28 February 2014

ANZAAB Conference and Melbourne Rare Book Week

The following was posted on the ANZAAB website.

Conference in May
'The most agreeable servants of civilization' Booksellers and Librarians in a Changing World

A Joint Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB) and the National Library of Australia.

Discussions and presentations on how the rare book trade operates, how libraries and booksellers can work together more effectively, a 'pop up' rare book fair, a display of some National Library of Australia treasures and tailored behind the scenes tours make for two unmissable days for anyone working with and with an interest in rare books, manuscripts and photographs.

This is the first time a conference such as this has been held in Australia. This conference will give participants the chance to meet others working with or interested in rare materials on paper while at the same time hearing from some foremost scholars, librarians and antiquarian booksellers. Not to be missed!

Monday 19 May, 8.30 am - 5.30 pm & Tuesday 20 May, 9 am - 4.30 pm
Conference Room, Level 4
National Library of Australia

Complete Programme

Bookings now open

For more information contact Sally Burdon at Asia Bookroom.


Third Annual Melbourne Rare Book Week

ANZAAB has also recently announced the 2014 Melbourne Rare Book Week from 17 to 27 July, incorporating the 42nd ANZAAB Australian Antiquarian Book Fair from 25 to 27 July at Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne.

The following was posted on the ILAB website:

The Melbourne Rare Book Week is now well established in the City of Melbourne’s event calendar. It is a major attraction for book collectors, librarians and all who have a love of words, print on paper and heritage, and the 2014 programme promises another outstanding event.

Kay Craddock on behalf of the Melbourne Rare Book Week Committee:

"To date, we have attracted six new event partners from Melbourne’s literary community and all of the 2013 partners have rejoined the programme, making a total of 25. New partners are: The Library at the Dock (due to open in Docklands in May), Grainger Museum, The Johnson Society of Australia, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Cowlishaw Library), Royal United Services Institute of Victoria Library and the Victorian College of the Arts.

The City of Melbourne has pledged increased sponsorship funding and will work with us to promote our events at its new Docklands Library. We have been extraordinarily fortunate to engage the support of leading Consumer, Industry and Market Research company, Roy Morgan Research. In addition to hosting several individual events, Roy Morgan Research will be promoting the entire programme through its extensive network of marketing, media, corporate, institutional and government customers. On Monday March 17, Gary Morgan and his CEO, Michele Levine, are hosting a media/sponsorship launch of Melbourne Rare Book Week. This will be an opportunity for event partners to promote the programme and to network with prospective sponsors and journalists."

As part of the Melbourne Rare Book Week, the 42nd ANZAAB Australian Antiquarian Book Fair will be held at the University of Melbourne's historic Wilson Hall, with free admission to all visitors. The 2014 Book Fair will again be held in partnership with the biennial University of Melbourne Cultural Treasures Festival — a programme of free exhibitions, thematic walks, talks, seminars, demonstrations, displays and guided tours which showcase the University's rich array of museums and collections.

[I will post this year's events when announced. Needless to say, I cannot wait!]

21 February 2014

Nullius in Verba: The Royal Society's Two Earliest Books

[First posted on the University of Melbourne Library Collections blog]

Earlier this week the Royal Society announced the launch later this year of Royal Society Open Science, an open access peer-reviewed journal publishing scholarly research in all fields scientific and mathematical. The move is seen by the Society’s president, Sir Paul Nurse, as a necessary step to keep pace with the changing face of publishing in the twenty-first century.

Changes in the publishing field is something the Royal Society has seen a lot of throughout its long history. The august body received a Royal Charter to publish relevant works in 1662 (two years after its official founding in November 1660), and will observe the 350th anniversary of its journal Philosophical Transactions in March 2015.

With the recent open access announcement and next year’s anniversary of Philosophical Transactions in mind, this week’s post highlights the Royal Society’s two earliest books: John Evelyn’s Sylva and Robert Hooke’s Micrographia; first editions of each are held by University of Melbourne Special Collections.[1]

First printed in 1664, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber was the first work sponsored officially by the Royal Society and the first treatise in English dedicated entirely to forestry.[2] Its author, John Evelyn (1620–1706), writer, intellectual and founding member of the Royal Society, is perhaps best known for his long-running diary kept from 1640 to 1706.

Evelyn initially presented Sylva as a paper to the Royal Society in 1662. The published text sought to encourage tree-planting after the destruction wrought by the Civil War and, it has been argued, to ensure a supply of timber for England’s developing navy and add a further boost to the economy. Evelyn’s book proved highly popular with its intended audience, namely the gentry and aristocracy, who took from it the idea of gardening as an aesthetic pursuit, and his discourse was positively received on the Continent where it stimulated new methods of forest management.[3] Today Sylva is recognised as one of the most influential works on the subject of tree conservation.

First ed. title-page with the arms of the Royal Society.
First ed. title-page with the arms of the Royal Society

The first edition of Sylva contained two appendixes: Pomona: or, an Appendix Concerning Fruit-Trees in Relation to Cider, one of the earliest English essays on cider, and the Kalendarium Hortense: or, Gard’ners Almanac: Directing What He is To Do Monethly [sic] Throughout the Year, which was often reprinted separately and proved to be Evelyn’s most popular work.[4]

Title-page of Evelyn's 'Kalendarium Hortense'.
Title-page of Evelyn’s Kalendarium Hortense

The second text printed for the Royal Society was Robert Hooke’s groundbreaking Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses, published in 1665. Hooke (1635–1703), a natural philosopher and polymath, perfected the compound microscope and put the instrument to good use. His observations touched on a number of subjects, from combustion and diffraction of light, to fossils and artificial silk, and his description of the honeycomb-like structure of a cork gave us the word ‘cell’ to describe the basic biological unit of living organisms. 

Micrographia is perhaps most widely known today for its illustrations. The book includes 57 microscopic and 3 telescopic observations, describing for the first time ‘a polyzoon, the minute markings of fish scales, the structure of the bee’s sting [and wings], the compound eyes of the fly, the gnat and its larvae, the structure of feathers, the flea and the louse’.[5] These enlarged images of such minute creatures (Hooke’s louse measures 45.7 cm in length) are as startling today as they must have been for Hooke’s contemporaries over 300 years ago.

Compound eye of the fly (Scheme 24)
Compound eye of the fly (Schema 24)

A flea (Schema 34)
A flea (Schema 34)

A louse (Schema 35)
A louse (Schema 35)

Like Sylva, Hooke’s Micrographia was an immediate success. It was read by Samuel Pepys, who mentioned the book three times in his diary for January 1664/5 and called it ‘the most ingenious book I have ever read in my life’ (Pepys was also a member of the Royal Society).[6] The text, particularly Hooke’s observations on light and the spectrum, was also studied by Isaac Newton who drew inspiration from it for his Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light (London, 1704).

[1] John Evelyn, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber (London: Printed by Jo. Martyn and Ja. Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society, [1664]); purchased by the Friends of the Baillieu Library
Robert Hooke, Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon (London: Printed by Jo. Martyn and Ja. Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society, [1665])

[2] Special Collections also holds copies of the 1670 second edition and 1679 third edition of Sylva, both of which were printed for the Royal Society

[3] http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/sustainability/ [Accessed 19.2.2014]

[4] Diana H. Hook and Jeremy Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, 2 vols. (San Francisco: Jeremy Norman & Co., Inc, 1991), i:271

[5] John Carter and Percy H. Muir, eds., Printing and the Mind of Man … (London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1967 ed.), 88 (no. 147)

[6] Robert Latham and William Matthews, eds., The Diary of Samuel Pepys … 11 vols. (London: G. Bell and Sons Ltd, 1970-1976), vi:2, 17, 18

09 February 2014

De Doctrina Christiana Receives Shawcross Award

Librarians are always pleased to hear about successes stemming from a user's research. Special collections librarians in particular are especially pleased when that research demonstrates the importance of the physical book.

I was very excited to learn that the 2012 edition of Milton's De Doctrina Christiana, edited by John K. Hale and J. Donald Cullington and part of Oxford University's The Complete Works of John Milton series, recently received the John T. Shawcross Award from the Milton Society of America. 

The award is specified as being for: "A distinguished edition of Milton’s works, a distinguished bibliography (of his works or of studies of his life and works), a distinguished reference work, or a distinguished chapter on Milton in a monograph that concerns other authors or engages topics that bear on 17th-century England".

John and Donald are both resident in Dunedin, New Zealand, and flew to Chicago last month to receive the award. Their edition of Milton's De Doctrina Christiana was many years in the making and drew heavily on local collections, including the Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection of the Dunedin City Library, where I was Rare Books Librarian from 2007 to 2013, and in which capacity I frequently saw Donald or John in the reading room, pencils, paper and magnifying glass on either side, and a folio-sized volume before them. 

The book in question was the Dunedin copy of a Latin Bible printed in Hanau, Germany, by the Wechel printing firm in 1624 (OT, Apocrypha) and 1623 (NT), paid for by Daniel and David Aubry and Clemens Schleich.

In my congratulatory e-mail, I asked Donald about the importance of the collection, and the 1623/4 Bible in particular, to their work on Milton's De Doctrina:

"The holdings of Dunedin Public Library were extremely useful to John and me throughout the nine years of our collaboration, especially since so much of this huge Milton work uses the Latin Bible of Junius-Tremellius-Beza, an excellent copy of which is permanently available in the Reed Collection.

For the Old Testament and Apocrypha, the Latin wording of the 1623/4 Hanau [Bible] ... corresponds most closely with that of Milton’s citations, but in editing De Doctrina Christiana it was important to see where for reasons of his own he saw fit to change what Junius and Tremellius had written.

Also, for the New Testament the same [Bible] contains two Latin translations: Beza’s from the Greek and Tremellius’s from the Syriac. Although here Milton relied mainly on Beza’s own final version of 1598, he did occasionally prefer something in the posthumous ‘Beza’ edition of 1623; in some places, too, he opted for the quite different translation of Tremellius. And again, he sometimes decided to go his own way.

In all these respects the availability of the 1623/4 Bible helped John and me to produce a scholarly edition that showed in detail how Milton went about the task of dealing with the thousands of biblical passages included in his largest work". 

For more, you can read John Hale's reflections on his experience co-editing Milton's De Doctrina on the OSEO blog (posted 30.07.13).


Testamenti Veteris Biblia Sacra ... (Hanoviae: Typis Wecheliansis, sumptibus Danielis ac Davidis Aubriorum, ac Clementis Schleichii, 1623/4); with the armorial stamp and bookplate of David Lindsay, 1st Lord Balcarres (1587-1642). Purchased from the Export Book Co., Preston, Lancashire, by the Dunedin Public Library with support from A. H. Reed in 1966.