James Ferguson's Astronomy was one of the first attempts to translate Sir Isaac
Newton's concepts into laymen's terms, making his complex theories more widely
understood. Panteek is pleased to offer these plates, illustrating man's early
understanding of our universe.
The Scottish-born Ferguson (1710-76) was a self-taught astronomer with an
interest in mechanics. At a young age, his favorite amusements were complex
wooden models of machinery. He became a lecturer on experimental philosophy,
exhibiting his mechanical inventions to the Royal Society. His 1756 work,
"Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton's Principles and Made Easy to Those
who have Not Studied Mathematics" was met with immediate praise and remained in
demand for several editions. Astronomer David Brewster wrote in the introduction
to the 1811 edition, "No book upon the same subject has been so generally read,
and so widely circulated, among all ranks of the community."
Among his many inventions were clocks models, centrifugal force tables, tidal
dials and complex clockwork models of the solar system, or orreries, which were
far superior to any previously available. Ferguson's original work contained no
plates. While updating the original work, Brewster published 13 copper plates to
illustrate Ferguson's remarkable inventions.
The prints are original copper engravings that have been beautifully hand
colored by one of the few remaining professional colorists in England. Each
print measures approximately 10 ½ by 16 ½ inches, except for those on the first
line, which are about 7 ½ by 10 ½ inches. The condition of the plates is good,
with some paper toning and offset as shown. On some, the left margin has been