Book Id: 42190 Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines. Hauy.
Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines.
Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines.
Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines.
Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines.

Instruction sur les mesures. Bound with: Instuction abregee sur les mesures. Bound with Tables des rapports. Bound with: Vocabulaire des mesures republicaines.

Publisher Information: Paris: 1794-95.

[Haüy, René Just (1743-1822).] (1) Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre, uniformes pour toute la république, et sur les calculs relatifs à leur division décimale. xxxii, 224, [28] pp. Folding plate. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, An II [1793/94]. Bound with:

(2) Instruction abrégée sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre, uniformes pour toute la république . . . xiv, 147, [29]pp. 3 plates. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, An II [1793/94]. Bound with:

(3) Table de rapports entre les mesures républicaines et les mesures anciennes, le plus généralement employées en France . . . 16pp. Folding table. Paris: Imprimerie de la République, An III [1794/95]. Bound with:

(4) Vocabulaire des mesures républicaines, contenant l’indication de leurs valeurs et de leurs principaux usages . . . 7pp. Paris: Imprimerie de la République, An VI [1797/98].

Together 4 items in 1. 195 x 120 mm. Mottled calf gilt ca. 1798, a few areas of insect damage, small gouge in back cover. Folding plate inn (1) loose, table in (3) a bit frayed, but very good.

First Editions of the two works (nos. [1] and [2] above) that introduced the metric system to the world—one of the few permanent social reforms resulting from the French Revolution. In 1788 the French Academy of Sciences, at the suggestion of Talleyrand, proposed the establishment of a new universal decimal system of measurement founded upon some “natural and invariable base” to replace Europe’s diverse regional systems. This project was approved by the National Assembly in 1790 and a basic unit or “meter” of measurement proposed, which was to be a decimal unit one ten-millionth of the distance between the terrestrial pole and the Equator. In 1791 the French national assembly voted to replace the old French unit of length (toise) with this new unit. In the summer of 1792 Jean Baptiste Delambre and Pierre François André Méchain embarked from Paris to establish the definitive length of the meter by taking geodetic measurements along the Dunkink-Barcelona meridian. In August 1793, while Méchain and Delambre were still carrying out their task, the French National Assembly “affirmed the decimal system and the meridianal definition of the meter, ordered the continuation of the work, and decreed that the Academy provide for the manufacture, distribution, and explanation of provisional meters for general use while it prosecuted its measurements. This provisional meter was defined as a ten-millionth of ninety times the average degree in France as determined by Lacaille [in 1739-40] . . . It differed from the definitive meter by about a quarter of a millimeter” (Heilbron, pp. 227-228). The definitive meter, as determined by Méchain and Delambre, would not be announced until the publication of Delambre’s Base du système métrique decimal (1806-10).

The new metric system was set forth in two works issued in Year Two of the Republic (1793/94) by the government’s Temporary Commission on Republican Weights and Measures. The first was Instruction sur les mesures, which emphasized mathematics and theory; the second was an abridged version containing a shorter and simpler presentation of the system. On p. xxxii of Instruction sur les mesures the commission announced that these two versions would be followed by a third, which “will only present a précis of the system, and which will be printed partly in octavo format for distribution, and partly as a broadside to be displayed in public places for viewing by all citizens.” We have not been able to find a record of this third version. Both Instruction sur les mesures and its abridged version were also issued by several other French publishers throughout the country; these provincial editions, of which we have never seen a definitive listing, are often confused with the true first edition. The unnamed author was French crystallographer René Just Haüy, a member of the Temporary Commission.

These two works are bound with two pamphlets on the metric system issued shortly afterwards: A table for converting the old French measures into republican ones; and a list of the new metric terms with definitions and descriptions of their use. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 113 (no. [1], citing a copy published in Macon in 1794). Heilbron, “The measure of enlightenment,” in Frängsmyr, Heilbron and Rider, eds., The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century (1990), pp. 207-242.

Book Id: 42190

Price: $2,250.00

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