17 June 2008
[WILKINS, John (1614-1672)]. The Discovery of a World in the Moone or, A Discourse Tending to Prove, that 'tis Probable There May be Another Habitable World in that Planet. London: by E.G. for Michael Sparke and Edward Forrest, 1638.
Small 8o (149 x 89 mm). Double-page title with large woodcut illustration, illustrations in the text, one full-page. (Front pastedown lifted from the original binding and mounted on blank verso of frontispiece, wormhole through the center of the first 5 leaves affecting a few letters, final leaf originally used as pastedown but lifted, when the book was rebound, causing small holes in the blank margins.) 18th-century English speckled calf (joints starting, some minor wear at corners, lettering-piece missing); quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: John Camp Williams (bookplate); small label printed with the letter "Q" on front pastedown; Robert Honeyman (his sale part VII, Sotheby's London, 20 May 1981, lot 3119).
FIRST EDITION of one of the earliest significant works on popular science. Wilkins objective was to promote the knowledge and acceptance of the scientific ideas of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler and to turn his readers away from Aristotle's theories and literal biblical interpretation. Wilkins used "Galileo's statement that the moon is a world similar to the earth as the foundation for more speculative hypotheses, wondering if the moon might not support life, what its inhabitants might be like, and whether the moon's resemblance to the earth could be extended into a uniformitarian theory of the universe" (Norman 2240, 1640 edition). STC 25641. RARE.
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