A History of Inventions and Discoveries. Translated from the German, by William Johnston.

London: Printed for J. Bell… (volume 4: Printed for J. Walker and Co…and J. Bell.1797

4 volumes, 8vo, 1 leaf, pp. ii (contents), (v)–xii, 488; 2 leaves, pp. 443; 2 leaves, pp. 491; pp. iv, 682. Contemporary calf, spines gilt with red and blue morocco labels, sides panelled in gilt, blue edges, marbled endpapers (joints of volumes 1 and 4 very carefully repaired, upper joint of volumes 2 and 3 just cracking). Armorial bookplate of Thomas Munro on front pastedowns. Dampstain at the bottom of a dozen leaves in volume 1, otherwise a very good set.

FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH, with the large fourth volume, of the first reliable history of inventions and discoveries. It was not designed as a complete history of technology (a term coined by Beckmann), but rather as a collection of historical descriptions of individual inventions. The text, written in a very readable style, is supplied with numerous full and accurate references in the footnotes, which has ensured the book’s historical value to the present day. The first edition in English of 1797 was published before the author had finished the German original, and so the fourth volume, published for the first time in English with the second edition, is not normally found with sets of the first edition. The contemporary binding of the fourth volume is a very close match to the other three.


In stock

Unsure of some of these terms? Click here to download a copy of Carter & Barker, ABC for Book Collectors (2006), which has full explanations.