Base du système métrique décimal, ou mesure de l'arc du méridien compris entre les parallèles de Dunkerque et Barcelone, executée en 1792 et années suivantes.
Item ID 68150
Paris, Baudouin & Garnery, 1806-1810. Three volumes in three. Large 4to (27.0 x 21.0 cm). 2,190 pp., 28 large, folded, engraved plates. Uniform blue marbled boards. The very rare original publication on the measurement of the meter and its introduction as an international standard of length. "In 1790 the Académie des Sciences, at the request of Talleyrand, set up a commission to consider the question [of an international metric system]; among its members were J. C. Borda, Lagrange, Laplace, G. Monge, and Condorcet. In 1791 they reported that the fundamental unit of length should be derived from a dimension of the earth: it should be the ten-millionth part of a quadrant of the earth's meridian extending between Dunkirk and Barcelona. As this distance was already approximately known, a provisional metre was at once adopted...The astronomers Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre [1749-1822] and Pierre François André Mechain (1744-1805) were charged with the task of measuring accurately the newly adopted length along the meridian arc between Dunkirk and Barcelona. Owing to the disturbances of the revolutionary period their work was much impeded, but in 1799 their measurement was complete" (PMM, p. 157). This work "embodies their report" (PMM). Today, the metric system is used in all but a few countries, the most notable exceptions being Myanmar and the United States of America. A total breakdown of pages and plates is as follows: I (1806): ii, 551 pp., 8 plates; II (1807) xxiv, 844 pp., 11 plates; III (1810) 707, 62 pp., 9 plates. Uncut. With the widest possible margins. Boards rubbed, mostly at the edges. A very good, uncut, clean and complete set. Norman, 1481; PMM 260.