The History and Present State of discoveries relating to Vision, Light, and Colours.
London: Printed for J. Johnson… .1772
2 volumes, 4to, pp. v, (viii), xvi, 422; 1 leaf, pp. 423–812, (12), folding engraved biographical chart (frontispiece) and 24 stilted plates. Contemporary tree calf, nicely rebacked, edges slightly darkened. Last two leaves of subscribers misbound before the first two, a little foxing and offsetting (two gatherings in vol. 2 more spotted), but an excellent set. Signature of Stephen Freeman, 1799, in each volume.
FIRST EDITION. The first history of theories of vision, light, and colour, containing a thorough review of virtually all the significant work in the field. It also contains substantial chapters on optical instruments (the telescope, microscope, etc.). “Although the History of Optics contains much useful information, it was considerably less successful than the History of Electricity. Until recently optics had not attracted substantial historical interest, and although Priestley’s History of Optics had but one English edition and a translation into German, it remained the only English work on the subject for a hundred and fifty years and the only one in any language for over fifty” (DSB). Parkinson, Breakthroughs, 1772. Crook S/479 (with incorrect plate count). This copy has an additional list of 28 subscribers on the verso of the errata leaf, including several from Jamaica.