London, South Kensington
23 April 2008
SCHEELE, Carl Wilhelm (1742-1786). Chemische Abhandlungen von der Luft und dem Feuer, introduction by Torbern Bergman. Uppsala and Leipzig: M. Swederus for S.L. Crusius, 1777. 8° (169 x 99mm). Engraved vignette on title, folding engraved plate (lacking half title, fore-corner of title excised and repaired just touching one letter of imprint). Contemporary sprinkled boards (rubbed along joints and at head and foot of spine).
FIRST EDITION OF A FUNDAMENTAL WORK ON CHEMISTRY. It contains Scheele's discovery of oxygen, made independently of Priestley. The publication of this work was delayed by two years, since the author was waiting for the preface by Torbern Bergman, thus permitting Priestley to publish the first account of the isolation of oxygen. 'On air and fire contains accounts of the numerous chemical experiments Scheele performed to demonstrate that common air, when freed from "aerial acid" (carbon dioxide) and water vapor, consists of two gases: "fire air" (oxygen) which supports combustion, and "fire air" (nitrogen), which does not... Scheele made numerous other important contributions to chemistry, including the discoveries of chlorine, manganese and a number of acids. He also noted the action of light on chloride of silver and the insolubility of blackened silver chloride in ammonia -- discoveries that would later prove significant for photography', Norman 1905; Dibner 41; Grolier/Horblit 92; Gedeon pp.120-23.
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