THOMPSON, Sir Benjamin, Count Rumford.

Essays Political, Economical and Philosophical.

London: Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies… 1797 (–1798–1802).1797

3 volumes, 8vo, pp. (xxvi), 464; (viii), 310, (2) blank, (iv), 389–496, and 9 engraved plates (1 folding); 2 leaves, pp. vii, 191, 7 leaves (woodcut illustrations and errata), pp. (viii), 193–498, 1 leaf (adverts), and 7 engraved plates. With 6 leaves of woodcut illustrations in vol. 1 and an engraving on p. 3, and 6 leaves of woodcut illustrations in vol. 3, other woodcuts in the text, half-title in each volume. Contemporary calf, flat spines ruled in gilt and with black labels and black oval numbering labels. Top of spine of vol. 1 chipped, some foxing on endpapers, but a very nice set.

FIRST EDITION of the complete 3-volume set, containing 15 essays; third edition of volume 1 (”The third edition”), first edition of volume 2, and of volume 3 despite ”A new edition” on the title-page. These three volumes contain 15 essays, as follows: on an establishment for the poor in Bavaria, and on the principles for such establishments; of food, particularly for the poor; on chimney and kitchen fireplaces and the economy of fuel; on the propagation of heat in fluids and other substances; on friction as a source of heat; on the use of steam for transporting heat; and on the salubrity of warm bathing. Much space is devoted to domestic science: he studied air currents in open fireplaces and introduced several elements of their design found in modern chimneys, thus increasing their efficiency. He studied domestic cooking stoves and utensils in great detail, inventing the enclosed kitchen range, the coffee percolator, and steam heating systems for houses and even large buildings. In a remarkably varied career Thompson received many honours in England, America, Germany, and elsewhere, and established prizes for scientific research in America and England. In London he founded the Royal Institution. The first volume of this complicated book was first published in parts in 1796; the text of the third volume was evidently published before the title-page, and the first three parts were available separately. See Parkinson, Breakthroughs, 1797 (in the essay “On the propagation of heat in fluids” Thompson discovered the circulation of ocean currents; 1798 (the essay on friction as a source of heat showed that heat is a form of energy), and 1799. See also Sparrow, Milestones of Science, 189.


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