10 December 1999
MAXWELL, James Clerk (1831-1879). A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1873.
2 volumes, 8o (222 x 142 mm). Half-titles, errata slip in Vol. I, line block figures in text, 20 lithographic plates. 1:Ff2 blank present; 8-leaf publisher's catalogue bound at end of Vol. II. Original maroon cloth, partially uncut. (Hinges cracked, some wear to edges, spines faded). Provenance: George C. Foster (bookplate on front pastedown of Vol. I).
FIRST EDITION, first issue. With the words "just published" in the advertisement for this work on p.10 of the publisher's catalogue. Maxwell's major work, in which he demonstrated the importance of electricity to physics as a whole; he "here advanced the significant hypothesis that light and electricity are the same in their ultimate nature" (Grolier/Horblit). This theory, one of the most important discoveries of nineteenth-century physics, was Maxwell's greatest achievement, and laid the groundwork for Einstein's theory of relativity. Grolier/Horblit 72; Wheeler Gift Catalogue 1872. (2)
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