4to. [23.5 x 16.5 cm], (99) ff. with 11 engraved plates, mostly folding. Bound in contemporary mottled calf, spine neatly rebacked with original laid down (gilt-titled in six compartments). Scattered toning, one plate awkwardly folded. Title page has faint traces of two small ownership stamps and an inscription slightly cropped at the top margin: “Ex libris Joseph Nicolas De L’Isle. dono auctoris.” Generally very fine.
Rare first edition of the polymath Poleni’s letters to his contemporaries on astronomy, mathematics, hydraulics and physiology, which establish the author’s place as one of the foremost Italian scientists of his day. The collection includes letters to J. G. Marinoni (on the recent eclipse of the sun, and experiments in hydraulics showing the influence of Newton and Huygens), Guido Grandi, and G. Manfredi. Others deal with muscular movements and circulation, geometry, logarithms, and the ongoing geodetic controversy over the shape of the Earth. An appendix offers the text (now very rare) of Giovanni Buteo’s 1554 treatise on the water supply of Rome De fluentis aquae mensura.
Giovanni Poleni (1683-1761). professor of astronomy, physics, and mathematics at the University of Padua, was famously summoned to advise Pope Benedict XIV on the deteriorating cupola of St Peter’s, and acted as the authority on all hydraulic matters in the Venetian State. He conducted meteorological observations, invented an early calculating machine, and counted among his erudite correspondents Euler, Maupertuis, the Bernoullis, and Cassini.
According to its title-page inscription, this copy was presented by Poleni to the well-known cartographer Joseph De L’Isle (1688-1768), who spent much of his career in Russia at the invitation of Peter the Great, producing the Atlas Russicus (the first Russian atlas) with Ivan Kyrilov and founding the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg.
OCLC: Cornell, Yale, Brown, Columbia.
* B. Boley in DSB XI, 65-66; Roberts & Trent, Bibliotheca Mechanica (1991); Tooley, The Mapping of America (1980).