ACCUM, Frederick.

A Practical Treatise on Gas-Light; exhibiting a summary description of the apparatus and machinery best calculated for illuminating streets, houses, and manufactories, with carburetted hydrogen, or coal-gas: with remarks on the utility, safety, and general nature of this new branch of civil economy. London: printed by G. Hayden…for R. Ackermann… 1818.

Price £ GBP 1500.00

8vo, 1 leaf, pp iii, (i) blank, v, (i), 186p, and 7 hand-coloured engraved plates (2 folding, and plate 1 bound as a frontispiece). Also 4 pages of adverts for Ackermann’s books inserted at the end. Original drab boards, uncut. Boards worn at ends of spine and upper joint cracked, corners a little worn, but a fresh and clean copy.

FIRST EDITION of the classic book on gas-light technology, and in its own way one of the defining books of Regency England. It was “the first book to describe and widely influence the production and distribution of gas for illumination” (David L. DiLaura in J.H. Lambert, Photometry, 2001). Frederick Accum was a chemist by profession, but in about 1810 he became involved with the publisher Rudolph Ackermann, who was active in the promotion of various artistic and scientific projects to introduce into England the illumination of towns by gas. It is widely acknowledged that this book, published by Ackermann, was essentially responsible for the prompt adoption of this mode of lighting in London and other large cities. Of the seven rather beautiful hand-coloured plates, four show machinery and three various light fixtures and chandeliers. Partington III, 827: “His chief work was in founding the gas industry…”

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