Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

German polymath and philosopher

Leibniz made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in philosophy, probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is the foundation of virtually all digital computers.

Source: Wikipedia

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm

Philosoph und Mathematiker (1646-1716). Autogr. document. O. O. u. D. 1 S. Ca. 110:30 mm.
$ 6,795 / 6.500 € (940976/BN940976)

Fragment of a bibliographic note about a mathematical work by the astronomer Henry Gellibrand: "and logarithms. With the application thereof to Questions of Astronomie and Navigation. By H. Gellibrand, Prof. of Astronomie in Gresham Colledge. II. Edition corrected and enlarged. London MDCLII." The work in question is the second edition of Gresham's "An institution trigonometricall, wherein demonstratively and perspicuously is exhibited the doctrine of the dimension of plain and spherical triangles, after the most exact and compendious way, by tables both of sines, tangents, secants, and logarithms".

- Early 19th century certification of authenticity by the educator Peter Heinrich Holthaus (1759-1831) on the reserve: "Nach Kästner's Zeugniß in einem (nicht zu theilenden) Briefe an den vormahligen Prediger Müller in Schwelm [the theologian, mathematician and astronomer Friedrich Christoph Müller, 1751-1808] ist diese Handschrift von Leibnitz. - P. H. Holthaus". The Göttingen mathematician and writer of epigrams Abraham Gotthelf Kästner (1719-1800) had studied Leibniz's manuscript papers at the Royal Library in Hanover and composed the preface for the posthumous first edition of the "Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain", aimed at John Locke (in the "Oeuvres philosophiques latines & françoises de feu Mr. de Leibnitz", edited by R. E. Raspe in 1764). The verso also shows a probably slightly earlier note "Leibnitz" in a different hand..

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Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm

philosopher and mathematician (1646-1716). Autograph letter signed ("Leibniz"). Hannover. 10 pp. (including postscript) on 2 bifolia and one single leaf, 8vo (167 x 110 mm) and 4to (206 x 160 mm). In French, with amendments and hurried deletions throughout.
$ 50,179 / 48.000 € (88888/BN58833)

A long, wide-ranging letter to the Scottish lawyer Thomas Burnett (1656-1729) in which Leibniz explains that he intends to write about books received from Burnett and mentions the controversy between John Locke and the Bishop of Worcester, but has no time to do so at present. He encloses some verses from Paris by M. Cresset ("God save the King of Spain, otherwise everything will go completely haywire, and England will not feel at all happy about having being disarmed"), confirms he has received a book on the Council of Trent from the Bishop of Salisbury (Thomas's kinsman Gilbert Burnet), and discusses the literary tastes of the Electress of Brunswick, whose books must "show spirit, and have at the same time something cheerful about them" owing to the recent loss of her husband Ernst August, Elector of Brunswick, from which she is struggling to recover ("the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak").

Leibniz adds a lengthy postscript advising that he is enclosing an extract from a letter he recently sent to the Bishop of Salisbury "in confidence" in which he talks "about matters of religion and the state, both of which are in the competence of the illustrious Bishop", fearing "'black practices' against the King, and that it is right to take every imaginable precaution for the preservation of his person" and hoping that "France will finally resolve herself for good and all to peace. Perhaps she flatters herself that peace will break up the Grand Alliance [...] we in Germany are taking steps to help in assuring the public order [...] to prevent our being taken by surprise". He concludes by describing how he resolved a dispute about coinage of England and muses as to how the King should be designated: "C'est ce que j'ay exprimé par ce distique: Tertius, an primus Guilielmus sit ve secundus, / Desinite o critici quaerere; Magnus erit" ("William First, Or Second, Or Third? / Ask Not, Critics, Great's The Word"). - Includes, on a separate quarto leaf, a fair copy of Leibniz's letter to Gilbert Burnet, headed "P.S.": "I have frequently the honour of attending the Electress of Brunswick, which great Princess sometimes will suffer my conversation. We fall often into religion, and I have long been interested in studying controversies [...]". Leibniz is curious about the "separation of communions which one sees among the Protestants", and thinks the differences with Rome "infinitely more important". He is troubled by news that the House of Lords wavered in excluding "Romanists" from the Crown and wonders why Burnet did not support this exclusion, voicing his concern that a future monarch who had the appearance of Protestantism could be working to destroy it. He asks for Burnet's opinion and urges the matter be brought again before parliament. - This letter forms part of the significant, 18-year-long correspondence between Leibniz and Thomas Burnett of Kemnay in Aberdeenshire, occasioned by their meeting at the court of Hanover in 1695. The most recent Akademie edition of Leibniz's correspondence includes some 29 letters from Leibniz to Burnett and 51 from Burnett to Leibniz written during the period 1695-1707, with more still to be published. When Leibniz met Burnett, he was already corresponding on matters religious and political with his cousin Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury. Leibniz also found in Burnett a useful conduit to fellow philosopher John Locke, with whom he was keen to correspond, and a source of intellectual and political news and gossip from England and elsewhere. Our letter shows he was also the means for Leibniz to obtain the latest writings published in English ("I saw some issues of an English journal or newspaper which was half-way between a scholarly journal and a society newspaper, but I do not know whether it is carried on"). - Also shown here is Leibniz's close relationship with the Electress Sophia, a friendship that lasted for 40 years. Leibniz is clearly preoccupied with English politics and the issue of the Protestant (Hanoverian) succession, demonstrating a great admiration for the English monarchy. At the time of writing, the Electress Sophia was the next Protestant in line to the throne, but it was not until the 1701 Act of Settlement that she was formally named heiress presumptive and, while she did not survive long enough to take up the crown, that position was to be secured by her son George. In the present letter Leibniz fears "black practices" against King William in a precarious political situation and speaks of the readiness of Germany and the Empire to have troops mobilised against France despite negotiations towards peace. - Slight splitting and small holes at folds professionally repaired. Provenance: Thomas Burnett, 2nd Laird of Kemnay (1656-1729), and thence by descent; held in the archive at Kemnay House, Aberdeenshire, until now. The correspondence collected by the Berlin Akademie includes a letter from Leibniz to Gilbert Burnet written three days before ours (no. 311, p. 478), the contents of which, however, bears little resemblance to our "postscript", and it may be, therefore, that our copy is the only surviving record of another letter..

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Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm

philosopher and mathematician (1646-1716). Autograph letter signed ("Leibniz"). Hannover. 8vo (157 x 95 mm). 4 pp. on a bifolium. In French.
$ 39,725 / 38.000 € (88889/BN58834)

A characteristically witty and wide-ranging letter to the Scottish lawyer Thomas Burnett (1656-1729), confirming that Burnett's letters have been read to the Electress by her secretary M. Gargan and gossiping about the impeachment of Henry Sacheverell ("Dr Sacheverel is said to be a well-made man, whose person appeals to women - and so he has already half of Great Britain on his side"). Leibniz is amazed that England has time for such things "while she has the burden of such an onerous war on her hands", but trusts that the Queen, "who has already worked miracles in subduing France and uniting the Kingdoms, will surely achieve at last the fulfilment of her hopes in reconciling their hearts"; he includes an epigram of his: "Henrico junxisse rosas et regna Jacobo / Fas fuit: una animos Anna Perenna ligat" ("Henry did well to unite the Roses; James / the Kingdoms; Ageless Anna alone unites the hearts").

Leibniz is vexed that "Whiston declares himself a Socinian, and wishes to exercise his mathematics on the mystery of the Trinity. The Socinians have or had pulpits in Transylvania, but it is assuredly right to take a stand against the libertine and atheist literature which is more dangerous than the Socinians." Further, he regrets that the Irish theologian Henry Dodwell has gone mad ("one could learn from his excellent wisdom if he was in a condition or the mood to concentrate on it still") and reports that the Leipzig theologian Thomas Ittig is dead and has left a fine library to the university. Leibniz hopes that Queen Anne's Act for the Encouragement of Letters has been passed: "if not, I hope it will be successful another time - I wish something could be done for the Royal Society of London. That of Berlin is to publish some Miscellanea as an experiment". - This letter forms part of the significant, 18-year-long correspondence between Leibniz and Thomas Burnett of Kemnay in Aberdeenshire, occasioned by their meeting at the court of Hanover in 1695. The most recent Akademie edition of Leibniz's correspondence includes some 29 letters from Leibniz to Burnett and 51 from Burnett to Leibniz written during the period 1695-1707, with more still to be published. Burnett kept Leibniz abreast of English matters: here, the great scholar is well aware of the impeachment of Henry Sacheverell, a high church Tory Anglican who had preached anti-Whig sermons. Riots had broken out in London after Anne tried to punish Sacheverell for questioning the Glorious Revolution, but she eventually prevailed, much to the approval of Leibniz, who demonstrates throughout his admiration for the Queen. - Prompted by the writings of his fellow mathematician William Whiston (1667-1752), Leibniz speaks of the Socinians, an anti-trinitarian movement professing belief in God and the Scriptures but denying the divinity of Christ and therefore the Trinity (though by the 18th century, the name was a catch-all term for any kind of dissenting belief). Whiston was a leading figure in popularising the ideas of Newton and had embraced the tenets of anti-trinitarian theology, publishing his heretical work, "Sermons and Essays", in 1709. Locke himself had come to be identified as a member of the Socinian party with the publication of his "Reasonableness of Christianity", published anonymously in 1695, and was thence drawn into his well-known controversy with Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester. Leibniz may have refrained from discussing this particular issue with Burnett, fearing that any critical opinion of Locke expressed to Burnett might get back to Locke himself and thus jeopardise any chance of entering into future dialogue. - Some light dust-staining at folds. Provenance: Thomas Burnett, 2nd Laird of Kemnay (1656-1729), and thence by descent..

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Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), philosopher and mathematican. Autograph document signed. Wolfenbüttel, 12. II. 1695. ½ p. Oblong small 4to. – Order to pay part of his salery to the Hofrat of Hanover: „Der Geheime Cammer Secretarius H. Johann Urban Müller wird dienstl ersuchet auf abschlag meiner besoldung an den H. Küchschreiber alhier Vierzig Thaler zu bezahlen [...] | Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz mp“. – Below a four lined receipt by Christoph Balcke. - Some spots.