"THE GREATEST WORK IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE": SCARCE SECOND CONTINENTAL PRINTING OF THE PRINCIPIA
NEWTON, Isaac. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Amsterdam: Sumptibus Societatis, 1723. Quarto, contemporary full paneled brown calf rebacked and recornered in elaborately gilt-decorated calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $15,000.
Second Amsterdam edition (the second continental printing), based upon the 1713 second edition, with the addition of the Analysis per Quantitatum Series, Fluxiones, ac Differentias: cum Enumeratione Linearum Tertii Ordinis, in contemporary paneled calf boards.
"The Principia is generally described as the greatest work in the history of science. Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler had certainly shown the way; but where they described the phenomena they observed, Newton explained the underlying universal laws… [F]or the first time a single mathematical law could explain the motion of objects on earth as well as the phenomena of the heavens. It was this grand conception that produced a general revolution in human thought, equaled perhaps only by that following Darwin's Origin of Species" (PMM 161). Three authorized editions of Newton's Principia mathematica were issued during his lifetime, but demand for the work was so great on the Continent that two unauthorized reprints were also published in Amsterdam in 1714 and 1723. "These Amsterdam reprints were a major undertaking, requiring the cutting of new wood-blocks for the figures and a new setting of type. The second reprint (1723) contains not only four tracts by Newton and W. Jones's 'Praefatio Editoris,' but also extracts from four letters of Newton's. These tracts are: De analysi per aequationes infinitas (first published by Jones in 1711), De quadratura curvarum and Enumeratio linearum tertii ordinis (published with the Opticks in 1704 and the Optice in 1706, but eliminated from the second English edition of the Opticks in 1717/18), and the Methodus differentialis. But this whole collection—the four tracts, the extracts from Newton's letters, and Jones's 'Praefatio'—was merely a reprint, without alteration, of a collection that was first published as a small book in London in 1711. It was reissued separately in Amsterdam in 1723 as well as being included as a supplement to the reprint of the Principia. How curious indeed that Newton's long-cherished plan of publishing De quadratura together with the Principia should have been realized only in this presumably unauthorized Amsterdam reprint of 1723!" (Cohen, Introduction to Newton's Principia, 257). "This edition re-set, with the plate and diagrams re-engraved. In the Analysis per Quantitatum Series, head and tail-pieces and woodcut initials are used. One tail-piece used several times has in the oval centre the initials G.W. with the 4 mark" (Gray, 10). Wallis 12. Extensive notes and underlining to Preface.
Interior generally quite clean, expert restoration to contemporary paneled calf boards. An extremely good copy.