17 June 2008
GUERICKE, Otto von (1602-1686). Experimenta nova (ut vocantur) Magdeburgica, de vacuo spatio. Amsterdam: Johannes Jansson Waesberge, 1672.
2o (315 x 200 mm). Additional engraved title, engraved portrait, 7 full-page engraved plates (one repeated), 2 double-page engraved plates and 24 engraved diagrams and figures in text. Contemporary vellum (reset in binding).
FIRST EDITION. "A BOOK OF PRIME IMPORTANCE IN ELECTRICAL DISCOVERY, AIR-PRESSURE AND THE VACUUM PUMP" (Dibner 55). Experimenta nova is von Guericke's own report on his famous "Magdeburg experiment" with air-pressure. The double-page engraved plate showing two teams of horses in a vain attempt to pull apart two copper hemispheres from which the air has been pumped, has become one of the most reproduced illustrations in the history of science, but other engravings in the edition also confirm the second half of the 17th century as the Dutch golden age in book illustration. Guericke's discovery of the air-pump and his description of it are of the greatest importance, but his many discoveries in electricity and electrical phenomena are also explained. Dibner Heralds of Science 55; Grolier/Horblit 44; Sparrow Milestones of Science 90; NLM/Krivatsy 5074; Norman 952; Wellcome III, p.175; Wheeler Gift 170.
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