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Scientific Instruments, Specimens, Books and Collectables

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  • A Vindication of Phrenology – W. Matthieu Williams – First edition 1894

    Published by Chatto and Windus, London in 1894 a first edition of this “vindication” book by the esteemed phrenologist Williams.

    Largish octavo, xxii, 428 pages. Frontispiece photograph of the author pondering the shape of the head and its bumps crevices. Several illustrated plates and figures within the text. A very good copy.

    The author was a distinguished scientist and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Royal Chemical Society. He also authored a book titled “The Chemistry of Cooking” … Heston please note.

    If you don’t understand phrenology well this is the book for you … interest in the pseudo science was waning by this date maybe hence the vindication … some good things came out of it though … it’s all a matter of perspective.

    Phrenology explained and vindicated!


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  • Encyclopedia of the Antarctic – Edited Beau Riffenburgh- 2 Volumes

    Published by Routledge in 2006 this two-volume set is regarded as the font of all things Antarctica.

    A substantial effort the number of distinguished contributors runs to over a hundred.

    Two quarto volumes, 1,272 pages heavily illustrated with all sorts, high technical level with many maps, charts, explanatory diagrams etc. Very good condition. Weighs in at circa 3.6kgs so not really suitable for Overseas postage.

    The elements relating to the History of Exploration and History of Science are understandably our favourites. Other broader topics include … Atmosphere; Birds; Conservation; Geography; Glaciology; Technology; Oceanography; Physics and astronomy etc.

    It is all here in the Encyclopedia of the Antarctic – more than a winter’s reading


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  • Scientific Instrument – Measuring magnetic field produced by an electrical current against the Earth’s magnetic field (compass) – Flemings Right Hand Rule etc – likely Philip Harris c 1930.

    Scientific Instrument – Measuring magnetic field produced by an electrical current against the Earth’s magnetic field (compass) – Flemings Right Hand Rule etc – likely Philip Harris c 1930.

    Nicely made pine / mahogany box with removeable glass lid; back wall hinges down. Inside we have a good sensitive compass and two sets of parallel wires which are internally connected to the two brass terminals on the front wall. We say likely Philip Harris of Birmingham England, it is not marked, but it sure looks like their reliable work to us. 11cm by 11cm 4 cm deep – very good condition

    The application of various levels of current will provide a changing level of deflection in the compass. This will vary also as the instrument is revolved around the compass line. i.e. the true reading is gained with the parallel wires lined up North / south with the compass. There will be zero deflection at 90 degrees to that. Of course the instrument can be used to measure current in reverse principle – see out notes on the tangent galvanometer.

    The maths involved is pretty straight forward and very enlightening for anyone who has missed the physics challenge at school or for an interested youngster about to embark on it.

    Flemings Right Hand Rule proves very reliable


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  • De Re Metallica – Georgius Agricola – the Hoover Translation.

    De Re Metallica – Georgius Agricola – the Hoover Translation.

    This is the second printing of the famous Hoover translation of the equally famous 16th Century monumental publication by Georgius Agricola on all things then known in mining, metallurgy, geology etc. Published by Dover, New York in 1950.

    Longer title … De re Metallica translated from the first Latin edition of 1556 with biographical introduction, annotations and appendices upon the development of mining methods, metallurgical processes, geology, mineralogy & mining law from the earliest times to the 16th century by Herbert Clark Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover.

    This edition, large royal octavo blue cloth covered boards, 638 pages after xxxi preliminaries, illustrated throughout from the images of the original wood engravings, simply superb. Dust jacket closed tear at top front otherwise pretty good, a very good copy overall. Quite a heavy book which will require and Overseas postage supplement.

    The series of books within the book (an early style) I Arguments against the art of mining II The miner and the mining of veins III Veins and stringers and seams in rocks IV The method of delimiting veins and the functions of the mining officials V The digging of ore and the Surveyor’s art VI The miner’s tools and machines VII The assaying of ore VIII Rules for the work of roasting, crushing, and washing the ore IX Methods of smelting ores X the work of separating silver from gold, and lead from gold and silver XI Separating silver from copper XII rules for manufacturing salt, soda, alum, vitriol, sulphur, bitumen, and glass … Agricola’s works – Ancient authors on mineralogy, mining, metallurgy- Nomenclature to be adopted for weights and measures etc.

    There is so much to admire about this book … the date of the foundation work, its breadth and quality, the learning from the engravings. Strangely maybe we particularly like the section on pumps in mines – essential equipment for water bound mines and the ingenuity pre powered machines is very interesting. Regarding the translation – what a job done by Hoover(s). The difficulty must have been very challenging – for example Agricola struggled to find Latin equivalents for many mining terms so had to contrive them from everyday Latin words – Hoover then had to decipher these once and only Latin words – unsurprising that his hair was depleted.

    De Re Metallica – The Foundation Work for all Mining and related – the readable version


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  • The Tasmanian Tiger in Pictures – Dr Eric Guiler

    A scarce item by the unchallengeable Thylacine expert Dr Eric Guiller.

    Published in 1993. Soft wrapper, landscape, 28 pages with numerous illustrations from old photographs and contemporary photographs from the authors expeditions and field studies – he followed the Thylacine for over 40 years. Also, maps showing sightings and “unfortunately” earlier killings, sketches of Tiger tracks identified by Guiler etc.

    Very good if not better condition.

    Guiler about and searching for the Thylacine – convincing.


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  • Chemical Essays Complete in Five Volumes – Richard Watson – 1793-1796

    Chemical Essays Complete in Five Volumes – Richard Watson – 1793-1796

    As beautiful a set of late 18thC bindings as you are likely to come across. Five small octavo volumes bound in full polished contemporary tree calf, spines gilt rules and each volume with red lettering pieces and ornate numbering pieces, marbled endpaper. A little age as you can expect from circa 225 years but really a delight in the hand and to the eye.

    Published by T Evans, London. Various dates 1793-96.

    All up 349, 368, 376, 354 and 375 pages after preliminaries and some afterward. Based on a series of lectures delivered by the author in the 1770’s.

    Richard Watson (1737-1816) was a Professor of Chemistry at Trinity, Cambridge (his alma mater) in 1764 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1769. In his writings he displays a keen interest in applying science to manufacturing processes. He worked on the efficiency of gunpowder and discovered the principle of “black bodies” but without a full understanding. He references the used of lime in lead smelting with a clear interest in metallurgy.

    Remember these are early days for the science of chemistry well before the Periodic Table and its precursors. The science presented is written in a “popular fashion” which was the author’s intention.

    He later became a Bishop …

    Five late 18thC uniquely bound volumes of “Chemical Essays”



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