London: Jacob Ilive, 1746.
First edition. Illustrations. [i-ii], 158,  pp. 8vo (8-1/2 x 4-1/4 inches). Rare Presentation Copy. Contemporary marbled boards rebacked with 19th-century ribbed cloth, preserving original red morocco spine label, extremities scuffed and rounded. Houseau-L. 650; Lalande 429 (“C’est le commencement des savantes recherches de l’auteur, qui ont produit son Histoire de l’astronomie en 1769”). Item #254925
George Costard (1710-1782) was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, where he became fellow and tutor. One of the earliest writers on the history of astronomy, his “Letter to Martin Folkes” was the first fruit of the research which eventually led to the publication in 1769 of his magnum opus on the history of astornomy. It was Costard’s contention that accurate astronomy was a product of Greek genius, beginning with Thales, and owed little to either Egypt or Babylon. The present work is still worth consulting for the frequent references to and citations from the lesser-known Greek authors, as well as Hebrew and Arabic sources.
The present copy has an interesting and varied provenance: in 1746 it was presented by the author (“Donum Auctoris“) to Jacob Edgcumbe [sic] of Exeter College — possibly a scion of the Devon/Cornwall family headed by the Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe. In 1778 the book was bought for 2 shillings by the Rev. Philip Wren (1755-1829), of University College, Oxford, and the great grandson of Sir Christopher Wren. By the late 19th century, the book was owned by the marine engineer George Sloggett of Cardiff, Wales.
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