New York: AIEE. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITIONS OF 2 RARE OFFPRINTS (1st separate ed) BY WILLIAM J. HAMMER. THE 1903 IS THE 1st PRINTING OF THE LECTURE WHICH LATER THAT SAME YEAR WOULD BECOME “THE 1st BOOK PUBLISHED ON RADIUM” (Smithsonian Archive). THE 2nd OFFPRINT IS A SIGNED PRESENTATION COPY TO BECQUEREL. FURTHER, IT CONTAINS A 2 PAGE APPENDIX BY PIERRE CURIE WRITTEN THE SAME YEAR THE CURIES SUCCESSFULLY ISOLATED RADIOACTIVE RADIUM SALTS. Hammer carried on a “lifelong association with the foremost scientists of his day -- Edison, Bell, Maxim, the Curies, the Wright brothers, and others” (ibid).
In April 1903 the pioneering American electrical engineer William Joseph Hammer delivered a lecture, “Radium and Other Radioactive Substances…” at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. He included 38 slides, most photographic; 32 are included in the offprint with no evidence any are missing. Many are photos of scanned images of mice; some photos of lab equipment. The printed book – issued after the lecture and offprint – has 39 photos and is 72 pages in length; the offprint is 64 pages but represents the lecture as given.
In Paris in 1902, Hammer visited the Curies. “They gave him 9 tubes of radium and 1 of polonium to bring back to the US… [Once back]… Hammer applied his radium-luminous materials to 30 different objects: [ everything from luminous dials for clocks to radium luminous gun sights]. He did not patent the invention due to the scarcity and high cost of radium; later in an important suit involving foreign and US patents of radium-luminous materials, his testimony and that of other noted scientists and professionals of the day who had visited his home and laboratory proved that his work completely anticipated that of all inventors in the US and abroad” (ibid).
Prior to seeing the Curies but more so after his return to America, Hammer lectured on what he was learning: his 38 lectures on the Curie’s work played a large role in disseminating scientific information about radium to the American scientific community and the general public.
At the 1903 lecture, Hammer displayed the tubes the Curies had given him. He spoke at length of the things implied by the lecture’s title – radioactivity, selenium, and light, but also on the Curies, Röntgen, Becquerel, Dewar, Rutherford, Kelvin, Thomson and Finsen; on various radioactive materials; on alpha, beta, gamma, and X-rays including radiographs of mice; and on experiments into the lethal effects both of X-rays and of radioactive sources.
Hammer’s 1902 lecture, given prior to visiting the Curies, discusses the Edison X-ray lamp, the Nernst lamp and gives a short review of the properties of radium. Concerned with accuracy, Hammer asked P Curie to critique his talk and add any information on radium he thought relevant. Two pages of Curie’s notes appear as an ‘Appendix’ in this offprint.
The William J. Hammer collection is enormous and is divided among the Smithsonian, the National Museum of American History, and the National Air and Space Museum (another subject of interest to him). A WorldCat, etc. search finds copies in institutional locations of the 1903 lecture in its journal issue and later as as the first book published on radium. I could, however, find no reference to a copy of the offprint in any library – meaning it is rare. Item #950
CONDITION: New York: AIEE (both 1902 & 1903 offprint). Both 8vos. 1902: , pp. 473-481, . 1903: pp. 1-64. The 1903 offprint was either issued without a light orange wrap present on the 1902 offprint or was issued without it. Both have a small sticker with a letter and number written on them in an early hand affixed to the upper right corner (see scans); the 1902 on the rear wrap as well. The 1902 is slightly toned at the edges of the front wrap. Both offprints are in very good to near fine condition.