LUNAR MANUSCRIPT—COLONIAL PHILADELPHIA. [RITTENHOUSE, DAVID, attrib.] Manuscript of lunar observations, 4 pp, 8vo (174 x 110 mm), 1747, Philadelphia,

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Lot 49
LUNAR MANUSCRIPT—COLONIAL PHILADELPHIA.
[RITTENHOUSE, DAVID, attrib.]

Manuscript of lunar observations, 4 pp, 8vo (174 x 110 mm), 1747, Philadelphia,

Sold for US$ 11,875 inc. premium

History of Science

22 Oct 2014, 13:00 EDT

New York

LUNAR MANUSCRIPT—COLONIAL PHILADELPHIA.
[RITTENHOUSE, DAVID, attrib.]
Manuscript of lunar observations, 4 pp, 8vo (174 x 110 mm), 1747, Philadelphia, in brown and red ink, with diagrams, tables, and illustrations, browning, faint old dampstain at centerfold with a few pinholes to same, matted and framed.

COLONIAL PHILADELPHIA MANUSCRIPT RECORDING TWO LUNAR ECLIPSES. The manuscript takes the form of an almanac and records the lunar eclipses of February 13 and August 9, 1747, at "Lattd 40o N" (running through Philadelphia), with two diagrams and three shaded sketches showing the moon with human face at full and partial eclipse, and with detailed annotations. The first page includes a table showing the weather and phases of the moon for each day of the month of January, headed by a six line poem ("The two fac'd Janus begins the [...] year...,"). The fourth page is a table titled "An Ephemeris of the Planets motions in 1747."
An old pencil annotation in the margin attributes the manuscript to DAVID RITTENHOUSE (1732-1796), the prominent Philadelphia astronomer, mathematician, and maker of scientific instruments, and the second most famous colonial American scientist after Benjamin Franklin. Though Rittenhouse was only fifteen at the time the manuscript was created, his precocity is well-documented, having begun to build mechanical models at age eight. He would go on to create numerous astronomical instruments, including transit and equal altitude instruments, zenith sectors, and telescopes, as well as two orreries (mechanical models of the solar system) which were among his most notable achievements (ANB).
Regardless of the attribution, scientific manuscripts from colonial America are scarce on the market, and the association with Philadelphia makes this an especially fine example.
Contacts
LUNAR MANUSCRIPT—COLONIAL PHILADELPHIA. [RITTENHOUSE, DAVID, attrib.] Manuscript of lunar observations, 4 pp, 8vo (174 x 110 mm), 1747, Philadelphia,
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