Lot 1: Johann Bernoulli signed letter
11th October 2017
Influential Swiss mathematician (1667–1748) known for his contributions to infinitesimal calculus. Rare LS in French, signed “Bernoulli Pere,” one page both sides, 6.5 x 8.25, August 2, 1742. Letter to Jean-Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan, secretary of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris. In full (translated): "I take so much pleasure in reading all which comes from your pen, that I would be very sorry if any of your production would escape me. The praise from Cardinal of Polignac even if it is only a small piece, is not however the one which gives you less honor and I would have believed having made a chef d’oeuvre if it had been from my way. I know too well how my suffrage is of little weight, above all when it comes to eloquence, to tell you this by way of compliment, this is so true that I do not hesitate to add, that there are maybe two or three passages in the whole speech that I could not have admired if another one than you Sir had been the author, but your authority prevails. My sons requested me to present their obedience and thanks to you.” In very good condition, with paper loss to hinge and integral address leaf. The recipient, Jean-Jacques de Mairan, was himself a noted scientist who made discoveries in several fields including astronomy and biology. The three sons that Bernoulli mentions at the end of his letter were also brilliant mathematicians: Nicolaus studied probability and was a friend of Leonhard Euler; Daniel made significant progress in fluid mechanics; and Johann II succeeded his father as professor of mathematics at the University of Basel. An extraordinary association piece between titans of the sciences.
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