16 - 17 April 2007
FULTON, Robert (1765-1815). Torpedo War, and Submarine Explosions...The Liberty of the Seas will be the Happiness of the Earth. New York: William Elliot, 1810.
Oblong 4o (203 x 245 mm). Five full-page woodcut plates of torpedo devices. Modern dark blue morocco gilt, covers with a single fillet border, gilt spine with red morocco gilt-lettered label. Provenance: Robert Cole (neat early signature on title margin).
FIRST EDITION of the first description of the torpedo, a key development in marine weaponry. A prefatory letter from the inventor, addressed to President James Madison and the U.S. Congress, describes Fulton's public trial of the weapon at Kalorama, attended by Jefferson, Madison and other influential politicians. Fulton had tried for some years to interest both the French government and the British ministry in his torpedo and underwater mine designs, weapons which Fulton naively believed would be so powerful as to deter warfare at sea, put an end to naval combat and ensure freedom of the seas. His enthusiastic treatise "was written and published...in an effort to win Congressional approval for further experimentation. He sent copies to all the members of Congress, but they remained lukewarm...It was not until a hundred years after his death that Fulton's ideas did indeed revolutionize naval warfare..." (PMM). Sabin 26199; Shaw & Shoemaker 20177; PMM 264.
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