20 October 1999
GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Discorsi e Dimonstrazioni Matematiche, intorno due nuove scienze attenenti alla Mecanica & i Movimenti Locali. Leiden: Elzevier Press, 1638.
4 (203 x 154mm). Errata leaf at end. Woodcut Elzevier device on title, woodcut illustrations and diagrams, ornamental initials, head- and tailpieces. (Expertly repaired tear in 6 leaves, small marginal wormtrack in last quire.) Contemporary flexible vellum, title lettered on spine, speckled edges (endpapers renewed, stains on front cover). Provenance: 'F M C F' (contemporary initials on title); Lilly Library, Indiana University (discrete duplicate stamp on final verso and label on rear pastedown).
FIRST EDITION OF THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN MECHANICS, 'CONSIDERED BY MOST SCIENTISTS AS GALILEI'S GREATEST WORK' (PMM). The first modern textbook of physics (Dibner), the Discorsi is written in the form of a dialogue among the same interlocutors as his earlier Dialogo (see previous lot). It deals with 'the constitution of matter; the nature of mathematics; the place of experiment and reason in science; the weight of air; the nature of sound; the speed of light ... [It] contains the elements of the mathematical treatment of motion' (DSB). Galilei's treatment of the motion of the pendulum formed the basis for Huygens and Newton, and 'others were able to erect the frame of the science of dynamics, and to extend its range (with the concept of universal gravitation) to the heavenly bodies' (PMM). Because the printing of any of Galilei's works was forbidden after publication of the Dialogo, the manuscript of the Discorsi had to be smuggled out for printing by the Elzeviers at Leiden. Brunet II, 1642; Carli & Favaro, 162; Cinti 102; Dibner 141; Horblitt 36; Norman 859; Riccardi I, 516.12/1; Roberts & Trent Bibliotheca Mechanica p.129; Sparrow 75; Willems 468; PMM 130.
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