September Auction 2020: Science Books from the Collection of Peter and Margarethe Braune. Part I.

04 September 2020

15th September 2020 at 11am, Sussex Saleroom

The Auction

The Bellmans September auction series includes important science books from the collection of Peter and Margarethe Braune of Brussels. Books in the collection range from the early 16th to the mid-20th-centuries. It is notable for its variety and size, covering a range of scientific disciplines. This is the first of a series of auctions of the collection by Bellmans.

Items of note are:

Essai Théorique et Expérimental sur le Galvanisme, avec une Série d' Expériences faites en Présence des Commissaires de l' Institut National de France

By Giovanni Aldini. Paris, 1804.

Lot 803

Estimate: £700-1,000

This is a First Edition of this highly influential work on galvanism which presented, for the first time, a series of experiments which applied the principles of Volta and Galvani.

The fine, if somewhat macabre, plates illustrate the experiments which involved heads and bodies of animals and humans, and which seem to bring them back to life. It is not beyond the realms of speculation that Mary Shelley may have been influenced both by Aldini's experiments, and those of his uncle's, Luigi Galvani, to write Frankenstein in 1818.

Exposé d' un Moyen de Définir et de Nommer les Couleurs d' après une Méthode Précise et Expérimentale avec l' Application de ce Moyen a la Définition et a la Dénomination des Couleurs d' un Grand Nombre de Corps Naturels et de Produits Artificiels

By Michel Eugène Chevreul. Atlas, Paris, 1861.

Lot 838

Estimate: £400-600

This is a First Edition of this pioneering treatise on colour theory which was intended for artists as much as scientists and which came to influence the Impressionists and Pointillists. Chevreul's "colour studies made him one of the most influential scientists of the nineteenth century" (DSB). The copy in the Royal Academy's collection (record number 12/4743), like the present copy, contains only 14 plates and is without the text volume.

Demonstration physique du mouvement de rotation de la terre.

By Jean Bernard Léon Foucault. Bachelier, Imprimeur-Libraire, Paris, 1851.

Lot 861

Estimate: £2,000-3,000

This is a First Edition of the first experimental demonstration of the rotation of the Earth.

"Although the rotation of the earth had been accepted since Copernicus, it was Foucault who first demonstrated it by experiment. His early experiments were private, but Louis Napoleon (later Napoleon III) became so interested that he arranged for them to be repeated publicly. This was a splendid affair which took place in the Pantheon in 1851 before a fashionable audience. A heavy metal ball was suspended from the dome on a wire 220 feet long; beneath the ball was a table 12 feet in diameter covered with sand on which the ball could leave a mark. This is known as 'Foucault's pendulum'. It soon became apparent that the plane in which the pendulum was swinging moved in a clockwise direction and in about thirty-two hours the plane of vibration had completed a full circuit. Mathematical calculations made it possible to apply the results of this experiment to the rotation of the earth. The audience in the Pantheon was greatly impressed; some ladies fainted with excitement, while other spectators maintained they could feel the earth move beneath them" (Printing and the Mind of Man, John Carter).

Receuil d' Ouvrages Curieux de Mathematique et de Mecanique, ou Description du Cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere

By Gaspard Gollier De Serviere. Lyon, 1719

Lot 872

Estimate: £500-800

This is a First Edition of a remarkable collection of machines and inventions of a bewildering variety.

Descriptions des Expériences de la Machine Aérostatique de MM. de Montgolfier.

Faunas de Saint-Fond. Paris, 1783. 2 volumes

Lot 965

Estimate: £700-1,000

A fine copy of the First Edition of the earliest account of the first aerial voyage.

Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier were pioneers in the field of aerostatics and made history in October 1783 when Étienne Montgolfier was the first human to lift off the Earth, making a tethered test-flight from the yard of the Réveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

Later on the same day, physicist Pilâtre de Rozier became the second to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 24 m (80 feet), which was the full extent of the tether. On 21 November 1783, the first free flight by humans was made by Pilâtre de Rozier, together with an army officer, the marquis d' Arlandes. The balloon flew from the grounds of the Château de la Muette to the Bois de Boulogne, a distance of about 9 kilometers at a height of 910 m (3,000 feet).

A Century of the Names and Scantlings of Such Inventions, As at present I can call to mind to have tried and perfected, which (my former Notes being lost) I have, at the instance of a powerful Friend, endeavoured now in the Year 1655 to set these down in such a way as may sufficiently instruct me to put any of them in practice.

By Edward Somerset Worcester, 2nd Marquess of (1601-67). London: 1663.

Lot 1008

Estimate: £400-600

This is a First Edition of a work in which the author lists and describes 100 of his own inventions, including the hundredth ("A stupendious[sic] Water-work") which he claims, with characteristic modesty, to be "The most stupendious Work in the whole world." Also notable is invention 84: "An Instrument whereby persons ignorant in Arithmetick may perfectly observe Numerations and Subtractions of all Summes and Fractions." (See Tomash & Williams.)

Not present in this copy - as often - is the rare 34-page supplement (F1-G6), but, intriguingly, this is supplied in an early manuscript transcription taking the form of 34-page stitched booklet, which opens, "An exact & true Definition of the most Stupendious Water-commanding Engine, invented by the Right Honourable (and deservedly to be praised and admired) Edward Somerset, Lord Marquess of Worcester, and by his Lordship himself presented to his most Excellent Majesty Charles the Second, our most gracious Soveraign." Constructed from the barrel of a cannon, it was a prototype design for what would later become the steam engine.

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