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    An Early Work on Steam Power

    James Rumsey. A Short Treatise on the Application of Steam, Whereby is Clearly Shewn, From Actual Experiments, That Steam May be Applied to Propel Boats or Vessels of Any Burthen Against Rapid Currents With Great Velocity. The Same Principles are Also Introduced with Effect, by a Machine of a Simple and Cheap Construction, for the Purpose of Raising Water Sufficient for the Working of Grist-Mills, Saw-Mills, &c. and for Watering Meadows and Other Purposes of Agriculture. Philadelphia: Joseph James, 1788.

    First edition, second issue with corrected title page. Octavo. 26 pages. With the bookplate of prominent nineteenth-century Buffalo, New York businessman W. H. H. Newman.

    Stitched, unbound, and inserted into contemporary paper folder. Rather ragged about the edges with some toning to pages, else a very good copy of this typically fragile rare work.

    Rumsey's pamphlet was first published under a slightly different title (A Plan Wherein the Power of Steam is Fully Shown...) in 1788 and then reprinted under this title, in two different issues. According to the "Advertisement" on the verso of the title, Rumsey states that this treatise is reprinted with corrections and additions from "a pamphlet published in Virginia," of which "a few copies were then thought sufficient." During the 1780s Rumsey and rival John Fitch both produced designs for steam-powered boats, each claiming priority. Though neither man was financially successful, Fitch at least went on to inaugurate the first commercial steamboat service on the Delaware River in 1790.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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