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History and Present State of Electricity - FRANKLIN Benjamin PRIESTLEY Joseph - 1767. [1270995]
1767 - (FRANKLIN, Benjamin) PRIESTLEY, Joseph. The History and Present State of Electricity, with Original Experiments. London: J. Dodsley et al., 1767. Thick quarto, contemporary full tan polished calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $15,000.First edition of the earliest history of electricity, authored by Priestley, one of Franklin's close friends in England, and published with Franklin's assistance, featuring previously unpublished details on Franklin's revolutionary kite experiment, containing seven copper-engraved folding scientific plates, scarce and desirable in lovely contemporary calf-gilt.Joseph Priestley "was the first to investigate upon an extensive scale the chemical effects of ordinary electricity" and also isolated seven gases, including oxygen (Mottelay, 227). "One of Franklin's best friends in England". Priestley first developed his interest in scientific research upon meeting Franklin and other men of science in London during the winter of 1765-66" (Hayes et al., Franklin, 38). "Franklin became Priestley's mentor in electrical studies and he assisted Priestley by promoting the publication of his History" (Gish et al., Resistance to Tyrants, 89). This pioneering scientific work possesses a "special value". since Franklin was in close contact with Priestley." In particular, Priestley's highly detailed account of Franklin's kite experiment is seen as "based on information provided by Franklin himself and, since Franklin read the manuscript, must have the seal of his approval. This account is more detailed than Franklin's [1752] letter to Collinson; for this reason Carl Van Doren preferred Priestley's description to Franklin's". noting that it 'contains precise details about the kite experiment which Priestley could have had only from Franklin, to whom Priestley refers as "the best authority"'" (Cohen, Benjamin Franklin's Science, 68-9). To Franklin biographer Isaacson, it is Priestley's History that "secured Franklin's reputation" as a scientist (Great Innovators). To Priestley, "Franklin's experiment proving the identity of lightning and electricity was 'the greatest, perhaps, that has been made in the whole compass of philosophy, since the time of Sir Isaac Newton'" (Lemay, Life of Benjamin Franklin 3:135). Priestley is not alone in that assessment. To Van Doren, Franklin "found electricity a curiosity and left it a science." Priestley's History is substantially based "on primary sources and the 'present state' on papers in scientific journals and on interviews with his new London friends. The friends also insisted that he perform the experiments that he wrote about". A primary source for 18th-century understanding of electricity, it is credited for the first statement of the inverse square law of electrical force based on reasonable deduction from experiment" (ODNB). Its printing began in mid-September 1766 and continued into 1767. "The preface is dated March 1767, and by April Priestley could write asking his friends how they liked the finished work""now 700 quarto pages including the description of his own experiments". Franklin purchased several copies for distribution in the colonies" (Schofield, Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley, 143-4). A firm supporter of the American Revolution, Priestley was ostracized in England and emigrated to America in 1794. He was, as well, a good friend of Jefferson. Containing seven copper-engraved folding scientific plates. With bibliography of works on electricity, index, rear leaf of publisher's advertisements. Mottelay, 227-28. Norman 1748. ESTC T36344. See PMM 217. Engraved armorial bookplate of William Constable. Light marginal pencil marks and marginalia.Minor offsetting from plates. Front joint and spine ends with minor expert reinforcement, gilt bright. An exceptionally handsome copy of Priestley's important first history of electricity, in lovely contemporary polished calf-gilt. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Bauman Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2016-11-24           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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