PMM 393

Becquerel, H.

Recherches sur une propriété nouvelle de la matière, activité radiante spontanée ou radioactive de la matière.

Published 1903
Item ID 76351

excl. VAT

Paris, Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France, 1903. Large 4to (28.4 x 22.5 cm). Half title, title page, 360, [i] pp.; 13 plates. Original printed wrappers. Protective transparent sleeve.

Henri Becquerel's definitive work on the "researches into a new property of matter or radioactivity in matter". The discovery of X-rays stimulated interest in a group of elements known to emit certain types of phosphorescence or rays of energy spontaneously. "In 1896, Antoine Henri Becquerel, a French physicist, found that metallic uranium darkens photographic plates and concluded that uranium emits radiation similar to X rays, As a result of his experiments, summarized in Recherches sur une propriété nouvelle de la matière (1903), Becquerel discovered the principle of radioactivity... In that year he shared the Nobel-Prize for physics with the Curies" (Sparrow). A chronological bibliography of 214 papers on radioactivity is contained at the end of the volume. Published as the society's entire Mémoires Volume 46. According to another antiquarian book dealer: "Two versions were published by Firmin Didot in 1903, the first bound in blue paper-covered boards as part of the series Mémoires de l'Academie des Sciences de l'Institut de France, the second a separate edition in cloth. Both are uncommon, with WorldCat reporting on seven institutional copies, but particularly so the journal issue in the original boards." However, this copy appears to be of a third variety, best described as an offprint or, perhaps, preprint, as it comes in original printed wrappers without a printed volume number. Instead, the number is added in pencil after the printed word "Volume", both on the front wrapper and spine. On the wrapper, the publisher is stated to be Gauthier-Villars, not Firmin-Didot. On the title page, however, Firmin-Didot is listed as publisher. Uncut, therefore fore-edge a bit uneven; some light soiling to the wrappers; spine cover partly split, otherwise a very good, clean copy, as issued. Dibner, 163; DSB 1, pp. 560-561; PMM 393; Sparrow, p. 46.

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