinc in a rolling mill. It includes four detailed views of the Saint-Léonard plant (one, surprisingly, featuring a woman and two children). In the 20th century the Vieille Montagne society, together with a number of other mining and smelting companies, evolved into "Umicore", a global materials technology and recycling group still active today. A second edition was published in 1855 as Album des usines et etablissements de la société and is much less rare than the present first edition.
Some light marginal spotting, the title-page more severely, title-page with a tiny tear, otherwise in very good condition. An important visual record of the history of the zinc industry.
WorldCat (only a catalogue entry, not listing any copies); no further copies in KVK. For Dony: Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology, pp. 376-377; for Maugendre: Benezit VII, p. 273.