The Colors of Light

    Sir Isaac Newton. Opticks, or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures. London: Printed for Sam. Smith, and Benj. Walford, 1704. First edition. Two parts in one quarto volume. Approximately 9.75 x 7.25 inches. [4], 144; 211, [1, Errata] pages. With nineteen folding engraved plates inserted throughout, title page printed in red and black. Contemporary English blind-tooled panelled calf, spine tooled and ruled in gilt in compartments with red morocco label lettered in gilt. Joints repaired, some wear to binding, hinges starting, title page and Advertisement (page [ii] expertly repaired in upper margin on versos. A very good, crisp copy.

    Just as Newton's Principia had placed the study of gravity on a scientific basis, so the Opticks provided the scientific framework for the study of optics, collecting together all his important researches for the first time, as well as enunciating his corpuscular theory of light and examining the phenomenon of the rainbow. Unusually for one of Newton's works, Opticks was first published in English, the Latin version following in 1706. Newton clearly envisaged a wider readership for this work than he had intended for the fiercely complex Principia. Newton had written most of the work as early as 1676 but Robert Hooke's criticisms of it induced him to delay publication until after Hooke's death in 1703.

    Printing and the Mind of Man 172. Norman 1588. From the James and Deborah Boyd Collection.

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