EINSTEIN, Albert. Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper. Offprint from: Annalen der Physik, 4. Folge, Bd. 17, 1905. Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1905.
8o. Original tan printed wrappers (reinforced along central fold, a few tiny nicks at edges); quarter morocco folding box.
FIRST EDITION, offprint issue, of Einstein's first paper on the subject of relativity. This copy WITH PRINTED PRESENTATION STATEMENT ("A. Einstein. Überreicht vom Verfasser") printed on front wrapper. In this first announcement of the special theory of relativity, the author, then a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office, argued that space and time are not separate entities and that energy and matter are equivalent. Einstein's revolutionary conclusions laid the foundation for a new view of the universe, shattering the Newtonian view which had ruled for over two centuries.
VERY RARE: It is probable that Einstein received the 15-20 offprints that were customarily provided by Annalen der Physik. Einstein submitted the paper to the journal on 30 June 1905, and it was printed in the September 1905 number. In April 1905 Einstein had written to his friend Conrad Habicht about the papers he published that year and indicated that he was expecting to receive author's copies. It is possible that the offprints were available before the journal number; although the offprint and the journal article were printed from the same setting of type, their relative availability would have depended on the binding and distribution policies of the journal.
"Einstein was the first physicist to formulate clearly the new kinematical foundation for all of physics inherent in Lorentz's electron theory. This kinematics emerged in 1905 from his critical examination of the physical significance of the conepts of spatial and temporal intervals. The examination, based on a careful definition of the simultaneity of distant events, showed that the concept of a universal or absolute time, on which Newtonian kinematics is based has to be abandoned; and that the Galilean transformations between the coordinates of two inertial frames of reference has to be replaced by a set of spatial and temporal transformations that agree formally with a set that Lorentz had introduced earlier with a quite different interpretation. Through the interpretation of the transformations as elements of a space-time symmetry group corresponding to the new kinematics, the special theory of relativity (as it later came to be called) provided physicists with a powerful guide in the search for new dynamical theories of fields and particles and gradually led to a deeper appreciation of the role of symmetry criteria in physics. The special theory of relativity also provided philosophers with abundant material for reflection on the new views of space and time. The special theory, like Newtonaian mechanics, still assigns a privileged status to the class of inertial frames of reference. The attempt to generalize the theory to include gravitation led Einstein to formulate the equivalence principle in 1907. This was the first step in his search for a new theory of gravitation denying a privileged role to intertial frames, a theory that is now known as the general theory of relativity" (Stachel, Einstein's Miraculous Year, 101).
(cf. Grolier Medicine, pp. xxvii-xxviii). BRL 9; Dibner Heralds of Science 167; Grolier/Horblit 26b; Norman 691; Weil 9.