First Edition Of Volta's Letters on His Discovery of Marsh Gas
VOLTA, Alessandro. Lettere... Sull'aria Infiammabile Nativa Delle Paludi. Milano: Nella Stamperia Di Giuseppe Marelli , 1777.
First edition, and first complete edition containing seven letters to Giuseppe Campi on the authorís investigations on marsh gas. Previously, only two letters had been published the year before. [1]-147, [1, glossary] pp. Octavo (7 3/4 x 5 inches; 197 x 125 mm). With etched title-vignette and thirteen other etched chapter head and tail pieces by Ant. Longonus. Some of the etchings illustrating experiments. Engraved initials at each chapter begining.

Contemporary paste-paper boards. Some surface level worming to boards. Spine paper a bit chipped and darkened. A light dampstain to title-page and second leaf. Last leaf with a small paper flaw to lower margin, not affecting text. Worming to blank back pastedown. Overall a very good clean copy.

"Alessandro Volta,... (born February 18, 1745, Como, Lombardy [Italy]ódied March 5, 1827, Como), Italian physicist whose invention of the electric battery provided the first source of continuous current." (Brittanica)

"The discovery of marsh gas... is described by Volta in some letters to Carlo Giuseppe Campi, dated from Como (November 1776 to January 1777)... He distinguished it from the inflammable air from metals (hydrogen) by its azure-blue flame and slower combustion, and by its requiring 10-12 vols. of air for detonation. A much larger electric spark was necessary to ignite marsh gas than to ignite hydrogen. " (Partington, History of Chemistry, III, p. 814).

"Existence of inflammable gas emanating from wetlands and bubbling up from lake bottoms was known for centuries, and the phenomenon was noted by such famous eighteenth-century investigators of natural process as Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestley, and Alessandro Volta. In 1777, after observing gas bubbles in Lago di Maggiore, Alessandro Volta published Lettere Sull'Aria Infiammabile Nativa Delle Paludi, a slim book about 'native inflammable air of marshlands' (Volta 1777). Two years later, Volta isolated methane, the simplest hydrocarbon molecule and the first series of compounds following the general formula of CnH2n+2. When in 1866 August Wilhelm von Hofmann proposed a systematic nomenclature of hydrocarbons, that series became known as alkanes (alkenes CnH2n; alkines CnH2n-2)." (Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century, Vaclav Smil).

Duveen, 606. Partington III, 814.

HBS # 68110 $3,750