London: Printed for John Crook, 1665. Item #05293
A Milestone in the History of Chemistry
Robert Boyle’s Treatise on Cold
Proving that Ice has a Smaller Specific Gravity than Water
And that it Must Therefore Expand on Freezing
BOYLE, Robert. New Experiments and Observations Touching Cold, or An Experimental History of Cold, Begun. To which are added An Examen of Antiperistasis, And An Examen of Mr. Hobs’s Doctrine about Cold… Whereunto is annexed An Account of Freezing, brought in to the Royal Society, by the learned Dr. C. Merret, a Fellow of it. London: Printed for John Crook, 1665.
First edition. Small octavo (6 3/8 x 4 1/8 inches; 163 x 105 mm.). , 696, [3, “An Advertisement”], [1, blank], 697-803, [1, blank], [3, “An Advertisement”], [1, blank], 805-845, [2, advertisements for the author’s philosophical writings and forthcoming writings], [1, blank], 54 pp. Bound without the final blank leaf. Gathering aa (“An Advertisement to the Readers of The Following Experiments, by the Author of the foregoing History”) bound after gathering a rather than before the text of “An Account of Freezing made in December and January, 1662” (54 pp. at end). Two folding engraved plates at the end. Title printed in red and black.
Contemporary sprinkled sheep, neatly rebacked to style. Covers bordered in blind with single rule and decorative cornerpieces. Spine with four raised bands, ruled in blind, Dark green morocco label lettered in gilt, edges sprinkled red. Light wear to corners. Some scattered light foxing and browning, a few small marginal dampstains, a few small rust stains. Four leaves 'pulling' at gutter margin (pp. 395-403). Neatly repaired tear to Dd2 (pp. 403/404), just affecting a couple of letters, tiny hole (paper flaw) in Nn1 (pp. 545/546), just affecting a couple of letters. One plate trimmed just within platemark to facilitate folding. Early ink signature of Edward Kundall on title. Overall, an excellent copy.
“The treatise on ‘Cold’ is a milestone in the history of chemistry since it applies a quantitative tool, namely the thermometer, to study of the interaction of elemental substances and mixtures. This, together with his later ‘Languid and Unheeded Motion’, gives Boyle just claim to a place in the early history of ideas concerning the kinetics of chemical reactions (i.e. modern thermodynamics). In discussing cold, Boyle gives an account of his discovery of ‘freezing mixtures’ with the present-day interpretation of the phenomenon. He proved that ice has a smaller specific gravity than water and that it must therefore expand on freezing. The work is noteworthy also for a large number of important physiological observations. He describes the two modes of death from cold: that quite painless benumbing of the senses followed by torpor and death, which, happily, is the more common form of exitus; and secondly, the painful ending, experienced by those who ride horses and carry armour, which begins with abdominal pain, vomiting, &c., and terminates with physical exhaustion… He was aware that frogs and fish could be frozen in ice and revived if the thaw occurred slowly. He thought that the same might be true of swallows, but was not quite sure on the point. He was aware that extreme cold prevented the putrefaction of animal tissues, and realized that cold could be utilized for the preservation of meat” (Fulton).
"Another visitor to Kircher's gallery during 1661, who himself had recently been received by the Tuscan Grand Duke, was the Englishman Robert Southwell. This friend and emissary of Robert Boyle was later to be knighted by Charles II and elected president of the Royal Society. Southwell inspected Kircher's exhibits some time in November and noted, among others, an illustration of the Cartesian diver and 'Asshes of Bayes putt in a glass and filled with water and that water frozen, all the leaves of the Bayes appear.'" (John Edward Fletcher. A Study of the Life and Works of Athanasius Kircher. p. 51).
"Like Boyle, Kircher endeavored to craft a practical, social solution to the problem of knowledge, but the solution he settled upon - a centralized correspondence network of obedient Jesuit missionaries - was rather different from Boyle's meticulously detailed experimental histories." (Paula Finden. Athanasius Kircher. The last man who new everything. p. 255).
Fletcher. Athanasius Kircher, pp. 51 & 574; Fulton, Boyle, 70; Honeyman 465; Wing B3996.