Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica auctions for $18,300

Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, one of the key works in the history of science, has sold at a books and manuscripts auction.

The rare 18th century third edition, published in London in 1726, sold for $18,300 at the August 8 sale in the US, well within its $15,000 and $25,000 estimate. Despite it being only a third edition, the book's strong performance is confirmation that Newton, and his Principia Mathematica, are much-revered by collectors.

Isaac Newton Principia Mathematica
This third edition performed well, such is Newton's popularity at auction

It was in Newton's Principia Mathematica, originally published in 1687, that he first documented theories that today form the foundation of classical mechanics. The book features Newton's laws of motion, his law of universal gravitation, as well as a derivation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

The consigners received the book as a wedding gift from Bern Dibner, founder of the US-based Burndy Engineering Company. The work was formerly part of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, the remainder of which has now been donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

Bound in the folio format in full contemporary calf, the book boasted a gilt-lettered red leather spine label.

Despite the third edition's good showing, buyers should not forget the importance of first editions when purchasing for future gains - a first edition of the Principia Mathematica made $194,500 at Christie's in 2008, achieving an 8% increase on its high estimate of $180,000. Newton collectibles of all types are a huge draw for collectors.

We are currently able to offer this superb item from another great scientific pioneer - Thomas Edison.

The auction also featured a rare print from James John Audubon's Birds of America.


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