London, South Kensington
23 April 2008
MAXWELL, James Clerk (1831-1879). A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1873. 2 volumes, 8° (219 x 142 mm). 21 lithographed plates, half-titles, 32pp. of publisher's catalogue bound at end of vol. II (library stamps on verso of plates, a few pencilled notes). Original maroon cloth, partly uncut (spines a little faded, small repairs at head and foot of spine), in a folding cloth box. Provenance: Royal College of Surgeons of England (library stamp on titles and at head of Contents leaf, release stamp on titles).
FIRST EDITION, second issue, with the errata leaf in volume I of Maxwell's major work, in which he demonstrated the importance of electricity to physics as a whole; he 'here advanced the significant hypothesis that light and electricity are the same in their ultimate nature' (Grolier/Horblit). This theory, one of the most important discoveries of nineteenth-century physics, was Maxwell's greatest achievement, and laid the groundwork for Einstein's theory of relativity. Grolier/Horblit 72; Norman 1466; Wheeler 1872. (2)
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