London: T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1801. Large Folio. 4 pp. and 12 double-page printed leaves (720 x 1040 mm), mounted onto guards. First English edition. Calf-backed marbled boards; some light marginal spotting, small tear on first two leaves repaired, text unaffected, small stamp (discarded) from the Academy of Natural Sciences on title. Overall in excellent condition. Item #13898
First English edition of this scarce and handsome set of Fourcroy’s chemistry tables. The present work was translated by William Nicholson from the original French (Tableaux Synoptiques de Chimie, 1800), the first set of chemical synoptic tables ever published. The author intended for it to accompany his collected lectures and chief work, Systême des connaissances chimiques (1800), which Ferguson considers “the best account of the state of the science at the time.” While the extensive Systême des connaissances chimiques was written for the advanced scholar, Fourcroy felt the succinct large-format tables would summarize and clearly demonstrate the basic principles and relationships of chemistry for all students. They were originally created as teaching aids to be split up and posted on the wall of a laboratory or classroom, which likely contributed to the current rarity of complete sets.
Fourcroy (1755-1809), noted French chemist and professor at the Jardin des Plantes, École Polytechnique, and the École de Médicine, was a dedicated teacher whose celebrated lectures were renowned for their completeness, clarity, and brilliant delivery. He joined with Lavoisier, Guyton de Morveau, and Berthollet in revising chemical nomenclature, which is reflected in this work.
Nicholson (1753-1815), an English chemist, was a follower of Fourcroy’s antiphlogistic theory, and translated many of his works into English including Élemens d’Histoire naturelle et de Chimie (1782), Essai sur le Phlogistique (1788), and later Systême des connaissances chimiques (1804).