17 June 2008
LA CONDAMINE, Charles Marie de (1701-1774). Journal du Voyage fait par Ordre du Roi a l'Équateur, servant d'Introduction Historique a la Mesure des Trois Premiers Degrés du Méridian. -- Mesure des Trois Premiers Degrés du Méridien dans l'Hémisphere Austral. Paris: l'Imprimerie Royale, 1751.
Together 2 volumes, 4o (250 x 185 mm). Engraved title-vignette in volume 2, large engraved folding map, 8 plates (7 folding), head- and tail-pieces, one folding table. (Title-page in volume one and some margins with pale stains, intermittent binder's stabholes in gutters volume one.) Contemporary mottled calf, spines gilt (joints starting, extremities a bit rubbed). Provenance: Princess(?) G. l'Olivette (bookplates); Mme. de Saussure (library stamp title-page volume one); M. Gonzalez-Ulloa (bookplates).
FIRST EDITION. La Condamine was among the scientists whom the Académie des Sciences sent to Peru in order to measure several degrees of meridian at the equator, and thus, in conjunction with a similar expedition to Lapland, settle the controversy between the Cartesians and Newtonians as to whether the earth was flattened or elongated at the poles. The expedition embarked for South America in 1735, and reached it the following year, but their geodetic measurements were hampered by the terrain and difficult working relationships between the scientists. Eventually the measurements were completed in 1843 and the scientists found separate ways home to France. La Condamine spent two months travelling down the Amazon to the Atlantic at Paraá, then another five months in Cayenne, finally arriving back in Paris in February of 1745. "The scientific result of the expedition was clear: the earth is indeed a spheroid flattened at the poles, as Newton had maintained. Bouger and La Condamine were unable, however, to agree on the joint publication of their works. Their long quarrel continued through a series of memoirs that were essentially mutual refutations of no scientific value; it ceased only with the death of Bouger in 1758" (DSB). Norman 1249 & 1250; Sabin 38479 & 38483. (2)
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