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15 - 16 June 1998
BOYLE, Robert (1627-1691). The sceptical chymist: or chymico-physical Doubts & Paradoxes. London: J. Cadwell for J. Crooke, 1661.
8o (164 x 110 mm). Main title-page and second title-page printed in red and black (the second bound immediately following the main one). (Main title lightly soiled.) Modern calf antique preserving old endpapers; full morocco folding case. Provenance: Mantell (signature on title-page); Capt. Head, R.N. (bookplate); Kent & Canterbury Hospital Library (stamp on title-page); E.N. da C. Andrade (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF CHEMISTRY AND MASTERPIECE OF SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE. Written in the form of a dialogue, The sceptical chymist presented Boyle's hypothesis that matter consisted of atoms and clusters of atoms in motion and that every phenomenon was the result of collisions of particles in motion. Boyle suspected that none of the then accepted elements--the earth, air, fire and water of of the Aristotelians; or the salt, sulfur, and mercury of the Paracelsans--was truly elementary. In this work he also defended his corpuscular chemistry, which was first clear outline of which he published earlier the same year (see lot 323).
"The importance of Boyle's book must be sought in his combination of chemistry with physics. His corpuscular theory, and Newton's modification of it, gradually led chemists towards an atomic view of matter ... Boyle distinguished between mixtures and compounds and tried to understand the latter in terms of the simpler chemical entities from which they could be constructed. His argument was designed to lead chemists away from the pure empiricism of his predecessors and to stress the theoretical, experimental and mechanistic elements fo chemical science. The Sceptical Chymist is concerned with the relations between chemical substances rather than with transmuting one metal into another or the manufacture of drugs. In this sense the book must be considered as one of the most significant milestones on the way to the chemical revolution of Lavoisier in the late eighteenth century" (PMM).
A FINE COPY OF THIS RARE WORK. Dibner Heralds of Science 39; Fulton Boyle 33; Grolier/Horblit 14; Partington II, pp. 497-98; PMM 141; Wing B-4021; Norman 299.
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