Engraved vignette on title, one engraved headpiece, & two folding engraved plates. 4 p.l., xxviii, 194, 138 pp. 4to, cont. mottled calf (head of spine with a small chip, several signatures browned or foxed), spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Paris: David l’aîné, 1747.
First edition (?). This and the Berlin edition of the same year (with Latin text only) are both variously claimed as the true first edition, and it is perhaps logical to suppose that a prize-winning essay should appear first under the imprint of the prize-giver. However, the imprimatur of the French Académie des Sciences was granted on 6 September 1746, and the Paris edition was on sale in November of that year (see d’Alembert’s letter of 6 January 1747 to Euler). The text of the Paris edition comprises the Latin original of the prize submission, together with its French translation with “various more or less considerable additions” (Avertissement).
“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.
Very good copy of a very rare edition. From the library of Marchese Giulio Stanga Carlo Trecco (d. 1832), amateur mathematician and physicist who formed a large collection of scientific instruments, with his shelfmark label at head of spine.
❧ See Roberts & Trent, Bibliotheca Mechanica, p. 8 for the Berlin edition.
Item ID: 6378