NEWTON, Isaac, Sir (1642-1727).
NEWTON, Isaac, Sir (1642-1727).
NEWTON, Isaac, Sir (1642-1727).
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NEWTON, Isaac, Sir (1642-1727)

Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude and Curvilinear Figures. London: for Samuel Smith and Benjamin Wolford, 1704.

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NEWTON, Isaac, Sir (1642-1727)
Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude and Curvilinear Figures. London: for Samuel Smith and Benjamin Wolford, 1704.
First edition, first issue of Newton's mathematical and experimental investigations into the nature of light and colour. Among its important results are his analysis of white light as a compound of pure colours and his full explanation of the spectrum of sunlight, the degrees of refraction associated with different colours, the colour circle, the rainbow, 'Newton's rings', his invention of the reflecting telescope, an analysis of interference effects, and the discovery of periodicity, which was to lead to wave theory.  All previous philosophers and mathematicians had seen white light as pure and simple, regarding colours as modifications or qualifications of white. In contrast, Newton proved that natural white light is a compound of many pure elementary colours which could be separated and recombined at will. ‘For over a century [the Opticks] remained a work of great authority, ‘supreme’ in Andrade's words, as a record of experiment and scientific deduction from experiment' (PMM). The book ends with two mathematical papers in Latin, published to establish Newton's prior claim over Leibniz in the discovery of the calculus. This copy is the first issue, with the title printed in red and black within a border and with the imprint, but without the author's name, and with the two treatises on calculus at the end of the work. Babson 132; Dibner Heralds of Science 148; Grolier/Horblit 79b; Norman 1588; PMM 172; Wallis 174.

Quarto (244 x 188mm). Title printed in red and black, 19 fold-out engraved plates (repaired tear in title without loss, neat repaired tear in D3, very minor spotting at extreme edge of some plates). Contemporary English blind-panelled calf, sprinkled edges (rebacked, a little worn). Provenance: Hastings Literary and Scientific Institution (bookplates dated 1839-1840) – armorial bookplate with text erased.
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