BOND, George Phillips (1825-1865)
Account of the Great Comet
Cambridge: Welch, Bigelow, and Company, 1862. Quarto. (12 x 10 1/4 inches). xx, 372 pages. 41 plates (numbered 1-51; comprising 31 engravings on pale blue paper, 9 line engravings [4 folding], and one folding lithograph).
Publisher's purple cloth, covers bordered in blind, spine lettered in gilt, expert repairs to top and bottom of spine.
Provenance: Nathaniel I. Bowditch (presentation inscription)
Presentation copy, inscribed by the author to the grandson of the famed mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch.
Known for his important early work in astronomical photography, George Phillips Bond (1825-65) was the second director of the Harvard Observatory, succeeding his father William Cranch Bond upon the latter's death in 1859. "Bond's ... comprehensive and handsomely illustrated monograph on Donati's Comet of 1858 ... won widespread acclaim and in 1865 brought him the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the first ever awarded to an American" (DSB). The separately published work was issued as volume three in the series Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College. The images of the comet are unusual and almost photographic looking engravings. In the Introduction, Bond writes about the engravings: "... the engravings have been exectured by Mr. James W. Watts, of Boston; no part of the work is more essential to an exact and intelligible history of the Comet, and certainly none stands so little in need of commendation. The style of engraving adopted for the the steel plates, to give positive effects upon a dark ground, is seldom called in requisition excepting for the delination of astronomical objects, and it is consequently almost a distinct branch of art." This example inscribed by Bond: "Nathaniel I. Bowditch, from the Observatory of Harvard College. With the Respects of the Author." Bowditch (1839-1863), the eldest grandson of the famed mathematician and astronomer of the same name, no doubt in memory of the elder Bowditch's contributions to Harvard and American science, as well as his uncle, J. Ingersoll Bowditch's considerable financial support for the publication. Bowditch the younger joined the Union army after the Battle of Ball's Bluff, commissioned a Lieutenant in the First Massachusetts Cavalry. He died in March 1863 in action at the Battle of Kelly's Ford.