With Surreal & Delicate Mezzotint Illustrations

An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, founded upon the Laws of Nature, and Solving by Mathematical Principles the General Phaenomena of the Visible Creation; and particularly the Via Lactea. Compris’d in Nine Familiar Letters from the Author to his Friend.

32 engraved plates (of which 8 are mezzotints & 2 are folding). Title printed in red & black. viii, 84, [4] pp. Large 4to, cont. calf (joints slightly cracked at ends), spine gilt, red morocco lettering piece on spine. London: Printed for the Author, 1750.

First edition, and a fine and large copy, of a very remarkable book, famous for its influential theory of the Milky Way and for its beautiful, almost surreal, mezzotint plates. In this work, Wright (1711-86), explained the Milky Way as an optical effect caused by our immersion in a layer of stars. Wright also enunciated here that the stars circulate around a center as do the planets around the Sun.

“To Thomas Wright of Durham undoubtedly belongs the bold and original idea of transcending Newton on his own lines, by carrying his conception of the finite solar system into the infinite world of the stars beyond it…He was the first to propound the idea that the stars are not scattered without order or connection in space, but have a systematic arrangement or constitution, like the solar system, whereby they are all bound into one immense unity and connection.”–W. Hastie, Kant’s Cosmogony (Glasgow: 1900).

This is today a most uncommon book on the market.

Fine copy, with the plates in beautifully fresh condition. 18th-century typographical bookplate of Joseph Woolfe.

❧ D.S.B., XIV, pp. 518-20–His latter model of the universe, “in which the stars lie in a plane and orbit their center as the planets orbit the sun, appealed to Immanuel Kant, who, not realizing the center of Wright’s system was supernatural, credited Wright with originating a disk-shaped model of the galaxy.”.

Price: $35,000.00

Item ID: 7703

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