Sale 15BP02 | Lot 213

HOOKE, ROBERT Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses

Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Photographs
HOOKE, ROBERT  Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses

Lot Details

Lot 213
HOOKE, ROBERT Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses...
... London: John Martyn, 1667. First edition, second issue (reissued with the title date altered from 1665, probably from the original sheets). Panelled calf of the period, spine simply gilt, lettering-piece in the second compartment. 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (29 x 19 cm); the Royal Society imprimatur leaf, printed title, 2 ff. of dedicatory letters by Hooke to the King and to the Royal Society, 13 ff. preface, 246 pp., with 38 plates, 15 of which are folding, and 5 ff. of table and errata at the end. Boards detached, spine somewhat worn, the front endpaper partly pasted down, but an eminently restorable copy. Internally, a few nominal handling creases and short tears, small loss to upper margin of Z4 due to oxidation from some spilled ink also touching the edges of the opposite plate, a clean tear into the plate of the louse. Neat early marginalia throughout in French, with the name "Duhamel" visible on the endpaper where it has lifted. This is possibly the great polymath French natural historian and encyclopedist Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau; the script of the annotations, a neat, sloping hand, appears to closely resemble his. In all this is a very large, clean copy; the full-page plates (which are vulnerable to trimming) are only just touched by the plough.
Hooke has been called "London's Leonardo" in a recent work, and this remarkable man certainly deserves that title. He was a chemist, physicist, occasional physician (often with himself as subject), a surveyor who worked with Wren on the rebuilding of London, instrument-maker and (in short) an extraordinary natural scientist. In his era, he tended to be overshadowed by Robert Boyle, for whom he worked for some years as an assistant, and it can be argued that Boyle's achievements would have been much diminished without Hooke's aid. For that matter, The Royal Society (whose first major publication this was) would have been a far inferior body without his ceaseless and underpaid labors as curator. He had a lasting grudge against Newton, whom he felt had taken his own discovery of the inverse square law of universal gravitation and represented it as his own.
Of all his works (many of which went unpublished during his lifetime) this remarkable survey of microscopy, the first of work of its kind, is the one by which he is best known (though many subjects beyond microscopy are touched on within by his relentlessly inquiring intellect). Here, for the first time, are images of the tip of a needle, of taffeta, of petrifying wood, of nettles, of snowflakes (and of the surface of freezing urine), of insects, with accompanying speculations. This is one of the great books of English scientific research in the era immediately preceding the publication of Newton's Principia. Keynes 6; Wing H2620; Grolier/Horblit 50; PMM 147.


Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Sold for $17,500 (includes buyer's premium)

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Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Sold for $17,500 (includes buyer's premium)

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Rare Books, Autographs & Photographs

Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 10am EST
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