Account of Some Discoveries Made by Mr. Galvani, of Bologna; With Experiments and Observations on Them. In Two Letters from Mr. Alexander Volta, F. R. S. Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Pavia, to Mr. Tiberius Cavallo, F. R. S.
London: W. Bulmer & Co. for Peter Elmsley, 1793. First edition.
Volta's account and correct interpretation of Galvani's experiments on animal electricity communicated to the Royal Society. "When Volta had first heard of Galvani’s discoveries concerning the electrical excitation of disembodied frog’s legs, he dismissed them as unbelievable. Urged by colleagues to repeat Galvani’s experiments, he was surprised to see the latter’s results confirmed, but he quickly concluded that 'animal electricity' played no part in them, and that the spasms were the result of purely external electrical stimulation. Further experimentation with whole frogs and other animals confirmed his suspicion that the electric current resulted from the contact of two dissimilar metals in a moist environment." (Norman). "To Cavallo, Volta in 1793 [recto 1792] addressed two letters [dated Sept. 13 and Oct. 25, 1792] which appeared in the Philosophical Transactions under the heading 'Account of Some Discoveries Made by Mr. Galvani, of Bologna; With Experiments and Observations on Them'. Behind this title lay a long series of trials with metals and the nerves of not only frogs, but also quadrupeds, birds, fishes, reptiles and amphibia. Desering to experiment on the human body, he used a piece of tinfoil and silver spoon seperated by his tongue, ... In 1791 he had been made a foreign member of the Royal Society, and the Society now proceeded to honour him with the Copley Medal, Sir Joseph Banks in his address remarking, 'The experiments of Professor Galvani, until commented upon by Professor Volta, had too much astonished, and perhaps, in some degree, perplexed many of the learned in various parts of Europe. To Professor Volta was reserved the merit of bringing his countryman's experiments to the test of sound reasoning and accurate investigation'." (Edgar C. Smith: Alessandro Volta, Nature, vol. 155, pp. 473-74). Seven years, later Volta's invention of the first electric battery, the Voltaic pile, was announced in a letter from Volta to Joseph Banks and published in the Philosophical Transactions. Wheeler Gift Catalogue 2493.
Large 4to: 295 x 230 mm. Contemporary extract from: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1793. vol. 83, pp.10-44. Contemporary plain wrappers, uncut. A little browning and spotting throughout, in all a very good copy.