London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1st Edition. INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR, A FOLIO FIRST EDITION of "the first great star-atlas of the southern hemisphere' (Norman Catalogue 1056). "With this monumental survey of the stars of the southern hemisphere, Herschel completed the task begun by his father William, who fifty years earlier had catalogued the northern celestial hemisphere.
Using a twenty foot reflecting telescope, which he erected just south of Cape Town, Herschel swept the whole of the southern sky, cataloging nebulae, cluster and binary stars, carrying out the counts of over 68,000 stars. . . he made detailed drawings and maps" (Honeyman 1663). "Herschel stands almost alone in his attempt to grapple with the dynamical problems presented by star-clusters, and his analysis of the Magellanic Clouds was decisive as to the status of nebulæ" (Oxford DNB).
The story of the publication of this work is important, particularly given that this copy is inscribed in the author's hand, noted as such in print, and that no other such copies have been recorded. See scans attached. In print it reads "Presented by Algernon Duke of Northumberland to" and then in Herschel's hand "Professor Robinson, New York, With the Author's Compliments." Additionally, the dedication page notes in text that "This work is gratefully inscribed by the author."
"By the end of 1842 [Herschel] had performed without assistance the computations necessary for the publication [in this work] of his Cape observations. In September 1843 the letterpress was ‘fairly begun,’ and after some delays the work appeared in 1847, at the cost of the Duke of Northumberland, in a large quarto volume, entitled ‘Results of Astronomical Observations made during the years 1834–8 at the Cape of Good Hope.’ Besides the catalogues of nebulæ and double stars, it included profound discussions of various astronomical topics, and was enriched with over sixty exquisite engravings. He insisted in it upon the connection of sun-spots with the sun's rotation, and started the ‘cyclonic theory’ of their origin. [Herschel] investigated graphically the distribution of nebulæ, but fluctuated in his views as to their nature. Regarding them in 1825 as probably composed of ‘a self-luminous or phosphorescent substance, gradually subsiding into stars and sidereal systems’ (Memoirs Royal Astronomical Society, ii. 487), he ascribed to them later a stellar constitution, and finally inclined to suppose them formed of ‘discrete luminous bodies floating in a non-luminous medium" (ibid). Item #912
CONDITION & DETAILS: Folio (13 x 10.25 inches; 325 x 256mm). , xx, [452 pp], 17 plates, [6 ii, errata and additions, often lacking]. Ex-libris bearing only a tiny 'withdrawn' stamp on the front pastedown and no other library markings whatsoever. Illustration: 17 plates. The first 13 plates, including the four folding plates, are engraved, the remaining four are lithographed. An inch wide repair to the rear of 3 plates (apparently just to reinforce things at the inner hinge; there are no tears). Binding and Interior: Bound in original maroon blind-stamped publisher's cloth. Rebacked at the spine; gilt-lettered title. Small conservator's repair to the cloth on the rear board. The interior hinges were at some point professionally reinforced. Minor scuffing and edgewear at the tips. Tightly and very solidly bound. Small tear at the upper inner margin of the frontispiece. Scattered light toning and foxing throughout. Handsome wide margins. Very good condition.