This historically significant book by Robert Hooke records his observations of plants and insects through various lenses and microscopes, and is particularly notable for being the first book to describe such observations. Published in January 1665, it was the first major publication of the Royal Society, and became a best-seller, sparking a wide public interest in the new science of microscopy. It is also notable for coining the biological term 'cell'.
Robert Hooke FRS (1635–1703) was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath, whose adult life comprised three distinct periods: first as a penniless scientific inquirer; secondly achieving great wealth and standing through his hard work and scrupulous honesty following the Great Fire of 1666, and finally illness and involvement in jealous intellectual disputes (which last may have contributed to his relative historical obscurity). At one time he was simultaneously 'curator of experiments' for the Royal Society, a member of its Council, Professor of Geometry at London's Gresham College, and Surveyor to the City of London after the Great Fire (in which capacity he seems to have performed more than half of all the surveys done after the fire). He was also an important architect – though few of his buildings now survive (some generally misattributed) – and helped to devise a set of planning controls for London whose influence remains today. He has been characterised as "England's Leonardo".
Our (facsimile) edition is 'used', but virtually as new - bound handsomely in dark red leather with impressed decorative border surrounding a triple-line gilt panel on front and back covers, with a lion rampant in an oval line border in the centre. The spine is divided by 5 raised bands into 6 sections, 4 with the same gilt lion and 2 coloured dark blue, with the title and author's name in gilt lettering. The exterior shows no signs of use or wear. All page edges are gilt (22 carat gold), and there are 'marbled' endpapers (probably representing a microscopic view of a specimen). There is a broad dark blue ribbon page marker, and several folded illustrations - the largest depicting a flea, described in the text as 'this small creature'. The interior is likewise unblemished. A very beautiful edition of a scientifically seminal text.