Amsterdam: Johanned Jansson Waesberge, 1672.
First edition of this book “of prime importance in electrical discovery, air-pressure and the vacuum pump.” The Experimenta nova (1672) ranks next to Gilbert’s De magnete (1611) in the number and importance of electrical discoveries described” (Sparrow).
❧Dibner, Heralds of Science 55; Evans, First Editions of Epochal Achievements in the History of Science 30; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science 44; Sparrow, Milestones of Science 90; Norman 952.
“Otto von Guericke, German natural philosopher, produced what had been sought since antiquity-the vacuum. Inspired by the findings of Galileo, Pascal, and Torricelli, he conducted Magdeburg hemisphere experiments. By means of an air pump, he extracted the air from two hemispheres of copper which had been securely sealed and demonstrated that even sixteen horses pulling in opposite directions could not separate them. Experimenta nova (ut vocantu) Magdeburgica de vacuo spatio (1672) ranks next to Gilbert’s [De magnete, 1611] in the number and importance of electrical discoveries described, for von Guericke was also an investigator in this field. He invented a machine by which he demonstrated the existence of electrical repulsions as well as electrical attractions.”
“Guericke’s invention of the air pump grew out of his interest in the nature of space, particularly in Descartes's belief in the equivalence of space and matter and denial of the possibility of vacuum. Guericke suspected otherwise, and, after several false starts, managed to construct a hollow apparatus from which he evacuated the air with a suction pump, thus disproving Descartes’s claims and resolving the old controversy between the vacuists and plenists. His discovery of the elasticity of air was the most important result of Guericke’s experiments, as it led him to investigate the decrease of air density with height, to study the variations in air pressure corresponding to changes in weather (from which he was able to make barometric weather forecasts) and to experiment further with the phenomena connected with vacuums, especially the work capacity of air. The famous Magdeburg experiment of 1657, in which two eight-horse teams tried unsuccessfully to pull apart two copper hemispheres from which the air had been exhausted, is illustrated in the folding plate between pages 104 and 105. Guericke also sought to prove the magnetism of the earth and other celestial bodies by experimenting with a sphere made of sulfur, which he showed to possess the virtutes mundanae; i.e., powers of attraction and the ability to move other bodies. By rubbing the sphere and rotating it on a crank, Guericke was able to generate audible and visible sparks via static electricity; however, as he failed to identify these effects as special phenomena in their own right, considering them instead to be demonstrations of the properties of a celestial body, he cannot properly claim the invention of the first electrical machine.” (Norman).
Folio (310 x 197 mm), pp [xvi, including the engraved title] 244  with engraved title, engraved portrait of the author, two double-page engraved plates, and 21 engraved plates in text, many full-page (plate XVIII repeated, as is correct). Contemporary Dutch vellum, paste downs loose and town, entirely unrestored, letter-press title with previous owner's initials P.T.W. (i.e., Peder Topp Wandell) dated 1734, old stamp from Odense Katedralskole in Denmark. Some very light damp staining to margin of portrait, a few short marginal tears and small paper flaws, none touching the text. A very good and clean copy completely unrestored. Rare in such good condition.