London: printed for Taylor and Hessey, No. 93, Fleet Street, 1815. Full Calf. Second Edition of this classic of meteorology (first published in 1814), which revolutionized the understanding of ventilation in public places and for which Wells was awarded the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society. Demy 8vo (212 x 127mm): ,150pp. Beautifully bound in contemporary calf, spine richly gilt in six compartments, covers framed in blind and gilt, red leather lettering piece gilt, Prussian blue end papers. Manuscript presentation to title page: "To Dr. [James] Jackson, from the Author," with Jackson's engraved armorial book plate to front paste-down. A gorgeous example, tightly bound and generally clean throughout. Lowndes 2871 ("A valuable little work"). Garrison-Morton 1604. Norman 2199 and (Christies) 848. Blocker, p. 416. Waller 12191. Knight, p. 191 ("Perhaps more important than any writings on induction by philosophers was the splendid example of inductive reasoning by William Charles Wells. . . . his Essay on Dew was rapidly recognized as a classic."). Fine. Item #BB2499
Wells was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but left America at the start of the Revolution for London, where he became physician to St. Thomas's Hospital. In the autumn of 1811, he began a series of researches in the Surrey garden of his friend James Dunsmore, comparing the formation of dew under varying conditions of temperature, humidity, weather, cloud cover, season, and time of day. He concluded that dew results from the condensation of air in contact with objects cooled by radiating their heat into the cloudless night sky. "His researches . . . were of major importance in the development of the science of ventilation, particularly in its relation to relative humidity and the influence of the latter on the comfort of the occupants of factories, ships, theatres, etc." (Garrison-Morton) Wells's inquiry into the nature of dew was widely cited in the 1830s as an outstanding example of inductive scientific inquiry. Sir John Herschel used it as the primary illustration in his Discourse on the study of Natural Philosophy, calling the theory "one of the most beautiful specimens we can call to mind of inductive experimental enquiry lying within a moderate compass." In 1836, the Encyclopedia Metropolitana reported, "We know of no work in our day which has been more universally admired than the Treatise of Dr. Wells, certainly none that practically exemplifies in a purer and better form the admirable inductive system which it was the object of Bacon to teach." John Tyndall and William Whewell also praised it. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).