Smith, Asa. SMITH'S ILLUSTRATED ASTRONOMY, DESIGNED FOR THE USE OF THE PUBLIC OR COMMON SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES. Illustrated with Numerous Original Diagrams. By Asa Smith, Principal of Public School No. 12, City of New York.
New York: Cady & Burgess, 1850. 1850. Good
New York: Cady & Burgess, 1850.. 1850.. Good. ILLUSTRATED WITH 36 WOOD ENGRAVINGS ON 28 PLATES - Quarto, 12 inches high by 9-3/4 inches wide. Pictorial buff boards backed with a black calf spine, titled in black on the front cover above a superb wood engraved illustration portraying astronomers performing observations with "The 2d Telescope in Size in the United States, at the Cincinnati Observator[y]". There is an advertisement for the publisher's "Popular and Valuable School Books", printed in 2 columns on the rear cover. The covers are rubbed, bumped and stained with wear to the edges and corners. The pagination is as follows: , pages 1-27 and 30-68. Pages 28/29 are skipped in the numbering, the book collating as complete as per the index and following the 1848 copy at Princeton University. Illustrated with a frontispiece duplicating the cover illustration and with 36 wood engravings on 28 plates plus a textual illustration on page 61. There is partial hand- coloring to the illustrations on pages 7 and 32, possibly as published. The hinges are cracked and there are ink stains to the rear endpaper and pastedown and to the top of the last page. An early owner's inscription has been largely erased from the front endpaper. There is a short tear to the front edge of the frontispiece and there is some marginal foxing. A good complete copy of this rare book.
The fifth edition.
The text comprises fifty-four lessons on astronomy in catechism form by Asa Smith, the principal of a New York Public School, and "An Explanation of Leap Year", "Equation of Time", "Problems on the Terrestrial Globe", "Problems on the Celestial Globe" and a "Glossary or Explanation of Astronomical Terms". Complete as per the indexes of both the text and of the plates. In addition, the book collates with the 1848 edition in the Princeton University collection.
"It has been the object of the author of this little manual of Astronomical science, to present all the distinguishing principles in physical Astronomy with as few words as possible; but with such ocular demonstrations, by way of diagrams and maps, as shall make the subject easily understood. ... The Diagrams, which are larger and more full than those of any other wok adapted to common schools, are many of them original in their design, and exhibit the positions and phases of the planets in their orbits. The drawings being upon the principle of perspective, exhibit the inclinations of their several axes to the planes of their orbits more correctly than has hitherto been done in any other popular work...." [Quoted from the Preface].
Asa Smith undertook the task of creating and drawing each print on wood. The images were then engraved into the wood for printing. It's not surprising that Smith further writes, in his Preface, that "it has occupied the whole of his spare time for nearly three years; the most laborious part of it being the drawing of the diagrams, &c. on wood, ready for the tool of the engraver, which was done by the Author himself."
The superb wood engravings include the frontispiece which portrays "The Largest Telescopes in the World". The other wood engravings consist of illustrations of the "Orrery, with a view of the Solar System in the back ground", the "Solar System and Comparative Magnitudes", "Centripetal and Centrifugal force", "Kepler's Laws", "The Mean and True Place of a Planet", "Circle; Ellipse; Concentric Circles; Circles not in the same plane", "Cut Section of the Sun", "Spots on the Sun", "Transits to the year 1900", "Signs of the Zodiac", "Mercury and Venus; Telescopic Views; Venus Morning and Evening Star", "Earth and Definitions", "Seasons; Summer and Winter Rays, Equinoctial and Solstitial Points", "Mars and Jupiter; Telescopic Views", "Saturn; Saturn's Rings and Moons", "Herschel and Leverrier", "Phases of the Moon; Apparent Magnitude of the Sun and Moon", "Telescopic View of the New Moon", "Telescopic View of the Full Moon", "Telescopic View of the Old Moon", "Eclipses", "Moon's Nodes; Inferior and Superior Conjunction", "Inferior and Superior Planets; Heliocentric Longitude", "Greatest Number of Eclipses that can happen in a year", "Tides, and Moon-light at the Poles", "Orbits of the Planets and Comets", "Refraction; Parallax Light and Heat", "View of the Earth's Orbit, as seen from the nearest fixed Star", "Terrestrial and Celestial Globes, and Milky-Way", "Binary Systems; Quadruple Stars"; "A Perpendicular and an Oblique View of our own Cluster or Firmament", and "Telescopic views of remarkable Nebulae and Clusters of Stars".