Anonymous islander sells first edition Sir Isaac Newton book for £24,000

The book lays down the basics of Newton's theory of gravity and is considered "the most important work in the history of science". Credit: Hansons Auctioneers

An anonymous man from Guernsey has sold a rare first edition Sir Isaac Newton book for £24,000 at auction.

The copy of Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in English, which was published in 1729, more than doubled its guide price of between £8,000 and £10,000 when it sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire. It was bought by a private international phone bidder.

It’s an astonishing amount but this is an incredibly scarce book, perhaps only a few hundred were printed. The very first edition of Newton’s Principia was published in 1687 in Latin and a copy sold in recent years for millions of dollars. This is the first edition in English, translated by Andrew Motte, and is such an important thing.

Jim Spencer, books expert at Hansons Auctioneers
Credit: Hansons Auctioneers

The seller says the book has been in his family’s possession for at least 60 years, having been obtained by his grandfather during the 1950s and left to him when he died in 1980.

It lays down the basics of Newton's theory of gravity and is considered "the most important work in the history of science."