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A Treatise on the Reflexion and Refraction of Light, being Part I... [and] A Treatise on the Eye and on Optical Instruments, being Part II. of A System of Optics

by Coddington, Henry

  • Hardback £195.00
  • Used Book Availability : In stock
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  • Catalogue No : 30470
  • Published : 1829-1830
  • Cover : Hardback
  • Pages : xx, 296; xii, 72
  • Publisher : J. Smith
  • Published In : Cambridge
  • Illustrations : 15 folding plates


First edition. Rare. Complete in two volumes. 15 folding plates, numbered I-XIII + 2 unnumbered.

Henry Coddington (1798/9-1845) was a natural philosopher, Cambridge mathematician and classicist. His scientific works were almost solely devoted to optics. An Elementary Treatise on Optics (1823; 2nd edn, 1825) was based on Whewell's lectures and displayed the prevailing Cambridge interest in ‘geometrical’ optics, de-emphasizing ‘physical’ questions about the nature of light itself. The book nevertheless hinted at an early acceptance of the new wave theory of light at Cambridge.

The present work, A System of Optics, was published in two parts. The first part, A Treatise on the Reflexion and Refraction of Light (1829), contained a very complete investigation of the paths of reflected and refracted rays, while in the second, A Treatise on the Eye and on Optical Instruments (1830), were explained the theory and construction of the various kinds of telescope and microscope. His texts became standard material for Cambridge undergraduate studies. In March 1830 he read a paper on the improvement of the microscope before the Cambridge Philosophical Society; his strong recommendation of the grooved sphere lens - to view the anterior ocular tissue, particularly that of the cornea - brought it into general use under the designation of the ‘Coddington lens’.

Coddington was elected fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1829 and was in the first published list of members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1832. He was a founding member of the Royal Astronomical Society and was a fellow of the Geological and Cambridge Philosophical societies. (ODNB)


2 vols, 8vo, orig. cloth-backed printers boards, spines rather worn with some loss, joints cracked. Pt I: boards becoming detached, stain to top margin of pp 1-38; Pt II: front board and fly-leaf detached; corner torn from top of fly-leaf. From an institutional library with book plates only.

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