Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Benjamin Franklin. Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America...To which are added, Letters and Papers on Philosophical Subjects. The Whole corrected, methodized, improved, and now first collected into one Volume, and illustrated with Copper Plates. London: Printed for David Henry and sold by Francis Newbery, 1769. First complete edition and the fourth edition overall. Quarto (8.75 x 6.5 inches; 222 x 165 mm). Half-title, title page, [i-iii], iv, 496 (with two different consecutive pages numbered 111-112; page 291 mis-numbered 261; two different consecutive pages numbered 416-417; and after page 472, page numbering reverts to 465 through 496, some of these mis-numberings are mentioned in the Errata page), Index [497-512] pages. Seven engraved plates (four folding); tear to plate II (approximately 5 inches; 127 mm) from left margin, affecting image; tear to plate VI (approximately 1.5 inches; 38 mm) from right margin, affecting image, dampstaining to lower left corner, affecting image; plate VII trimmed to size of text block (now measuring 7.5 x 5.25 inches; 191 x 133 mm) and lacking the approximate left third of the plate. Bound in full calf, lettered in gilt on front board, spine with red morocco spine label lettered in gilt, five raised bands, ruled in gilt; binding worn, rubbed, and scuffed, front and back joints cracked but holding. All edges trimmed and stained with marbling. Internally generally clean and bright; occasional spotting and staining, a few chips and tears to margins, ink ownership to front endpaper. Still, good. Howes F-320, Norman 830, PMM 199, Sabin 25506.

    The first collected edition and fourth overall edition of Franklin's pathbreaking scientific publication is considered "the most important scientific book of 18th century America" (PMM). It contains the complete notes on all of Franklin's experiments, along with correspondence between Peter Collinson, Franklin, and other collaborators. Franklin's Experiments and Observations is the first book to cover his groundbreaking experiments on electricity that dated back to 1745, including his work with Leyden jars, lightning rods, and his famous kite and key experiment. As noted above, this copy contains the rarely found half-title.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2021
    9th-10th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,536

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Jun 9, 2021 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 11 days left to consign to the 2021 December 4 - 5 Selections from the Collection of Tom Charles Huston Americana & Political Signature® Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search