Fine engraved vignette on title; one engraved headpiece with a port. of Frederick the Great, to whom the book is dedicated; & two folding engraved plates. 4 p.l., 194 pp.; 138 pp. 4to, cont. vellum over boards (one corner a little jammed), spine gilt. Paris: David l’aîné, 1747 [but 1746].
First edition of this important work. “In 1747 d’Alembert published two more important works, one of which, the Réflexions sur la cause générale des vents, won a prize from the Prussian Academy. In it appeared the first general use of partial differential equations in mathematical physics. Euler later perfected the techniques of using these equations…As a work on atmospheric tides it was successful, and Lagrange continued to praise d’Alembert’s efforts many years later.”–D.S.B., I, p. 113.
This and the Berlin edition of the same year are both variously claimed as the true first edition and it is perhaps logical to suppose that a prize-winning essay should first appear under the imprint of the prize giver. However, the imprimatur of the French Académie was granted on 6th September 1746 and the book was on sale in November of that year (see d’Alembert’s letter of 6th January 1747 to Euler).
Fine copy of a very rare edition. Contemporary signature of “Castiglioni” on title. From the library of Haskell F. Norman with bookplate.
❧ See Roberts & Trent, Bibliotheca Mechanica, p. 8 for the Berlin edition.
Item ID: 3482