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GILBERT, William.

De Magnete,

magneticisque corporibus, et de magno magnete tellure; Phisiologia nova, plurimis & argumentis, & experimentis demonstrata.

Stock Code
London, Peter Short, 1600

First edition of the first great scientific book printed in England.

William Gilbert, personal physician to both Elizabeth I and James I, gathered all known opinions relating to the magnet and put them to the test of experiment, thereby being among the first to initiate the experimental method of science. De magnete exemplifies pre-Baconian experimental philosophy by supporting new theories with empirically-derived experimental evidence, and these experiments were described in sufficient detail for the reader to recreate them. Gilbert also described his scientific instruments in great detail, including new ones such as the 'versorium' the first instrument to be used for the study of electric phenomena. Gilbert observed that the earth was a gigantic magnet and provided a physical basis for the Copernican theory. His work was cited by Digby, Boyle, Kepler and Huygens, and Galileo drew on Gilbertian magnetism to support his belief in a Copernican heliocentric cosmology in his Read more.



First edition; folio (30.5 x 19.5 cm); text in Latin, woodcut title device and large woodcut arms on verso, one folding plate, 87 woodcuts in text of which 4 are full-page, decorative woodcut initials and head- and tail-pieces, title page trimmed, partially restored and washed (possibly from another copy), scattered light foxing; later calf with unidentified gilt armorial device to covers, gilt lettering to spine, short split to spine, extremities slightly rubbed, otherwise an overall very good copy; [xvii], 240, [2](blank)pp.


Dibner Heralds 54; Grolier Science 41; Norman 905; PMM 107; Wellcome 2830.

Stock ID:106838

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