Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2016 Issue

Optics, Microscopy and Rare Science from Jeff Weber Rare Books

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

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.

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