“Their importance in surgery, medicine, and metallurgy is well known. Incomparably the most important part of Rontgen’s experiments, however, is his discovery of matter in a new form, which has completely revolutionized the study of chemistry and physics.” Printing and the Mind of Man, 380
FIRST PRINTING, RARE OFFPRINT in original wrappers of Rontgen's announcement of the discovery of the X-ray.
"Hertz and Lenard had published on the penetrating powers of cathode rays (electrons) and Rontgen thought that there were unsolved problems worth investigation... As a preliminary to viewing the cathode rays on a fluorescent screen, Rontgen completely covered his discharge tube with a black card, and then chanced to notice that such a screen lying on a bench some distance away was glowing brightly. Although others had operated Crookes tubes in laboratories for over thirty years, it was Rontgen who found that X rays are emitted by the part of the glass wall of the tube that is opposite the cathode and that receives the beam of cathode rays. He spent six weeks in absolute concentration, repeating and extending his observations on the properties of the new rays. He found that they travel in straight lines, cannot be refracted or reflected, are not deviated by a magnet, and can travel about two meters in air. He soon discovered the penetrating properties of the rays... The apparent magical nature of the new rays was something of a shock even to Rontgen... On 22 December he brought his wife into the laboratory and made an X-ray photograph of her hand” (Dictionary of Scientific Biography).
Rontgen now needed to "substantiate his discovery if he was to claim priority and the credit of the scientific community... He persuaded a friend, the president of the local Physical Medical Society in Wurzberg, to include a handwritten paper, announcing the discovery of his 'new kind of rays', as a very late addition to the society's proceedings. He had priority of publication. Now, to spread the word about his 'X-rays', Rontgen bundled up preprints with copies of his photographs and sent them to the leading physicists of Europe, mailing packages on New Year's Day 1896" (Agar, Science in the 20th Century and Beyond).
In 1901 Rontgen won the first Nobel Prize awarded in physics “in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him."
Provenance: The present “preprint” or offprint was received by the noted Swiss physicist Edouard Sarasin (1843-1917), with his signature on the front wrapper. Also with "gratis" stamp from the publisher on front wrapper.
First printing, first issue with final blank and without separate title page (as issued). Note: A "Part II" was issued in March 1896 discussing a few improvements and an intensity scale.
WITH: A very early illustration of the x-ray printed in the Supplement a la Patrie Suisse on 22 January 1896.
Wurzburg: Stahel'schen K. Hof- Und Universitats- Buch- Und Kunsthandluch, 1895. Original wrappers. Faint toning to wrapper edges (as usual), very faint evidence of crease to wrappers. RARE, particularly in such fine condition.
Price: $18,500 .