Opuscoli di Fisica Animale, e Vegetabile.

In Modena: Presso La Societa’ Tipografica,1776

2 volumes, 8vo, pp. xvi, 304; (iv), 277, (1), (2) blank, 6 folding engraved plates. Half-title in vol. 1, but without the final errata leaf (printed on a single leaf and possibly added later) as in some other copies. Fore-edge margin of 4 plates shaved affecting ruled borders, one plate number and one figure number, mild browning in two gatherings of vol. 1 and one gathering of vol. 2. Contemporary vellum, spines lettered in gilt, a fine and fresh set.

FIRST EDITION. G&M 102. “Spallanzani’s next outstanding publication…contained five reports that displayed unexcelled experimental skill, remarkable powers of observation, and lucid literary talent. The first volume included the long-deferred treatise on infusoria… This work challenged Needham’s concept of a heat-labile vegetative force by comparing the growth-promoting qualities of various infusions preheated to different extents and left in loosely stoppered flasks… Spallanzani concluded that the vegetative force was imaginary… The main treatise in the second volume of the Opuscoli confirmed and extended Leeuwenhoek’s observations on spermatozoa (which began in 1677) and refuted Buffon’s erroneous concepts of their nature and origin… The remaining three tracts were of lesser significance. The first concerned the effects of stagnant air upon animals and vegetables,…[the second] concerned animalcules that ‘enjoy the advantages of real resurrection after death’,…[and the third was on mold]” (DSB, from a long account of this book). Prandi, Bibliografia, pp. 36–37. Cole, Early Theories of Sexual Generation, 23 and 113. Spallanzani was one of the earliest to examine and write about spermatozoa. His conclusions on infusoria were similar to those expressed by Pasteur nearly a century later.


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