17 June 2008
ADAMS, John Crouch (1819-1892). An Explanation of the Observed Irregularities in the Motion of Uranus, on the Hypothesis of Disturbances caused by a more Distant Planet; with a determination of the mass, orbit, and position of the disturbing body. (From the Appendix to the National Almanac for the year 1851). London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1846.
8o (224 x 141 mm). Contemporary green cloth, spine gilt (joints starting at ends of spine, some light wear). Provenance: H.C. Rothery (presentation inscription); James Stokley (bookplate); Herbert McLean Evans (1882-1971), book collector on the history of science and medicine (bookplate); University of Chicago Library (bookplate; sold Christie's South Kensington, 2 July 1994, lot 34).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed on the title-page: "To H. C. Rothery, Esquire with the Author's compliments." Adams began his investigation of Uranus in 1843, and in 1845 sent his calculations and observations to the Astronomer Royal, George Biddell Airey, who failed to recognise the importance of the paper. In 1846, Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier published his own research and reached the same conclusion, leading to the immediate identification of Neptune by J.G. Galle. Only then was Adams' work published, leading to a bitter dispute over priority. H.C. Rothery is likely Henry Cadogan Rothery (1817-1888), a fellow classmate at St. John's College, Cambridge, who later became commissioner in the court of Admiralty and invesigated the causes of maritime casualties and wrecks. Dibner Heralds of Science 16; Norman 7.
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