GILBERT, William (1544-1603). De magnete, magneticisque corporibus, et de mango magnete tellure; Physiologia nova, plurimus & aegumentis, & experimentis demonstrata. London: Peter Short, 1600.
2o (290 x 188 mm). Woodcut device (McKerrow 119) on title, large woodcut arms on verso, numerous text woodcuts, some full-page, large folding woodcut diagram (lightly browned), historiated woodcut capitals, head- and tail-pieces. (Lightly browned at beginning and end.) Contemporary calf over wooden boards, metal furniture and clasps (rebacked, one catch missing, covers rubbed). Provenance: Leiden, Royal Academy ("Acad. Lugd." stamp on binding, and ink lettered at top and bottom edges, "Publica auctoritate vendidi W.G. Pluym" duplicate stamp on title).
FIRST EDITION of "the first major English scientific treatise based on experimental methods of research. Gilbert was chiefly concerned with magnetism; but as a digression he discusses in his second book the attractive effect of amber (electrum), and thus may be regarded as the founder of electrical science. He coined the terms 'electricity,' 'electric force' and 'electric attraction'" (PMM). In Book One Gilbert "introduced his new basic idea ... that the earth is a gigantic lodestone and thus has magnetic properties" while in Book Two, his observations on the amber effect "introduced the vocabulary of electrics, and is the basis for Gilbert's place in the history of electricity" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science 54; Grolier/Horblit 41; Heilbron, pp. 169-179; Norman 905; PMM 107; STC 11883; Wellcome 2830.