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    Fighting Shams and Charlatans with Science

    Dr. William Hooper. Rational Recreations, In which the Principles of Numbers And Natural Philosophy Are clearly and copiously elucidated, By A Series Of Easy, Entertaining, Interesting Experiments. Among those commonly performed with the Cards. London: for L. Davis, J. Robinson, B. Law, and G. Robinson, 1774. First edition. Four octavo volumes. [2], xvi, 267; [4], xi, [1], 280; [4], xii, 296; [4], xi, [1], 367 pages. Half-titles present. Sixty five folding plates. Complete. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, hinges cracked, head-caps chipped, hinges just started, titles on red morocco labels, gilt, rubbed, lacks three of four volume labels, edges blued, armorial bookplate of Sherwin, some occasional foxing, a few light old stains. A large copy. Very good. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit HA.com/6112 for an extended description of this lot.


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    "The social threat of charlatanism even gave rise to a new breed of scientists, 'natural philosophers' who sought to combat the world of sneaks and shams by exposing the secrets of visual illusion in the pages of optical treatises. William Hooper epitomized the type. In 1774, Hooper published Rational Recreations, a four-volume compendium of scientific experiments for the lay-person that would undergo numerous reprintings. Hooper declared at the outset of his book that optical toys could hone visual perception and, consequently, prime social vigilance. Delivering a backhanded compliment to his audience, he predicted that the reader would "unavoidably acquire a knowledge of his own ignorance; and by finding the fallacy of what he thought most certain, the evidence of his senses, he will learn to determine with caution on the seeming convictions of the mind, and divest himself of those prepossessions from whence so many of the evils of life proceed." At the same time, however, Hooper ably stoked the very intrigue with magic and invisibility that probably led many readers to pick up his book in the first place: Rational Recreations featured dozens of experiments that promised ocular enigma, such as 'The Enchanted Palace,' 'The Penetrating Perspectives,' and 'The Boundless Gallery.'" (Pleasing Deceptions by Wendy Bellion, online).

    ESTC t72968. Mottelay 241. Toole-Stott 389. Christopher 516. Hall 180. Clarke and Blind 30. Heyl 32. Galland 92. Shulman 26. Locard 925.

    Hooper, William, Dr. Rational Recreations, In which the Principles of Numbers And Natural Philosophy Are clearly and copiously elucidated, By A Series Of Easy, Entertaining, Interesting Experiments. Among those commonly performed with the Cards. London: for L. Davis, J. Robinson, B. Law, and G. Robinson, 1774. 8vo. 4 vols. [2],xvi,267;[4],xi,[1],280; [4],xii,296; [4],xi,[1],367pp. Contemp. 1/2 calf over marbled boards, hinges cracked, head-caps chipped, hinges just started, titles on red morocco labels, gilt, rubbed, lacks 3 of 4 volume labels, edges blued, armorial bookplate of Sherwin, some occ. foxing, a few light old stains, large copies, half-titles present. 65 folding plates. Complete. First Edition. "The social threat of charlatanism even gave rise to a new breed of scientistsÑ"natural philosophers"Ñwho sought to combat the world of sneaks and shams by exposing the secrets of visual illusion in the pages of optical treatises. William Hooper epitomized the type. In 1774, Hooper published Rational Recreations, a four-volume compendium of scientific experiments for the lay-person that would undergo numerous reprintings. Hooper declared at the outset of his book that optical toys could hone visual perception and, consequently, prime social vigilance. Delivering a backhanded compliment to his audience, he predicted that the reader would "unavoidably acquire a knowledge of his own ignorance; and by finding the fallacy of what he thought most certain, the evidence of his senses, he will learn to determine with caution on the seeming convictions of the mind, and divest himself of those prepossessions from whence so many of the evils of life proceed." At the same time, however, Hooper ably stoked the very intrigue with magic and invisibility that probably led many readers to pick up his book in the first place: Rational Recreations featured dozens of experiments that promised ocular enigma, such as "The Enchanted Palace," "The Penetrating Perspectives," and "The Boundless Gallery."Hooper's twofold appeal to rationality and fantasy underscores a central paradox of his occupation: the line separating dishonest swindlers from scientific demonstrators was far from absolute, and the latter, like the tricksters against whom they operated, were often motivated by commercial interests. In addition to revealing the hidden workings of illusionistic devices and instructing readers in do-it-yourself gadgetry, optical treatises were occasionally bound together with catalogues selling optical, mathematical, and "philosophical" instrumentsÑshorthand descriptions for a variety of devices enlisted in the service of scientific experimentalism."
    ["Pleasing Deceptions." by Wendy Bellion, on-line]

    ESTC t72968. Mottelay 241.Toole-Stott 389.Christopher 516. Hall 180. Clarke & Blind 30. Heyl 32. Galland 92. Shulman 26. Locard 925. Wheeler Gift (2nd ed.) Occult. magic. Cards. Prestidigitation. mathematics. Physics. Science. Games. Pastimes.Puzzles. Tricksters. Magnetism. Cryptography. Optics.



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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th Wednesday
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