[PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS, GIVING SOME ACCOUNT OF THE PRESENT UNDERTAKINGS, STUDIES, AND LABOURS OF THE INGENIOUS, IN MANY CONSIDERABLE PARTS OF THE WORLD. VOL. XLVII. FOR THE YEARS 1751 AND 1752].

[London: Printed for C. Davis, Printer to the Royal Society, 1753]. [18],438,438-39,439-571,[17]pp. plus twenty- one folding plates. Lacks the titlepage, which is present in fine facsimile. Quarto. Antique-style three-quarter calf and marbled boards, spine ruled in gilt, gilt leather labels. Light wear and dustsoiling to first few and final leaves. Short, closed tear in upper margin of plate I with no loss of text. Tear in upper margin of leaf E4 and right margin of leaf F4 neatly repaired, no text affected. Long closed tear in leaf 3B1 partially repaired, with no loss of text. Occasional tanning throughout. A few light marginal pencil marks. Overall very good, though with a facsimile titlepage. Untrimmed and partially unopened. Item #WRCAM56298

Volume 47 of the Royal Society's PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS..., featuring some of the first published accounts of Benjamin Franklin's experiments with electricity, in particular, "A Letter of Benjamin Franklin, Esq; to Mr. Peter Collinson, F.R.S. concerning an electrical Kite" (pp.565-67), Franklin's account of his most famous experiment. On June 10, 1752, "as dark clouds came up...Franklin ran the string from the kite to a Leyden jar, insulating himself by holding a silk ribbon to the string. When he observed the fibers on the hemp string stand out, he realized the experiment [to conduct electricity] had succeeded. It must have been one of the most satisfying moments of his life...Franklin became the most famous natural philosopher since Isaac Newton....In 1756 Immanuel Kant dubbed Franklin the 'Prometheus of modern time'" (ANB).

This volume also contains "A Letter from Mr. Franklin to Mr. Peter Collinson, F.R.S. concerning the Effects of Lightning" (pp.289- 91), in which Franklin discusses various properties of lightning, in particular how it affects navigational compasses. His correspondent, botanist Peter Collinson, collaborated with a wide circle of natural historians, including Carl Linnaeus, Gronovius, and John Fothergill; he was also a patron of Mark Catesby.

Earlier in the volume is William Watson's "An Account of Mr. Benjamin Franklin's Treatise, lately published, intituled, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America" (pp.202-11), in which Watson summarizes "a few of the most singular" of the experimental reports Franklin submitted to the Royal Society, including Franklin's electrocution of a ten- pound turkey: "He conceited, as himself says, that the birds kill'd in this manner eat uncommonly tender." Watson also writes a letter "...Concerning the electrical Experiments in England upon Thunder-Clouds" (pp.567-70), in which he describes attempts by Royal Society members in England to reproduce Franklin's kite experiment.

Other topics in this issue include a meteor viewed in 1750, magnets, a brief autobiographical account of kidney stones by Horace Walpole, archaeological digs at Herculaneum, steam engines, treating hydrocephalus in an infant, the recent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, smallpox, coral, additional articles on electricity and thunder, and John Bond's proposal to update whale harpoon propulsion.

PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS is the world's first and longest-running scientific journal. The Royal Society's first secretary, Henry Oldenburg, edited and published the first issue in March 1665, with subsequent editorial assistance from such scientific luminaries as Hans Sloane, Nehemiah Grew, and Edmond Halley. Starting in March 1752, a rotating committee of twenty-one Society members was formed to oversee selection, editing, and publishing. Under this committee the journal's content became fundamentally linked to the presentations of Society members at regular meetings. This committee is still in place today.
ESTC P6614, P2656. FORD, FRANKLIN, p.xxix.

Price: $4,500.00