17 June 2008
INGEN-HOUSZ, Jan (1730-1799). Experiments upon Vegetables, discovering their great Power of purifying the Common Air in the Sun-shine, and of injuring it in the Shade and at Night. London: for P. Elmsly and H. Payne, 1779.
8o (210 x 127 mm). Engraved folding plate (some offsetting of text onto). (Lightly browned, some spotting.) Modern antique calf.
"THE COMMON AIR, THAT ELEMENT IN WHICH WE LIVE, THAT INVISIBLE FLUID WHICH SURROUNDS THE WHOLE EARTH, HAS NEVER BEEN SO MUCH THE OBJECT OF CONTEMPLATION AS IT HAS IN OUR DAYS" (Ingen-Housen, Preface)
FIRST EDITION. Ingen-Housz's work on photosynthesis is thought to have been stimulated by Joseph Priestley's (1733-1804) Observations on different kinds of air (1772) in which he outlined the discovery that growing plants "restored" air depleted by combustion or animal respiration (see lot 288). In his work Ingen-Housen "advanced the understanding of the subject considerably. He established that only the green parts of a plant can 'restore' the air, that they do this only when illuminated by sunlight, and that the active part of the sun's radiation is in the visible light and not in the heat radiation. In addition he found that plants, like animals, exhibit respiration, that respiration continues day and night, and that all parts of the plant - green as well as nongreen, flowers and fruits as well as roots - take part in the process" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science29; Henrey 866; Garrison-Morton 103; Grolier/Horblit 55; Norman 1141; Wellcome III, p. 329.
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