17 June 2008
GIBBS, Josiah Willard. Elements of Vector Analysis arranged for the Use of Students in Physics... Not Published. New Haven: Printed by Tuttle, Morehouse, & Taylor, 1881-1884.
8o (235 x 150 mm). Original green printed wrappers (upper left corner of front wrapper torn away just touching printed line border, some minor soiling). Provenance: Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906), American astronomer and pioneer of aeronautics (presentation inscription from the author on the front wrapper).
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY GIBBS to the aviation pioneer Samuel P. Langley on the front wrapper: "Professor Samuel P. Langley with the respects of the author," with three corrections in Gibbs' hand on pages 42, 52, and 55. Gibbs, a professor of mathematical physics at Yale, began his study of quarternions after reading James Clerk Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (see lot 244). He concluded, though, that they did not provide an appropriate language for mathematical physics, so he worked out a more straightforward vector analysis. This pamphlet on the subject was printed for private distribution to the students in his classes and to select correspondents. Gibbs's version of the vector analysis was not formally published until 1901, when one of his students, Edwin B. Wilson, prepared a textbook based on Gibbs's lectures. A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY. Dibner Heralds of Science 117.
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