HUYGENS, Christiaan (1629-1695). Horologium oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum ad horologia aptato demonstrationes geometricae. Paris: F. Muguet, 1673.
2° (351 x 238 mm). Ornamental royal armorial woodcut device on title, one full-page woodcut of the pendulum, approximately 100 woodcut diagrams in text, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials, leaf a4 shorter. Contemporary calf (rebacked); quarter morocco folding case. Provenance: Israel Lyons, Jr. (1739-1775), English mathematician and botanist (signature dated 1763 on front flyleaf); with H.P Kraus.
THE AUTHOR'S OWN ANNOTATED COPY, AND THE ONLY COPY RECORDED ON LARGE-PAPER
FIRST EDITION OF HUYGENS' MOST IMPORTANT WORK, containing the first mathematical analysis of the motion of the pendulum, and a general treatise on the dynamics of bodies in motion. The present copy measures nearly one centimeter taller than the size noted by Horblit for untrimmed copies of the standard issue. It is also on heavier stock, measuring 11mm thick, or 3 mm thicker than standard copies. Details of the watermarks can be provided by the department.
ANNOTATED ON TWENTY PAGES BY HUYGENS: including corrections of single letters, numerals, whole words, geometrical figures and eight additional lines amended to the errata. The most extensive passage appears on page 127 with the addition of 20 lines (approximately 130 words) of text. These lines were printed in the 1728 edition of his Opera reliqua edited by 's Gravesande with some slight variation; none of these appear in the 1934 edition of the Oeuvres. Another copy of the work annotated by Huygens is found in the Leiden University Library. That copy was used in preparation of the 1728 and 1934 editions. The present copy, however, is much more fully annotated than the Leiden copy and represents a significant discovery in Huygens' oeuvre.
Huygens constructed the first pendulum clock in 1657, an idea already put forth by Galileo, who had noted the isochronism of the pendulum (its property of swinging in a constant time, regardless of the width of the swing). The idea was a brilliant solution to the problems of keeping time aboard ship, since a reliable time-keeping device was essential for determining longitude, a problem of acute importance in 17th-century Holland, and Huygens' invention, described in the Horologium, was hugely successful--by 1658 pendulums were even applied to the tower clocks of Scheveningen and Utrecht.
In the Horologium Huygens broadened his mathematical analysis of the pendulum's movement from a central exposition of the isochronism of the cycloid (a discovery which he had called "the most fortunate finding which ever befell me" [DSB]) to a general mathematical discussion of the laws of motion. He focused on the properties of curves, including the theory of the evolutes of curves and the fall of bodies along curves, and determined the first exact value of the intensity of the force of gravity by using a compound pendulum. The treatise "was the most original work of this kind since Galileo's Discorsi.... It ends with 13 theorems (without proofs) on the dynamics of circular motion. Newton in the Principia acknowledges Huygens's priority here, though Huygens's work had little influence on his own" (PMM). Reciprocally, while acknowledging the importance of the Principia, Huygens later positioned himself in opposition to Newton, whose theories were irreconcilable with Huygens's adherence to a strictly mechanistic philosophy of the laws of nature. His Horologium was nonetheless "a work of the highest genius which has influenced every science through its mastery of the principles of dynamics. It is second in scientific importance perhaps only to the Principia" (Charles Singer, A Short History of Science to the Nineteenth Century, 1941, p. 258). Dibner Heralds of Science 145; Grolier/Horblit 53; Norman 1137; PMM 154.