First English edition. 8vo. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. xxxii +  pp. advertisements +  + 475 pp. + . In two parts, with separate half-title. Illustrated by 3 folding engraved plates between appendix and indexes. Bound in original mottled calf, gilt borders to boards, enclosing a tree calf lozenge; spine, gilt rules enclosing panels, tooled in gilt with a large centre tool and black morocco label, gilt. Front joints weak, spine decoration , label and extremities worn. Marbled endpapers. Top edge grimed. Otherwise a fine clean copy.
‘This classical work’ (Bolton) by the great French chemist, Lavoisier, is a study of gases (‘elastic vapours’), especially of ‘fixed air’ (carbon dioxide). The first part is an historical survey of the work of his predecessors, including Dr Joseph Priestley; the second part describes his own experiments with an ‘elastic fixable fluid’ (carbon dioxide again). Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) established the key role of the constituent of air that he named oxygen both in combustion and in supplying the source of acidity in compounds, as well as in supporting life. He established that water was a combination of it and hydrogen (the name he gave to the ‘inflammable air,’ discovered by Cavendish) and that air itself was principally a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen. Lavoisier carried out some of the first scientific quantitative chemical experiments (including those described in the second part of this book) and helped establish modern chemical nomenclature. Having been a tax collector in the unpopular Ferme Generale of the old regime and falling foul of Jean-Paul Marat, Lavoisier became a victim of the Reign of Terror and was sent to the guillotine in May 1794. His reputation was officially restored eighteen months later. The Essays were first published as Opuscules Physiques et Chymiques in 1774 and, in spite of the reference to volume one, no further volumes appeared. It was appropriate for Thomas Henry, FRS (c.1734-1816) of Manchester, to translate this book, for his own interests coincided with those of Lavoisier. Henry, following Priestley, had showed how fixed air could be produced by reacting acid and lime and bubbling the gas through water. This formed the basis of his successful business, manufacturing soda water and magnesium carbonate, which he had developed as an antacid. Henry corrected Lavoisier’s translation of Priestley and, in appendix II, added some of his own comments on Priestley’s experiments with dephlogisticated air (i.e. oxygen). A fine copy of this scarce title, complete with the engraved plates.
Author CHEMISTRY - LAVOISIER, ANTOINE LAURENT.
Publisher Printed for Joseph Johnson, No. 72, St Paul’s Church-Yard, London.
Condition Fine clean copy