Parkinson, James

The Chemical Pocket-Book or Memoranda Chemica

  • Third edition of this chemical handbook designed for students and amateur chemists. This copy from the library of Lady Elizabeth Coffin Greenly (1771-1839) of Titley Court, Herefordshire. Greenly was a noted diarist, book collector, and landscape gardener with a keen interest in current events, including the latest scientific discoveries. Her library of over 1,000 books included numerous scientific works. Among the figures mentioned in her diaries are Lord Byron, Marie Antoinette, Mary Wollstonecraft and Hannah More. Titley House was in the Greenly family for over five hundred years, but was recently sold and the library dispersed. This is a nice example of the type of book that a woman with an interest in science could have used to become better acquainted with chemistry.

    The Chemical Pocket-Book provides an introduction to chemistry and its tools and vocabulary, and describes the appearance, uses, chemical affinities and reactions of a large number of substances including minerals, salts, elements, and substances produced by plants and animals. The elegantly engraved frontispiece depicts "The Economical Laboratory of Guyton", which features an alembic suspended over an oil burner, and also includes a chart of chemical symbols. Published at a time when chemistry was still in the process of becoming a modern and professionalised science, this volume provides an excellent overview of the basic chemical knowledge of the period. The author, surgeon James Parkinson (1755-1824), is best remembered for having identified the "Shaking Palsy" as a specific degenerative disease of the nervous system. He also studied fossils and geology, arguing in Organic Remains of a Former World (published in three volumes between 1804 and 1811) that fossils were the remains of living things that had been destroyed and then deposited in new locations by the flood, as well as that the Earth was in a constant state of transformation. Of note in this edition of the Chemical Pocket-Book is the ad at the rear in which Parkinson, “takes the liberty to state, that his Observations on the Organic Remains of the Ante-diluvian World, are in considerable forwardness; and that the First Volume, in Quarto, containing the Secondary Vegetable Fossils, illustrated with appropriate Plates, will appear about the month of April”.

  • ...Arranged in a Compendium of Chemistry. London: C. Whittingham for H. D. Symonds, Murray and Highley, Coxe, Boosey, Arch & Callow, 1803.

    Octavo (170 x 96 mm). Contemporary tree calf, spine gilt in compartments with floral tools, black morocco label, decorative roll to boards, edges dyed yellow. Engraved frontispiece, vignette title. Binding a little rubbed, the frontispiece trimmed closely, which slightly affects the image and the text description at the bottom of the leaf, contents toned, some occasional light spotting. Very good condition.

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