GILBERT, William (1544-1603). De magnete, magneticisque corporibus, et de mango magnete tellure; Physiologia nova, plurimus & aegumentis, & experimentis demonstrata. London: Peter Short, 1600.
2o (280 x 191mm). Woodcut cadeucus device (McKerrow 119) on title, large woodcut arms on verso, numerous text woodcuts, some full-page, large folding woodcut diagram, historiated woodcut capitals, head- and tail-pieces (E3 and E4 perhaps supplied from another copy), but otherwise a very crisp copy. 17th-century English calf, covers with gilt double fillet borders, edges gilt (rebacked, corners restored); quarter morocco folding case. Provenance: J.C. D'Anvers, seventeenth-century signature on title; Myron Prinzmetal (bookplate, sale, Christie's, 20 May 1988, lot 117).
FIRST EDITION of "the first major English scientific treatise based on experimental methods of research. Gilbert was chiefly concerned with magnetism; but as a digression he discusses in his second book the attractive effect of amber (electrum), and thus may be regarded as the founder of electrical science. He coined the terms 'electricity,' 'electric force' and 'electric attraction'" (PMM). In Book One Gilbert "introduced his new basic idea ... that the earth is a gigantic lodestone and thus has magnetic properties" while in Book Two, his observations on the amber effect "introduced the vocabulary of electrics, and is the basis for Gilbert's place in the history of electricity" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science 54; Grolier/Horblit 41; Heilbron, pp. 169-179; PMM 107; STC 11883; Wellcome 2830; Norman 905 ("Gilbert discussed the five known movements associated with magnets...in terms of the earth's magnetism, using data obtained from experiments with a small spherical magnet...").