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 Miss Barbara Bruce-Smith and Mrs. 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. He acquired this copy of Principia soon after it arrived in Australia in 1908, from Mr Harry Constantine Adolphus Elderton. Bruce Smith wrote two letters to Nature regarding his purchase and discovery, both included in this collection.
Letter from Keith Edward Bullen to Mervyn Millett in 1973 about calligraphic research into Principia
Letter from J. Bosscha to the Editor of Nature in 1908 discussing the identification of annotations in this copy of Principia
Letter from G. Findlay Shirras to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1950, in thanks for photostat films of Principia
Letter from Henry Sotheran Ltd, booksellers to Arthur Bruce Smith in 1931 regarding the valuation of this copy of Principia
Letter from H. J. Carslaw to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1943 regarding correspondence from Mr Brasch around Principia
Letter from Robert Blomfield to Dr. Andrew Osborn in 1961 regarding the donation of Principia to the University of Sydney
Letter from Sir. Douglas Berry Copland to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1950 regarding the copies from Principia made for George Findlay Shirras
Letter from Barbara Bruce Smith to Dr Andrew Delbridge Osborn in 1961 regarding the donation of Principia to the University of Sydney
Letter from Barbara Bruce Smith to Professor Stephen Roberts in 1961 regarding the gift of Principia with annotation from David Wood
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 R. G. Donald to Barbara Bruce Smith in 1952 after an enquiry from the Curator of the Babson Institute Library
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. F. Sharp from British Museum to Arthur Bruce-Smith in August 1924, providing advice on the potential sale of this copy 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