NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687.
Lot 46
NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.
Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687.
US$ 300,000 - 500,000
£220,000 - 370,000

NEWTON, ISAAC, SIR. <I>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.</i> London: 1687. First edition, first issue.

Lot Details
NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687. NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.  Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica.  [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687.
NEWTON, Isaac Sir. 1642-1727, knighted 1705.
Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. [Edited by Edmond Halley. 1656-1743.] London: Joseph Streater for the Royal Society [at the expense of Edmond Halley], to be sold by various booksellers, 1687.
4to (234 x 177 mm). A4 B-O4 P4 (+-P4) Q-V4 W4 X-Z4 Aa-Uu4 Ww4 Xx-Zz4 ***4 Aaa-Nnn4 Ooo4 (+-Ooo4). 252 leaves and folding plate. Title in first state with two-line imprint; P4 cancel correcting orientation of the diagram on verso, errata inserted at end in place of final blank +/- Ooo4); engraving of cometary orbit inserted before 3M2. Numerous woodcut diagrams in text. (Title re-inserted, occasional scattered light spotting and minor staining.) 19th-century blue half calf, spine gilt in five compartments (minor rubbing to extremities); modern black cloth folding case. Provenance: contemporary marginalia, equations, diagrams and notes in Latin, possibly circle of Johann Bernoulli (1667-1748), (see note below), Basel Public Library "Public Bibl. Publ. Basileensis" ink stamp and "Bibliotheca Publ. Basil vendidit" deaccession stamp on verso of title; Zurich, Swiss Federal Observatory "Eidgen. Sternwarte Zuerich," ink stamps on title.

FIRST EDITION, first state, with two-line imprint, OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, constituting "perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make" (Einstein).
"Following the pioneer researches of Galileo in the study of motion and its mathematical analysis and the important contributions of Descartes and Huygens, the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century culminated in the massive achievements of Newton in dynamics and gravitational astronomy. Kepler's law of planetary motion came to be gradually accepted in the latter half of the century and unsuccessful attempts were made to account for them in terms of a central force emanating from the sun" (PMM). Newton showed that his law of gravity would cause a planet to move in an ellipse about the sun as focus. "For the first time a single mathematical law could explain the motion of objects on earth as well as the phenomena of the heavens... It was this grand conception that produced a general revolution in human thought..." (PMM). Newton's scientific views were not challenged until Planck's quantum theory (Zur Theorie des Gesetzes der Energieverteilung im Normalspectrum, Leipzig, 1900) and Einstein's theories of relativity (Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitaetstheorie, Leipzig, 1916).
Edmond Halley encouraged Newton to write Principia and Newton acknowledges his contribution in the preface: "Mr. Edmund Halley not only assisted me with his pains in correcting the press and taking care of the schemes, but it was his solicitations that its becoming public is owing; for when he had obtained of me my demonstrations of the figure of the celestial orbits, he continually pressed me to communicate the same to the Royal Society..." (translated by Andrew Motte).
The printing history of the Principia is well documented. "The first edition was very small (perhaps 250 copies) and... sold out quickly" (Babson). There are two states of the title-page: the first with 2-line imprint for domestic distribution by Halley and Newton in cooperation with a number of unnamed booksellers, the second with 3-line imprint naming the bookseller Samuel Smith for foreign distribution.


Regarding the Basel provenance of this copy Fritz Nagel wrote in his article Habent sua fata Principia / Newton in Basel: "Detailed investigation has shown, that [the author of the marginalia] corrects printing errors in mathematical formulas [see I2v, M2v, Q3v] and geometric figures [see L1r, M4r] from the second edition to this copy of the first edition. In addition [the author of the marginalia] verified a bibliographic reference by Newton to Apollonius [M2r]. Finally, [the author of the marginalia] has written down short mathematical proofs which are merely suggested or entirely omitted by Newton in the text [see L4v, O3r]. Since only a few contemporaries of Newton had read his Principia, or even worked through it in detail, the writer of the notes must have been an above-average gifted mathematician. In the first place Johann Bernoulli comes to mind whose hand-writing actually shows some similarities with the marginal notes of our copy. Another possible author of the marginalia might be Jacob Hermann. On the other hand, the scribe might have been another mathematician of the Bernoulli circle, who, perhaps on behalf of his teacher, compared the texts of the second and the first edition of Principia" (translated from Fritz Nagel Librarium, Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Bibliophilen-Gesellschaft, September 2010 pp. 103-4). Contemporary marginalia is found on: G1v, H2r, I2v, I3r&v, L1r, L4v, M1r, M2r&v, M4r, N4r, O3r, P1r, Q2v, Q3v, R1r&v, R3r&v, R4v. Babson 10; Grolier Science 78; Norman 1586 (3-line imprint title); Wing N-1048; PMM 161.

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