Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2016 Issue

Optics, Microscopy and Rare Science from Jeff Weber Rare Books

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Optics and more.

Here's looking at you. Jeff Weber Rare Books has issued a catalogue of Early Optics, Microscopy, Astronomy & Rare Science. With works from the 17th to the 20th century, it presents pieces of the journey to better understanding the science behind what makes the world visible, along with various other scientific topics, from geology to biology, and several works on mathematics, probability in particular. Weber notes that they recently acquired the optics and microscopy library of a private collector, the depth of which made it a significant collection. Here are a few samples from the 35 items offered in Weber's Catalogue 183.

 

We begin with what was likely the most important textbook of the 18th century in optics. Robert Smith was a follower of Newton, explaining his views in A Compleat System of Opticks: in four books, viz. A Popular, a Mathematical, a Mechanical, and a Philosophical Treatise... published in 1738. It covers not only optical theories, but extensive information on designing and manufacturing telescopes, celestial discoveries, and geometrical theories. Smith helped to make Newtonian theories such as the particulate theory of light more accessible to students. Item 35. Priced at $2,850.

 

Gaspard de Courtivron was another Newtonian, though more of an amateur scientist than was Smith. He was a military man who studied science to advance his career. However, a war injury forced him to abandon that career and turn to science full time. Item 14 is Courtivron's Traite d'Optique, published in 1752. He adopted Newton's theory of light particles, but had an interesting (and incorrect) theory as to why white light refracted into separate colors. He believed the particles of different colors traveled at slightly different speeds. He attributed their spreading out into a rainbow as refraction being affected by the particles' speed. The slower the speed, the greater the refraction, so in the case of red, which is least refracted, its particles traveled at the highest speed. $3,750.

 

Charles Babbage is known by many as the "father of the computer." Working in the early 19th century, he realized human computations were plagued with errors and set about designing a device that could accurately and consistently make computations. Rather than an electronic computer as was designed over a century later, he devised mechanical devices, complex, large creations that never quite were finished. However, while Babbage is remembered for computing, he was learned in many fields. This next item is a geological treatise he privately published in 1847: Observations on the Temple of Serapis at Pozzuoli near Naples. With an attempt to explain the causes of the frequent elevation and depression of large portions of the earth's surface in remote periods... Babbage concluded that portions of the earth rose and subsided over time. He used the Temple of Serapis to demonstrate this. The temple had been built by a hot springs near the sea in ancient times. In the years since it was abandoned, the temple often has been covered by water. The encrustations on the columns at the bottom showed both sea water and water from the hot springs had entered, since the chemicals in each would not by themselves generate such deposits. Later on, solid material built up, sealing off the sea and allowing only spring water to enter. Babbage continued to use layers in the temple to conclude what changes had occurred, which he attributed to motion of the earth's surface. Item 4. $3,750.

 

Item 8 contains the Atlantic Monthly from the second half of 1945. Within it is a groundbreaking article, As We May Think, by Vannevar Bush. Bush, who was one of the developers of the first atomic bomb, was envisioning a more useful contribution to humanity in this article. It is something of a precursor to the concept of the internet. People weren't hooking up computers in those days since essentially they did not yet exist. What Bush was envisioning was a device storing huge amounts of data on microfilm. His device would enable various connections to be created that would reach the underlying material in different ways. He called his system "memex," for memory index. It would operate something like the human mind. Today, we might think of it as working like a search engine, or a series of links. It would not have functioned quite like today's internet, but it did serve as an inspiration for those who created its connections later on. $800.

 

Jeff Weber Rare Books may be reached at 323-344-9332 or weberbks@pacbell.net. Their website is found at www.WeberRareBooks.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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