Excessively rare early treatise about electricity, 1776

Louis Sébastien JACQUET DE MALZET: LETTRE D’UN ABBÉ DE VIENNE À UN DE SES AMIS DE PRESBOURG SUR L’ELECTROPHORE PERPETUEL. And: [German translation with explanatory notes]. Vienna: 1776.

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J. ** [i.e. Louis Sébastien JACQUET DE MALZET]: LETTRE D'UN ABBÉ DE VIENNE À UN DE SES AMIS DE PRESBOURG SUR L'ELECTROPHORE PERPETUEL. [LETTER BY A CLERGYMAN FROM VIENNA TO ONE OF HIS FRIENDS IN PRESSBURG ABOUT THE PERPETUAL ELECTROPHORUS]. And: Schreiben eines Geistlichen zu Wien an einen seiner Freunde zu Preßburg von dem immerwährenden Elektrophore, übersetzt von A.[nton] H.[iltebrandt] mit Anmerkungen. [German translation with explanatory notes]. Vienna: Johann Joseph Hahn 1776.

8vo. 16 pages; 19 [1] pages. Contemporary cardboards covered with marbled paste paper.

First edition of this very early description of the Electrophorus, a pathbreaking electrostatic machine popularised only a few month ahead by Italian physicist and chemist Alessandro Volta, a pioneer of electricity.

The author of present pamphlet written in form of an anonymous letter, French clergymen and librarian to Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Louis Sébastien Jacquet de Malzet (1715-1800), also was a scholar in natural sciences and particularly interested in electricity. In 1775 he already had published his »Précis de l'électricité ou extrait expérimental et théorétique des phénomènes électriques«. Present account, also published in Vienna only a few month later, summarises recent inventions and findings related to the topic.

Bound in is the 1st German translation of Jacquet's treatise, substantially enlarged with explanatory notes probably by the author himself and published simultaneously with the French original to reach French speaking nobility and German environment alike. Translated by Anton Hiltenbrandt, a fellow professor of Jacquet's at the Vienna Military Academy »Theresianum«, this is apparently the 1st German language publication about Volta's invention.

Cover wormy at inner joints, sheets for French version slightly cut at margins to fit the binding, no text loss however; otherwise fine copy of this excessively rare item indeed.

OCLC/WorldCat, KVK and viaLibri Librairies quote 3 copies only of the French original in global institutional holdings, at UB Basel, UB Erfurt and the library of the Hungarian Academy of Science, Budapest. No copy at all from the German version is stated. ABPC (1972ff.), Jahrbuch der Bücherpreise (1906-38), Jahrbuch der Auktionspreise (1950ff.) and Auktionspreise online (ca. 1988ff.), as well as Drouot (2014ff.) show no auction results whatsoever for neither of the editions.

Ronalds, Catalogue of books and papers relating to electricity, 245 (German ed.) and 257 (French ed.); not in VD18 and not mentioned by Gartrell; Wurzbach, vol. 10 (1863), S. 23 and vol. 9 (1863), p. 33 (Hiltenbrandt).

Additional information

Weight 1 kg