HOOKE, Robert (1635-1703). Micrographia: or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses. London: John Martin and James Allestry for the Royal Society, 1665
Chancery 2o (295 x 193 mm). Collation: s2 (Royal Society Council's imprimatur, title printed in red and black with engraved vignette of the Society's coat-of-arms), A2 (author's dedication to Charles II, his address to the Royal Society), a-g2 (preface); B-C2 D-Z4 Aa-Kk4 Ll-Mm2 (text, table, errata); 38 engraved plates, 20 of which folding, inserted where they relate to the text. The plates on three different paper stocks from the text. (A few minor stains, pl. 35 browned and mounted, tiny patch of surface damage on pl. 36, 3 plates shaved, short insignificant tears in the folds of 13 plates.) Contemporary English calf (rebacked, corners repaired), morocco fall-down-back box.
Provenance: contemporary signature on verso of title and at the end of the text, apparently that of W. Brouncker [William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker of Castle Lyons, in the Irish Peerage, c. 1620-84] as first president of the Royal Society, presumably to approve the copy; ? Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey (1621-78, justice of the peace for Westminster, knighted 1666 for his work during the plague of 1665 [which Hooke avoided by working at Durdans, the Earl of Berkeley's seat, near Epsom], murdered in the panic following Titus Oates' evidence and the Popish plot) or perhaps one of his brothers, Benjamin or Michael Godfrey: This is for my highly Esteem'd freind Mr. Godfry From his very humble servant Rob: Hooke (inscribed by the author on imprimatur page); Thomas Ansell (19th-century armorial bookplate); Prof. E.N. da C. Andrade, Fellow of the Royal Society (Sotheby sale 12 July 1965, lot 261)
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF THE LANDMARK WORK IN THE HISTORY OF MICROSCOPY, one of the most influential scientific books of the 17th century, containing numerous discoveries and ingenious anticipations. The observations are made with his newly perfected compound microscope, enabling the study of inorganic matter such as woven cloth and frozen urine crystals, as well as the investigations of plant and animal life such as mold forms and the honeycomb structure of cork (coining the word "cell" in biology, to describe the basic microscopic units of tissue). Hooke here describes for the first time a polyzoon, the minute markings of fish scales, the structure of feathers and of the bee's sting, apian wings, the compound eye of the fly and its legs and feet, the gnat and its larvae, the flea and the louse, sponges and horn and hair tissue. Examining charcoal, he describes the real nature of combustion, approaching Boyle with whom he collaborated and anticipating Mayow. His theory of light, including the first demonstration of the periodicity of the spectrum, inspired Newton in his optical experiments.
"Micrographia was not only the first book devoted entirely to microscopical observations, but also the first to pair its descriptions with profuse and detailed illustrations, and this graphic portrayal of a hitherto unseen world had an impact rivalling that of Galileo's Sidereus nuncius" (Norman). The accomplished plates were engraved from drawings by the author himself and some reputedly by Sir Christopher Wren. They include startling portraits of the flea and louse, blown up to frightening proportions.
PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR. Keynes confirms that no toher copy inscribed by Hooke is known to exist. Godfry also appears in Hooke's diary (published 1935), but a positive identification of the recipient is difficult. Andrade, "Robert Hooke, F.R.S." in: The Royal Society: its origins and founders, ed. Hartley, pp. 137-45; Dibner 18; Garrison-Morton 262; Heirs of Hippocrates 599; Horblit 50; Keynes Hooke 6; NLM/Krivatsy 5958; PMM 147; Weller 10845; Wellcome III, p. 296; Wing H-2620; Norman 1092.