The sammelband on electricity:
1. Lomonosov, Mikhail. Oratio de Meteroris vi Electrica Ortis [i.e. Discourse on Atmospheric Phenomena Originating from Electrical Force]. St, Petersburg: Academy of Science typography, . , 68 pp., 3 pl. 21x17 cm. In modern period styled half leather. The original endpapers of the sammelband preserved. Some foxing but generally a very good copy.
The most significant edition in this collection is Mikhail Lomonosov’s groundbreaking work that was published in latin in 1753 and translated to Russian only in 1780s. This edition is very rare with two paper copies in the US libraries (Cornell and Harvard). Complete with 22 figures on 3 folding leaves.
Nowdays this work is considered one of the most important works written by the scientist. Lomonosov presents an original theory of generation of electricity in the air and lightning, many elements of which are profoundly correct even by present day understanding of the phenomenon.
The basis of the Lomonosov theory is the idea of vertical air movements as the main cause of atmospheric electricity - the immersion of the cold upper strata of the atmosphere into the lower (warmer) layers causes mechanical friction of miniscule particles in the air against each other, that results in generation of atmospheric electricity. He also suggested that the phenomenon of Northern Lights as well as comet tails are the electrical phenomenons.
The story of the creation of this book is quite dramatic. Originally Lomonosov was studying the electricity alongside with physicist Georg Richmann (1711-1753). They were inspired by Franklin’s kite experiment and the recent developments in research on electricity. Richmann set an apparatus at his home, an ‘electrometer’, that consisted of the metal pole erected on the roof, going to his cabinet, attached to the metal scale with quadrant. Richman was experimenting his apparatus consistently, once even demonstrating electrical experiences to Empress Anna.
On the 6th of August, 1753 during the thunderstorm Richman was standing in his cabinet taking notes accompanied by the engraver Ivan Sokolov (1717-1757). Richman was standing 30 meters from the pole and got hit by a ball lightning and died immediately. Sokolov was knocked down and lost conscience, but survived and created the engraving ‘The tragic death of Richman’. Lomonosov soon commented that Richman has died the noble death - performing the experiment.
However Richman’s death caused a certain mistrust towards the science in Russia and the studies of electricity were forbidden for some time. Lomonosov still presented his speech, but these were the reasons why it wasn’t translated into Russian or printed in larger number of copies. Some books by Lomonosov were produced in 1000-2000 copies, but not this one.
2. Schäffer, Johann Gottlieb. Die electrische Medicin, oder, Die Kraft und Wirkung der Electricität in dem menschlichen Körper und dessen Krankheiten besonders bey gelähmten
Gliedern [i.e. The Electrical Medicine, or The Force and Effect of Electricity in the Human Body and Its Diseases Especially Paralyzed Limbs]. Regensburg: Verlegts Johann Leopold Montag, 1766. , 84 pp., 1 front.
The textbook ‘Electrical Medicine’ was written by doctor Johann Gottlieb Schäffer (1720-1795). He summarized all the knowledge on treating people with electricity. He suggests that muscle acts as a nerve, so the electrotherapy can be used in some cases. Schäffer claimed that he managed to treat a paralysed limb using electrical therapy, it took him a week to get back the sensation in paralysed arm of the patient. He also makes the claim that electrified water could act as a cure. Three copies in USA according to the Worldcat.
3. Schmidt, Georg Christoph. Beschreibung einer Elektrisir-Maschine und deren Gebrauch [i.e. Description of an Electrifying Machine and Its Use]. Jena, 1773. 32 pp. 2 folding
leaves. Worldcat locates this edition in four US libraries.
4. Steiglehner, Cölestin. Observationes Phaenomenorvm Electricorvm In Hohen-Gebrachin Et Prifling Prope Ratisbonam Factae Et Expositae [i.e. The Observations of Electrical
Phenomena in Hohen-Gebrachin and Prifling, Close to Regensburg]. Ratisbon, 1777. 55 pp., 1 folding table.
The book is written by Coelestin II. Steiglehner (1738-1819), the professor of physics in University of Ingolstadt, also a Benedictine monk. In this work he gives the overview on electricity till his day, Benjamin Franklin is mentioned once.