X‑Ray Invention

Philipp, Lenard. Über Kathodenstrahlen. [On Cathode Rays]

Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Bach, 1906. 235 by 160mm (9¼ by 6¼ inches). White canvas boards bold embossed and gilt; 44 pp. with beautiful end papers. Privately bound Nobel prize speech gift-copy of Philipp Lenard (1862–1947), German physicist and Nobel prize winner. Along with a hand-written letter (1 12 pp., 220 x 110 cm, July 7, 1909) addressed to the later Chancellor of the German Empire and Prince of Germany, Maximillian of Baden (1867–1929). In German. On the title page the speech bears the personal MB” stamp of the Prince (the Great-Grandson of the Prince was forced to liquidate most family assets in the 1990s due to financial hardship; the former location of the Prince’s library is now a private boarding school). With 11 illustrations. 

Near fine except for ½ inch light crease to spine, very light soiling to covers, and very light interior foxing.

I invented the X‑ray; it was me, me, me!

Philipp Lenard was a brilliant physicist, but also a possessive and jealous man (and, we must disclose, a supporter of the National Socialists). His public (and often anti-Semitic) arguments with Einstein are legendary. See The Man Who Stalked Einstein, by Bruce Hilman et. al. (2015). In later years Lenard grew resentful of the credit accorded to Wilhelm Röntgen for the discovery of the X‑ray in 1895. 

In this hand-written letter to Prince Baden, Lenard references the discussion he had with the Prince about his [“early work”] that occurred in 1889…” and refers the Prince to pages 16 and 17 of the Nobel speech – the very pages in which Lenard clearly and repeatedly argued to the Nobel committee that although it is hardly worth mentioning”, he discovered those rays that later became known as Röntgen rays. 

Lenard met Prince von Baden at a celebration at the Prince’s residence for the founding of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. The gift-copy of the Nobel prize speech with accompanying letter were given to the Prince the following week. 

Is Lenard correct? Should X‑rays be called Lenard rays?

Significant both for its relevance in the scientific dispute between Lenard and Röntgen and as a book that was formerly owned by a Chancellor of the German Empire and Prince of Germany. 


In stock

Stock Code: 1108A20 Collections: ,


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