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Recherches physiques sur la nature de l'air nitreux et de l'air dephlogistique


Published by Chez Nylon l'aine, Libraire, rue S. Jean-de-Beauvais, Paris, 1776
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B & L Rootenberg Rare Books, ABAA
Sherman Oaks, CA, U.S.A.

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About this Item

Complete with half-title, Privilege du Roi, and errata. Woodcut printer's device on title and chapter headpieces. Full mottled calf, spine gilt with red morocco label and circular private library label affixed to front board, small chip to foot of spine; marbled endpapers, light occasional foxing, otherwise and excellent copy. Bookplate of previous owner, "Bilharz," possibly anatomist Theodore Bilharz (1825-1862), known for his description of the parasitic disease called bilharziasis, now known as schistiosomiasis. First edition of this rare and valuable work describing the author's experiments on nitrous and dephlogisticated air (oxygen). Fontana, the foremost researcher on the properties of gases and one of the greatest Italian scientists of the century, here explains why calx (oxide) can be reduced without the addition of a phlogiston, an unmeasurable fire-like element released during combustion. It is here that Fontana also describes his experiments "on dissolving mercury in nitric acid to produce mercuric nitrate and the evolution of oxygen on heating this salt. He showed that nitric oxide does not redden litmus and that there is a quantitative relationship between mercuric oxide and the mercury and gaseous oxygen evolved on heating" (Neville). Despite this interpretation of the phenomenon of combustion, Fontana remained a phlogistonist. Fontana announces his indebtedness to the work of Joseph Priestley, who had discovered oxygen two years prior and whose experiments determining the relative purity of air inspired this study. The famous experiment here on mercuric nitrate was in fact described by Priestley in Volume III of his Experiments and observations (1777). Even Lavoisier, in a 1776 memoir, details an experiment which Priestley commented on its similarity with that of Fontana's.Fontana (1730-1805), Italian neurologist and biologist, was one of the major microscopists of the eighteenth century. He held the chair of logic and later of physics at the University of Pisa and he helped oversee the opening of the Museum of Physics and Natural History at Florence. In addition to the present work, he was noted for his research on red blood cells, the movement of the iris, and his discovery of the lymphatic vessels in the crystalline lense of the eye. He also introduced the most accurate eudometer, an instrument used to measure the healthiness of air, in 1774. Bookseller Inventory # 14191

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Recherches physiques sur la nature de l'air ...

Publisher: Chez Nylon l'aine, Libraire, rue S. Jean-de-Beauvais, Paris

Publication Date: 1776


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