Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures. Isaac NEWTON.
Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures.
Newton's Opticks
London, Sam. Smith and Benj. Walford, Printers to the Royal Society, 1704.

Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures.

4to. [24.2 x 18.8 cm], (2) ff., 144 pp., 211 pp, (1) pp., with 19 folding engraved plates. Bound in contemporary English paneled calf. A fresh unrestored copy.

First edition, first issue of this landmark in science by Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), here in a remarkably well preserved, unrestored example. 

“Isaac Newton began his study of light and optics while an undergraduate at Cambridge, and continued it at his Lincolnshire home during the plague years 1665-6 when (he recalled) ‘I was in the prime of my age for invention’. Then, as today, the behavior of light was investigated experimentally and mathematically; Newton adopted both means, but the core of his work was the observation of the spectrum of colours (formed when a ray of light shines through a glass prism) is stretched along its axis, together with his experimental proof that rays of different colours are refracted to different extents.  This causes the stretching, or dispersion of the spectrum. 

“All previous philosophers and mathematicians had been sure that white light is pure and simple, regarding colours as modifications or qualifications of the white.  Newton showed experimentally that the opposite is true: there are pure coloured rays which cannot be analysed by refraction, such as the green of the spectrum; just as there are coloured rays which can be analysed, such as the green formed by mixing blue and yellow light.  Natural white light, far from being simple, is a compound of many pure elementary colours which can be separated and recompounded at will.” – Printing and the Mind of Man 172. 

A landmark book in the history of optics; and one of Newton’s most important and influential works. 

* Babson 132; Dibner 148; Horblit 79b; PMM 172; Norman 1588; Wallis 174.

Price: $165,000.00

See all items in Rare Books
See all items by