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  • Newton's 'Principia' first edition to make $567,000 at Sotheby's?
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • 'Principia'editionfirstNewton's

Newton's 'Principia' first edition to make $567,000 at Sotheby's?

A first printing, first edition of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica will auction at Sotheby's on November 27.  

The pioneering 1687 work is expected to achieve up to £350,000 ($566,766) when it appears at the Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts sale in London.

Newton Principia first edition
Fewer than 300 first editions of Newton's Principia are thought to exist

In the Principia, Newton revealed his ideas on the workings of the universe, views that provided the bedrock of our understanding until the 20th century.  

Dr David Goldthorpe, from Sotheby's books and manuscripts department, explained the importance of the book to collectors.

"Through its legacy, the book has probably done more to shape the modern world than any other ever published," he said. 

"Even Einstein, whose theories of relativity eventually came to revise those of Newton's, declared that the Principia was perhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make."

As well as its pioneering content, the scarcity of the book adds to its value.

Fewer than 300 first edition copies of Principia were printed, and a smaller number exist today.

Christie's sold a first edition, first printing copy for $194,500 in 2008.

Bach Goldberg variations
Bach’s Goldberg Variations leads a strong selection of musical manuscripts

We're anticipating the present lot, which has the added attraction of being bound in its original vellum, to sell well, especially considering the current appetite for important early scientific works.

A first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus' 16th century De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which radically placed the Sun as opposed to the Earth at the centre of the solar system, auctioned for £662,500 ($1m) earlier this week. 

View our signed sketch of the solar system by US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh - the man who discovered Pluto.

Sotheby's auction will also feature a number of rare musical manuscripts, including a first edition of Bach's Goldberg Variations from 1741, which has a high estimate of £150,000 ($242,922).

  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • 'Principia'editionfirstNewton's