17 June 2008
REDI, Francesco (1626-1697/98). Esperienze intorno alla generazione degli' insetti... scitte in una lettera all' illustrissimo signor Carlo Dati. Florence: All' Insegna della Stella, 1668.
4o (228 x 160 mm). Half-title, title-page in red and black with engraved emblem of the Accademia della Crusca, proverb in Arabic type ("chi fa esperienze accresce il sapere; che e'credulo aumento l'errore"), 6 full-page unnumbered engravings, 29 numbered engraved plates (3 folding), 3 full-page engravings in text and 2 small text engravings. (Some staining at beginning, scattered light foxing, mostly marginal.) Contemporary vellum. Provenance: early ownership insciption erased; Ferdinando Veuluri (ink stamp on title); Harrison D. Horblit (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. A FINE, UNTRIMMED COPY IN A CONTEMPORARY BINDING, of Redi's most influential book, which by remarkably simple experiments disproved the belief, dating back to Aristotle, that insects -- especially carrion-eating flys -- are spontaneously generated in dead creatures. "Using four flasks, he filled two each with pieces of meat, corked two and left two open. Flies gathered within the second [pair] and the contents became wormy, the first putrid, but not wormy. He stated, 'thus the flesh of dead animals cannot engender worms unless the eggs of the living be deposited within'" (Dibner). Redi "observed the egg-producing apparatus in insects and he also used the microscope to good advantage in observing the morphological elements characteristic of the eggs of each species" (DSB). The attractive engraved plates, drawn from Redi's careful observations, depict a variety of insects in anatomical detail as well as their larvae and eggs. With the rare 29th numbered plate. Dibner Heralds of Science 188; Grolier/Horblit 88; Nissen ZBI 3319; NLM/Krivatsy 9448; Norman 1812; Prandi 7.
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