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    Early Work Foreshadowing
    Mechanical Philosophy

    John Wilkins. Mathematical Magick: Or, The Wonders That may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry. In Two Books. Concerning Mechanical Powers Motions. Being one of the most Easie, Pleasant, Useful, (and yet most neglected) part of Mathematicks. Not before treated of this Language. London: Printed for Ric[hard]. Baldwin, 1691. Fourth edition. Octavo. A-T8, V4. (14), 295 pages (1). Numerous illustrations within the text, woodcuts and engravings. Half modern calf over marbled boards, gilt title on spine. Modern endpapers. Frontispiece portrait and title page glued together at inner margin (no affect), inner hinge opened, but strong. Title page with old owner's signature in ink. Foxing and toning to the pages. Q7-R5 small ink stain to lower outside corner (no affect). Externally fine; internally very good condition.
    From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    "In 1648 Wilkins published Mathematical Magick, or, The Wonders that may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry. The first part of the book, on mechanical powers, showed how simple machines like the lever, pulley, and screw could be used to bring about remarkable effects, while the second part, on mechanical motions, discussed among other things flying machines, the submarine, automata, and perpetual motion. Offered as a practical manual rather than as a work of theoretical exposition, it can nevertheless be seen as a foreshadowing of the mechanical philosophy and of the increasing importance of the geometrical approach to an understanding of nature. It was influenced by the work of Guidobaldo del Monte and Marin Mersenne, and formed an attractive and highly effective medium of popularization." - ODNB.

    "Wilkins was also concerned to popularize the science of mechanics. Mathematical Magick, or the Wonders that May be Provided by Mechanical Geometry was, even more that the Discovery or Discourse, a work of popular science. Its purpose was not to defend the validity of a relatively new scientific theory but to familiarize the average man with the basic and long-accepted principles of mechanics. Wilkins begins with a defense of mechanics as a liberal art that was, like astronomy and music, a "species" of "mixed mathematics." The basic subject of mechanics was the relationship between weight and power. Weight was no longer to be considered a natural quality, whereby condensed Bodies do of themselves tend downwards, but and affection, which might be measured. Wilkins hoped to spread the new, mathematical approach to mechanics to the general public. He then describes basic mechanical principles and discusses their application. How shows how, at least theoretically, the force of any mechanical faculty could move any weight, suggesting that a small child, using a machine composed of a hundred double pulleys, could easily move the earth general, Wilkins preferred to stimulate imaginations rather than provide blue prints." - Intellectual Biography of John Wilkins, Barbara Shapiro.

    Wing 2201.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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