Annotated first edition copy of Newton's Principia
With the publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, Isaac Newton established the modern science of dynamics by formulating his three laws of motion. Newton applied these laws to Kepler's laws of orbital motion and derived the law of universal gravitation, which explains how all bodies in space and on earth are affected by gravity. There were between 250-400 copies of the first edition printed, with 189 "surviving" copies known of as of 1953.
The University of Sydney copy is one of only four known copies that were sent by Newton and his assistant Roger Cotes to other mathematicians in order to eliminate any errors in a second edition. The other copies are all located in the Northern Hemisphere - two in the University of Cambridge Library and one in the Library of Trinity College.
It was originally believed that the corrections and five pages of manuscript notes were written by Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and completed by Cotes. It has now been determined that these notes are in the hand of John Craig, a Scottish mathematician. Other marginal annotations, and occasional alterations to the diagrams, are in two other hands, with the corrections to the diagrams have been believed to be written by Newton.
In 1961 the University was presented with this copy of Principia by representatives of Barbara Bruce-Smith and Beatrix Bruce Blomfield, heirs of the Hon. Arthur Bruce Smith. Bruce Smith was a member of Parliament, barrister-at-law, and King's Counsel, and assisted in the drafting of the Australian Federal Constitution. Bruce Smith acquired this copy of Principia soon after it arrived in Australia in 1908, from Harry Constantine Adolphus Elderton. Bruce Smith wrote two letters to Nature regarding this purchase and discovery, both included in this collection.Collection SummaryThe University of Sydney copy is one of only four known first edition copies that were sent by Newton and his assistant Roger Cotes to other mathematicians for peer review
Letter from Professor Sir Stephen Roberts to E. Bruce Smith in 1961, thanking the sisters for the gift of Principia
Rare First Edition for Sydney University: Sydney University will today be given a rare first-edition copy of a work by the seventeenth-century scientist Sir Isaac Newton
Letter from R. F. Sharp from British Museum to Arthur Bruce-Smith in August 1924, providing advice on the potential sale of this copy of Principia
Letter from Frederick E. Brasch, Chief of the Smithsonian scientific collection to Verton Bruce Smith in June 1943, discussing the value for these copies of Principia
Letter from Frederick E Brasch, Chief of the Smithsonian scientific collection to Barbara Bruce Smith in January 1943, requesting for copies of pages from Principia for his research
Letter from Walter Grey of Trinity College to Arthur Bruce Smith in 1908 identifying the handwriting of Dr. Roger Coates in this copy of Principia
Letter from R. G. Donald to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1952 after an enquiry from the Curator of the Babson Institute Library
Letter from Verton Bruce Smith to Frederick H. Brasch, Chief of the Smithsonian in 1943, regarding the request for copies of pages from Principia for his research
Letter from Barbara Bruce Smith to Professor Stephen Roberts in 1961 regarding the gift of Principia with annotation from David Wood
Letter from Barbara Bruce Smith to Dr Andrew Delbridge Osborn in 1961 regarding the donation of Principia to the University of Sydney
Letter from Robert Blomfield to Dr. Andrew Osborn in 1961 regarding the donation of Principia to the University of Sydney
Letter from H. J. Carslaw to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1943 regarding correspondence from Mr Brasch around Principia
Letter from Sir. Douglas Berry Copland to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1950 regarding the copies from Principia made for George Findlay Shirras