New York, Park Avenue
15 - 16 June 1998
[GALVANI, Luigi (1737-1798) and(?) Giovanni ALDINI (1762-1834)]. Dell'uso e dell'attivit dell'arco conduttore nelle contrazioni dei muscoli. -Supplemento al trattato dell'uso... dell arco conduttore. Bologna: a S. Tommaso d'Aquino, 1794.
4o (219 x 159 mm). Collation: a-k8 l4; a12. 96 leaves. (Light mostly marginal foxing, marginal dampstain to last few leaves.) Modern marbled paper wrappers, preserving original pastedown endpapers, edges uncut; folding cloth case.
FIRST EDITION, including the very rare Supplement, containing the first published description of Galvani's electrical experiments without metals, in which he demonstrated the existence of electrical forces within living animal tissue. Challenged by Volta's disagreement to prove his theory of animal electricity, Galvani undertook experiments involving only frog nerve-muscle preparations (without metals), and showed that convulsive contractions could be produced merely by touching nerves to muscles. The account of these experiments appears in the 24-page Supplemento, which is not included in all copies. "This observation of the injury current of nerve or demarcation current was the first proof of animal electricty" (Garrison-Morton). "When Galvani died, prospects for the survival of his theory were very uncertain. Nevertheless, support for the concept of animal electricity survived into the nineteenth century and ultimately led in the 1840s to the basic work of Emil du Bois-Reymond" (DSB).
The precise authorship of this rare work is uncertain. Silvestro Gherardi, the editor of Galvani's collected works (Bologna, 1841), attributed the work to Galvani alone, but other scholars have considered it to be a collaborative effort between Galvani and his nephew Giovanni Aldini, professor of physics at the University of Bologna, who championed his retiring uncle's cause and carried on most of the correspondence, publishing and lecturing in the controversy aroused by Galvani's theory.
Fulton and Stanton Galvani 24; Garrison-Morton 594.1; Norman 871.
Contact Client Service
New York +1 212 636 2000
London +44 (0)20 7839 9060
Asia +852 2760 1766
Daphne Lingon, Head of Jewellery at Christie’s in New York, on the 'dramatic' ring with which David Rockefeller proposed to Peggy in 1940
A guide to arguably South America’s most famous artist, whose work addresses everything from domestic life to bullfighting