FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)
FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)
FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)
FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)
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FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)

Historiae Coelestis Britannicae. Edited by James Hodgson. London: H. Meere, 1725.

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FLAMSTEED, John (1646-1719)
Historiae Coelestis Britannicae. Edited by James Hodgson. London: H. Meere, 1725.
First complete edition of Flamsteeds astronomical observations and star catalogue, in which he calculated with unprecedented accuracy the positions of 3000 stars, having ‘eliminated all uncertainties caused by parallax, refraction, and latitude’ (DSB). Flamsteed, astronomer royal from 1675 to 1719, long refused to publish, despite much urging by Halley, Newton and others. In 1712 Halley, ignoring Flamsteed’s objections, published a portion of the work himself in an edition of 400 copies; the astronomer recovered 300 of these in 1715 and burned them, or, as he put it, ‘made a sacrifice of them to Heavenly Truth’ (quoted in ODNB). Thirteen years later this posthumous edition was published by his executors, pursuant to his will. Like the Macclesfield and the Royal Institution copies, this copy does not contain an errata leaf at the end of vol. III. Very rare. Brunet II, 1280; Lowndes II, 805.

3 volumes, folio (390 x 254mm). Pagination: vol. I: [10] (half-title, title, ‘Ad lectorem’, dedication) 40 420 (last 8 pp. mispaginated 389-396) [2] (errata); vol. II: [4] (half-title, title) 573 [1] 70 [2] (errata, verso blank); vol. III: [4] (half-title, title) 164 76 83 [1] 104 [2] (errata, verso blank). Engraved frontispiece portrait by G. Vertue after T. Gibson, 8 engraved plates of which five in vol. I, two in vol. III, one full-page illustration in vol. II, engraved headpieces by L. du Guernier after J.B. Catenaro (stamps removed from all three titles; vol. I: tiny marginal tears 2U1, 3A2, 3V1; vol. II: tiny marginal chip to 6H2; vol. III headpiece on 3A1r trimmed at head; all vols with variable browning, occasionally heavy). Contemporary Germanic marbled sheep with green stain, gilt spines in 7 compartments, yellow and green gilt spine labels in second and third compartments, the others with gilt floral centrepieces within foliate gilt borders, decorative buntpapier endpapers, those in vols I and III to a banded design, those in vol. II to a diaper design, red edges (rebacked preserving original spines, head- and tails of spines of vols I and II defective and repaired and restored and with some more minor work to those of vol. III, associated repairs to inner hinges and with the front free endpaper to vol. III replaced in facsimile, spines somewhat wormed, extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: stamps removed from front free endpaper of vol I and from all three titles, title to vol. I with subsequent restoration and three letters supplied in pen-facsimile, faint offsetting from stamp onto portrait).
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