London: Newton and Co., 1909. First Edition. 8vo. , 215,  pp. (including index and Price-list). COMPLETE with all 28 plates and requisite 27 printed tissue sheets (there are 2 tissue guards for plate V). Original publisher's green ribbed cloth, spine gold-stamped, patterned-paper pastedowns and endpapers. Some foxing here and there; slight shelf lean. An excellent copy: the cloth is bright and the hinges are perfect, and there are no objectionable stamps or markings anywhere. NOT ex-library! Very good. Item #3864
HARMONOGRAPHIC PERFECTION, ANTICIPATING MATHEMATICAL ART OF EARLY COMPUTER GRAPHICS. The harmonograph is a mechanical apparatus that uses pendulums to draw a geometric image, the result being delicately rendered "analog" line drawings executed in real-time. The present volume introduces newly developed or perfected harmonographs, based on Lissajous curves; these are Tisley's compound pendulum (fully illustrated), and the twin elliptic pendulum of Goold, published here for the FIRST TIME. The significance of Goold's harmonograph is that it has a pendulum (free to swing in all directions) connected to a pen, and second pendulum (likewise free to swing in all directions) which actually moves the paper. Harmonograph drawings can be quite beautiful, as we see herein. Although now almost completely forgotten, the harmonograph became a popular parlor instrument in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, the participants unknowingly engaging in the pure mathematics, and the physics of phase relationships, frequency, chords, the vibration of sound, potential energy, and frequency ratios.
Ugly reprints and garbage digital surrogates of "Harmonic Vibrations and Vibration Figures" fail to reproduce the incredibly fine vortex-line illustrations herein, which MUST BEE SEEN TO BE FULLY APPRECIATED. This first edition is scarce on the market: ours is the only copy we have located in private ownership; furthermore, it is preserved in unsophisticated museum quality condition.
The book was published by Newton and Co., a small shop which sold scientific instruments; the manuscript had been rejected by "two of the most famous scientific publishing firms in London." The present volume was produced as a promotional manual for Newton's twin-elliptic harmonograph and other models produced by the company. At the end of the volume is a catalogue of Newton's harmonographs, with a price list. There are chapters by J. Goold, C. E. Benham, R. Kerr, and L. R. Wilberforce; the work was edited by H. C. Newton [proprietor of Newton and Co.] who also wrote the extraordinary Preface.
From a contemporary review in Nature: "The four authors of this book have each contributed an account of the construction and use of apparatus which they have invented or brought to perfection, the several parts of the book being independent of one another, but related by the similarity of the subject-matter. Lissajous's figures were originally introduced as a convenient method of illustrating optically or mechanically acoustic phenomena, but the beauty and perfection of the results obtained by the compound pendulum of Tisley, and later by the twin elliptic pendulum of Goold, have made the subject sufficiently attractive to be pursued for its own sake. As two leading scientific publishers declined to take the book on the ground that it could not pay, we are indebted to Messrs. Newton and Co. for rescuing and producing a book which will be valued in many quarters." (Nature 82, p. 96, 1909).