Science and Natural History

Rare Science and Natural History Books for Sale Online

Browse rare first edition science and natural history books. Search for books in the fields of biology, medicine, chemistry, physics, and astronomy.  In addition, create your wish list,  and ask any questions about a specific product, or order online today.

Showing 1–12 of 345 results

  • “Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends": First Edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

    DARWIN, Charles.

    On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    London: John Murray, 1859.

    First edition of “certainly the most important biological book ever written” (Freeman), one of 1250 copies. Octavo, bound in original cloth, half-title, one folding lithographed diagram, without advertisements. In fine condition with a touch of shelfwear. Housed in a custom clamshell box. An exceptional example of this landmark work, one of the nicest extant.

    Price: $400,000.00     Item Number: 116380

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  • FIRST EDITION OF ANDREAS VESALIUS'S MAGNUM OPUS, THE MOST MONUMENTAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICAL EDUCATION AND "ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCIENTIFIC BOOKS EVER PRINTED": DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA LIBRI SEPTUM; ON THE FABRIC OF THE HUMAN BODY IN SEVEN BOOKS

    VESALIUS, Andreas.

    De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem [On the Fabric of the Human Body in Seven Books].

    Basel: Ex Officina Joannis Oporini, 1543.

    First edition of the most important and influential book in the study of human anatomy and “one of the most beautiful scientific books ever printed”(Grolier). Folio, bound in full 18th century calf, woodcut title page with Vesalius performing a dissection, woodcut portrait of the author, over 200 woodcut anatomical illustrations, including 21 full page and 2 folding-sheet figural woodcuts of the skeletal, muscular, vascular and nervous systems. In very good condition with some light dampstaining to some page edges. Rare and desirable, especially in contemporary calf. A splendid example of Vesalius’ masterpiece, one of the most monumental achievements in the history of  both medical education and printing.

    Price: $300,000.00     Item Number: 30020

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  • Rare Isaac Newton Manuscript highlighting his controversial theological views, which were kept hidden for hundreds of years

    NEWTON, Isaac.

    Isaac Newton Original Manuscript.

    Rare full page folio autograph manuscript entirely in the hand of Isaac Newton, father of physics and modern science and author of important texts such as the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Opticks, and many more. One folio page with Newton’s handwriting and emendations on both the recto and verso. While Newton is mostly known for his scientific and mathematical pursuits and is considered to be one of the most influential scientists of all time, his controversial theological views, which were kept hidden for centuries, were as brilliant as his science and an extension of his search for truth. Many believe theology was actually his first love, as he wrote more about religion than he did about science. Of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he stated, “When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beliefe of a Deity and nothing can rejoyce me more than to find it useful for that purpose”. He wrote in the Principa, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. . . . This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all. . . . The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.” While he believed in a supreme God, early in his career at Trinity College, his theological research of original texts led him to believe that authentic Christianity had been corrupted by the early church fathers and that the brand of religion that was now accepted as orthodox by the Roman Catholic Church, and to some extent by the Church of England, was not completely true. He discovered that the final phrases of 1 John 5:7  ‘and these three are one’ was not present in any Greek version that he studied and came to the conclusion that it was a deliberate addition to the text to provide justification for the doctrine of the Trinity. He concluded that the orthodox notion of the Trinity was a fictional story that was invented in the early fourth century. This document is very important, as its contents deal with these controversial issues. Written in English and some Latin, he writes concerning an Epistle of Emperor Constantine regarding the Arian debate and the Council of Nicea, which laid out the famous doctrinal statement, the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was adopted to resolve the Arian controversy. The Arian leader, Arius, a clergyman of Alexandria, “objected to Alexander’s (the bishop of the time) apparent carelessness in blurring the distinction of nature between the Father and the Son by his emphasis on eternal generation”. In reply, Alexander accused Arius of denying the divinity of the Son and also of being too “Jewish” and “Greek” in his thought. Alexander and his supporters created the Nicene Creed to clarify the key tenets of the Christian faith in response to the widespread adoption of Arius’ doctrine, which was henceforth marked as heresy. Because of these views, Newton’s theological writings, were marked “Not fit to be printed”. They were placed in storage and were not made available to the public until the economist John Maynard Keynes and Jewish scholar and businessman, Abraham Yahuda, acquired many of them in 1936. There are very few of these original writings left in private hands, as the majority of the manuscripts are in the permanent collections of the Cambridge University Library, Kings College Library (a gift of John Maynard Keynes), Jewish National and University Library (now National Library of Israel), the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the Foundation Martin Bodmer in Geneva, and the Grace K. Babson collection now housed in the Huntington Library in California. Matted and framed with both the recto and verso visible. The manuscript measures 11.75 inches by 7.5 inches. The entire piece measures 23.5 inches by 19.5 inches. A scarce piece of history; essential to the collector interested in both Newton’s scientific and theological endeavors.

     

     

     

    Price: $150,000.00     Item Number: 119750

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  • First edition of Alhazen's fundamental Book of Optics

    ALHAZEN (HASAN IBN AL-HAYTHAM),.

    Opticae Thesaurus Alhazeni Arabis. [Alhazen’s Book of Optics].

    Basel: Eusebius Episcopius , 1572.

    First edition of Alhazen’s fundamental work on optics and vision, which influenced Galileo and Kepler and paved the way for the modern science of physical optics. Folio, bound in full contemporary Basel vellum with central arabesques blind-stamped to the front and rear panels, titles stamped in black and five raised bands to the spine, woodcut printer’s device to the title page, woodcut initials, diagrams and full page illustration to the verso of the title page. Translated from Arabic into Latin by Gerard of Cremona. In very good condition. From the library of American physician Chester Tilton Stone with his bookplate to the pastedown. A superior example of this significant work, rare and desirable in contemporary vellum.

    Price: $142,000.00     Item Number: 90395

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  • "With love, Stephen": Extraordinarily rare presentation copy of Stephen Hawking's The Occurrences of Singularities in Cosmology; warmly inscribed by him

    HAWKING, Stephen.

    The Occurrences of Singularities in Cosmology.

    Extraordinarily rare presentation copy of one of Hawking’s most important papers, one of a very small number of his works that he signed before his worsening motor neuron disease made it impossible for him to sign. Octavo, four pages, signed by Stephen Hawking in the upper left corner, “With love, Stephen.” The occurrence of singularities in cosmology was the second paper Hawking published on the occurrences of singularities, or black holes, following the submission of his PhD thesis, Properties of Expanding Universes, in which he examined the implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe. In the final chapter of his thesis, Hawking concluded, “It is shown that a singularity is inevitable provided that certain very general conditions are satisfied.” This conclusion established the trajectory of his future work, as well as his style of combining popularizing flair with a willingness to challenge received wisdom. Hawking published the present paper in 1966 during his research fellowship at Gonville and Caius in addition to his extended essay Singularities and the geometry of space-time which would win the Adams Prize, one of the University of Cambridge’s most prestigious awards, and contained his assessment: “Undoubtedly, the most important results are the theorems in Chapter 5 on the occurrence of singularities. These seem to imply either that the General Theory of Relativity breaks down or that there could be particles whose histories did not exist before (or after) a certain time. The author’s own opinion is that the theory probably does break down but only when quantum gravitational effects become important.” In very good condition with light staining to the lower portion of the paper. From the personal collection of Stephen Hawking.

    Price: $95,000.00     Item Number: 119730

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  • First Octavo Edition of the The Birds of America from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories; In the Rare Original Publisher's Morocco

    AUDUBON, John James.

    The Birds of America from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.

    New York: Published by J.J. Audubon, 1840.

    First octavo edition of this landmark work. Octavo, bound in original publisher’s morocco, 7 volumes, gilt titles and ruling to the spine, marbled endpapers, complete with 500 hand-colored lithographed plates by J.T. Bowen after J.J. Audubon; woodcuts in the text. From the library of Boston businessman and Ambassador T. Jefferson Coolidge, with his bookplate to the front pastedown. Coolidge was born to a prominent Boston Brahmin family and was a great-grandson of the 3rd United States President Thomas Jefferson, through his maternal grandparents, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. and Martha Jefferson Randolph. His uncles were Thomas Jefferson Randolph, George Wythe Randolph, Andrew Jackson Donelson, and a relative of Calvin Coolidge. He was an uncle to Archibald Cary Coolidge through his older brother, Joseph Randolph Coolidge. He was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Ambassador to France on May 12, 1892, a role his great-grandfather had held from May 1785 to September 1789. Coolidge presented his credentials on June 10, 1892 and he presented his recall on May 4, 1893, terminating his mission. In 1898 and 1899, he was a member of the American delegation to the commission to resolve the Alaska boundary dispute. Historian Ernest May says Coolidge was, “a prototype member of what today we call the foreign policy establishment.” In 1898, Coolidge donated a collection of Thomas Jefferson’s personal papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The collection contained more than 8,000 items: Correspondence, including 3,280 letters that Jefferson had written and 4,630 letters that he had received; Jefferson’s garden book (1766-1824) and farm book (1774-1824); annotated almanacs from 1771-1776; account books for 1783-1790; manuscript expense accounts from 1804-1825; notes on the weather spanning the years 1782-1826; plans of American forts in 1765; law treatises, 1778-1788; legal papers, 1770-1772; and Jefferson’s 1783 catalog of his personal library. In near fine condition. An exceptional set with noted provenance, rare in the original publisher’s morocco.

    Price: $75,000.00     Item Number: 111832

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  • “AMERICA’S FIRST GREAT SCIENTIFIC CONTRIBUTION”: Rare First Complete Edition of Franklin's Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America

    FRANKLIN, Benjamin.

    Experiments and Observations on Electricity made at Philadelphia in America… To which are added, Letters and Papers on Philosophical Subjects. The Whole corrected, methodized, improved, and now first collected into one Volume, and Illustrated with Copper Plates.

    London: Printed for David Henry and sold by Francis Newbery, 1769.

    First complete edition of “the most important scientific book of 18th-century America” and “America’s first great scientific contribution” (PMM). Octavo, bound in contemporary half calf over marbled boards, morocco spine label. Advertisement & errata leaf inserted following preface. Illustrated with 7 copper-engraved plates, 2 of which are folding. In very good condition. First editions are rare, exceptionally so in a contemporary binding.

    Price: $40,000.00     Item Number: 116750

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  • Rare First Edition of Mathematical Collections and Translations, which includes the first translation in English of Galileo's System of the World" (Dialogo)

    GALILEI, Galileo; Salusbury.

    Mathematical Collections and Translations.

    London: William Leybourn, 1661.

    First edition of Thomas Salusbury’s Mathematical Collections and Translations. Salusbury compiled and translated important writings by Archimedes, Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, Tartaglia, Torricelli into English for the first time, greatly influencing the English-speaking world. This volume contains the first English translation of Galileo’s 1632 The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo). Also  included is Galileo’s 1615 letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, published in 1636 as Nov-antiqua sanctissimorum patrum et probatorum theologorum doctrina, which asserted the independence of science from religious authority. This short but important Epistle to the Grand Dutchesse Mother concerning the Authority of Holy Scripture in Philosophical Controversies (known today as the Letter to Christina), was only the second work of Galileo’s to be published in England. It preceded the Latin edition, published in London by Thomas Dicas, by two years and remained the only vernacular translation for two centuries. Apart from the two works by Galileo, Salusbury included other translations from Italian and Latin in this volume of his Collections, such as Johannes Kepler’s and Didacus a Stunica’s “Reconcilings of Scripture Texts,” and Foscarinus’ Epistle to Father Fantonus reconciling the Authority of Scripture. Folio, bound in full calf, with 4 engraved plates. Lacking the half-title, contents leaf, fly-title to The System of the World, and the errata leaf found at the end of the first part in some copies. 2 parts in one volume. In very good condition with the contents showing some light browning in the upper margins. First editions are exceptionally rare.

     

     

    Price: $38,000.00     Item Number: 73025

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  • "The first atlas of the new world": First complete edition in Italian of Ptolemy's La Geographia, the earliest and most comprehensive small-format world atlas published

    PTOLEMY, Claudius.

    Le Geographia di Claudio Ptolemeo Alessandrino, Con alcuni comenti & aggiunte fattevi da Sebastiano munstero, Con le tavole non solamente antiche & moderne solite di staparsi.

    Venice: G. B. Pedrezano, 1547.

    First complete edition in Italian of Ptolemy’s “first atlas of the new world” (Nordenskiöld) and the most detailed and comprehensive world atlas published prior to Ortelius’s Theatrum in 1570. Small octavo, bound in full vellum with gilt morocco spine label, all edges speckled red, woodcut border to the title page, woodcut initials and illustrations throughout the text including a portrait of an astronomer and 60 double-page engraved maps designed by Giacomo Gastaldi. The majority of the 34 maps of the modern world are entirely new first appearances, including 7 maps of the Americas. Among the maps of the Americas is the Nueva Hispania tabula nova which shows the Mississippi and Florida area and is the first separate printed map of the region. Also included is the landmark Tierra Nueva map of the North American coast from Florida to Labrador. In fine condition. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. An exceptional example of this landmark work.

    Price: $35,000.00     Item Number: 95367

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  • "Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these": Exquisite first edition large paper set of Loddiges' Botanical Cabinet; containing 2000 numbered hand-colored botanical plates by George Cooke

    LODDIGES, George. Plates by George Cook.

    The Botanical Cabinet Consisting of Coloured Delineations of Plants, from all Countries.

    London: John & Arthur Arch; Hackney: Conrad Loddiges & Sons, et al, 1818–1833.

    Rare first edition, large paper issue set of Loddiges’ renowned Botanical Cabinet with 2000 numbered hand-colored plates by George Cooke. Octavos, 20 volumes bound in three quarters morocco over marbled boards with elaborate gilt tooling to the spine in six compartments within raised gilt bands, red morocco spine labels lettered in gilt, all edges marbled. Illustrated with 2000 numbered hand-colored botanical plates by George Cooke. In near fine condition. Armorial bookplates. An exceptional collection, most rare and desirable in a complete set.

    Price: $32,500.00     Item Number: 109061

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  • "Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value, elly judgments of all kinds remain necessary": First Edition of Albert Einstein’s The Evolution of Physics; Inscribed by Him to Dr. Leonard Rowntree

    EINSTEIN, Albert & Infeld.

    The Evolution of Physics: The Growth of Ideas from Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta.

    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1938.

    First edition of this classic work, which traces the development of ideas in physics. Octavo, original blue cloth. Association copy, inscribed by Albert Einstein on the front free endpaper, “To Dr. Rowntree with kindest regards A. Einstein 1941.” The recipient, Dr. Leonard Rowntree  is most well known for pioneering kidney research including the Rowntree test for kidney function; dialysis; the intravenous pyelogram and plasmapheresis. He joined Dr. John J. Abel at Johns Hopkins University in 1907, and in 1912 they developed the first artificial kidney, in the form of the dialysis machine. Rowntree would later move to the Mayo Clinic and is widely credited with creating the research tradition there. In 1946, President Harry Truman awarded Rowntree the Medal for Merit for his work as chief of the medical division of the Selective Service System from 1940 to 1945. Near fine in a very good price-clipped dust jacket. An exceptional association.

    Price: $30,000.00     Item Number: 116740

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  • "The Greatest Story Ever Told": First Edition of The Double Helix; Signed by James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins

    WATSON, James D.; (Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins).

    The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA.

    New York: Atheneum, 1968.

    First edition of Watson’s ground breaking work regarding the discovery of DNA for which the author, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1962. Signed by all three laureates on the title page, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. Octavo, original blue cloth, with numerous diagrams and photographic illustrations. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Jeanyee Wong. Foreword by Sir Lawrence Bragg. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. We have never seen another example signed by all three contributors; exceptionally rare.

    Price: $28,500.00     Item Number: 96790

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