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    Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica

    Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica

    Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia made a world record for a world record for a printed scientific book when it sold for $3,719,500 at Christie’s in New York on December 14. It had been estimated at $1-1.5 million.  One of the most important books in the history of science Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727, knighted 1705) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica  was described by Einstein as  “perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make”.

    This was a First edition, Continental issue bound in full inlaid morocco for presentation by the publisher/bookseller Samuel Smith. Two apparently concurrent issues can be distinguished, identified by their title in uncancelled or cancelled state. One was distributed by Edmond Halley and Newton themselves through a number of unnamed booksellers, the other was largely turned over to Samuel Smith for distribution on the Continent (as here). This Continental issue is considerably rarer.

    The fine books and manuscripts sale totaled $9,433,063, with 82% sold by lot and 91% sold by value.  This was the highest total for a various owner sale of Books & Manuscripts at Christie’s. There was active in-room, phone, and online participation from institutions, established collectors, and new buyers with registered bidders from over 25 countries.

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