“Essay on the Cause of Chemical Proportions, and on some Circumstances Relating to them: together with a short and easy way of expressing them” in Annals of Philosophy, or Magazine of Chemistry, Mineralogy, Mechanics, Natural History, Agriculture and the Arts 3 (III), pp. 443–454, 1813 and 3 pp. 51–62, 93–106, 244–255, 353–364, 1814 WITH “Experiments on the Nature of Azote, of Hydrogen, and of Ammonia, and upon the Degrees of Oxidation of which Azote is susceptible” in Annals of Philosophy, or Magazine of Chemistry, Mineralogy, Mechanics, Natural History, Agriculture and the Arts 2 (II), pp. 276–284 and 357–368, 1813

London: C. Baldwin. 1st Edition. HANDSOMELY BOUND FIRST EDITIONS OF BERZELIUS’S DEVELOPMENT OF A SYSTEM OF SYMBOLS THAT FORMED THE BASIS OF THE MODERN LANGUAGE OF CHEMISTRY. Beginning in 1813 and with the paper “Essay on the Cause of Chemical Proportions”, Berzelius published his first essay on the proportions of elements in compounds. “The essay commenced with a general description, introduced his new symbolism, examined all the known elements, included a table of specific weights and finished with a selection of compounds written in his new formalisation” (Wikipedia).

“Following the precedent set by Linneaus, who assigned a definitive Latin name to every plant and animal, Berzelius adopted – or invented – Latin terms for the elements whenever possible. He took the first letter of this name (capitalised) as its atomic symbol, adding a distinguishing second letter (in lower case) for elements with the ‘Berzelius adopted– or invented – Latin terms for the elements’ Dalton’s list of atomic and molecular symbols same initial. To iron he gave the symbol Fe, from ferrum – the metal’s name in Latin. The Romans never knew metallic sodium, but they called common soda (sodium carbonate) natron, and from this Berzelius coined the name natrium for the element, giving its atom the symbol Na. Having organised the elements, he then tried to create a notation for compounds which revealed their chemical nature, as well as their constituent elements.

“This task proved more difficult, and Berzelius (and others) went on adjusting the system for years. At first he indicated the numbers of atoms with superscripts, so that sulfur dioxide was written SO2. Later, he tried denoting oxygen atoms by dots over the symbol of the oxidised element, representing sulfur dioxide as – though eventually, the numerical subscript version (SO2) became the standard form. At first, many chemists were not impressed by the Berzelian symbols – Dalton himself hated them. For some years even Berzelius did not use the symbols extensively in his publications, but by the mid-century they were generally accepted. Today, they still provide us with the tools for representing elements and compounds unknown to Berzelius and his contemporaries.

“Outside the laboratory, Berzelius’ life was relatively uneventful. He travelled widely in his later years, was honoured by foreign universities and learned societies, and continued to take an interest in research after his retirement in 1832. In 1835 he married Elizabeth Poppius (an old friend’s daughter), and received the title of Baron from the Swedish monarchy. He died in 1848, four decades after being elected to Sweden’s Royal Academy of Science in the eventful year of 1808” (Sutton, Chemistry World, Nov. 2008). Item #772

CONDITION & DETAILS: London: C. Baldwin. 4to. Volume II: [vii], 480 pages, [4]. 7 plates. Volume III: [viii], 480 pages, [4]. 5 plates. Both volumes very handsomely rebound in three-quarter calf over marbled paper boards (purposefully rubbed a bit by the conservator for aging). Five raised bands at the spine; elaborate gilt-tooling in the compartments; gilt lettered at the spine. New endpapers. Bright and exceptionally clean throughout. Near fine condition.

Price: $1,500.00