Cambridge: for the author . . ., 1738. Smith, Robert (1689-1768). A compleat system of opticks. . . . 2 vols., 4to. , vi, , 280; , 281-455, , 171, pp. Printed slip, “The BOOKBINDER is desired . . . ,” tipped to verso of last leaf in Vol. II. 83 folding engraved plates. Cambridge: for the author, 1738. 250 x 200 mm. Gilt-ruled calf ca. 1738, rebacked, light edgewear, one corner bumped in Vol. I. Some plates toned, a few plate margins trimmed, small tear in Vol. II title, but a very good to fine, crisp copy. First Edition. Smith held the Plumian professorship of astronomy at Cambridge from 1716 to 1760, and in 1742 he succeeded Richard Bentley as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Smith was in large part responsible for establishing Newtonian science at Cambridge, through both his teaching and his Compleat System of Opticks, which was probably the most influential textbook on its subject published in the 18th century. The work covers light, color, theory of vision, construction of microscopes and telescopes (including papers on refracting telescopes by Huygens and Molyneux), methods of grinding and polishing lenses, astronomical discoveries, and concluding with “An essay upon distinct and indistinct vision” by physician James Jurin (1684-1750, see Garrison-Morton 1689). It became widely recognized as the primary authority on Newtonian optics after Newton’s own work on the subject (1704), and was influential in establishing the corpuscular theory of light as the dominant theory of light in 18th-century Britain. Jungnickel, Cavendish, pp. 120-121. (Inventory #: 43994)
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