Fisica de’ Corpi Ponderabili ossia Trattato della Costituzione Generale de’ Corpi del Cavaliere.
Torino: Stamperia Reale, 1837-41. First edition.
A very fine set of one of the great rarities of chemistry. This monumental work is the only major publication of Avogadro (1776-1856), one of the founders of physical chemistry in the early 19th century. The famous hypothesis which bears his name - that equal volumes of all gases and vapors contain the same number of ultimate molecules at the same pressure and temperature - demonstrated the link between Gay-Lussac's law of volume and Dalton's atomic theory, and provided a much needed key to the problems of 19th-century chemistry by distinguishing between atoms and molecules. The very title of this book indicates that he was concerned with atomic weights. The present work is a substantial enlargement of Avogadro's memoir, first published in 1811 in the Journal de Physique. But that paper was largely ignored for another half century, partly because it was published first in Italian (when Italy was at the periphery of scientific research) and subsequently only in minor French, German and English scientific Journals. His molecular hypothesis is widely considered to be Italy's great contribution to chemistry in the 19th century.
Emil Offenbacher, the distinguished dealer who specialized in chemistry, wrote (cat. 39, item 4, 1986) “a complete set is today of great rarity”. ABPC lists just four copies between the Honeyman sale (1978) and the present, the last copy being that in the Haskell Norman sale (1998).
Norman 89; Honeyman 168; Sparrow, Milestones of Science, 16 (1811 memoir). Partington, IV, p.213-17.
4 volumes, thick 8vo: 228 x 146 mm, bound in four fine contemporary half calf with gilt cloth title labels. Fully complete: pp. (6), XXXI, (1), 910; (2), 980, (2); (2), XIII, (1), 932, (2); XIII, (1), 926, (2), LIII, (1), (2) and 18 folding lithographed plates. Fresh and clean throughout, a very fine set.