4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

1600 to 1650 Timeline


The Japanese Adopt the Abacus, Calling it the Soroban Circa 1600

Japanese soroban abacus 1x5 from Meiji period (1868-1912).

Diagram of Soroban.

About the year 1600 the Japanese adopted the Chinese 1/5 abacus via Korea. In Japanese the abacus is called soroban.

The 1/4 abacus appeared in Japan about 1630.

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English Book Owners in the 17th Century. A Work in Progress Listing by David Pearson 1600 – 1700

"English book owners in the seventeenth century
A work in progress listing

"How much do we really know about patterns and impacts of book ownership in Britain in the seventeenth century? How well equipped are we to answer questions such as the following?:

 What was a typical private library, in terms of size and content, in the seventeenth century?
 How does the answer to that question vary according to occupation, social status, etc?
 How does the answer vary over time? – how different are ownership patterns in the middle of the century from those of the beginning, and how different are they again at the end?

"Having sound answers to these questions will contribute significantly tour understanding of print culture and the history of the book more widely during this period. 

"Our current state of knowledge is both imperfect, and fragmented. There is no directory or comprehensive reference source on seventeenth-century British book owners, although there are numerous studies of individual collectors. There are well-known names who are regularly cited in this context – Cotton, Dering, Pepys – and accepted wisdom as to collections which were particularly interesting or outstanding, but there is much in this area that deserves to be challenged. Private Libraries in Renaissance England and Books in Cambridge Inventories have developed a more comprehensive approach to a particular (academic) kind of owner, but they are largely focused on the sixteenth century. Sears Jayne, Library Catalogues of the English Renaissance, extends coverage to 1640, based on book lists found in a variety of manuscript sources. The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland (2006) contains much relevant information in this field, summarising existing scholarship, and references to this have been included in individual entries below where appropriate.

"Evidence of book ownership in this period is manifested in a variety of ways, which need to be brought together if we are to develop that fuller picture. Lists of books once owned by particular people can be found in sale catalogues, private catalogues, wills, and other various
kinds of inventory. Many collections for which no such lists exist are witnessed to today by surviving books, with inscriptions, bookplates, armorial bindings, and numerous other kinds of copy-specific markings. Some collections survive entire, where they were bequeathed or
bought en bloc, while others were scattered and are much harder to reconstruct. Working from surviving books is bedevilled not only by the fact that owners did not always mark their books, but also by needing to remember that vast quantities of books have been destroyed
since the seventeenth century. There are many collections which once existed which we will never be able to recognise. The quantity of material in our libraries today is nevertheless sufficient to allow us to make significant advances in our knowledge of early book ownership,
if we can bring together that information.

"This list represents work in progress to construct a reference source on seventeenth-century English book owners, based on all these various kinds of evidence. It does not seek to cover Scottish and Irish owners, unless they were predominantly English-based. The aim is to focus 
on collections which were at least partly, if not entirely, formed within the seventeenth century and the list includes people who died between 1610 and 1715.

"The list draws largely on existing published work but also incorporates evidence of surviving books, taken mainly from sale and library catalogues. One of the challenges of this exercise lies in establishing criteria for inclusion, as regards size of collection. Is a private library of
this period interesting if it contains 50 books, 100 books, or 500 books? There is no simple answer to this; it depends on who the owner was, what the books were, and which part of the century it applies to. The list has been compiled on an essentially intuitive basis with the aim
of including people who did, or are likely to have, owned enough books to be worth noting in the context of developing that wider understanding. Refining and developing the list is part of the research process. We cannot list every individual who owned a Bible and a shelf of
devotional books, but a grocer who owned 50 books in 1620 may be at least as interesting as an academic who owned 500. The list does not include people who are likely to have been owners, but for whom there is no surviving evidence. A number of known users of armorial
binding stamps are included, together with users of bookplates, found the Franks collection, and known to have died before 1715 (these are both areas where other projects and  and directories are being worked on).

"The arrangement of the list should be self-evident, alphabetical by owners’ names, with some entries relating to families rather than individuals (this, again, is an area where more thought is needed as to how best to cope with collections built up over more than one generation). The references cited are not meant to be exhaustive; abbreviated references are expanded in the list at the end.

"One of the ways in which an online resource like this can be useful is by providing quick links to images of the kinds of provenance evidence which various owners left in their books, so that identifications can be verified (is this inscription I’m looking at the man I think it is, or another owner of the same name? etc). I have been gradually adding links to other websites which include useful images like this. One of the features of this latest version of the list is the addition of links to a number of other images of inscriptions and bookplates, which I have put onto Flickr. I will aim to augment this over time. The list also now includes links to the
database of British Armorial Bindings, begun by John Morris and completed by Philip Oldfield, and freely available on the web via the University of Toronto and the sponsorship of the Bibliographical Society. This major reference work contains details and images of all
known armorial binding stamps used by British owners not only in the seventeenth century, but from the earliest use of suecvh stamps in the sixteenth century through to the present day.

"I am sharing this list through bibliographical Internet sites partly because, imperfect and incomplete though it is, the list may already have enough data to be useful in various kinds of ways, and partly in the hope of stimulating responses and ideas as to how it should be developed. It may also be useful as a list of references and sources of further leads on particular owners. I will be very glad to have suggestions for names and references which should be added, or any other feedback from others who are interested in this area of book history as to how to take this project forward (many thanks to everyone who has already contacted me in this way, including Bob Fehrenbach, Peter Hoare, Philip Oldfield, Jeremy Potter, Renae Satterley and David Shaw). I am happy for any or all of the data here to beused in any ways that are helpful to fellow book historians though I would appreciate the source being cited where appropriate.

"David Pearson
Revised December 2013
Email drspearson@dsl.pipex.com" (The Bibliographical Society Electronic Publications 2007 [latest version December 2013], accessed 11-30-2014)

In November 2014 Mr. Pearson's bibliographical listing, including many links to other websites, was available from The Bibliographical Society at this link.

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About 350,000 Separate Titles Were Printed by 1600 1600

"By the year 1600, 150 years after Gutenberg's Bible ws first exhibited at the Frankfurt Fair, Europe's presses had cranked out something in the region of 350,000 separate titles: a cumulative total of some one hundred million individual copies" (Pettegree, Andrew, The Book in the Renaissance [2010] xv-xvi).

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Matteo Ricci Issues the First European-Style World Map in Chinese & the First Chinese Map to Show the Americas 1602

Drawn by Jesuit missionary, sinologist and polymath, Matteo RicciKūnyú Wànguó Quántú (坤輿萬國全圖 ("A Map of the Myriad Countries of the World") issued in 1602 was the first European-style world map in Chinese. Five feet (1.52 m) high and twelve feet (3.66 m) wide, it was printed from six large woodblocks and intended to be mounted on a folding screen. 

"Drawing of the map followed a first primitive map by Ricci, printed in 1584, named Yudi Shanhai Quantu (舆地山海全图). made in Zhaoqing, in 1584 by the Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci. Ricci was one of the first Western scholars to live in China, master of Chinese script and the Classical Chinese language. Ricci created smaller versions of the map at the request of the governor of Zhaoqing at the time, Wang Pan, who wanted the document to serve as a resource for explorers and scholars.

"Later, Ricci was the first Westerner to enter Peking, bringing atlases of Europe and the West that were unknown to his hosts. The Chinese had maps of the East that were equally unfamiliar to Western scholars. In 1602, at the request of the Wanli Emperor, Ricci collaborated with Mandarin Zhong Wentao, technical translator Li Zhizao. and other Chinese scholars in what is now Beijing to create what was his third and largest world map.

"In this map, European geographic knowledge, new to the Chinese, was combined with Chinese information to create the first map known to combine Chinese and European cartography. Among other things, this map revealed the existence of America to the Chinese. Ford W. Bell said: 'This was a great collaboration between East and West. It really is a very clear example of how trade was a driving force behind the spread of civilization.'

"Several prints of the map were made in 1602. Only seven original copies of the map are known to exist and only two are in good condition. Known copies are in the Vatican Apostolic Library Collection I; Vatican Apostolic Library Collection II; Japan Kyoto University Collection; collection of Japan Miyagi Prefecture Library; Collection of the Library of the Japanese Cabinet; a private collection in Paris, France and one recently sold in London (formerly in a private collection in Japan). No examples of the map are known to exist in China, where Ricci was revered and buried.

"Ferdinand Verbiest would later develop a similar but improved map, the Kunyu Quantu in 1674" (Wikipedia article on Impossible Black Tulip, accessed 01-13-2010).

In December 2009 The James Ford Bell Trust announced that in October 2009 it had acquired for the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, one of the two "good" copies of the Kūnyú Wànguó Quántú  from Bernard J. Shapero, a noted London dealer in rare books and maps in London, for $1 million. This was the second most expensive map purchase in history after the Library of Congress purchase of the Waldseemüller World Map. The James Ford Bell copy previously was in a private collection in Japan.

The first public exhibition of the Kūnyú Wànguó Quántú was held at the Library of Congress in January 2010.

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Justus Lipsius Issues the First "Major" History of Libraries 1602

De bibliothecis syntagma, a pamphlet of 34 pages published in Antwerp at the Plantin-Moretus Press in 1602, has been called, in spite of its brevity, the first "major" history of libraries. It was written by the Southern-Netherlandish (Belgian) philologist and humanist Joose Lips, or Josse Lips, best-known through the Latinization of his name, Justus Lipsius. "Based primarily on the writings of classical Greek and Roman authors, it surveyed the libraries of antiquity by describing their locations, buildings, storage methods, and, to a small extent, their contents" (Walker, Justus Lipsius and the Historiography of Libraries," Libraries & Culture XXVI [1991] 49-65.)

In 1907 librarian John Cotton Dana issued an English translation of the second edition (1607) of Lipsius's work as A Brief Outline of the History of Libraries.

In spite of its brevity because of the paucity of surviving information, and its dependence mostly on secondary sources, Lipsius's work remained widely consulted and underwent numerous editions through the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was superceded to a certain extent by the much more extensive work of Louis Jacob (1644), but replaced mainly by the work of Edward Edwards (1859). See Thomas D. Walker, "Ancient Authors on Libraries: An Analysis and Bibliographic History of De Bibliothecis Syntagma by Justus Lipsius," Justus Lipsius Europae Lumen et Columen: Proceedings of the International Colloquium... (Leiden, 1999) 233-247.

(This entry was last revised on 06-10-2015).

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Guillaume de Castelfranc Issues the First World Map Showing Isogonic Lines 1602 – 1604

During 1602 and 1604 French astronomer and geographer Guillaume de Castelfranc, called Le Nautonier, published the first world map that showed isogonic lines, or lines of geomagnetism. The map appeared in his Mecometrie de l’eymant, c’est a dire la maniere de mesurer les longitudes par le moyen de l’eymant. Par laquelle est enseigné, un tres certain moyen, au paravant inconnu, de trouver les longitudes geographiques de tous lieux,--aussi facilement comme la latitude. Davantage, y est monstree la declinaison de la guideymant, pour tous lieux. Oeuvre nécessaire aux admiraux, cosmographes, astrologues, geographes, pilotes, geometriens, ingenieux, mestres des mines, architectes, et quadraniers. De linvention de Guillaume de Nautonier sieur de Castelfranc en Languedoc ..., imprimé à Venes ches l'autheur par Raimond Colomies, imprimeur en l'Université de Tolose, & par Antoine de Courteneufve. Castelfranc's map was used in work on finding longitude by means of magnetic variation. The tables give the world distribution of the variation, by latitude, along each of the meridians.

There must have been an unusually large international demand for Castelfranc's book as in 1603 editions appeared in Latin, Castilian, English and Dutch. The first part was dedicated to Henri IV of France, the second to James I of England , and the third to Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully and Grand master of artillery, and superintendent of fortifications. The work was used in 1603 by Samuel de Champlain for his cartographic work in New France

Friend, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langen and the 'Secret of Longitude." 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-08-2013.

Shirley, Mapping of the World, 240.

(This entry was last revised on 03-03-2015.)

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Thomas Bodley Founds The Bodleian, the First "Public" Library in England, & the First British National Library November 8, 1602 – 1605

On November 8, 1602 the Bodleian Library at Oxford opened to the "public" with a collection of 2000 books assembled by Thomas Bodley. It was intended to replace the library that had been donated to the Divinity School at Oxford by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (brother of Henry V), but which had been dispersed in the 16th century at the orders of young Edward VI, successor to Henry VIII.

Between 1598 and 1605, when the first catalogue of the Bodleian was published, Bodley and his circle secured sufficient donations of books and cash to create a library of about 8,700 volumes, making it effectively the British national library. From the start the Bodleian was the first "public" rather than "private" library in England, and one of the first "public" libraries in Europe. On May 26, 2015 I had the opportunity to visit the spectacular new facilities of the Bodleian at Clarendon House in Oxford during a Grolier Club gathering in England, and I was able to ask Richard Ovenden, the director of the Bodleian Library, to explain what the concept of a 'public" library meant at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Mr. Ovenden, whose official title is "Bodley's Librarian," explained that public in this context meant that the library was open to qualified scholars, but not to the general public in the way that we define a public library today. The concept of providing a library for the use of qualified scholars at a university was new, as other libraries at the time were essentially private.

The first catalogue of the Bodleian, compiled by its first librarian, Thomas James, indicated its public nature in its title: Catalogus librorum bibliothecae publicae quam vir ornatissimus Thomas Bodleius Eques. . . . When I revised this entry in May 2015 I did not find a digital edition of the 1605 catalogue available; however the catalogue had been reproduced in facsimile as The first printed Catalogue of the Bodleian Library 1605 (Oxford, 1986). From that facsimile one could "read the shelves" in the organizational arrangement by subject favored by Bodley. Most entries listed author, title, place and date of publication. The catalogue concluded with a lengthy author index across all subjects.

"Although the University of Oxford must yield priority at least to the University of Leiden in publishing a general catalogue of its books, it remains true that the Bodleian in 1605 was the first institutional library to produce a substantial and widely distributed record of a collection which had, from its foundation, world-wide fame" (Introduction to the 1986 facsimile, vii.)

Together with its mission of providing service to qualified scholars, the Bodleian required an oath to be sworn by all readers before admission:

"You promise and solemnly engage before God. . . that whenever you shall enter the public library of the University, you will frame your mind to study in modesty and silence, and will use the books and other furniture in such manner that they may last as long as possible. Also that you will neither yourself in your own person steal, change, make erasures, deform, tear, cut, write notes in, interline, wilfully spoil, obliterate, defile, or in any other way retrench, ill-use, wear away or deteriorate any book or books nor authorise anyother person to do the like" (quoted by Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance [2010] 230). 

Alexander Marr, "Learned Benefaction: Science, Civility and Donations of Books and Instruments to the Bodleian Library Before 1605," Documenting the Early Modern Book World. Inventories and Catalogues in Manuscript and Print, ed. Walsby & Constantinidou (2013) 27-50.

(This entry was last revised on 05-27-2015.)

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Christopher Scheiner Invents the Pantograph, the First Copying Device? 1603 – 1605

Scheiner's Pantograph.

Christoph Scheiner, Jesuit priest, physicist and astronomer who in 1603, invented the pantograph.

Image showing how a pantograph works.

Between 1603 and 1605 German astronomer Christoph Scheiner invented the pantograph. This was probably the first copying device. Scheiner did not publish an account of this invention until 25 years later, when he issued Pantographice, seu ars delineandi res quaslibet per parallelogrammum lineare seu cavum mechanicum mobile in Rome, 1631.

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Federico Cesi Founds the Accademia dei Lincei, the First Scientific Society August 17, 1603

Believing that nature should be studied through direct observation, and not through the filter of Aristotelian philosophy, on August 17, 1603 scientist, naturalist and son of the first Duke of Acquasparta, Federico Cesi, together with Dutch scientist Johannes van Heeck (Eck), and Count Anastasio De Filiis, and Italian scientist and Latin translator, Francesco Stelluti founded the Accademia dei Lincei (the "Academy of the Lynx-Eyed") in Rome. 

"The four men chose the name 'Lincei' (lynx) from Giambattista della Porta's book 'Magia Naturalis', which had an illustration of the fabled cat on the cover and the words '. . . with lynx like eyes, examining those things which manifest themselves, so that having observed them, he may zealously use them'. Accademia dei Lincei's symbols were both a lynx and an eagle; animals with keen sight. The academy's motto, chosen by Cesi, was: 'Take care of small things if you want to obtain the greatest results' (minima cura si maxima vis). When Cesi visited Naples, he met the polymath della Porta. Della Porta encouraged Cesi to continue with his endeavours. Giambattista della Porta joined Cesi's academy in 1610.

"Galileo was inducted to the exclusive academy on December 25, 1611, and became its intellectual center. Galileo clearly felt honoured by his association with the academy for he adopted Galileo Galilei Linceo as his signature. The academy published his works and supported him throughout his disputes with the Roman Catholic Church. Among the academy's early publications in the fields of astronomy, physics and botany were the study of sunspots and the famous Saggiatore of Galileo, and the Tesoro Messicano (Mexican Treasury) describing the flora, fauna and drugs of the New World, which took decades of labor, down to 1651. With this publication, the first, most famous phase of the Lincei was concluded. Cesi's own intense activity was cut short by his sudden death in 1630 at forty-five.

"The Linceans produced an important collection of micrographs, or drawings made with the help of the newly invented microscope. After Cesi's death, the Accademia dei Lincei closed and the drawings were collected by Cassiano dal Pozzo, a Roman antiquarian, whose heirs sold them. The majority of the collection was procured by George III of the United Kingdom in 1763. The drawings were discovered in Windsor Castle in 1986 by art historian David Freedberg. They are being published as part of The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo" (Wikipedia article on Accademia dei Lincei, accessed 11-27-2010).

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Johan Carolus's "Relation," the First Printed European Newspaper 1605

If a newspaper is defined as a publication in series on current-affairs issued regularly at intervals short enough for readers to keep abreast of news, then Johann CarolusRelation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of All Distinguished and Commemorable News) published in Strasbourg was the first European newspaper. In 1605 Carolus, who had previously earned his living by producing hand-written news sheets for wealthy subscribers, acquired a printing press and began printing the Relation.

"The Carolus petition discovered in the Strasbourg Municipal Archive during the 1980s may be regarded as the birth certificate of the newspaper:

Whereas I have hitherto been in receipt of the weekly news advice [handwritten news reports] and, in recompense for some of the expenses incurred yearly, have informed yourselves every week regarding an annual allowance; Since, however, the copying has been slow and has necessarily taken much time, and since, moreover, I have recently purchased at a high and costly price the former printing workshop of the late Thomas Jobin and placed and installed the same in my house at no little expense, albeit only for the sake of gaining time, and since for several weeks, and now for the twelfth occasion, I have set, printed and published the said advice in my printing workshop, likewise not without much effort, inasmuch as on each occasion I have had to remove the formes from the presses . . . " (Wikipedia article on Johann Carolus, accessed 01-16-2015).

The earliest extant examples of Relation are dated 1609. Also in that year Heinrich Julius, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and prince of Wolfenbüttel, began publishing from Wolfenbuttel Avisa Relation oder Zeitung. The first issue of that states that the news had been collected from various countries by January 15, 1609 and it is presumed that the issue was printed on or about that date. Like Carolus's Relation, the Avisa was printed in the newsbook format.

In "The Origins of the Newspaper," Selected Essays on the History of Letter-Forms in Manuscript and Print,, Ed, D. McKitterick, D. (1980) English historian of printing Stanley Morison argued that on the basis of "format" rather than frequency and function, the Relation should be classified as a newsbook because it was issued in book format, printed in quarto with the text set in a single wide column. By Morison's definition the world's first newspaper would be the Dutch  Courante uyt Italien, Duytsland &c. which began publication in 1618. By the same definition no German, English, French, or Italian weekly or daily news publications from the first half of the seventeenth century could be considered newspapers. However, the World Association of Newspapers and many authorities have not adopted Morison's definition.

(This entry was last revised on 01-17-2015.)

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Fray Juan Bautista Issues the First Bibliography Published in the New World 1606

In 1606 Franciscan Fray Juan Bautista published A Jesu Christo S.N. ofrece este Sermonario en lengua mexicana in Mexico, En casa de Diego Lopez Davalos. This was the second collection of sermons published Nahuatl (Aztec) prefaced with a two-page list of previously published works by Bautista. The listing of books was the first bibliography published in the Western Hemisphere.

"On signature **iii (recto and verso) is a list of 'las obras que hasta agora ha impresso el auctor' ('the works that until now the author has had published'). The list is not in chronological order nor is it alphabetical by title; nonetheless it is a bibliography and supplies us with information now known only because of its inclusion here. Of the 17 items listed, several have failed to survive in any known copy, including the second part of this sermonario: at the time of publication of part one 'de la sequnda parte esta ya impresso gran pedaço' ('of the second part a large piece is already printed')" (Szewczyk & Buffington, 39 Books and Broadsides Printed In America Before the Bay Psalm Book [1989] no. 19).

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Galileo Presents One of the First Records of Litigation over an Invention 1607

In 1607 Galileo Galilei issued from Venice at the press of Tomaso Baglioni Difesa di Galileo Galilei ... contro alle calumnie & imposture di Baldessar Capra. This booklet published the transcript of the trial resulting from the lawsuit that Galileo successfully brought against Baldessar Capra for copying the proportional and military compass that Galileo had invented. It was among the first, if not the very first, record of litigation over an invention, and most certainly the first litigation in the history of computing.

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Hieronymus Hornschuch Issues the First Editor's and Printer's Manual 1608

In 1608 printer Hieronymus Hornschuch published in Leipzig the first editor's and printer's manual, Orthotypographia, which "while dealing mainly with the signs and symbols of correction, included short sections on schemes of imposition and type-specimens" (P.Gaskell, G.Barber and G.Warrilow, 'An Annotated List of Printers' Manuals to 1850', Journal of the Printing Historical Society, no. 4  [1968] 11-31, G1). 

Prior to this date no printer had published instructions any technical aspect of the printing trade—a trade which had to be learned through a presumably secretive process of apprenticeship.

Reference: Orthotypographia, by Hieronymus Hornschuch A Facsimile with a Parallel Translation of the Earliest Printers Manual, First Published at Leipzig in 1608, edited by Philip Gaskell and Patricia Bradford. Cambridge: Cambridge University Library, 1972.

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The Venetian Government Issues the First Prepaid Letter Sheets 1608

The Venetian government issued prepaid letter sheets— the first offically sold prepaid postal stationery.

At the top of the sheets the letters "AQ" (a contraction of acque) were printed, as the pre-paid sheets were intended to generate revenue for the repair and upkeep of the waterworks in the city by the Collegio alle Acque. Below the large letters "AQ" and the lion of Venice was a statement of the statute by which the system operated with a surcharge of 4 soldi on the cost of posting a letter.  Each sheet had an identification number printed at the top left, and the name of the revenue officer by whom they were issued. The system  remained in operation until the end of 1797. (Samuel Gedge Ltd., Rare Books Catalogue V [2008] 97.)

A value of these sheets was that the user could assume that the letter would definitely be delivered. Most private  postal services operating at the time charged the recipient for the delivery with the result that mail was often refused.

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Hans Lippershey Invents the Telescope 1608

In 1608 German-Dutch lensmaker of Middelberg, Netherlands, Hans Lippershey created and disseminated designs for the first practical telescope.

"Crude telescopes and spyglasses may have been created much earlier, but Lippershey is believed to be the first to apply for a patent for his design (beating Jacob Metius by a few weeks), and making it available for general use in 1608. He failed to receive a patent but was handsomely rewarded by the Dutch government for copies of his design. The 'Dutch perspective glass', the telescope that Lippershey invented, could only magnify thrice.

"The first known mention of Lippershey's application for a patent for his invention appeared at the end of a diplomatic report on an embassy to Holland from the Kingdom of Siam sent by the Siamese king Ekathotsarot: Ambassades du Roy de Siam envoyé à l'Excellence du Prince Maurice, arrive a La Haye, le 10. septembr. 1608 ('Embassy of the King of Siam sent to his Excellence Prince Maurice, September 10, 1608'). The diplomatic report was soon distributed across Europe, leading to the experiments by other scientists such as the Italian Paolo Sarpi, who received the report in November, or the English Thomas Harriot in 1609, and Galileo Galilei who soon improved the device.

"One story behind the creation of the telescope states that two children were playing with lenses in his shop. The children discovered that images were clearer when seen through two lenses, one in front of the other. Lippershey was inspired by this and created a device very similar to today's telescope" (Wikipedia article on Hans Lippershey, accessed 03-27-2009).

While Sarpi and Harriot experimented with Lippershey's telescope prior or contemporaneously with Galileo, neither wrote or published on the subject.

(This entry was last revised on April 14, 2014.)

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Odoardo Fialetti Creates Probably the First Printed Manual for Drawing Human Anatomy 1608

The Bolognese artist Odoardo Fialetti, initially apprenticed to Giovanni Battista Cremonini, and after traveling to Rome, moved to Venice to work in the elderly Tintoretto's studio. From 1604 to 1612 he was listed as member of the Venetian painter's guild, the Fraglia dei Pittori. Fialetti was a proflific author of not only of paintings but also prints, portraits, books on drawing and ornament, and book illustrations on a very wide range of subjects, including anatomical treatises, especially those in Guido Cesare Casseri's (Casserio, Casserius) Tabulae anatomicae.

Probably the first printed manual on drawing the human body, as distinct from earlier manuals on anatomy for artists, was Fialetti's Il vero modo et ordine per dissegnar tvtte le parti et membra del corpo hvmano—an entirely etched book of 40 leaves, drawn and etched by Fialetti, published in Venice in 1608. Fialetti's book may also be the first printed book on drawing in general, and may also be the first printed book on drawing for which authorship is clear, as the undated printed drawing book associated with Agostino & Annibale Carracci, Scuola perfetta per imparare a disegnare tutto il corpo humano cavata dallo studio, e disegnari de Carracci, a work of engravings of drawing examples by the Carraccis and other artists, possibly including some from the Carraccis' Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna, is thought to have been first printed between 1609 and 1614, but could also have been later. 

In her 2009 thesis, Odoardo Fialetti (1573-c.1638): The Interrelation of Venetian Art and Anatomy, and his Importance in England (2 vols.),  the most comprehensive study of Fialetti's work of which I am aware, Laura M. Walters provides on pp. 68-79 a detailed analysis of Fialetti's drawing book and calls it on "the first drawing book of its kind of to come out of Venice." She describes two different states of the work, and compares it to other drawing books of the period, but does not cite any printed drawing book earlier than 1608. Comparing Fialetti's book to known studies by Agostino Carracci, she states that "the arrangement and development of body parts reflects the studies of Agostino Carracci, though the images and techniques used by Fialetti are not taken directly from him" (p. 70).

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Erasable Paper from 1609 1609

The Companie of Stationers in London published Robert Triplet's Writing Tables with a Kalendar for XXXIII Yeeres.

In May 2011 it was my pleasure to see the unique recorded copy of this ephemeral publication at an exhibit on diaries at the Morgan Library & Museum. Their exhibition note card read as follows:

"This rare copy of a renaissance portable calendar—a precursor to the pocket diary—includes blank pages that were specially treated with a coating of gesso and glue. Notes could be made on the go with a simple silverpoint stylus (no clunky pen and ink required!) and later wiped away. On the printed page shown, instructions are provided for erasing and rewriting: 'Take a little peece of spunge on a Linnecloath, being cleane without any soyle: wet it in water' and 'wipe that you have written very lightly and it will out, and within one quarter of a hower you may write in the same place againe.' "

ESTC System No. 006200615; ESTC Citation No. S95932. STC (2nd ed) 26050.8.  

ESTC System No. 006200616 cites a unique recorded copy of one presumably earlier, but undated edition of this, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, for which the estimated date is 1602.

Curiously, when I wrote this note in May 2011 the ESTC missed the point of the gesso and glued blank pages describing them in both records as "Includes chalked and sized pieces of board the size of the book’s leaves, apparently intended to offer a firm surface upon which to write. Not included in pagination or signatures."

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Thomas Thorpe Issues the First Edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets May 20, 1609

On May 20, 1609 English publisher and "procurer of manuscripts" Thomas Thorpe issued from London, without the author's permission, Shake-Speare's Sonnets. The volume contained 152 previously unpublished sonnets, and two (numbers 138 and 144) that had previously been published in a 1599 miscellany entitled The Passionate Pilgrim. This earlier collection, falsely attributed in its entirety to Shakespeare, had been published by William Jaggard, who would later, in 1623, publish the so-called "First Folio" of Shakespeare's plays.

Thorpe's "apparent disregard for Shakespeare's permission earned him a poor reputation, although modern author Katherine Duncan-Jones has argued that he was not such a 'scoundrel' as he was portrayed, and the amiable and admirable [Edward] Blount would certainly not associate with him if he were a scoundrel. It has even been suggested that Shakespeare did sell his manuscript to Thorpe, because of his acquaintance with [Ben] Jonson as an actor in Sejanus, who may have recommended Thorpe to him as a good publisher. The dedication, which is addressed to a mysterious Mr. W.H., may have been written either by Shakespeare himself or by Thorpe. Popular belief, however, is that Shakespeare is the author of the dedication, but the identity of Mr. W.H. is not known. Thorpe was probably responsible for the arrangement of the sonnets, with 1-17 being the "procreation sonnets", 18-126 being love sonnets to the Fair Youth (for the most part), and 127-154 being written on a variety of subjects, including politics, sex, and the Dark Lady. Critics have failed to agree whether or not his arrangement was the most apt, but most detect a logical coherence in the order, which is generally retained today: (Wikipedia article on Thomas Thorpe, accessed 05-21-2009).

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Galileo Issues Images of Revolutionary Discoveries Concerning the Universe; and the Story of a Remarkable Forgery November 1609 – March 13, 1610

After learning in 1609 that a Dutchman, Hans Lippershey, had invented an instrument that made faraway objects appear closer, Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, a resident of Padua, applied himself to discovering the principle behind this instrument. By late in 1609 he built a telescope of about thirty power. This he probably first turned to the heavens in November or December 1609, with astronishing and revolutionary results. In contradiction to the doctrines of Aristotle and Ptolemy, which taught that the celestrial sphere and its planets and stars were perfect and unchanging, Galileo's telescope showed that the surface of the moon was rough and mountainous, and the Milky way was composed of thickly clustered stars. In November or December 1609 Galileo painted six watercolors on a notebook page showing the phases of the moon, as he observed them through the telescope. These images, on a sheet preserved in Florence, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale (Ms. Gal. 48, f. 28r), were the first realistic images of the moon, and the first recorded images of bodies beyond the earth seen by man. 

On the night of January 7, 2010 Galileo set up a telescope on his balcony in Padua. He spotted three stars near Jupiter, and noted their positions in a notebook. Six days later Galileo returned to his telescope and found the same stars, but by then their position had changed. At that point he realized that the three stars were moons orbiting Jupiter— proof that the universe of stars was not fixed, as postulated by Ptolemy's geocentric theory, and evidence for Copernicanism. Three months later Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius, or Starry Messenger, was published in Venice in an edition of 550 copies. The Sidereus Nuncius described and illustrated with copperplate engravings the first astronomical observations made through a telescope. Its images provided revolutionary new information about the universe. Though it contained only the bare facts of Galileo's observations without any overt reference to the Copernican theory, Sidereus Nuncius aroused a sensation among the European learned community, for it provided the first hard evidence that the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic view of the universe contained inaccuracies. 

"He sent a copy of the book, along with the telescope he had been using, to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo II de’ Medici. Dr. [Owen] Gingerich said the pamphlet amounted to 'a job application' to the Medici family for whom, in one of history’s first examples of branding, Galileo named the four satellites of Jupiter. 'Other planets were gods or goddesses,' said Paolo Galluzzi, director of the Florence institute. 'The only humans with position in sky were Medicis.' The ploy worked, Cosimo II hired Galileo as his astronomer, elevating him from a poorly paid professor at the University of Padua to a celebrity, making the equivalent of $300,000, a year, Dr. Galluzzi said. Galileo returned the favor by giving Cosimo another telescope, clad in red leather and stamped with decorations" (Dennis Overbye, "A Telescope to the Past as Galileo Visits the U.S.", The New York Times, March 27, 2009.)

It is thought that Galileo built dozens of telescopes, of which two survive, both in the Institute for the History of Science (Museo Galileo) in Florence, Italy. One covered in decorated leather, which Galileo sent to Grand Duke Cosimo II de' Medici, retains only one of its original lenses, but the other, covered only in varnished paper, contains its original functioning optics, and has its focal length labeled in Galileo's handwriting on the outside of its tube. This telescope was loaned to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia for an exhibition from April to September 2009. (The online article in The New York Times included a video showing the original telescope being unpacked in Philadelphia.)


In June 2005 antiquarian bookseller Richard Lan (Martayan-Lan, Inc.) purchased a copy of the Sidereus nuncius from Marino Massimo De Caro and antiquarian bookseller Filippo Rotundo that was represented as a proof copy, signed by Galileo, originally from the library of Federico Cesi, founder of the Accademia dei Lincei. Instead of copperplate engraved illustrations as in other copies of the book, this copy contained watercolors of the phases of the moon similar to those which Galileo made at the end of 1609 and which are preserved in Florence. It was known that the Venetian printer had sent Galileo thirty copies with blank spaces indicating where etchings would be placed. Presumably this was one of those copies, in which Galileo had personally painted images for presentation to Federico Cesi, instead of having engravings printed in. The copy was examined by all the leading authorities, subjected to various tests, and was generally considered a unique proof copy.

The Martayan Lan copy was included in the discussions in a symposium convened at the Library of Congress in November 2010 entitled "Galileo's Moons," intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Sidereus Nuncius and the acquisition by the Library of Congress of an uncut copy of the first edition bound in the original limp paper boards. Papers presented at this symposium accepted the authenticity of the Martayan Lan copy.

In 2011 De Gruyter published a rather grand 2-volume set, fully illustrated in color, based on research begun in 2007. Volume one, edited by Irene Brückle and Oliver Hahn, was entitled Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius. A comparison of the proof copy (New York) with other paradigmatic copies. Volume two, written by Paul Needham, was entitled Galileo Makes a Book. The First Edition of Sidereus Nuncius, Venice 1610. Regarding the significance of Needham's study, I quote from the review by G. Thomas Tanselle, Common Knowledge19, #3, (Fall 2013), 575-576:

"Needham’s book is based on eighty-three other copies, and he draws as well on Galileo’s letters, drafts, and various external documents. The result is a detailed account of the early months of 1610, from January 15, when Galileo decided he must publish his discoveries, to March 13, when the printing was completed; an additional chapter discusses the book’s distribution and Galileo’s corrections in some copies. The task of bibliography, as stated by Needham, is to know “the materials and human actions that produced (in multiple copies) the structure of a printed book.” Systematically he takes up the paper, type, and format of Sidereus Nuncius and provides a quire-by-quire analysis of its production, making exemplary use of many techniques of bibliographical analysis, each patiently and clearly explained, with accompanying illustrations. The book could serve as an excellent introduction to this kind of work; but even more remarkably, it demonstrates how interconnected are the physical object and its intellectual content. The title sentence, “Galileo makes a book,” has a double meaning: not only did Galileo write the text, but he also attended to its physical production, making the presentation of the text integral to its meaning. Needham does not neglect Galileo’s writing itself: he calls Galileo “an artist with words,” whose “prose embodies not just close reasoning, but also life and emotion.”

"This assessment applies equally to Needham’s own writing, which combines rigorous but readable technical analysis with an awareness of the human side of that work and the story it reveals. This combination recalls an earlier bibliographical classic, Allan Stevenson’s The Problem of the Missale Speciale (1967), another full-length treatment of a single book. Even the sense of humor displayed by Stevenson has its counterpart here: when, for example, Needham explains two hypotheses as to when the printing of Galileo’s book began, he calls the one that postulates a later date “the dilatory view.” At the end Needham praises the many nameless actors, such as papermakers and printing-shop workers, who played roles in the story; and he closes with “the mules and oxen whose humble labor moved sheets of Sidereus Nuncius across the face of Europe, under the eyes of the boundless sky.” This passage, occurring in a work of bibliographical analysis, epitomizes the work’s unusual accomplishment: it breaks new ground in the study of a major book, sets forth its discoveries in an engaging narrative, and in the process shows how bibliography can be essential to intellectual history."

Until early 2012 Richard Lan was privately offering the copy for sale for $10,000,000. Then Nick Wilding, an historian of science at Georgia State University who had been asked to review the 2-volume set mentioned above, presented concrete proof that the Martayan-Lan copy was a forgery:

  • The book bears a library stamp by the founder of the Accademia dei Lincei Federico Cesi. But the stamp in the Martayan Lan copy doesn’t match those in other books with Cesi's stamp.
  • The title page was different from genuine copies, but bore similarities to a 1964 facsimile and an unsold Sotheby’s auction copy.
  • There was no record of the Siderus Nuncius in the original library from which this copy was thought to come.

Slowly the thread of fabrication began to unravel. Discovery of the forgery coincided with the exposure of massive thefts of rare books from the Girolomini Library in Naples, for which Marino Massimo De Caro, and others were eventually convicted. In 2013 the Library of Congress and Levenger Press issued Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger, Venice, 1610. From Doubt to Astonishment. This volume contained a facsimile edition of the Library of Congress copy, an English translation, and the text of the papers delivered at the November 2010 symposium. However, as the editor of the volume noted, Paul Needham revised his paper (now retitled "Authenticity and Facsimile: Gaileo's Paper Trail") in light of his later acceptance that the Martayan Lan copy was a forgery. On December 16, 2013 The New Yorker magazine published a detailed background article on the forgery and how it was accomplished, by Nicholas Schmidel: "A Very Rare Book. The mystery surrounding a copy of Gaileo's pivotal treatise." While the article filled in many blanks concerning the Sidereus Nuncius forgery, it raised other questions concerning other unknown thefts and forgeries by Marino Massimo de Caro and his associates.

In February 2014 De Gruyter issued an originally unintended volume three of their 2011 two-volume set entitled A Galileo Forgery. Unmasking the New York Sidereus Nuncius, edited by Horst Bredekamp, Irëne Bruckel, and Paul Needham. When I last revised this entry in August 2014 the full text of the volume was available as an Open Access PDF at no charge. This was the most comprehensive account and proof of the forgery. In many ways it was the most remarkable and admirable volume of the set, in which the scholars, recounted how the forgery was discovered, drew their final conclusions proving the forgery, and explained how they had been deceived in the first place.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 855.

(This entry was last revised on 04-04-2015.)

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Federico Borromeo Founds the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the Second "Public" Library in Europe December 8, 1609

On 1609 Cardinal Federico Borromeo founded the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Depending on how "public library" is defined, the Ambrosiana was possibly the the second public library in Europe, after the Bodleian at Oxford. However, the Ambrosiana was preceded in Italy by the library at the Domincan convent of San Marco (1444) and the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (1571), both of which were characterized as "public" libraries when they were founded. Thus, there may be some uncertainly as to which library was actually the first "public" library in Europe.

To build up the Ambrosiana's collections Cardinal Borromeo's agents scoured Western Europe, and even Greece and Syria for books and manuscripts. In 1606 they acquired the complete manuscripts of the Benedictine monastery of Bobbio, founded in 614, and the library of the Paduan Vincenzo Pinelli, whose more than 800 manuscripts filled 70 cases when they were sent to Milan, and included the famous extremely early illuminated miniatures of the Iliad, the Ilias Ambrosiana.

"During Cardinal Borromeo's sojourns in Rome, 1585–95 and 1597–1601, he envisioned developing this library in Milan as one open to scholars and that would serve as a bulwark of Catholic scholarship against the treatises issuing from Protestant presses. To house the cardinal's 15,000 manuscripts and twice that many printed books, Construction began in 1603 under designs and direction of Lelio Buzzi and Francesco Maria Richini. When its first reading room, the Sala Fredericiana, opened to the public, December 8, 1609, it was, after the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the second public library in Europe. One innovation was that its books were housed in cases ranged along the walls, rather than chained to reading tables, a practice seen still today in the Laurentian Library of Florence. A printing press was attached to the library, and a school for instruction in the classical languages.

"Cardinal Borromeo gave his collection of paintings and drawings to the library too. Shortly after the cardinal's death his library acquired twelve manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, including the Codex Atlanticus. . . ." (Wikipedia article on the Biblioteca Ambroisiana).

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The Maronite Monastery of St. Anthony at Qozhaya Issues the First Book Printed in the Arab World 1610

The first book printed in the Arab world was a bilingual Psalter in small folio of 260 pages which was printed in the Maronite Monastery of St. Anthony at Qozhaya in Northern Lebanon in 1610.

"Besides the title-page, the little book contains an introduction by Sarkis al Rizzi, the Maronite Archibshop of Damascus, 151 psalms (the 150 canonical ones and one apocryphal), the ten Biblical odes (tasabih), the imprimatur by the Archbishop of Ihdin to whose diocese Quzhayya belonged, and a concluding colophon. The psalms are arranged in two columns, on the right is the text in Syriac and on the left in Arabic, but written in Syriac letters, the so-called Karshuni script. As the Arabic version is longer than the Syriac one the wish to keep both texts parallel caused the use of two different fonts; larger ones for Syriac and smaller ones for Arabic. Both sets of types are elegant and harmonious and are cast after a calligraphic model of high quality.

". . . . The lowest panel [of the title page] - again in Arabic (Karshuni) - gives information in the form of a colophon, on the place of printing, the printers, and the year of printing: 'In the venerated hermitage which is situated in the valley of Quzhayya on the blessed Mount Lebanon by the master Pasquale Eli and the humble Yusuf, the son of 'Amima from Karmsadda, called deacon, in the year 1610' " (Lehrstuhl für Türkische Sprache, Geschichte und Kultur Universität Bamberg, The Beginnings of Printing in the Near and Middle East: Jews, Christians and Muslims [2001] no. 3.)

This was the first book printed in the Middle East. No other books followed from the press at Qozhaya (Quzhayya), and almost a century elapsed before the first book was printed in Arabic in the Middle East (1706).

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News Services Persist in Distributing News by Manuscript Circa 1610

As late as 1610 news services in England continued to distribute small numbers of hand-written news manuscripts, rather than printed news sheets, to their subscribers.

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Possibly the Earliest Extant Examples of Wall-Shelving are in Duke Humfrey's Library 1610 – 1612

Bookshelves constructed in the Arts End of  Duke Humfrey's Library in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, designed for smaller books to be shelved upright rather than folios laid flat, were installed from 1610 to 1612. They are among the earliest surviving bookshelves of this type. 

Wormald & Wright, The English Library before 1700 (1958) 237, and frontispiece.

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Filed under: Book History, Libraries

Graphic Depiction of Leiden University Library in 1610 1610

In 1610 bookseller and publisher Andries Cloucq published a series of four large prints depicting the main buildings and halls of Leiden University: the anatomy theatre, the library, the botanical garden and the fencing school. The prints were engraved by Willem van Swanenburg after drawings by the Leiden artist Jan Cornelis van't Woudt (Woudanus)

Most relevant to this database is the famous print of the interior of the library, of which the Wikipedia reproduces a hand-colored copy from a version published in Stedboeck der Nederlanden (Amsterdam: Willem Blaeu, 1649). 

As Clark writes in The Care of Books (1902) 164:

"The bookcases were evidently contrived with the view of getting the largest number possible into the room. Each contained a single row of books, chained to a bar in front of the shelf; and, also for the purpose of saving the space usually occupied by a seat, readers were obliged to consult them standing. There are eleven bookcases on each sie of the room, each containing from 40 to 48 volumes. At the end of the room are two cupboards, probably for manuscripts; and to the right of the spectator is a third press marked Legatum Josephi Scaligeri. He died in January, 1609. Further, as an illustration of the usual appliances for study found in libraries at this period, and often mentioned in catalogues and account-books, I should draw attention to the globes and maps."

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At Hereford Cathedral the Largest Historic Chained Library in the World 1611

The library at Hereford Cathedral. (View Larger)

The working library of Hereford Cathedral in England originated in the eleventh century. The chained library at the cathedral, containing 229 medieval manuscripts, remains the largest historic chained library in the world, with all its rods, chains and locks intact. It has been preserved in the form in which it was maintained from 1611 to 1841.

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Jacques Bongars Issues the First Collection of Chronicles of the Crusades 1611

In 1611 French scholar and diplomat Jacques Bongars edited a number of chronicles of the crusades under the title Gesta Dei per Francos, Sive Orientalium Expeditionum et Regnifrancorum Hierosolimitani Historia, and had them published in Hanover, Germany. Bongars' work was the first of a long series of editions and publications devoted to the Crusades, and to the fateful history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

"No other movement in the history of the Middle Ages has made such a strong appeal to posterity; no other cause has seemed inspired by so much valour and religious fervour. To contemporaries, the liberation of the Holy places from the yoke of the infidel had been God's own work; and the long series of calamities that followed were due to unaccountable evil forces. The unexpected success of the First Crusade appeared little short of miraculous; the establishment of a Christian State in the Holy Land, which managed to survive under the most adverse conditions for almost 200 years, was a proud achievement and an inspiration to western chivalry. Barbarossa's untimely death, the reconquest of Acre, during the Third Crusade, and the eventual collapse of the kingdom at the hands of the savage Mameluks of Egypt stirred the imagination of the Latin world for many generations to come. The opulent eastern way of life in which the Frankish setters indulged, the friendly relations that were formed between them and their Arab and Turish opponents, Saladin's magnanimity and his generosity towards their captured leaders were contrary to the Latin customs and practices of the time, and anticipated the standards and ideals of later centuries. The Crusaders' experiences, embellished with fabulous tales, figure prominenty in the contemporary chansons de geste, and the deep impression they made in the West remained well into modern times.

"The reappraisal of the Crusading movement which has taken place during the last hundred years or so has made us take a less romantic and more sober view of events. The relations between the Latin Kingdom, the Byzantine Empire, and the Moslem States appear as a game of power politics even more ruthless than subtle. The organization of the Kingdom as a feudal State on the western pattern, the crude intolerance of the Franks, and their complete failure to appreciate the guiding principles and traditions of Byzantine policy were fundamental weaknesses which were bound to aggravate antagonism and breed disaster. The history of the thirteenth century, especially, presents itself as an interminable succession of unco-ordinated exploits, inspired by personal jealousy, lust for power, cruelty, and greed. Frequently the affairs of the Kingdom were in the hands of high-minded and galant leaders who earned the respect of friend and foe alike; but their example remained without lasting influence on the course of events. No doubt the Crusades mark a turning-point in the intellectual hsitory of the western world. They ended its parochialism and self-sufficiency, and opened the way for new ideas which initiated the intellectual achievements of the Italian Renaissance. But Europe paid a terrible price. The wilful and irresponsible destruction of the political power of Byzantium led to the unchecked ascendancy of the Ottoman Turks, and to the untold humiliations and sufferings which it entailed" (Hugo Buchthal, Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem [1957] xxvii-xxviii). 

(This entry was last revised on 05-05-2014.)

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Anselm Faust Writes the Earliest European Manual on Bookbinding 1612

Anselme Faust wrote Cunst der boeckbinders handwerck. Arfice des relieurs de livres in 1612. This manuscript in two parts, bound back to back, containing the text written in both Fremish and French, is the earliest European manual on bookbinding. It is preserved in the Plantin Moretus Museum, Antwerp.

Pollard, Early Bookbinding Manuals (1984) no. 38.

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Filed under: Bookbinding

François d'Aguilon & Peter Paul Rubens Describe Optics and Color Theory 1613

Belgian Jesuit mathematician, physicist and architect François d'Aguilon published Opticorum libri sex philosophis juxta ac mathematicis utiles in Antwerp at the Officina Plantiniana in 1613. Intended for use in Jesuit schools, Aguilon’s work was primarily a synthesis of classical and modern writings on optics; however, it also contained the first discussion of the stereographic process (which Aguilon named), one of the earliest presentations of the red-yellow-blue color system, an original theory of binocular vision and the first published description of Aguilon’s horopter.

“The horopter is the invention, or rather discovery, of Aguilon; he coined the term and showed how important the horopter is in explaining vision with two eyes; he even demonstrated the horopter in a simple device constructed by him and pictured by Rubens. . . . The theory of Aguilon on the horopter is a large step in the right direction, calling a halt to all previous deficient theories” (Ziggelaar, François Aguilon, 115; see also 53-133).

Aguilar’s theory of binocular vision was eventually superseded (despite claims to the contrary, he apparently knew nothing about Kepler’s ideas on the retina); nevertheless his ideas had some influence on the theorists of vision from Huygens to Newton to Helmholtz.

Production of Aguilon’s book fell to the Plantin-Moretus printing house, whose controllers were sympathetic to the Jesuits in Antwerp. The illustrations and allegorical title were prepared by painter, collector, and humanist scholar Peter Paul Rubens, a friend of Balthasar Moretus and himself deeply interested in the world of books.

“The designs for the frontispiece and six vignettes reveal Rubens’ knowledge of the actual text. . . . Rubens combined successfully Aguilonius’ references to ancient mythology and allegory into a coherent programme that also includes a connection with the science of optics, for all the various elements on the frontispiece have a direct relationship with the concept of vision” (Held, Rubens and the Book  [1977] 52).  

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 25.

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John Napier Invents Logarithms, Napier's Bones & the Lightning Calculating Device 1614 – 1617

Preface page from Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio, by John Napier, describing the (then) new mathematical device known as logarithms.



In 1614 Scottish mathematician, physicist, astronomer & astrologer, and also the 8th Laird of Merchistoun John Napier published from Edinburgh his Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (The Description of the Wonderful Canon of Logarithms), announcing his invention of logarithms,with the goal of increasing calculating speed and reducing drudgery.

Three years later, in 1617, Napier published Rabdologiae, describing two calculating devices: “Napier’s bones,” and the Multiplicationis promptuarium, or the lightning calculator.

"He [Napier] wrote that the multiplication and division of great numbers is troublesome, involving tedious expenditure of time, and subject to "slippery errors." His tables reduced these difficulties to simple addition and subtraction, and won immediate recognition. A set of Napier’s bones are usually made of boxwood or ivory and often contained in a box or case that would fit in a pocket. A set usually contains 10 rods, plus extras representing squares and cubes.  

"Use. Addition is accomplished by reading the appropriate bones along the diagonal. To obtain a product of 224 x 44, the rods 2, 2, and 4 are put alongside each other, and the result is read off by combining the numbers in the fourth row -- 0/8, 0/8, 1/6 -- for the correct answer 896. This is repeated and the two products added together to give 9856. The bones are sometimes associated with an abacus to provide a store in the multiplication process" (Gordon Bell's website, accessed 10-12-2011).

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Minsheu's "Ductor in Linguas," The First Book Sold by Subscription and the First Book to Include a List of Subscribers 1617

English linguist and lexicographer John Minsheu's (Minshew) Ηγημων εις τας γλωσσας. Ductor in linguas, The Guide into Tongues  (London, 1617) was the first book published by advance subscription using a printed prospectus, and the first book to include a list of subscribers. The unusually elaborate blingual Latin and English title page of this dictionary into eleven languages states that it was "By the Industrie, Studie, Labour, and at the Charges of John Minsheu Published and Printed."

Though the STC records no less than ten variant editions of the broadsheet list of subscribers found in some copies, each with increasing numbers of names, scholars have disputed whether Minsheu actually sold the first edition of his book by subscription. For example, in the authoritative Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Volume IV 1557 to 1695 (2002) the editor of the volume John Barnard states on p. 9:

"John Minsheu's multilingual dictionary, Ductor in linguas (made up of 726 folio pages using Greek, Anglo-Saxon and Hebrew characters as well as roman, black lettter and italic) on which he began work in 1599, was given a royal patent in 1611. Minsheu, however, was unable to raise the capital to publish the book until 1617; in so doing so he sought the support of the two universities, the Inns of Court, and 'divers Honorable and Right Worshipfull Personages, Bishops, and others', including merchants and London citizens; even so money ran out in the course of printing and the work was done at different times by two different printers. It was this difficulty which led to the publication of the second edition in 1625 by subscription, the first English example of this practice, one revived in the 1650s and taken up by the trade in the 1670s and 1680s."

Later in the volume, the co-editor of the same volume of The History of the Book in Britain, D. F. McKenzie, makes a similar assertion on p. 565, footnote 33. However, neither scholar seems to be aware of the unique prospectus for Minsheu's book preserved in the John Johnson Collection in the Bodleian Library. The working title given for the book on the prospectus is Glosson-Etymologicon. (Id est.) the Etymologie of Tongues. It is nevertheless clear that the prospectus is for the work later published as Ductor in linguas in 1617 as the 4-page folio-size prospectus (2 conjugate leaves) describes a dictionary in eleven languages with typography and format identical to the 1617 edition. The unique copy of the prospectus, which contains an internal date of 8 December 1610, was reproduced in facsimile by John Feather in English Book Prospectuses, An Illustrated History (Newtown: Bird & Bull Press, 1984). Feather, who believed that the prospectus was issued in 1611, stated on p. 28:

"The only earlier prospectus known to Pollard and Ehrman [The Distribution of Books by Catalogue to AD 1800 (1965)] cannot have been known to Minsheu. This was a manuscript proposal issued by Botel and Hurus in Savagona, Spain, in 1476, which solicits support for a new printed edition of the statutes of the Kingdom of Aragon. Stow's failure and the lack of any credible precedent lead me to regard Minsheu's Guide into tongues as the first subscription book, and John Minsheu himself as the pioneer, and for all practical purposes the inventor, of the book prospectus.

Minsheu's campaign was, in the end successful. The 417 subscribers in the final list represent a remarkable market for such a book in early seventeenth-century England. The figure, superficially small, has to be seen in the context of edition sizes limited by law to 1,250 and rarely reaching even that number. Indeed, in view of the trade's attitude in 1610 Minsheu had every reason to feel pleased with himself. Ironically, only five years after publication, the bookseller John Haviland issued an unauthorized reprint which infringed Minsheu's rights under his Letters Patent: Haviland was duly fined forty shillings by the Court of Assistants of the Stationers' Company on 5 April 1624."

My copy of Minsheu's book is bound in a contemporary binding of calf stamped with the Royal Arms in the center of the upper and lower covers. Several recorded copies of the first edition seem to be bound identically, but this fact remains unexplained.

Almost nothing is known about Minsheu. He was probably born in 1559 or 1560. The ODNB says he was of "unknown parentage," and provides what little information about his family. Minsheu refers to a cousin living in Oxfordshire, John Vesey, who was a self-made man of dubious probity. Minsheu may have resembled him in these two respects: he was educated by extensive travels rather than in a university, and he was described as a rogue by Ben Jonson. Minsheu apparently learned much of his Spanish while he was imprisoned in Spain. Nevertheless, the immense amount of information in Ductor in Linguas requires it to be taken seriously. In "John Minsheu: Scholar or Charlatan," Renaissance Quarterly 26, No. 1 (1973) 23-35 Jürgen Schäfer writes, on pp. 23-24:

"More than any other English work of the period the Ductor in Linguas reflects linguistic research and speculation at home and abroad and represents an important link in the beginnings of modern English lexicography. On the basis of this work Minsheu has been praised as a scholar, antiquarian, and etymologist of note. Closer inspection reveals, however, that such a blank judgment is seriously misleading and in need of revision. The following essay seeks to show in contrast to some of his contemporaries, Minsheu was an amateur of linguistic theory, an eclectic who incorporated linguistic material as he found it without subjecting it to any rigorous intellectual analysis. His etymologies, especially those which seem to qualify him as a leading student of the history of the vernacular, provide the cornerstone of his scholarly reputation, yet most of these are not original but have been drawn, often verbatim, from John Cowell's Interpreter (1607) — a dependence which has not yet been pointed out. From this new perspective Minsheu deserves praise as a teacher and disseminator of foreign languages. His scholarly credentials, however, are at best questionable.

"There is no doubt that the Ductor in Linguas is a monumental work. No less impressive than the title are the size and the contents of this volume. On more than 500 closely printed folio pages English lemmata are followed by their etymologies and their equivalents in ten other languages, 'British or Welsh, Low Dutch, High Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguez, Latine, Greeke, Hebrew.' In addition to Roman, black letter, and italics, the favorite triad around 1600, the compositors were also required to use Greek, Hebrew, and Anglo-Saxon letters. Long and learned prefaces in Latin and in English introduce the work, and there are two commendatory certificates, one by the University of Oxford and another by some of the leading scholars of the day. Both of these certificates are dated from the end of 1610 when the work had apparently been in progress for several years. In addition, a list of purchasers contains illustrious names from the court, as well as the study. Througout his introductions Minsehu stresses the number of collaborators and the amount of time and money invested in the enterprise, and the extent of his labor seems stupendous. Learned etymologies, definitions, multilingual equivalents, illustrative quotations, and precise bibliographic references crowd the pages, and the fact that the work was published at all may be more noteworthy than the many years of preparation." 

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Michael Maier Publishes Early Multimedia: Words, Images and Music 1617

In 1617 German physician, alchemist, epigrammist and amateur composer Michael Maier published Atalanta Fugiens, an alchemical emblem book, in Oppenheim at the Press of engraver and publisher Johann Theodore de Bry. The work incorporated 50 emblems (images) by the German engraver Matthäus Merian, de Bry's son-in-law, each with a motto, epigram, and a three-part musical setting of the epigram, followed by an exposition of its meaning. The book extended the concept of an emblem book by incorporating 50 fugues, a technique of music composition in which a theme or themes are stated in two or more voices and repeated frequently at different pitches. The title of Maier's book, Atalanta Fugiens, or Atalanta Fleeing, alluding to the virgin huntress Atalanta of Greek mythology, who was unwilling to marry and was loved by the hero Meleager, contains a pun on the word fugue.

Early translations of Maier's work survived in manuscript: British Library MS. Sloane 3645, and Mellon MS. 48 at Yale. In December 2013 an English translation of Atalanta Fugiens reproducing the images and incorporating transcriptions from the Sloan MS, and some translations by H. M. de Jong, was available from the hermetic.com website at this link. At the time the same translation was also available from several other websites.

H. M. de Jong, Michael Maier's Atalanta Fugiens: Sources of an Alchemical Book of Emblems. (1969). 

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Hermannus Hugo Issues the First History of Writing 1617

In 1617 Dutch Jesuit priest, military chaplain, Neo-Latin poet and writer Herman Hugo (Hermannus Hugo) issued the first book entirely devoted to the history and nature of writing. It was published in Antwerp at the press of Plantin-Moretus, and entitled De prima scribendi origine et universae rei literariae antiquitate. The work included an unusual plate showing 24 different directions in which writing was done across the page in different languages.

"De prima scribendi origine also signals important changes in atitudes to writing in his time, for Hugo gave scant attention to the hermetic and cabalistic ideas about writing that were popular in the Renaissance. In Hugo's mind, writing had the strictly practical function of recording and preserving speech; it is defined in his first chapter as 'vocem aut vocis partes ob oculos ponere per literas' (putting the voice or parts of the voice before the eyes by means of letters). He rejected claims concerning the magical powers of writing, and filled his tract with dry, factual accounts of the evolution of writing instruments and paper, and the different ways of opening and closing epistles. Hugo agreed that Hebrew was the first form of writing, 'nam prima lingua fuit Hebraica' (for the first tongue was Hebrew). But he left unresolved whether Adam received Hebrew characters from God for invented them himself, or even whether they were contrived by his youngest son, Seth. Whatever the origin of Hebrew writing, it was far from being the most perfect in existence. The Jesuit particularly cirticised the direction of Hebrew writing from right to left as evidence of its 'rude' and 'uncultivated' state. Writing from left to right, the direction later adopted by the Greeks, was more 'commodious', he claimed, because the right-handed writer moved away from the body and could more easily see his letters. . . . (Hudson, Writing and European Thought 1600-1830 [1995] 33-34). 

Like certain other seventeenth century scholars such as John Wilkins, Hugo believed that a universal language would be a worthwhile goal. According to Paul Cornelius, Languages in Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth-century Imaginery Voyages (1965) p. 29-30, Hugo's ideas on this topic

"were inspired by the relations about the Chinese language which had found in Matthew Ricci's journals, edited and published by Nicholas Trigault in 1615, just two years before. In the section of his book which had for its subject the possiblity of a universal character for Europe, Hugo discussed the question in the following way: assuming that all men have the same concept of a horse, a cow, or any other object in exterior reality when they see these objects — for he assumed that the senses present things in the same way to all men — Hugo argued that men disagreed because of the ambiguity of the names which they imposed on things, and not because the concepts which they had about them were different. The hope of Herman Hugo, as well as of other language reformers of the same period, was that all men would agree upon the many important issues over which there had been so much strife, if the truths about them were clearly enough expressed in a language inteligible to all men. Maintaining that the invention of such universal symbols would not oppose the will of God—which was the Confusion of Tongues He had imposed at Babel— Hugo argued that such symbols would be the means by which a divided society could become one again. Nor would the learning of such a large number of characters be too difficult for human industry to accomplish. To prove this, Hugo argued that even in his own time, the peoples of Europe memorized the many words of their own inadequate languages. Certainly Europeans would be able to invent and memorize universal characters of their own, and by doing so alleviate the Confusion of Tongues.

"Hugo did not go beyond proposing a universal language for Europe; he did not try to invent one. But behind his posposal and the actual projects of a few decades later were the same philosophical assumptions. The increasing emphasis on the sensory origins of all human knowledge in the seventeenth century, which perhaps culminated in John Locke's theory of human knowledge, played an important role in men's attitudes towards langauge during that age. Behind Hugo's proposal were those assumptions, and the hope that a language could be invented which would, as closely as possible, reflect the reality for which it stood. The Chinese written language, he believed, was a language which approached this ideal."  

Hugo's history of writing was translated into French in 1774 and published as Dissertation historique sur l'invention des lettres et des caractères d'ecriture, sur les instrumens dont les anciens se sont servi pour l'ecriture, tirée d'Hermannus Hugo (Paris, 1774).

Hugo's Pia desideria, a spiritual emblem book published in Antwerp in 1624, was the most popular religious emblem book of the seventeenth century". It underwent 42 Latin editions, and was widely translated up to the 18th century.

(This entry was last revised on 03-04-2015.)

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Girolamo Sirtori Issues the First Book on the Telescope 1618

In 1618 Milanese scholar Girolamo Sirtori (Hieronymus Sirturus) published the first book on the telescope: Telescopium: sive ars perficiendi novum illud Galilaei virorium instrumentum ad sydera, issued from Frankfurt at the press of Paul Jacob. Sirtori had written the book in 1612, only 4 years after the telescope was invented. The book contained a complete set of instructions, and diagrams, for building a refracting telescope.

van Helden, Dupré, van Gent, & Zuidervaart (eds.) The Origins of the Telescope (2010) 3, and numerous other references.

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"Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c.," the First Newspaper Published in Broadsheet Form June 1618

The first newspaper published in broadsheet format was Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c.the first Dutch newspaper. It was published in Amsterdam beginning in June 1618 as a regular weekly publication in a single folio broadsheet format. Before this news periodicals were issued as newsbooks— pamphlets in quarto format. 

The first issue of the Courante, printed on the recto of a single sheet, includes no imprint identifying the printer or publisher; it is also undated. The imprint appeared in 1619, and the date and practice of printing on both sides of the sheet began in 1620. The exact date of the first edition of the Courante is not known, but the dates of the news items suggest that it was probably printed between June 14 and 18, 1618. Comparison with similar newspapers published later suggests that it may have been printed by Joris Veseler and edited and published by Caspar van Hilten

"The first issue presented news from four sources, including Venice, Cologne and Prague. This corresponds with the name of the newspaper, which in English means "Current events from Italy, Germany, etc". The main text runs in two columns. The columns are separated with a gutter and a line running in it. There are no empty lines within the body text. The body of the text is printed in Dutch black-letter, except for the numbers. Roman type is used for datelines which also act as headlines for the news items. The text is fully justified and the beginnings of paragraphs are identified with indents approximately the size of the line-height.

"The only surviving copy of the first issue is in Sweden's Kungliga Biblioteket in Stockholm. Later issues from 1628 to 1664 can be found at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague" (Wikipedia article on Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c., accessed 01-17-2015).

In January 2015 digital facsimiles of the Courante published between 1618 and 1670 were available from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek through The European Library portal at this link.

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Petrus Caneparius Issues the First Book about Printing Inks 1619

In 1619 physician and writer Pietro Maria Canepari (Caneparius)  published De atramentis in Venice. This is "the earliest known work which gives details of the formulation of typographic inks" (Printing and the Mind of Man. Catalogue of the Exhibition at the British Museum and at Earls Court, London [1963] No. 122).

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Probably the Earliest Records of the Charges for Trade Bindings in England 1619

A folio broadside dated 1619, of which a unique copy is preserved in the Society of Antiquaries of London, may be the earliest record of the prices of bookbinding agreed by the binders of London and Westminster. It is entitled A generall note of the prises for binding of all sorts of bookes

Pollard, Early Bookbinding Manuals (1984) no. 111.

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Depiction of Record Keeping by Pieter Breughel the Younger 1620 – 1640

The Village Lawyer by Pieter Breughel the Younger.

Pieter Breughel the Younger

A painting by Pieter Breughel the Younger, of which one copy dated 1621 entitled the Village Lawyer is in the Museum voor Schone Kunster, Ghent, Belgium, and another copy dated 1620-40, and entitled Paying the Tax is in the Armand Hammer collection at the Fisher Museum of Art, University of Southern California, perhaps caricatures the way paper accounting or legal records were maintained at the time. Records are shown in piles of bundles on tables, in bundles on shelves, in what appears to be sacks of bundles hanging on walls, in sheets of paper bundled together that may be tacked up on walls, and in piles on the floor. In short the methods of organizing and storing information appear sloppy, inefficient, and possibly chaotic.

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"Corante. . . ," the First Printed News Sheet or Newspaper Published in English 1621

Corante: or, Newes from Italy, Germany, Hungarie, Spaine and France was published by the printer Nathaniel Butter in London. The earliest of the seven surviving copies is dated September 24, 1621, but it is thought that this single page news sheet began publication earlier in 1621.

Corante was the first private newspaper published in English. As a result of a 1586 edict from the Star Chamber, it carried no news about England.

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Robert Burton Publishes a Classic on Depression 1621

In 1621 English scholar and vicar Robert Burton published at Oxford The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up.

This work remains as much a classic of English literature and a profound study of the human condition as it remains a classic of psychiatric literature.

"He wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy largely to write himself out of being a lifelong sufferer from depression. As he described his condition in the preface 'Democritus Junior to the Reader,'

" 'for I had gravidum cor, foetum caput [a heavy heart, hatchling in my head], a kind of imposthume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of.'

"Therefore, the treatise itself was intended as treatment. Again, from the preface:

" 'I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy. There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, no better cure than business.'

"However, this sentence may also be interpreted ironically, as Burton is citing a well-known adage of the time. Indeed, the entire preface is quite satirical in nature — at one point Burton pretends to warn melancholy people to avoid his book for fear of exacerbating their symptoms:

" 'Yet one caution let me give by the way to my present or future reader, who is actually melancholy, that he read not the symptoms or prognostics in the following tract, lest by applying that which he reads to himself, aggravating, appropriating things generally spoken to his own person (as melancholy men for the most part do), he trouble or hurt himself, and get in conclusion more harm than good.'

"The parenthetical aside is delightfully tongue-in-cheek. The work, published under the pseudonym Democritus Junior in 1621, was quite popular. In the words of Thomas Warton:

'the author's variety of learning, his quotations from rare and curious books, his pedantry sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance ... have rendered it a repertory of amusement and information'.

"Later authors sometimes drew from the work without acknowledgment (such accusations were leveled at Laurence Sterne's book Tristram Shandy). Samuel Johnson considered it one of his favorite books. (He said of it that it 'was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise'.) [Boswell, Life of Johnson]" (Wikipedia article on The Anatomy of Melancholy, accessed 12-26-2009).

From the medical standpoint the work has been characterized as the first psychiatric encyclopedia, since Burton cited nearly 500 medical authors in the course of classifying the myriad causes, forms and symptoms of depression, and describing its various cures. The work is also a literary tour-de-force in the tradition of Renaissance paradoxical literature.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 120. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 381.

Burton put the work through five expanded editions during his lifetime. The third edition of 1638 contained an elaborate engraved title containing ten vignette illustrations.

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Maximilian Donates the Bibliotheca Palatina to the Vatican 1622

Though many books in the Bibliotheca Palatina of Heidelberg were "torn or dispersed into private hands" when troops under Maximilian I of Bavaria sacked Heidelberg in 1622 during the Thirty Years War, Maximilian decided to confiscate the remaining manuscripts as war booty, and presented them to Pope Gregory XV as "a sign of his loyalty and esteem." 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts were transported across the Alps to Rome on 200 mules under the supervision of scholar Leo Allatius.

In 1623 these books were incorporated into the Vatican Library with a Latin bookplate which may be translated as "I am from the library captured in Heidelberg and sent as spoils of war to Pope Gregory XV by Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, etc., . . . A.D. 1623." 

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"News from Most Parts of Christendom," Forerunner of the Printed English Newspaper May 23, 1622

On May 23, 1622 Nathaniel Butter of London published the first edition of a periodical variously called News from Most Parts of Christendom or Weekly News from Italy, Germany, Hungaria, Bohemia, the Palatinate, France and the Low Countries. "From its miscellaneous contents and periodicity of production, it is regarded as the true forerunner of the English newspaper." Because the Stuart regime discouraged domestic reporting, it contained no news about England.

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Gaspard Bauhin Establishes Plant Classification Based upon General Morphology 1623

In 1623 Physician Gaspard Bauhin published in Basel Pinax theatri botanici. . . sive index in Theophrasti Dioscoridis Plinii et botanicorum qui a secula scripserunt opera. Bauhin's work began the system of "natural" plant classification based upon general morphology, and established the first scientific system of nomenclature.  Bauhin discarded the alphabetical and other arbitrary systems used by earlier writers, insisting that any useful method of classification must be based on natural affinities. He grouped plants according to their genera, then, drawing from his own observations and the works of earlier authors, gave each species within a genus a descriptive name. He thus introduced an orderly system of binomial nomenclature, which—although the concept did not originate with him— marked a significant improvement over earlier schemes.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 139.

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Preface to the First Folio Edition of Shakespeare’s Plays by Henrie Condell and Iohn Heminge 1623


"FROM the most able, to him that can but spell: There you are number’d. We had rather you were weighd. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends vpon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! it is now publique, & you wil stand for your priuiledges wee know: to read, and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth best commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde soeuer your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare not. Iudge your sixe-pen’orth, your shillings worth, your fiue shillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the iust rates, and welcome. But, what euer you do, Buy. Censure will not driue a Trade, or make the Iacke go. and though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers, or theCock-pit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes haue had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeals; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, then any purchas’d Letters of commendation.

 "It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to haue bene wished, that the Author himselfe had liu’d to haue set forth, and ouerseen his owne writings; But since it hath bin ordain’d otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his Friends, the office of their care, and paine, to haue collected & publish’d them; and so to haue publish’d them, as where (before) you were abus’d with diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious imposters, that expos’d them: euen those, are now offer’d to your view cur’d, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceiued them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and hand went together: and what he thought, he vttered with that easinesse, that wee haue scarse receiued from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our prouince, who onely gather his works, and giue them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. and there we hope, to your diuers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe: and if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. and so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides: if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. and such Readers we wish him. 

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"Certain News of the Present Week," the First Regularly Printed English Newspaper, Begins Publication 1624

In 1624 Nathaniel Butter and Nicholas Bourne of London published Certain News of the Present Week, or the Weekly News. This was the first regularly printed English newspaper with numbered issues.

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Johannes Kepler Creates Logarithms by a New Procedure 1624 – 1625

Astronomer Johannes Kepler published Chilias Logarithmorum (1624) from Marburg and Supplementum (1625), creating his logarithmic tables by a new geometrical procedure, the form thus differing from the logarithms of both Napier and Briggs.

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Johannes Meursius Issues the First Guidebook to Athens 1624

Though guidebooks to Rome and its antiquities were published in manuscript during the Middle Ages and in print during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and onward, the first guide to Athens did not appear until 1624 with the publication of Athenae Atticae. Sive, De pracipuis Athenarum Antiquitatibus Libri III by the Leiden classical scholar and antiquary Johannes Meursius (van Meurs). 

I first learned of Meursius's book when I read The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity (1969) by Roberto Weiss. Remarkably, the copy of the first edition of Meursius's book that I acquired for my collection turned out to be Weiss's personal copy, bound in contemporary paneled calf, which I had rebacked. On the front pastedown endpaper is the very neat penciled inscription reading "Liber Roberti Weiss / Ex dono P. Cecil/ die 2ndo Junii a.d. mcmxlv." The copy is also signed by Weiss in pencil with the date 1945 on the front free endpaper, and it has the elegant armorial bookplate of Sr. Thomas Seabright, Bart. From the appearance of the bookplate that would probably be Sir Thomas Saunders Seabright, 5th Baronet (1723–1761).

Here is what Weiss had to say with respect to the context of Meursius's book. As usual the links are my additions:

"Our knowledge of Greek antiquity began rather late. By the middle of the fiteenth century Roman antiquity had already been the object of study for nearly a century and of indiscrimate admiration for much longer. On the other hand, despite Crusades and trade, Latin rule and missionary effort, the archological study of the Greek world during the Renaissance practically began and ended with Ciraiaco d'Ancona, and by 1455 Ciriaco was dead. After him the Turkish conquest of Byzantine lands put an end to antiquarian travel in Greek territories for about a century; and when Pierre Gilles went to Constantinople in 1546 as an antiquary to the French ambassador, the Renaissance was nearly over. Gilles's two treatises appeared in print only in 1561 and deal with the topography of Constantinople and the Bosporus. No account of the topography of Athens, which is shown as a typically German city in the great Nuremberg chronicle of 1493, was published until 1624, when the Athenae Atticae of Johannes Meursius was issued for the first time. This Leiden professor had deemed it more comfortable to rely on literary sources than to go over to Greece to see for himself. His handbook remained the indispensable guide of every cultivated traveller to Athens for over a century" (Weiss, op. cit. 131).

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Cassiano & Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo Attempt to Record All Human Knowledge in Visual Form Circa 1625 – 1665

The "Museo Cartaceo" ("Paper Museum"), a collection of more than 7,000 watercolors, drawings and prints assembled by the Roman patron and collector Cassiano dal Pozzo and his youngest brother Carlo Antonio from 1625 to 1665, represents one of the most significant attempts made before the age of photography to embrace the widest range of human knowledge in visual form. Documenting ancient art and architecture, botany, geology, ornithology and zoology, the collection is a significant tool for understanding the cultural and intellectual concerns of a period during which the foundations of our own scientific methods were laid down.

"The Paper Museum reflects the taste and intellectual breadth of Cassiano dal Pozzo, one of the most learned and enthusiastic of all seventeenth-century Roman collectors. As secretary to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, patron of artists such as Poussin, and a friend of Galileo, Cassiano crossed the boundaries of artistic, scientific and political disciplines to create his unique visual encyclopaedia. His patronage extended to both the well-known and the lesser-known artists of his day, and his close connections with leading European scientists, scholars and philosophers kept him informed of the latest archaeological and scientific discoveries. His younger brother Carlo Antonio came to share his interests and played a significant role in augmenting and arranging the collection.

"Through his association with Federico Cesi, Prince of Acquasparta (1585–1630), and his membership of the Accademia dei Lincei (the first modern scientific society, founded by Cesi), Cassiano assembled visual evidence of scientifically – and for the first time microscopically – observed natural phenomena, thus establishing a firm basis for scientific classification. Fruit, flora, fungi, fauna, minerals and fossils – all were meticulously recorded, whether commonplace or exotic. He applied the same rigour and systematic methodology to his antiquarian studies: classical and early medieval monuments and artefacts were painstakingly drawn and classified to form a unique survey of ancient architecture, religion, custom, dress and spectacle" (http://warburg.sas.ac.uk/pozzo/prospectus.pdf, accessed 0-03-2010).

The "Paper Museum" was sold by Cassiano’s heirs to the Albani Pope Clement XI , who resold it to his connoisseur nephew Cardinal Alessandro Albani in the early eighteenth century. It remained in the Albani collection until a substantial portion was acquired by George III, also a scientific amateur, in 1762 for his library at Buckingham House. In 1834, the collection was transferred to the Royal Library created by William IV at Windsor Castle, where it forms part of the Royal Collection. Other portions are at the British Library, the British Museum, the botanical gardens at Kew (mycological specimens) , the library of Sir John Soane's Museum. Portions not purchased for George III are preserved at the Institut de France and various other public and private collections. 

Since the 1990s a project has been underway to publish the drawings and prints in the ‘Museo Cartaceo’ in a series of thirty-six volumes, arranged by subject matter following the method of classification employed by Cassiano himself. The series is entitled The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo ~ A Catalogue Raisonné.

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Gabriel Naudé Issues One of the Earliest Works on Librarianship 1627

While a medical student in 1627 Gabriel Naudé published in Paris one of the earliest works on book-collecting and librarianship: Avis pour dresser une bibliothèque.

Naude's book, written while he served as librarian for Henri de Mesme, Président à Mortier in the Parliament of Paris and councillor to Louis XIII, contained an early mention of the goal of creating a public universal library:

"And therefore I shall ever think it extremely necessary, to collect for this purpose all sorts of books, (under such precautions, yet, as I shall establish) seeing a Library which is erected for the public benefit, ought to be universal; but which it can never be, unlesse it comprehend all the principal authors, that have written upon the great diversity of particular subjects, and chiefly upon all the arts and sciences; [. . .] For certainly there is nothing which renders a Library more recommendable, then when every man findes in it that which he is in search of . . . ."

When Naudé wrote only three "public" libraries existed in Europe: the Bodleian Library opened at Oxford in 1602, the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana founded in Milan by Cardinal Federigo in 1609, and the Bibliotheca Angelica, opened for public service in Rome, also in 1609.

Naudé's work was first translated into English by John Evelyn, and published as Instructions Concerning Erecting of a Library in 1651.

Clarke, Gabriel Naudé 1600-1653 (1970).

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Gasparo Aselli's Book Includes the First Color-Printed Medical Illustrations 1627

Detail from plate from of De lactibus sive lacteis venis.  Click to see and resize image of entire page.

Detail from title page of De lactibus sive lacteis venis.  Click to see and resize image of entire page.

Image of Gaspara Aselli (engraved by Cesare Bassano).

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc.

In 1627 De lactibus sive lacteis venis by the Italian physician and anatomist Gasparo (Gaspare) Aselli was posthumously published in Milan at the press of Giambattista Bidelli through the efforts of Nicolas Fabry de Peiresc. The work contained a beautiful engraved title page and a portrait of Aselli by the Milanese painter and engraver Cesare Bassano. The four folding chiaroscuro woodcuts in this work printed in black, red and two shades of brown were the first color-printed illustrations in a medical or anatomical work. They are unsigned and authorship of these has not been established.

While performing vivisection on a dog that had recently fed, Aselli noticed a network of vessels in the mesentery and along the peritoneal surface of the intestine. The vessels released a whitish fluid similar to milk when incised, so Aselli called them lacteas, sive albas venas. He made a systematic study of these vessels in different species of animals, noting the chronological relationship between their engorgement and the animal's last meal, and erroneously conjectured that the vessels led to the liver; it was not until Jean Pecquet's discovery of the thoracic duct and its continuity with the lacteal vessels that the process of absorption was clearly established.  

Norman, Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) No. 1094. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 76. Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 240-241

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Adriaan Vlacq Issues the First Complete Set of Modern Logarithms 1628

In 1628 Adriaan Vlacq, a bookseller, publisher, and human computer, computed and issued the first complete set of modern logarithms in Gouda through Petrus Rammaseyn printers. Four years earlier, in 1624, English mathematician Henry Briggs had published Arithmetica logarithma sive logarithmorum chiliades triginta, pro numeris naturali serie crescentibus ab unitate 20,000 et a 90,000 ad 100,000 changing the original logarithms invented by John Napier into common (base 10) logarithms. In 1626 Dutch surveyer and teacher of mathematics Ezechiel de Decker contracted with Vlacq for the publication of several translations of books by John Napier, Edmund Gunter and Henry Briggs. A first book was published in 1626, with several translations done by Vlacq. A second book was made of the logarithms of the first 10000 numbers from Briggs' Arithmetica logarithmica published in 1624. The logarithms were shortened to 10 places. In 1627, De Decker's Het Tweede deel van de Nieuwe telkonst  was published, containing the logarithms of all numbers from 1 to 100000, to 10 places, much of which had been computed by Vlacq. Only very few copies of this book are known and its publication was apparently stopped or delayed.This Tweede deel of 1627 was the first complete table of decimal logarithms. 

In 1628 Vlacq republished the 10 decimal place logarithm tables as Arithmetica logarithma sive logarithmorum chiliades tentum, pro numeris naturali serie crescentibus ab unitate ad 100000. He appears to have had a connection with the Gouda firm of Petrus Rammaseyn and it is this firm that published the work, this time under Vlacq's name. A French translation, Arithmetique logarithmetique, ou, La construction et usage d'une table contenant les logarithms de tous les nombres depuis l'unité jusque 100000 by Vlacq was also published by Petrus Rammaseyn at almost the same time.

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William Harvey Publishes His Discovery and Experimental Proof of the Circulation of the Blood 1628

Detail from plate 1 of Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.

Detail of title page of Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire image.

Wlliam Harvey's Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus was published in Frankfurt in 1628. In this work Harvey presented the discovery and experimental proof of the circulation of the blood. Since antiquity, ideas about the physiology and pathology of most parts of the body had been based to an important degree on assumptions made about the function of the heart and blood vessels. In fundamentally changing the conception of these functions, Harvey pointed the way to reform of all of physiology and medicine.

Why Harvey chose a European publisher for his book has long provoked speculation— the most plausible conjecture is that Harvey wanted his book published on the Continent so that it would more easily gain international distribution and acceptance. His choice of the Frankfurt publisher William Fitzer seems to have arisen from his long acquaintance with Robert Fludd, whose books were then being published by Fitzer.

The physical distance between Harvey and his publisher seems to have precluded Harvey from correcting proofs, as he was compelled to issue an errata leaf with no less than 126 corrections. Since very few copies of De motu cordis include this errata leaf, it has been argued that it was probably added after a large portion of the edition had already been sold. Even so, Harvey's errata list must have been compiled with some haste, as the Latin text edited by Akenside for the College of Physicians in 1766 contains 246 emendations. Fitzer had Harvey's book printed on paper of poor quality, which has deteriorated in virtually all surviving copies. The first edition must have been relatively small since only about 68 copies have survived, nearly all in institutions.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, (1991) no. 1006.

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Descartes Discusses the Idea of an Artificial Language 1629

In a letter dated 1629 to theologian, philosopher, and mathematician Marin Mersenne, philosopher, mathematician and physicist René Descartes proposed an artificial universal language, with equivalent ideas in different tongues sharing one symbol:

"Et si quelqu’un avait bien expliqué quelles sont les idées simples qui sont en l’imagination des hommes, desquelles se compose tout ce qu’ils pensent, et que cela fût reçu par tout le monde, j’oserais espérer ensuite une langue universelle, fort aisée à apprendre, à prononcer et à écrire."

"The notion of a universal language was based upon the idea of precisely cataloging the elements of the human imagination. The great advantage of such a language would be that it would represent everything 'distinctement.' Yet, the great problem faced by someone who wanted to create such a language was the nature of the human imagination itself. Although separate from the mind and reason, which were the foundations of Cartesian thought, the imagination nevertheless played an important role for Descartes. As he wrote elsewhere in the Meditations, the imagination not only conceptualized external things but also considers them, 'as being present by the power and internal application of my mind.' Imagination, in other words, produced the illusion of presence, figures appearing so that can the person can 'look upon them as present with the eyes of my mind.' As a result, Descartes remains highly suspicious of the imagination because it can produce appearances that have no corresponding reality. Descartes concluded his letter to Mersenne by dismissing hopes for a universal language or a real character as only being possible in a 'terrestrial paradise' or 'fairyland' because of the confused nature of signification and the variation of human understanding.

"Mais n’espérez pas de la voir jamais en usage; cela présuppose de grands changements en l’ordre des choses, et il faudrait que tout le Monde ne fût qu’un paradis terrestre, ce qui n’est bon à proposer que dans le pays des romans.

 "A universal language that would work at the level of the imagination, describing the actual 'things' of the external world, could only produce uniform results in the perfection of Eden or the ideal of fiction. One should, instead, stick with the institution of geometry as a method of rationalizing nature, a divine language grounded upon the cogito’s transmission of being. Descartes ultimately remains skeptical about any possibility of using alternative language games aside from mathematics in the project of rationalizing the world" (Batchelor, The Republic of Codes: Cryptographic Theory and Scientific Networks in the Seventeenth Century [1999] http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/writingscience/Cryptography.html, accessed 01-22-2010).

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Francesco Stelluti Issues the First Book Containing Images of Organisms Viewed through the Microscope 1630

In 1630 Italian scientist Francesco Stelluti published Persio tradotto in verso schiolto e dichiarato . . . in Rome at the press of Giacomo Mascardi. This translation of the works of the Latin poet Persius (Aulus Persius Flaccus), Stelluti dedicated to Cardinal Francesco Barberini in an attempt to gain the Cardinal's patronage for the Accademia dei Lincei, one of the first scientific societies, of which Stelluti was a co-founder. Stelluti’s edition of Persius was intended for the most part as a means for advertising the Accademia’s activities. “Whenever he possibly could, Stelluti took a word or phrase in Persius—almost any word or phrase—and used it as an excuse to refer to one or another aspect of the natural historical researches of the Linceans. The most insignificant reference in the elegies sparked long and short excursuses on the Linceans’ work” (Freedburg, p. 187) 

Stelluti's book was also the first book to contain images of organisms as viewed through the microscope. The book’s striking full-page image of a magnified bee (p. 52), showing minute details of the antennae, legs, sting, head and tongue, “still has the capacity to arouse the wonder of modern experts” (Freedburg, p. 189). On page 127 is a smaller illustration of a magnified grain weevil, including a detail of the tip of the insect’s snout and mandibles.

An obscure reference in Persius’s first satire to what may have been the ancient town of Eretum gave Stelluti his pretext for including the bee images, since the former Eretum was then presumably Monterotondo, seat of the Barberini country estate, and the Barberini family had adopted the bee as its emblem. Stelluti’s weevil image was likewise prompted by a mention of that insect in another of Persius’s poems.

Stelluti’s bee image is similar, but not identical to, an earlier image showing magnified views of a bee, that Stelluti published as a broadsheet in 1625 under the title Apiarium; this broadsheet is extremely rare, with only two or three copies recorded. The Apiarium was intended to form part of a projected encyclopedia by Stelluti’s fellow Lincean Federico Cesi, but this project was never realized. In 1624 Cesi had been sent a microscope by Galileo, another Lincean, and it was most likely this instrument that Cesi and Stelluti used to prepare their pioneering images of insects under magnification.

Ford, Images of Science: A History of Scientific Illustration, pp. 172-173, 179-180. Freedburg, The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History (2003).

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Théophraste Renaudot Issues "La Gazette", the First French Weekly Magazine May 30, 1631

French physician, philanthropist and journalist, Théophraste Renaudot, with the support of Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (Cardinal Richlieu), published the first issue of La Gazette, the first French weekly magazine, on May 30, 1631.

"Before the advent of the printed Gazette, reports on current events usually circulated as hand-written papers (nouvelles à la main). La Gazette quickly became the center of France for the dissemination of news, and thus an excellent means for controlling the flow of information in a highly centralized state. Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII were frequent contributors."

"La Gazette had for objective to inform its readers on events from the noble court and abroad. It was mostly focused on political and diplomatic affairs. In 1762, its name became Gazette de France, with the sub title Organe officiel du Government royal (Official organ of the royal Government). In 1787, Charles-Joseph Panckouke already proprietary of the Mercure de France and the Moniteur universel — that he had just founded — rented the magazine.

"La Gazette remained silent about the birth of the revolution, and didn't even mention the storming of the Bastille on the 14th of July in 1789, limiting itself to government acts. For the satisfaction of his customers, Charles-Joseph Panckouke published a supplement, Le Gazettin (little Gazette), that gave its readers summaries of debates at the National Constituent Assembly. In 1791, the ministry of foreign affairs, who owned La Gazette, took it back. Nicolas Fallet was named director and it became a tribune for the Girondists. He was succeeded by Sébastien Roch Nicolas Chamfort. La Gazette became a daily magazine in 1792, 1 May. Following the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, 21 January, it was renamed Gazette nationale de France (National Gazette of France)" (Wikipedia article on La Gazette, accessed 07-31-2009).

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William Oughtred Invents the Circular Form of Slide Rule 1632

English priest and mathematician William Oughtred invented the circular form of slide rule. He published Circles of Proportion and the Horizontal Instrument in London in 1632 describing slide rules and sundials.

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Baldassare Bonifacio Issues the First Separate Publication on Archives 1632

In 1632 Bishop Baldassare Bonifacio published De archivis liber singularis in Venice. This pamphlet appears to be the first separate publication on archives. It contains brief information on the history and importance of archives, and very little about archive administration. Bonifacio's pamphlet was translated into English with commentary by Lester K. Born in "Baldassare Bonfiacio and his Essay De Archivis", The American Archivist IV (1941) 221-37.

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Filed under: Archives

George Herbert Publishes Some of the Earliest Printed Examples of Concrete or Shaped Poetry 1633

In 1633 The Temple. Sacred Poems, and Private Enjaculations by Welsh-born English poet, orator, and Anglican priest George Herbert was posthumously issued from Cambridge. On his deathbed, Herbert had sent the manuscript of The Temple to Nicholas Ferrar, of Little Gidding. telling him to publish the poems if he thought they might "turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul"; otherwise, to burn them. Ferrar decided to publish them. This book contained some of the earliest printed examples of concrete poetry, or shaped poetry or "pattern poems."  On p. 18 of the 1638 edition Herbert's poem, "The Altar," is arranged on the page in the shape of an altar. On pp. 34-35 of the same edition his poem "Easter-wings" is spread over two pages in the shape of two sets of outstretched wings.

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The Earliest Multicolor Printed Book is Issued by the Ten Bamboo Studio in Nanjing 1633

In 1633 Chinese artist, calligrapher, seal-carver, publisher and bookseller Hu Zhengyan (胡正言) issued the Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu (Ten Bamboo Studio Collection of Calligraphy and Painting) from his Ten Bamboo Studio in Nanjing. The work, developed and printed from 1619 to 1633,  included works in eight subject categories illustrated by 50 different artists and calligraphers, with birds, plums, orchids, bamboo, fruit, stones, ink drawings, and other miscellaneous imagery, each followed by a text or poem. It was the earliest painting manual in China to be printed in color, and the first to include isolated illustrations of subject matter from nature. For the images Hu Zhengyan selected works of both contemporary and historical artists. The complete work includes 185 pictorial leaves and 139 calligraphy leaves. According to a press release issued by The Huntington Library on July 31, 2014, 18 complete copies of the first edition have survived, all in varying condition.

"By repeatedly studying and copying the models, Hu not only developed an acute sense of each artist's characteristic brush manner and compositional style for transfer onto woodblocks, he was also able to determine the appropriate color palettes and nuances of shading for every potential print.

"....A separate block was made for each color in a technique known as taoban ('set of blocks' or 'overlaid blocks') or douban ('assembled blocks' or 'decorative blocks'). The most luxurious editions of this manual incorporated the gonghua ('embossed design' or 'arched 'pattern', known in the West as gauffrage or gongban ('embossed blocks' or 'arched blocks') method, a blind-stamping technique whereby illustrations with exquisite low-relief designed were produced by pressing the paper firmly against a dry, uninked engraved woodblock. The douban technique was espeically time-consuming as numerous individual woodblocks were required for a single print. In addition, matching plates carved in intaglio and in relief were combined to produce the gonghua effect. The readied blocks were then placed in exactly the right positions and color was applied according to the hues and gradations in the model. Finally, the images were printed on flattened, slightly mostened paper in temperature-and humidity-controlled workshops. The best editions were printed on very high-quality langgan ('pearled') paper produced by Hu Zhengyan.

"The engraving was so skillfully done that virutally no stray marks from, or outlines of the cut blocks, are to be seen in finely printed editions of the manual. As a result, illustrations in the Shizhu zhai shuahua pu appear as though painted by hand" (Philip K. Hu, Visible Traces. Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China (2000) No. 15).

Digital facsimile of a complete copy of the Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu from the Cambridge Digital Library at this link

The manual was printed and reprinted for at least two hundred years, resulting in a very complex bibliographical record. See Thomas Ebrey, "The Editions, superstates and states of the Ten Bamboo Studio Collection of Calligraphy and Painting", East Asian Library Journal 14 (2010) 1-119.


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Théophraste Renaudot's Conferences Predate the Royal Society August 23, 1633 – June 10, 1641

Théophraste Renaudot

French physician, philanthropist and journalist Théophraste Renaudot organized a series of weekly public conferences on diverse subjects, including science, called Conférences du Bureau d'Adresse. These were published by the Bureau d'Adresse as Questions traitées ès Conferences du Bureau d'Adresse (5 volumes, 1633-1641).

In 1630 Renaudot founded the Bureau d'Adresse in Paris.

"The Bureau was basically an employment agency combined with an outpatient clinic. Whoever registered there (for 0 to 3 sous, according to his means) received free medical treatment and help in finding jobs, cheap clothing, lodging, and furniture. The Bureau also granted its clients small-scale credits on security and helped them in their dealings with government offices and the law. It kept a card index of people looking for service or offering help. It also kept a current price index. Gradually it branched out into an advertising agency, a travel agency, a messenger service, a horse rental and shop where almost everything could be bought or hired: curios, antiques, domestic animals, houses, estates, geneologies, the services of private tutors, funerals. . . . The Bureau arranged marriages, recruited soldiers, found monks for understaffed monasteries and even planned to deal in academic degrees.

"This traffic in goods and services naturally also involved the traffic in information. With clients from all walks of life and through a network of correspondents the Bureau systematically collected news from home and abroad, which proved very valuable to the government. Indeed this was the main reason for the continuing protection which it received from Père Joseph and Cardinal Richelieu. They not only skimmed off its information, they also used it to influence public opinion. . . .

"Renaudot also made the Bureau into a centre of intellectual life. From 1633 on, he organized weekly 'conferences' in its rooms on the Ile de St. Louis. As in the earlier Renaissance academies, quaestiones were put up for discussion at these meetings which triggered the exchange of opinions, but were not decided by empirical research. . . In other respects these 'conferences' were looking towards the scientific societies of the second half of the 17th century; the discussions were held in the vernacular (French, not Latin); it was forbidden to quote 'authorities'; religious and political topics had to be avoided. Occasionally even experiments wer performed in order to demonstrate some point of discussion. In 1640 Renaudot set up a chemical laboratory. Yet his main interest was not pure science, but its humanitarian and pedagogic application. According to Renaudot's philanthropic principles, the 'conferences' were open to everybody who cared and consequently were not considered to be very prestigious among the intellectual élite" (Stagl, A History of Curiosity [1995] 136-37).

Renaudot's weekly conferences bear some comparison to those of the Invisible College, which preceded the Royal Society; however, they were attended by a considerably larger audience, were much closer to popular science in their orientation, and their speakers remained anonymous in the published reports.

The Conférences predate the Journal des sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions by 30 years. They were collected in book form rather than published as a periodical, and were published in English translation in 1664-65, just as the Royal Society was being formed.

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Introduction of Book Burning by the Hangman 1634

The British government began to employ the hangman in book burnings.

"By 1640 his presence had become a familiar aspect of a scene of street theatre designed to frighten onlookers. The locations selected for these ritual mock executions by fire were invariably large open public spaces in the Cities of London and Westminster and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; Cheapside, Smithfield, Paul’s churchyard and the Old Exchange in London, the New Palace at Westminster and the Market Place in Southwark. In a country where the bodies of heretics were no longer consigned to the flames but the Pope and other prominent Catholics were still burned in effigy, these book burnings were akin to a Protestant Auto da Fé by proxy.

"Burning books was an effective way of destroying particular printed texts, but not of eradicating them. The Roman Inquisition burned thousands of copies of Trattato Utilissimo Del Beneficio Di Giesu Christo Crocifisso (1541), yet it remains extant. In the same way it appears that at least one example survives of every book, pamphlet, broadsheet and newsbook ordered to be burned in England between 1640 and 1660. Indeed, there is evidence that book burning sometimes stimulated demand for condemned works by arousing the curiosity of collectors. As Daniel Defoe was to remark, he had heard a bookseller in the reign of James II say that 'if he would have a book sell, he would have it burnt by the hands of the common hangman' " (A. Hessayon, "Incendiary texts: book burning in England, c.1640 – c.1660", Cromohs, 12 (2007): 1-25; accessed 11-23-2008).

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The Earliest Documented 15th Century Printed Book in North America 1635

In 1635 Rev. John Norton brought to Plymouth, Massachusetts a copy of the Venice 1491 edition of St. Augustine's Opuscula.

Preserved in the Boston Public Library, it is the earliest documented 15th century book present in North America. 

In February 2014 a digital facsimile of the different copy of the same 1491 edition preserved at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek was available at this link.

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Foundation of Harvard College, the First Institution of Higher Learning in the U.S. 1636

Harvard College, the first institution of higher learning in the United States, was established in 1636 at Cambridge, Massachusetts by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and named for its first benefactor, John Harvard. Harvard was a minister who left a few hundred books and half his estate to the new institution.

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Fermat's Last Theorem 1637

French lawyer and amateur mathematician Pierre de Fermat owned a copy of the 1621 Paris edition of the Arithmetica by the ancient Greek mathematician Diophantus, edited by Claude Gaspard Bachet de Méziriac, and was in the habit of noting his own number theory propositions in the margins of the book. In 1637 Fermat made a marginal note next to one of the problems put forth by Diophantus, stating, in essence, that equations of the form xn + yn = zn have no whole-number solutions when n is greater than 2. In his note Fermat stated that he had found a truly marvelous proof (demonstratio mirabilis), which would not fit into the narrow margin of the book.

Fermat died in 1665 without revealing his proof known as Fermat's Last Theorem. In 1670 Fermat’s son published a second edition of Bachet’s edition of Diophantus from the press of Bernard Bosc in Toulouse that incorporated all of Fermat’s marginal notes and propositions, from which Fermat's Last Theorem became widely known. Today scholars doubt that he actually achieved it.

Most of Fermat’s propositions were proved during the 18th century, but the Last Theorem remained a stumbling block for succeeding generations of mathematicians, and by the early 19th century it had gained a reputation as perhaps the world’s most baffling mathematical mystery. “Simple, elegant, and [seemingly] impossible to prove, Fermat’s Last Theorem captured the imaginations of amateur and professional mathematicians for over three centuries. For some it became a wonderful passion. For others it was an obsession that led to deceit, intrigue, or insanity” (Aczel).

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 777.

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Filed under: Mathematics / Logic

"Je pense, donc je suis." 1637

In 1637 French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes issued his Discours de la méthode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verité‚ dans les sciences. As Descartes spent much of his life in the Dutch Republic, he had the work published in Leiden.

Descartes's Discours presented an outline of Cartesian scientific method, summed up in the famous Four Rules presented in Book 2, together with scientific treatises intended to illustrate the method's range. The four rules may be stated as :

 1. "The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgment than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

2. "The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.

3. "The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.

4.  "And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted.

"The enumerations have in time developed into many forms. He suggested drawing boxes on a paper, and connecting them. This idea has led to a multitude of graphic thinking aids that we use today" (Wikipedia article on Discourse on the Method, accessed 03-03-2009).

The work includes three scientific treatises: Dioptrique, containing Descartes's derivation of the law of refraction; Météores; and Géométrie. The work included his invention of the Cartesian coordinate system and the foundation of analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the invention of calculus and analysis. Though Descartes' most  famous statement is best known by its Latin translation, it was first published in the Discours as "Je pense, donc je suis," and later translated into Latin in his Principia philosophiae as "Cogito, ergo sum."

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 129. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 621.

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A Decree of the Star Chamber Concerning Printing July 11, 1637 July 11, 1637

During the reign of Charles I, the English Star Chamber court that sat at the Palace of Westminster issued a decree on July 11, 1637, making it a general offense to print, import, or sell "any seditious, scismaticall, or offensive Bookes or Pamphlets." The decree was published as a pamphlet from London by Robert Barker, "Printer to the King's most Excellent Maiestie: And by the Assignes of John Bill, entitled A Decree of Starre-Chamber, Concerning Printing, Made the eleuenth day of July last past. 1637.

The decree also forbade anything to be printed which had not first been licensed and entered in the Stationers' Register, a record book maintained by the Stationers' Company of London. The company had been given a royal charter in 1557 to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry, including printers, bookbinders, booksellers, and publishers in England. The Register itself allowed publishers to document their right to produce a particular printed work, and constituted an early form of copyright law. The Company's charter gave it the right to seize illicit editions and bar the publication of unlicensed books. The decree also stated that nothing could be reprinted without being re-licensed.  

The decree further stated that in all cases the full signed imprimatur was to be printed; the names of the printer and the author were to be printed as well. The decree also limited the number of master printers to twenty, and specifyied the number of presses, journeymen, and apprentices each could have. The decree also made it an offense to work for an unlicensed printer, or to operate an unlicensed press. 

In 1884 The Grolier Club issued a deluxe limited edition reprint of this decree as their first publication, printed by the De Vinne Press, New York. Eric Holzenberg, Publications of the Grolier Club 1884-2009 IN: For Jean Grolier and His Friends, No. P1,

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Stephen Dayes Establishes the First Printing Press in North America: No Copies of the First Two Imprints Exist 1639

Stephen Daye established the first printing press in North America at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1639. Daye's first publications were a broadside entitled The Oath of a Freeman, and Peirce's Almanack for 1639. Of these two printings, no authentic copies are known.

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Bernhard von Mallinckrodt Coins the Term Incunabula 1639

In 1639 Bernhard von Mallinckrodt, dean of Münster cathedral and a noted book collector, issued a pamphlet from Cologne entitled De ortu et progressu artis typographicae (Of the Rise and Progress of the Typographic Art) to mark the bicentennary of the invention of printing by movable type in Europe. Mallinckrodt's work, which defended the priority of Johann Gutenberg, included the phrase prima typographicae incunabula (the first cradle of printing, or more loosely, the infancy of printing). This was the origin of the term incunabula, still used to describe books and broadsheets printed before 1500— the arbitrary cut-off date that Mallinckrodt selected. Today the term incunabula (singular: incunabulum) is typically applied to imprints before 1501.

According to Ohly, "Das Inkunabelverzeichnis Bernhard von Mallinckrodts," Westfälische Studien, Alois Bömer zum 60. Geburtstag, Degerling & Menn, eds. (1928), as cited by Libreria Alberto Govi, Catalogue 2013, no. 99, at his death Mallinckrodt  possessed a library of nearly 5500 works, including about 200 incunabula from over 100 printers.  

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"The Great Parchment Book" and Its Digital Restoration After Three Centuries 1639 – 2013

In 1639 a Commission instituted under the Great Seal by Charles I ordered compilation of The Great Parchment Book of the Honourable The Irish Society, a major survey of all estates in Derry managed by the City of London through the Irish Society and the City of London livery companies. It remained part of the City of London’s collections held at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA reference CLA/049/EM/02/018), and it represents a key source for the City of London’s role in the Protestant colonization and administration of the Irish province of Ulster.

However, in February 1786, a fire in the Chamber of London at the Guildhall in the City of London destroyed most of the early records of the Irish Society, so that very few 17th century documents remain. Among those which survived is the Great Parchment Book, but the fire caused such dramatic shrivelling and fire damage to the manuscript that it was completely unavailable to researchers since this date. 

"As part of the 2013 commemorations in Derry of the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls, it was decided to attempt to make the Great Parchment Book available as a central point of an exhibition in Derry’s Guildhall.

Box of Pages from the Great Parchment Book (before rehousing)

"The manuscript consisted of 165 separate parchment pages, all of which suffered damage in the fire in 1786. The uneven shrinkage and distortion caused by fire had rendered much of the text illegible. The surviving 165 folios (including fragments and unidentified folios) were stored in 16 boxes, in an order drawing together as far as possible the passages dealing with the particular lands of different livery companies and of the Society.

"It soon became apparent that traditional conservation alone would not produce sufficient results to make the manuscript accessible or suitable for exhibition, since the parchment was too shrivelled to be returned to a readable state. However, much of the text was still visible (if distorted) so following discussions with conservation and computing experts, it was decided that the best approach was to flatten the parchment sheets as far as possible, and to use digital imaging to gain legibility and to enable digital access to the volume.

"A partnership with the Department of Computer Science and the Centre for Digital Humanities at University College London (UCL) established a four year EngD in the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation programme in September 2010 (jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and London Metropolitan Archives) with the intention of developing software to enable the manipulation (including virtual stretching and alignment) of digital images of the book rather than the object itself. The aim was to make the distorted text legible, and ideally to reconstitute the manuscript digitally. Such an innovative methodology clearly had much wider potential application.

Before virtual flatteningAfter virtual flattening

"During the imaging work a set of typically 50-60 22MP images was captured for each page and used to generate a 3D model containing 100-170MP, which allowed viewing at archival resolution. These models could be flattened and browsed virtually, allowing the contents of the book to be accessed more easily and without further handling of the document. UCL’s work on the computational approach to model, stretch, and read the damaged parchment will be applicable to similarly damaged material as part of the development of best practice computational approaches to digitising highly distorted, fire-damaged, historical documents" (http://www.greatparchmentbook.org/the-project/, accessed 10-26-2014).

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Stephen Daye Issues the First Book Written & Printed in North America, North of Mexico 1640

The the first book printed in North America, north of Mexico, was the Whole Booke of Psalmes, edited by Richard Mather, John Eliot and others. Known as the Bay Psalm Book, it was also the first book printed in English in the New World. The book was printed in 1640 by Stephen Daye, a locksmith in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Because the Bay Psalm Book published a new translation of the psalms made in North America, it was also the first book written in North America, north of Mexico. One hundred and one years earlier Juan Pablos, in Mexico, had issued the first book printed in North America, and also the first book printed in the Western Hemisphere.

Of the original edition of 1700 copies, eleven copies remain extant. The finest copy, preserved in its original calf binding, is in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

"The first printing press to come to British America arrived in the winter of 1638/39. During 1639 an almanac and the 'Oath of a Freeman' were printed, although no genuine examples of either have been found. The ministers of the small colony were eager to produce their own version of the Psalms, one that did not sacrifice accuracy of translation to regulating of meter. Richard Mather, John Eliot, and several others made translations from the original Hebrew. Thus this first product of the American press represented a distinct break from Old England, both in production and translation" (Reese, The Printers' First Fruits. An Exhibition of American Imprints 1640-1742, from the Collections of the American Antiquarian Society [1989] no. 1).

On November 26, 2013 Sotheby's in New York auctioned a copy of the Bay Psalm Book. This was the first copy sold since 1947, when it realized $151,000. The presale estimate was $15,000,000-$30,000,000. The copy was a duplicate from the Old South Church in Boston, which, remarkably, owned two copies. In preparation for this auction Sotheby's published an extensive catalogue that researched all aspects of the physical book and its content. This information was available from the Sotheby's website at this link.

Prior to the auction on November 16, 2013 The New York Times published an article about the forthcoming sale from which I quote:

"David N. Redden recited the opening of the 23rd Psalm the way he had memorized it as a child: 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

"Then he opened a weathered little book and read the version it contained: 'The Lord to mee a shepheard is, want therefore shall not I. Hee in the folds of tender-grasse, doth cause mee downe to lie.'....

"Mr. Redden, who is the chairman of Sotheby’s books department and has auctioned copies of Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, among other historic and valuable documents, will sell that copy on Nov. 26. Sotheby’s expects it to go for $15 million to $30 million, which would make it the most expensive book ever sold at auction — more expensive than a copy of John James Audubon’s 'The Birds of America' that sold in December 2010 for $11.54 million (equivalent to $12.39 million in 2013 dollars), the current record. That beat the $7.5 million ($10.77 million today) paid for a copy of Chaucer’s 'Canterbury Tales' at Christie’s in London in 1998, and the $6.16 million ($8.14 million today) paid for Shakespeare’s First Folio at Christie’s in New York in 2001."

The price realized on November 26, 2013 was $12,500,000 plus the buyer's premium, or $14,165,000. While substantially below the low estimate, and probably just meeting the reserve, the price set a new record for the sale of a printed book.
In November 2013 a digital facsimile of the incomplete copy of the first edition in the Library of Congress was available at this link.
(This entry was last revised on 12-23-2016.)
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Abolition of the Star Chamber Court Stimulates Publishing 1640

Abolition of the Star Chamber court in 1640 removed the machinery of censorship in England. This resulted in an outpouring of publications on topics which previously had been suppressed. In 1642 two thousand titles were published in England, and three thousand five hundred were published in 1643— "more titles in a single year than at any time before the eighteenth century" (A. Hessayon, "Incendiary texts: book burning in England, c.1640 – c.1660", Cromohs, 12 [2007] 1-25).

(This entry was last revised on 05-03-2014.) 

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Sixty Printed Books and Three Newsbooks Are Ordered to be Burned 1640 – 1660

Excluding corrupt translations of the Bible imported from the United Provinces, Catholic primers, missals and a liturgical devotion to the Virgin Mary, sixty identified printed books, pamphlets and broadsheets, and three newsbooks were ordered to be burned by civil, military and ecclesiastical authorities in England between 1640 and 1660.

"In addition, Parliament ordered a number of letters, notably those maligning its military commanders, to be burned. Capuchin vestments and utensils belonging to the alters and chapel of Somerset house and ‘superstitious’ pictorial representations of God the Father, Christ the Son, the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary were also ordered to be burned.  English book burning reached its height in 1642 when 13 books and pamphlets were consigned to the flames. Yet with the exception of a significant peak of 9 titles in 1646, during the remainder of the period no more than 5 books and pamphlets were ordered to be burned in a single year. Indeed, as significant as the occurrence of authorised book burning is its absence in 1649, 1653, 1657, 1658 and 1659." (Hessayon, "Incendiary texts: book burning in England, c.1640 – c.1660", Cromohs, 12 (2007) 1-25.  http://www.cromohs.unifi.it/12_2007/hessayon_incendtexts.html, accessed 01-04-2010).

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Ole Worm Issues the First Study of Runestones and Runic Inscriptions 1641

In 1641 Danish physician and antiquarian Ole Worm (Olaus Wormius) published Danicorum monumentorum libri sex: e spissis antiquitatum tenebris et in Dania ac Norvegia extantibus ruderibus eruti in Copenhagen (København). This was the first published study of the Runestones of Denmark and Norway, and one of the few surviving sources for many runic inscriptions now lost. 

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Blaise Pascal Invents a Calculator: The Pascaline 1642

Mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal invented an adding machine, the Pascaline.

"Use. The dials show the French monetary unit, the livre, which was divided into 12 deniers, each subdivided into 20 sols. The essential part of the machine was its decimal carry; each toothed wheel moved forward one unit (one-tenth of a revolution on each wheel except those of deniers and sols) when the previous wheel had completed one revolution. Subtraction was based on complementary numbers that could be revealed by moving the strip at the top of the calculator" (Gordon Bell's website, accessed 10-12-2011).

In 1645 Pascal published an eighteen-page pamphlet describing his calculating machine. It was called Lettre dédicatoire à Monseigneur le Chancelier sur le sujet de la machine nouvellement inventée par le Sieur B. P. pour faire toutes sortes d’opérations d’arithmétique, par un mouvement reglé, sans plume ny jettons avec un advis necessaire à ceux qui auront curiosité de voir ladite machine. . . . The pamphlet does not identify a place of printing or a printer’s name, so we may assume that Pascal paid for its printing. When we published Origins of Cyberspace OCLC cited only two copies of this pamphlet in one French library and no copies in North America.

Pascal's pamphlet was reprinted along with additional material related to the Pascaline in his Oeuvres (1779), vol. 4, 7-30. The additional material consisted of Pascal's 1650 letter describing the machine that he presented to Queen Christina of Sweden; the privilege for its construction and sale issued in 1649, and Denis Diderot's description of the machine published in the Encyclopédie.

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) no. 13.

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Ludwig van Siegen Invents Mezzotint 1642

In 1642 German soldier and amateur artist Ludwig von Siegen invented the mezzotint process of printmaking. Mezzotint was was the first tonal method of printmaking, producing prints that have a more painterly appearance. The word derives from Italian meaning "half-painted." Von Siegen's first known mezzotint is a portrait of  Amelie Elisabeth von Hessen.

Mezzotint allows "half-tones to be produced without using line or dot based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mezzotint achieves tonality by roughening the plate with thousands of little dots made by a metal tool with small teeth. In printing the tiny pits in the plate hold the ink when the face of the plate is wiped clean. A high level of quality and richness in the print can be achieved."

Wax, The Mezzotint. History and Technique (1990) 15-16.

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Comandatore Geronimo Marulli Issues the First Book Printed on Malta 1643

The first book printed on the island of Malta, preserved in a possibly unique copy in the Library of Congress, was I Natali delle Religiose Militie. . . by Comandatore Geronimo Marulli of Barletta, Italy.

"Below the Order of St. John on the title-page, it bears the imprint: 'In Malta, l'anno MDCXXXXIII.' It has no printer's name, but in view of the fact that the title-page bears the arms of the Order of St. John it seems more likely to have been the work of Bonacota than that of Pompeo de Fiore. I. S. Mifsud, in his Bibliotheca Maltese writes: 'Il Marulli. . . nel 1633 aveva data alle stampe di Malta altra operetta initiola I Natali delle Religiose Miilizie'; but this was probably a misprint for 1643" (Clair, The Spread of Printing.  Eastern Hemisphere. Malta [1969] 8-11).

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The British Government Attempts to Re-Establish Censorship June 16, 1643

Having abolished the Star Chamber court which had provided the mechanism for censorship in England, on June 16, 1643 the British government attempted to re-establish censorship through a Licensing Order passed on this date which would require the licensing of publications before printing.

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John Milton Issues Aereopagitica: "For Books are Not Absolutely Dead Things; but Doe Contain a Potencie of Life . . . ." 1644

In response to the British Government's attempt to re-establish censorship through the Licensing Order passed in 1643, in 1644 English poet, polemicist, civil servant and man of letters John Milton issued Areopagitica: A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicense'd Printing, to the Parliament of England, arguing against the order for licensing books, and defending the freedom of the press.

"I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Bookes demean themselves, as well as men, and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors: For Books are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them to be as active as that soule was whole progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a violl the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. Yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth, but a good Book is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life" (Milton, Areopagitica).

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Michael Florent van Langren issues the Earliest Known Graph of Statistical Data 1644

In 1644 Dutch astronomer and cartographer Michael Florent van Langren (Langrenus, Miguel Florencio, Michale Florent) published La Verdadera Longitud por Mar y Tierra in Antwerp as a pamphlet. To show the magnitude of the problem of determining longitude, van Langren created the first known graph of statistical data, showing the wide range of estimates of the distance in longitude between Toledo and Rome.

Friendly, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langren and the 'Secret' of Longitude," 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-108-2013.

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Louis Jacob Issues the First Extensive History of "Public" & Private Libraries 1644

Traicté des plus belles bibliothèques publiques et particulières published in Paris in 1644 by cleric, bibliophile and historian Louis Jacob de Saint-Charles, was the first detailed history of public and "private" libraries, though it could be argued that none of the institutional libraries about which Jacob wrote were "public" in the modern sense of the term. Jacob's work was far more extensive than that of Justus Lipsius (1602), which focussed primarily on Greek and Roman libraries.

Jacob described about 1000 European libraries, and in some cases his description is the only one available. His account of British libraries covered 60 pages—quite extensive for a French scholar. 

(This entry was written on the Oceania Riviera off the coast of Turkey in June 2015.)

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Abraham Bosse Issues the First Treatise on Engraving and Etching 1645

In 1645 French artist and printmaker, Abraham Bosse, wrote, illustrated and published in Paris the first treatise on engraving and etching techniques: Tracté des manières de graver en taille douce sur l'airin.

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Johannes Hevelius Issues the First Extensive Moon Atlas 1647

In 1647 Brewer, protestant councillor and mayor, instrument maker, astronomer and engraver in Danzig (Gdańsk), Johannes Hevelius (Latin), also called Johannes Hewel, Johann Hewelke, Johannes Höwelcke in German, or Jan Heweliusz (in Polish), self-published Selenographia: sive, lunae descriptio. Besides an allegorical engraved title by Jeremias Falck after Adolf Boy, a portrait of Hevelius also engraved by Falck, after Helmick van Iwenhusen,  the book, published in small folio format, contains 110 plates on 89 sheets, drawn & engraved by the author (1 with volvelle, 3 double-page), and numerous  engravings within the text. 

The result of four years of observations, Selenographia was the first comprehensive atlas of the moon. The first state of the book does not contain the plate RRR, which is not called for in the plate list. Hevelius kept adding to his book as it went through the press; probably some copies were already in circulation by the time he had drawn and engraved plate RRR.

Son of a prosperous brewery owner, Hevelius made his own instruments, made his own drawings, did his own engraving, published his own books, and built the best observatory in Europe on beer proceeds. In the Selenographia he drew excellent moon maps, based on his own observations, and gave many new names to the features observable on the moon's surface such as seas, mountains, craters, borrowing nomenclature from terrestrial geography. For example he named an island of Sicily complete with a Mount Etna, and an island of Corsica, both in the Mediterranean Sea. A few of these names—the Alps, the Apennines, and the Caucasus—remain in use, but most of Hevelius's' nomenclature was superceded in the seventeenth century by that of Giovanni Battista Riccioli

Even more significant was his drawing of the moon in different states of libration; his descriptions of a librational cycle of shadow changes in the lunar details, his method of judging the libration by means of changes in apparent (telescopic) separation of a pair of lunar details, and his introduction of rudimentary lunar coordinate systems provided a sound basis for the work of subsequent astronomers. He also described a mounted lunar globe, perhaps the first of its kind, which allowed representation of librational movements.

The first part of the Selenographia is valuable for the history of optics. Hevelius describes an optical lathe for turning telescope lenses and gives methods for judging the parameters and qualities of lenses. He describes Christoph Scheiner's helioscope, which he eventually modified, the microscope and the military periscope. He illustrates telescopes that he made, which often had unusual fittings and complimentary devices. Hevelius also made observations of Saturn, the satellites of Jupiter, sunspots, comets and the star which he named "Mira." 

Zinner, Astronomische Instrumente 275-82.  Personal communication from Jörn Koblitz, The MetBase Library of Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences.

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