Warren de La Rue's copy
London: Printed for C. Nourse, 1781.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Large Folio. Near Fine. Item #002780
Folio (560 x 380 mm). , 9,  pp. Includes engraved frontispiece portrait of the author by George Vertue after T. Gibson, engraved title-vignette, head- and tailpiece, engraved historiated opening initial, and 27 double-page engraved celestial charts (on 28 sheets, no. 14 on two sheets). Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, spine with gilt-lettered morocco label (rebacked with new calf, corners bumped and worn, boards rubbed and soiled). Text and plates generally crisp and clean, the plates little browned and slightly foxed in outer margins only. Provenance: Warren de la Rue* (with his armorial bookplate on front pastedown). A fine copy. ----
Brunet II, 1280; Honeyman 1326; Warner, The sky explored, pp.80-82; Brown. Astronomical Atlases, p. 47. - THIRD ISSUE OF 'THE MOST IMPORTANT STAR ATLAS OF THE 18TH CENTURY' (Honeyman). The atlas was first issued in 1729 as the companion to Flamsteed's Historia coelestis Britannica. in the 1781 issue, the celestial charts, prepared by Abraham Sharp and engraved by I. Mynde and others, are reimpressions of the first issue, the title is reprinted and the list of subscribers discarded. As the preface declares, its object was to 'render the indefatigable labours of Mr. Flamsteed as useful and beneficial to mankind as may be, as well as to compleat the Work already publish'd,' showing 'all the constellations visible in our hemisphere, wherein the ancient figures themselves are restor'd.' The stars were positioned and the co-ordinates drawn by Abraham Sharp, while the figures in the constellations were after drawings by Sir James Thornhill and others. The dedication to George II is signed by the astronomer's wife, Margaret Flamsteed, and his literary executor, James Hodgson. Neither edition included the preface in which Flamsteed had wanted to give a blow-by-blow account of his disputes with Newton and Halley. When the Greenwich observatory was set up in 1675 Flamsteed was put in charge as England's first Astronomer Royal. This work was posthumously completed by his widow, with the help of Flamsteed's two assistants, James Hodgson and Joseph Crosthwait. The reason for this was his conflict with another scientist, Isaac Newton, the President of the Royal Society at that time. Flamsteed refused to publish his work that had been commissioned by the king, and in 1712 Newton and Edmond Halley published a preliminary version of Flamsteed's Historia coelestis Britannica without crediting the author. Flamsteed denounced it and destroyed as many copies as he could. By the time the celestial atlas designed to accompany the Historia appeared in 1729 Flamsteed had been dead for ten years.
*Warren de la Rue (1815-89) was a British astronomer, chemist, and inventor, most famous for his pioneering work in astronomical photography. He was one of the inventors of the electric light bulbs, applying a platinum coil with an evacuated glass tube. In 1850 he constructed a 13-inch reflecting telescope which he used to excecute several drawings of celestial bodies. He is most remembered however for his pioneering work in the application of the art of photography to astronomical research. In 1851 his attention was drawn to a daguerreotype of the moon by G. P. Bond, shown at the great exhibition of that year. Excited to emulate and employ the more rapid wet-collodion process, he succeeded before long in obtaining exquisitely defined lunar pictures, which remained unsurpassed until the appearance of the Lewis Morris Rutherfurd photographs in 1865. (Wikisource). - Visit our website for additional images and information. 3rd Printing.
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