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GILBERT, William.

(1544 – 1603)

(Born: Colchester, England, 1544 not 1540; Died: London, England?, 30 November 1603) English physicist & natural philosopher..

Gilbert was born the son of a well-to-do town official . He attended St. John College, Cambridge, from 1558 to 1570 (B.A., 1561, M.A., 1564, M.D., 1569). While attending Cambridge he became a Junior Fellow of St. Johns in 1561. He was the mathematics examiner in the college, 1565-6 and bursar, 1569-70. He became a Senior Fellow in 1569. Although no one knows, it seems likely that Gilbert devoted the decade after his graduation to the study of magnetism. During this period he was supported through inheritances. In late 1507 he established a successful medical practice, becoming one of London's most prominent physicians. From 1600 to 1603, he was one of the personal physicians to Elizabeth I, for which he received a stipend of $100 from the Royal Treasury. Before Gilbert's death he was also physician to James I.

Biographical references: Dibner, Bern., Doctor William Gilbert, New York, 1947. DNB: 7, 1217. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Kelly, S., The De mundo of William Gilbert. Amsterdam, 1965. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Poggendorff: 1, col. 895 & 1569. Roller, The De Magnete of William Gilbert, 1959. Singer, C., "Dr. William Gilbert", Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service, Oct., 1916. Suter, R., "A Biographical Sketch of Dr. William Gilbert of Colchester", Osiris, 10, (1952), 368-84. Thompson, S.P., Gilbert of Colchester; an Elizabethan Magnetizer. London, 1891.

De Magnete, 1600

1. Latin, 1600 [First edition].
Gvilielmi Gil | Berti Colcestren- | Sis, Medici Londi- | Nensis, | De Magnete, Magneti- | cisqve Corporibvs, Et De Mag- | no magnete tellure; Physiologia noua, | plurimis & argumentis, & expe- | rimentis demonstrata. | [ornament] | Londini | [rule] | Excvdebat Petrvs Short Anno | MDC. | [rule].

2°: [16], 240 p. Woodcut printer's device on title, Gilbert's woodcut coat of arms on verso, numerous woodcut diagrams & illus. in the text, & one folding woodcut plate.

Rare. The first major English scientific treatise based on experimental methods of research and the foundation work of magnetism and electrical science. Gilbert uses here for the first time the terms "electricity," "electric force," and "electric attraction."

Book I "deals with the history of magnetism from the earliest legends about the lodestone to the facts and theories known to Gilbert's contemporaries...In the last chapter of book I, Gilbert introduced his new basic idea which was to explain all terrestrial magnetic phenomena: his postulate that the earth is a giant lodestone and thus had magnetic properties...The remaining five books of the De magnete are concerned with the five magnetic movements: coition, direction, variation, declination, and revolution. Before he began his discussion of coition, however, Gilbert carefully distinguished the attraction due to the amber effect from that caused by the lodestone. This section, chapter 2 of book II, established the study of the amber effect as a discipline separate from that of magnetic phenomena, introduced the vocabulary of electrics, and is the basis for Gilbert's place in the history of electricity."-D.S.B.

Bibliographical references: Dibner, Heralds of Science, 1955: no. 54. DSB: 5, 397. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 210. Honeyman Sale: 4, no. 1498. Hoover Collection: no. 352. Horblit: no. 41 [title page reproduced]. Norman Catalog: 1, 905. PPM: Printing and the Mind of Man: no. 107. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 460. STC: 11883. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 2830. Wheeler Catalogue: 72.

Physiologia Nova de Magnete, 1628

2. Latin, 1628 [2nd edition].
[Engraved title page, with the text contained within an elaborate border:] Tractatvs | Siue | Physiologia Nova | De Magnete, | Magneticisqve Corpo= | Ribvs Et Magno Magnete | tellure Sex libris comprehensus | â | Guilielmo Gilberto Colcestrensi, | Medico Londinensi. | In quibus ea, quæ ad hanc materiam spectant pluri= | mis & argumentis ac experimentis exactissimé | absolutissimeq{3} tractantur et explicantur. | Omni nunc diligenter recognita & emen= | datius quam ante in lucem edita, aucta & figu= | ris illustrata operâ & studio | Wolfgangi Lochmans / I.U.D. | & Mathemat: | Ad calcem libri adjunctus est Index Capi= | tum Rerum et Verborum locupeletissimus | Excvsvs Sedini | Typis Götziams Sumptibus | Ioh: Hallervordij. | Anno M. DC. XXVIII.

8°: [19], 232, [33] p., engraved title page, 12 plates, illus.

Very rare. Second edition, considerably rarer than the first, and containing a number of plates entirely different to the London edition.

Bibliographical references: Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 460. Roller, The De Magnete of William Gilbert, 1959: p. 174-5.

3. Latin, 1633 [3rd edition].
Tractatus, sive Physiologia Nova De Magnete, Magneticisq; corporibus & magno Magnete tellure, sex libris comprehensus, a Guilielmo Gilberto Colcestrensi, Medico Londinensi. In quibus ea, que ad hanc materiam spectant, plurimis & Argumentis & experimentis exactibussime absolutissimeque tractantur & explicantur. Omnia nunc diligenter recognita, & emendatius quam ante in lucem edita, aucta figuris illustrata, opera & studio D. Wolfgangi Lochmans, I. U. D. Ad calcem libri adiunctus est Index capitum, Rerum & Verborum locupletissimus, qui inpriore editione desiderabatur. Sedini, Typis Gotzianis, 1633.

4°: ...4, A-Z4 (illustrations inserted between T3 & T4, X4 & Y1, Z2 & Z3, Z3 & Z4, Z4 & Aa1), Aa-Mm4 (illustrations inserted between Aa4 & Bb1, Bb1 & Bb2, Bb3 & Bb4, Cc2 & Cc3, Cc3 & Cc4, Cc4 & Dd1, Dd1 & Dd2). [20], 232, [36] p. 2 folding plates, 12 text woodcuts. There are over 90 engravings illustrating this text. Page size: 7 x 9 in. Rare.

Bibliographical references: Honeyman Sale: 4, 1498. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 460. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 2831. Wheeler Catalogue: no. 72a.