A Compleat System of Opticks, in Four Books, viz. a Popular, a Mathematical, a Mechanical, and a Philosophical Treatise. To which are added remarks upon the whole

Cambridge printed for the Author, sold by Corn... 1738 First edition 2 vols. 4to.19th century quarter calf on marble boards with new end papers. Fore edge of text block in red ink. There are raised bands on the spines with gilt decoration on raised band and panels. Title and volume number are in separate panels. The gilt is bright and attractive. Internal condition generally very good with only occasional damp staining at head of spine. Collation: Vol. I - [6], vi, [8], 280; Vol II - [2] (281)-455 [1- blank] [1]- 171, [13] p. + 686 optical and perspective figures and illustrations, including illustrations of various optical and perspective instruments, on 63 folding engraved plates in the main work, and 70 additional figures and illustrations on 20 folding engraved in the added "Remarks". While text is very clean and bright, the plates often have foxing as the result of using different quality paper. Pages 157-160 (Volume I) are shorter than rest of text. This signature is probably from a shorter segment of paper used during printing as the water mark is identical to that of the rest of the text block. First edition of a classic on optics, at the time the standard work on the subject. Very Good + 1/4 Leather (Item ID: 0000142)


The book was translated into Dutch, French and German. The most important part was the Mechanical Treatise, which gave detailed information about the production of optical and perspective instruments, like the telescope and the microscope. Robert Smith (1689-1768) was professor in mathematics at the University of Cambridge when he published the book, and later became Master of the Trinity College. (Poggendorff II, 945 (erroneously dated 1728); Houzeau-Lancaster 3323; Wolf I, 315, 130; Ebert 21349; Zinner, Astron. Instrum., 429.)

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