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Micrographia: or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses. With Observations and Inquiries thereupon.
London: by Jo. Martyn, and Ja. Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society, and are to be sold at their Shop, 1665 - Folio (300 × 192 mm). Contemporary calf, gilt arms to covers, rebacked to style with endpapers renewed. Red morocco-backed folding box. Boards rubbed, corners just worn, small repair to verso of first plate, some plates trimmed across the platemarks (as often) but without loss to the image; a very good copy. Licence leaf facing title expertly laid down on antique paper, title in red and black, 38 engraved plates (of which 15 are folding) after Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren (2 plates titled in manuscript, as the Horblit copy), woodcut headpieces and initials. With the gilt supralibros of the Society of Writers to the Signet on both covers; bookplate and library label of William Morehead. First edition, first issue, of this "early landmark in microscopy, containing the first illustration of cells [plate xi]" (Horblit). Published under the aegis of the Royal Society, Hooke's observations were the first to be carried out with an improved compound microscope, and the first to describe the microscopic structure of tissue with the term "cell". The book reproduces the almost frantic series of observations made by Hooke in 1663 and 1664 as the young scientist (he was still in his twenties) peered through the lenses of his new microscope at anything he could find. His text ranges widely, finding space for discussion of microscopic fungi, the life cycle of the mosquito, the origin of lunar craters, as well as the origin of fossils (Hooke's proposal is the first sensible one in print). There is also the discussion of light and colour which led to his bitter dispute with Newton. The extent of Hooke's investigation and the precision of his account entirely devoted to microscopical examination made Hooke's work "probably the most influential book in the entire history of microscopy" (Norman). But it is the justly famous series of plates, engraved mostly from Hooke's drawings with some probably by Sir Christopher Wren, which ultimately distinguishes the book, made it a contemporary bestseller, and kept Pepys up all night staring at it in amazement. Here are the tiny, unregarded components of everyday life – a stinging nettle, for example, a louse, or the famous flea – blown up with a startling degree of detail and exactness not to be equalled until the age of the electron microscope. This discovery of a new world-within-a-world had a profound influence on contemporary perceptions of the everyday world. The disorientating effect of the new perspective is memorably captured in Swift's descriptions of Lilliput and Brobdingnag in Gulliver's Travels. PMM 147; Dibner 18; Garrison–Morton 262; Heirs of Hippocrates 599; Grolier/Horblit 50; Keynes Hooke 6; Krivatsy 5958; Wellcome III, 269; Wing H2620; Norman 1092. [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2015-07-07           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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