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

1650 to 1700 Timeline


John Dury Writes the First Book on Librarianship in English 1650

The first English book on “library economy,” or library management, was a series of letters that Scottish minister and writer, John Dury, Keeper of the Royal Library from the death of Charles I until the Restoration, wrote on library and educational reform to his friend, the German-British polymath and educational reformer Samuel Hartlib. Hartlib published them in London as The Reformed Librarie Keeper in 1650. 

"One of the ways in which both Dury and Hartlib wished to promote educational reform and further knowledge was by exploiting the facilities of public libraries in London, Oxford, and Cambridge more efficiently. Dury expressed the hope that the work of the librarian might be as ‘a factor and trader for helpes to learning, a treasurer to keep them and a dispenser to apply them to use, or to see them well used, or at least not abused’ (Turnbull, p.257). The Reformed Librarie-Keeper printed various proposals for the organization and use of libraries, which Dury had originally advanced in 1646. It was published together with Dury’s plans for a reformed school in 1650. In that year, Dury was appointed keeper of the library of St James’s Palace (formerly the King’s Library), which was in a state of disorder. He installed new bookcases and urged that the trustees for the selling of the late king’s goods should draw up an inventory of the books and medals, both measures being intended to make the library usable to the public. A few years later, Dury and Henry Langley unsuccessfully proposed Hartlib for the post of Bodley’s Librarian.  

"As storehouses of learning, in which great strides had already been made to establish accurate classifications, libraries had the potential to be ideal embodiments of the Ark. But the poorly-funded libraries of interregnum England were too chaotic in organization and too inaccessible for ordinary readers to be able to fulfil the role in which Dury and Hartlib had cast them" (Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, "Hartlib Circle," http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/gatt/catalog.php?num=67, accessed 01-30-2012).

"In Dury's first letter we learn that the library keeper's only responsibility was to safeguard the collection. To do this, a man (note: not a woman) did not need to be particularly well educated. The pay was low, commensurate with the skill-level required for the job. Dury describes the service provided by "factors and traders," educated men who profited by traveling throughout Europe searching for books suitable for various collections. Dury faults that system because he believed that the "factors and traders" were more interested in profit-making than in learning. (He then kindly defends these men by pointing out that, after all, they have to make a living.) His idea was to enhance the job of the library-keeper to include the role of the trader. In order to do this, the position of library-keeper would have to provide enough pay to attract educated men. If the library wanted men who were broadly educated and interested in the advancement of learning, Dury suggested the pay scale, which then ranged between 50 and 100 Pounds a year, be raised to 200 Pounds. He recommended that potential employees be tested in order to prove they are familiar enough with the various disciplines of the day to accurately maintain the library catalog.  

"Dury felt that having trained library keepers was essential if libraries were to be made open to the public. The library-keeper's job would be extended to include recommending and annually defending additions to the collection before the faculty of the University. The library-keeper was to correspond with experts in every science throughout Europe (expenses to be paid by the University). The library keeper was also to be the reference person regarding the collection, in order to assist scholars. In addition he was to continue the role of safeguarding the collection, which, in a public library, meant overseeing collection use and maintaining the library catalog.  

"Dury notes that the catalog would need to be created first, however. He suggested that the catalog be arranged by subject matter, then divided by language. The catalog he had in mind would also contain a pointer to the physical position of the book within the library. That system would be designed well enough to allow for the growth of the collection. Moreover, an annual list of additions to the collection would be printed. The entire catalog would be printed and circulated to other libraries in Europe every three years (or more often if the library grows faster than expected). He also proposed that the University keep books that the library has acquired, by gifts or purchase, even if the faculty couldn't use them, as; "there is seldom any book that does not contain something useful." He suggested keeping them in a separate collection and creating a list that was indexed by subject and arranged alphabetically by author.

"Dury's second letter offers an argument to be used in defending the cost of establishing his proposed library before the British Parliament, which he thought should supply the necessary funding. He bases his argument on Christian moral grounds, reminding us that in his day the separation of church and state was not a popular idea. Dury saw the library as a place that would nourish the spirits of men. He criticizes private libraries as serving those that "pride themselves in the possession of that which others have not," men who "covetously obstruct the fountains of life and comfort." He complains that this "dilates the light of knowledge and the love of the grace and goodness in the hearts of all men." He argues that library should be "communicating all good things freely to others." He goes on to argue that the university library, by proving useful to scholars in other nations, would encourage them to adopt similar policies for their own libraries, thus bringing honor to England. Finally, he warns that if the library is administered without relation to Christ's teachings, the endeavor is likely to lead to strife, confusion, and pride"(http://people.lis.illinois.edu/~chip/projects/timeline/1651robins.html, accessed 01-30-2012).

(This entry was last revised on 03-16-2014.)

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The Sliding Stick Form of Slide Rule Circa 1650

A modern photograph of a vintage sliding stick side rule.

The sliding-stick form of the slide rule was developed about the year 1650.

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Samuel Pepys' Library: One of the Most Significant Private Libraries Preserved Intact from 17th Century England, in its Original Bookcases Circa 1650 – 1703

A painting of Samuel Pepys by John Hayls, 1666.

The title page of Newton's Principia.

The library of diarist Samuel Pepys is one of the most significant private libraries preserved intact from seventeenth century England. At Pepys's death in 1703 it included more than 3,000 volumes, including his diary, kept from 1600-1669, all carefully catalogued and indexed. Preserved at Magdalene College, Cambridge, the library, most of which Pepys collected during the last thirteen years of his life, is arranged by size, from No. 1 (the smallest) to No. 3,000 (the largest), and housed in the original twelve seventeenth-century oak bookcases just as Pepys arranged it.  A peculiarity of Pepys's arrangement was that he wanted each book on each shelf to be the same height, and when any book was shorter than the others he had a wooden base made for it, the visible portion of which was rounded and covered in tooled leather to resemble the spine of the book which would sit on it. Pepys's bookcases, also called presses, are among the earliest surviving examples of bookcases in the modern sense. The fine bindings on the books, mostly done for Pepys, are also significant.

Among the most famous items in the Library are the original bound manuscripts of Pepys's diary, and Pepys's copy of the first edition of Newton's Principia (1687), published under Pepys's imprimatur as President of the Royal Society. The library also includes remarkable holdings of incunabula, manuscripts, and printed ballads.

"Most of his [Pepys's] leisure he now spent on his library. He intensified his search for books and prints, setting himself a target of 3000 volumes. Pepys and his library clerk devised a great three-volume catalogue; collated Pepysian copies with those in other collections; adorned volume upon volume with exquisite title pages written calligraphically by assistants; pasted prints into their guard-books; and inserted indexes and lists of contents" (http://www.magd.cam.ac.uk/pepys/latham.html, accessed 02-28-2015).

Pepys made detailed provisions in his will for the preservation of his book collection. When his nephew and heir, John Jackson, died in 1723, it was transferred intact to the Pepys Library, kept in the Pepys Building on the grounds of Magdalene College.

Hobson, Great Libraries (1970) 212-221.

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The Ussher Chronology: The World Was Created in 4004 BCE 1650 – 2012

In his Annales Veteris Testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti, una cum rerum Asiaticarum et Aegyptiacarum chronico, a temporis historici principio usque ad Maccabaicorum initia producto. ("Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world, the chronicle of Asiatic and Egyptian matters together produced from the beginning of historical time up to the beginnings of Maccabes") James Ussher, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, deduced that the first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday, October 23, 4004 BCE, in the proleptic Julian calendar, near the autumnal equinox. Ussher published a continuation of this work, Annalium pars postierior, in 1654. The work was first translated into English in London in 1658 as The Annals of the World

"Ussher's proposed date of 4004 BC differed little from other Biblically based estimates, such as those of Jose ben Halafta (3761 BC), Bede (3952 BC), Ussher's near-contemporary Scaliger (3949 BC), Johannes Kepler (3992 BC) or Sir Isaac Newton (c. 4000 BC). Ussher's specific choice of starting year may have been influenced by the then-widely-held belief that the Earth's potential duration was 6,000 years (4,000 before the birth of Christ and 2,000 after), corresponding to the six days of Creation, on the grounds that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8)" (Wikipedia article on Ussher chronology, accessed 12-28-2012).

Ussher also provided exact dates for biblical and ancient history. He published dates in the margins of his work according to the year of the world, the Julian period, and the year before Christ. Because from the 1680s Ussher's chronology was published in the great many editions of the King James Bible, his chronology became enormously influential. Even though it was written in the seventeenth century, and aspects of its scholarship are obsolete, it remains influential today, particularly among Young Earth creationists in America who interpret the Bible literally.

"A 2011 Gallup survey reports, 'Three in 10 Americans interpret the Bible literally, saying it is the actual word of God. That is similar to what Gallup has measured over the last two decades, but down from the 1970s and 1980s. A 49% plurality of Americans say the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it should not be taken literally, consistently the most common view in Gallup's nearly 40-year history of this question. Another 17% consider the Bible an ancient book of stories recorded by man.'

"A 2012 Gallup survey reports, 'Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.' Adherence to young Earth creationism in the U.S. has been found to be the highest in the Western world" (Wikipedia article on Young Earth creationism, accessed 12-28-2012).

In December 2012 I purchased the outstanding new edition of Ussher's The Annals of the World, revised and updated by Larry and Marion Pierce and published by Master Books in Green Forest, Arkansas in 2003.  My copy, acquired from Amazon, is the ninth printing of August 2010.  This small folio volume, printed on Bible paper and bound somewhat like a Bible in attractive leather-grained plastic covered cloth, with gilt edges and a ribbon marker, is described by the publishers as "James Ussher's Classic Survey of World History." It is enclosed in an attractive slipcase that suggests that it contains currently useful historical information. It is evident from details in the appendices that the audience for this edition—clearly a rather large one in view of the number of printings—may include creationists. The enclosed CD-ROM includes some additional information attempting to reconcile aspects of modern science with the creationist view.

Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time (2010) 65-67.

(This entry was last revised on 04-16-2014.)

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Possibly the Earliest High-Level Printed Scientific Book Written by a Woman 1650

In 1650 Silesian astronomer Maria Cunitz (Maria Cunitia, Cunicia, Cunitzin, Kunic, Cunitiae, Kunicia, Kunicka) published Urania Propitia, sive Tabulae Astronomicae. . . in Olesnica (Oels), present day Poland. Publication of this work—the earliest high-level printed scientific book written by a woman—caused Cunitz to be aclaimed as the most learned worman in astronomy since the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria.

Urania Propitia, published with parallel texts in Latin and German, was a simplification of Kepler's Tabulae Rudolphinae (1627) providing new tables, and new ephemera.

"Maria Cunitz's 550-page book is a complete reworking of the mathematics of Johannes Kepler's Rudolphine Tables (1627) for the computation of planetary positions. Her objective was to simplify the calculations, primarily by elimination of logarithms. Her book provides 300 pages of tables of numbers and a new calculation method glossed with 250 pages of text written in both German and Latin. Considering the mathematical accomplishment represented by her book, Cunitz seems to have been the most advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of her time" (Smeltzer, Ruben, Rose, Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine, New York: The Grolier Club, 2013, no. 106).

"Today, her [Cunitz's] book is also credited for its contribution to the development of the German scientific language" (Wikipedia article on Maria Cunitz, accessed 10-07-2013).

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La Varenne Writes the Founding Text of Modern French Cuisine 1651

The title page of Le Cuisinier Francois, by Francois Pierre de La Varenne, 1680.

An engraved portrait of Nicolas Chalon du Ble, marquis d'Uxelles.

François Pierre de la Varenne, chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles, published in Paris Le cuisinier françois, the founding text of modern French cuisine. Le cuisinier françois played a major role in moving French gastronomy away from the heavily spiced cuisine of the Middle Ages toward recipes that expressed the natural flavors of foods.

"Exotic spices (saffron, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, nigella, seeds of paradise) were, with the exception of pepper, replaced by local herbs (parsley, thyme, bayleaf, chervil, sage, tarragon). New vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, peas, cucumber and artichoke were introduced. Special care was given to the cooking of meat in order to conserve maximum flavour. Vegetables had to be fresh and tender. Fish, with the improvement of transportation, had to be impeccably fresh. Preparation had to respect the gustatory and visual integrity of the ingredients instead of masking them as had been the practice previously.

"La Varenne's work was the first to set down in writing the considerable culinary innovations achieved in France in the seventeenth century, while codifying food preparation in a systematic manner, according to rules and principals. He introduced the first bisque and Béchamel sauce. He replaced crumbled bread with roux as the base for sauces, and lard with butter. Here one finds the first usage of the terms bouquet garni, fonds de cuisine (stocks) and reductions, and the use of egg-whites for clarification. It also contains the earliest recipe in print for mille-feuille. The cooking of vegetables is addressed, an unusual departure. In a fragrant sauce for asparagus there is evidence of an early form of hollandaise sauce:

"make a sauce with good fresh butter, a little vinegar, salt, and nutmeg, and an egg yolk to bind the sauce; take care that it doesn't curdle..." 

"La Varenne preceded his book with a text on confitures—jams, jellies and preserves— that included recipes for syrups, compotes and a great variety of fruit drinks, as well as a section on salads (1650).

"La Varenne followed his groundbreaking work with a third book, Le Pâtissier françois (Paris 1653), which is generally credited with being the first comprehensive French work on pastry-making. In 1662 appeared the first of the combined editions that presented all three works together. All the early editions of La Varenne's works—Le Cuisinier françois ran through some thirty editions in seventy-five years—are extremely rare; like children's books, they too were worn to pieces, in the kitchen, and simply used up."

"The English translation, The French Cook (London 1653) was the first French cookbook translated into English. It introduced professional terms like à la mode, au bleu (very rare), and au naturel which are now standard culinary expressions. Its success can be gauged from the fact that over 250,000 copies were printed in about 250 editions and it remained in print until 1815" (Wikipedia article on François Pierre La Varenne, accessed 06-07-2009).

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Chetham's Library: the First Free Public Reference Library in the United Kingdom 1653

A portrait of Humphrey Chetham, now in the library reading room.

A modern photograph of the Library Reading Room.

Chetham’s Library in Manchester, England, established in 1653 under the will of merchant Humphrey Chetham, for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents", and as a library for the use of scholars. is the oldest free public reference library in the United Kingdom, and perhaps the first free public library in the English speaking world.

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Filed under: Libraries

Borel Publishes an Encrypted Notice of Huygens' Discovery of Saturn's Ring 1656

In 1656 French physician, chemist, botanist, and savant Pierre Borel published the first documentary history of the invention of the telescope and microscope in De vero telscope inventore, cum brevi omnium conpiciliorum historia. . . . accessit etiam centuria microscopicarum in The Hague (Den Haag, 's-Gravenhage). Borel's work also contained Christiaan Huygens's preliminary announcement in anagram form of his discovery of the rings of Saturn and of the Saturnian moon Titan. Borel's purpose in compiling his history was to publish the evidence obtained by William Boreel, French ambassador to the Dutch States, supporting the claims of Dutch spectacle-maker Zacharias Jansen to the invention of both the telescope and compound microscope. Jansen's first claim is not generally recognized (German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey is traditionally credited with inventing the first telescope), but Jansen probably did invent the compound microscope, the original of which Boreel saw in 1619.

One of the several documents that Borel collected for his history was a letter from Christiaan Huygens entitled "De Saturni luna observation nona," dated March 5, 1656, recounting his discovery of the Saturnian moon Titan and giving in anagram form his solution to the problem of the mysterious variable "arms" of Saturn. Huygens had concluded that the "arms" were really a single ring surrounding the planet, a solution that, three years later, he announced in Systema Saturnium. By publication of the anagram he was able to establish his priority before full disclosure of the discovery.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 268.

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Huygens Invents the Pendulum Clock, Increasing Accuracy Sixty Fold 1656

In 1656 Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum clock in 1656 and patented it in 1657. This technology reduced the loss of time by clocks from about 15 minutes to about 15 seconds per day.

"Huygens contracted the construction of his clock designs to clockmaker Salomon Coster [of The Hague], who actually built the clock. Huygens was inspired by investigations of pendulums by Galileo Galilei beginning around 1602. Galileo discovered the key property that makes pendulums useful timekeepers: isochronism, which means that the period of swing of a pendulum is approximately the same for different sized swings. Galileo had the idea for a pendulum clock in 1637, which was partly constructed by his son in 1649, but neither lived to finish it. The introduction of the pendulum, the first harmonic oscillator used in timekeeping, increased the accuracy of clocks enormously, from about 15 minutes per day to 15 seconds per day leading to their rapid spread as existing 'verge and foliot' clocks were retrofitted with pendulums.

"These early clocks, due to their verge escapements, had wide pendulum swings of up to 100°. In his 1673 analysis of pendulums, Horologium Oscillatorium, Huygens showed that wide swings made the pendulum inaccurate, causing its period, and thus the rate of the clock, to vary with unavoidable variations in the driving force provided by the movement. Clockmakers' realization that only pendulums with small swings of a few degrees are isochronous motivated the invention of the anchor escapement around 1670, which reduced the pendulum's swing to 4°-6°. The anchor became the standard escapement used in pendulum clocks. In addition to increased accuracy, the anchor's narrow pendulum swing allowed the clock's case to accommodate longer, slower pendulums, which needed less power and caused less wear on the movement. The seconds pendulum (also called the Royal pendulum) in which each swing takes one second, which is about one metre (39.37 in) long, became widely used. The long narrow clocks built around these pendulums, first made by William Clement around 1680, became known as grandfather clocks. The increased accuracy resulting from these developments caused the minute hand, previously rare, to be added to clock faces beginning around 1690" (Wikipedia article on Pendulum clock, accessed 12-25-2011).

The first pendulum clock created by Salomon Coster of the Hague, and dated 1657, is preserved in the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden, The Netherlands.

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Huygens Publishes his Discovery of Saturn's Ring 1659

In 1659 Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist Christiaan Huygens published his discovery of Saturn's ring and and many other observations on the planets and their satellites in Systema Saturnium, sive de causis mirandorum Saturni phaenomenon, et comite ejus planeta novo in The Hague. With an improved telescope which he built with his brother Constantijn, and a theory based upon the Cartesian concept of vortices, Huygens was able to solve the problem of the "arms" of Saturn, whose existence and variable aspect had puzzled astronomers since their discovery by Galileo. Huygens hypothesized that the varying "arms" were actually the phases of a single thin flat ring, surrounding but not touching the planet, and inclined at an angle of twenty-eight degrees to the ecliptic.

"The rest of Systema Saturnium is an exhaustive exposition of how this ring, which stays parallel to itself, can account for all Saturn’s appearances, fixing its inclination to the ecliptic and its points of intersection with the ecliptic, and making predictions as to when future appearances will be seen. The lucidity of the tract is well-illustrated by the explanatory figure used by Huygens, which is still used today to explain the appearances” (Van Helden, pp. 161-162).

Huygens’ Saturn ring theory aroused some controversy among his fellow astronomers, in part because of his disparaging remarks about the superiority of his telescopes to their own, and in part because of his advocacy of the Copernican system. One of those upset by Huygens’ work was the French Jesuit mathematician and physicist Honoré Fabri, who took exception to Huygens’ frank Copernicanism. Fabri teamed up with the optical instrument maker Eustachio Divini, whose telescopes had supposedly been slighted by Huygens, and in the summer of 1660 a polemic tract entitled Brevis annotatio in systema Saturnium appeared in Rome. Though Divini’s name appeared on the title page, it was written by Fabri. Fabri rejected Huygens’ ring hypothesis, postulating instead that Saturn had two massive but dark satellites close to the planet and two small but bright satellites farther out, which would account for all the planet’s observed appearances. “It was not difficult for Huygens to find fault with this hypothesis, and he quickly issued a reply, entitled Brevis assertio systematis Saturni, in which he pointed out that the outline of the anses [arms] is elliptical, not circular, and also challenged Fabri to find the appropriate periods of these supposed satellites” (Van Helden, p. 165). 

To preserve his priority in the discovery before he was ready to publish in detail Huygens had presented this solution three years earlier in a single-sentence anagram at the end of his "De Saturni luna observatio nona," published in Borel's De vero telescope inventore (1656). 

Van Helden, “’Annulo cingitur’: The solution of the problem of Saturn,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 5 (1974) 155-173. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1136.

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Filed under: Science

The Longest Series of Monthly Temperature Observations 1659

The Central England Temperature (CET) record, a meteorological dataset originally published by English climatologist Gordon Manley in 1953, and subsequently extended and updated in 1974 following many decades of painstaking work, documents the monthly mean surface air temperatures, for the Midlands region of England in degrees Celsius from the year 1659 to the present. This record represents the longest series of monthly temperature observations in existence. It is monthly from 1659, and a daily version has been produced from 1772.

"The monthly means from November 1722 onwards are given to a precision of 0.1°C. The earliest years of the series, from 1659 to October 1722 inclusive, for the most part only have monthly means given to the nearest degree or half a degree, though there is a small 'window' of 0.1 degree precision from 1699 to 1706 inclusive. This reflects the number, accuracy, reliability and geographical spread of the temperature records that were available for the years in question" (Wikipedia article on Central England temperature, accessed 03-09-2013).

Manley, G., "The mean temperature of central England, 1698–1952," Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, vol. 79 (1953) 242-261.

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David Teniers the Younger Publishes the First Published Illustrated Catalogue of an Art Collection 1660

In 1660 David Teniers the Younger, court painter in Archduke Leopold William's court in Brussels, issued the Theatrum Pictorium, a catalogue of 243 Italian paintings belonging to his patron, Hapsburg Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, cousin of King Philip IV of Spain, and Governor of the Southern Netherlands (comprising most of modern Belgium).  Containing the engraved reproductions of 243 paintings, this was the first published illustrated catalogue of an art collection. Remarkably Teniers had the first edition printed in Dutch, French, Spanish and Latin, and the work later went through five more editions: 1673 (4 languages), 1684 (Latin), c. 1700 (Latin) and 1755 (French). 

During the single decade of his governorship (1646-56) Leopold Wilhelm formed one of the greatest art collections of his age, and Teniers effectively became its curator. Leopold Wilhelm’s collection came to number approximately 1,300 works, including paintings by Holbein, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Van Eyck, Raphael, Giorgione, Veronese and more than 15 works by Titian. This collection now forms the heart of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.

van Claerbergen (ed) David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting (2006).

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Joachim Becher Provides Possibly the Earliest Model for Machine Translation 1661

In 1661 Physician and alchemist, Johann Joachim Becher, published Character, pro notitia linguarum universali in Frankfurt. This proposal for a universal language in numeric form may have, to some extent, anticipated the idea of machine translation.

“Becher constructed a Latin dictionary that was almost ten times more vast (10,000 items). [...] For each item in Becher’s dictionary there is an Arabic number: the city of Zurich, for example, is designated by the number 10283. A second Arabic number refers the user to grammatical tables which supply verbal endings, the endings for the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives, or adverbial endings. A third number refers to case endings. The dedication 'Inventum Eminentissimo Principi' is written 4442. 2770:169:3. 6753:3, that is, '(My) Invention (to the) Eminent + superlative + dative singular, Prince + dative singular'. Unfortunately Becher was afraid that his system might prove difficult for peoples who did not know the Arabic numbers; he therefore thought up a system of his own for the direct visual representation of numbers. The system is atrociously complicated and almost totally illegible. [However, together with Gaspar Schott’s Technica curiosa (1664), Becher’s system has been seen] as tentative models for future practices of computer translation. In fact, it is sufficient to think of Becher’s pseudo-ideograms as instructions for electronic circuits, prescribing to a machine which path to follow through the memory in order to retrieve a given linguistic term, and we have a procedure for a word-for-word translation (with all the obvious inconveniences of such a merely mechanical program)’ (Umberto Eco, The Search for the Perfect Language, pp. 201–3).”  See Bernard Quaritch Ltd., Logic and Language [PDF] Autumn 2008, number 1.

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John Evelyn Attacks Air Pollution 1661

In 1661 English gardiner, diarist and environmentalist John Evelyn published Fumifugium: or the Inconveniencie of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated, together with some remedies humbly proposed, a pioneering attack on air polution caused by the "hellish and dismall cloud of sea-coal" which perpetually enveloped London at the time. Of course, the problem Evelyn wrote about did not dissipate, and the work continued to be reprinted, with at least four editions published in the 20th century, including one in 1961 by the National Society for Clean Air.

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John Eliot Issues First Complete Bible Published in the Western Hemisphere 1661 – 1663

In 1661 English puritan clergyman and missionary in Roxbury, Massachusetts, John Eliot, and printers Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson in Cambridge, Massachusetts issued the first complete edition of the Bible (Old and New Testaments and the metrical psalms) published in the Western Hemisphere. Entitled Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, it was a translation of the Geneva Bible into the Indian Massachusett language , an Algonquian language. The book, which came to be known as "Eliot's Indian Bible," was also “the earliest example in history of the translation and printing of the entire Bible in a new language as a means of evangelization” (Darlow and Moule). Publication was the result of a project that took more than ten years. On July 27, 1649, the British Parliament enacted an "Ordinance for the Advancement of Civilization and Christianity Among the Indians." This act created The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England, the first Protestant missionary society. Also in 1649 Eliot made the decision to attempt the translation of the Scriptures into the Algonquin language. Like other native American languages, Alogonquin had no written form, and it was considered one of the world's most difficult languages. The process of translation of the bible into the Natick dialect of the region's Algonquin tribes took Eliot ten years, with the assistance of John Sassamon, a member of the local tribe, whose ability to speak and write English proved invaluable.

“When the manuscript was ready for publication, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England not only provided the funds to print it, but they also sent an English printer by the name of Marmaduke Johnson, a printing press, and a supply of paper. Johnson arrived in the New World and set to work with Samuel Green who had already started to print the New Testament. By 1661 they had completed the printing of fifteen hundred copies of the New Testament. One thousand of the New Testaments were reserved for binding with the Old Testament, when completed, to form an entire Bible. The remaining copies of the New Testament were distributed among the Algonquin tribe or sent to England as presentation copies.

"When the task of printing the New Testament was complete, Green and Johnson began printing one thousand copies of the Old Testament, which included a translation of the Metrical Psalms. The work proceeded quickly and by 1663 the printing was finished. The Old Testaments were bound with the reserved copies of the New Testament to produce one thousand copies of the entire Bible” (Samworth, John Eliot and America's First Bible, accessed 12-30-2008).

(This entry was last revised on 02-28-2015.)

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Demography & Vital Statistics 1662

In 1662 John Graunt, a draper in London, published Natural and Political Observations Mentioned in a Following Index, and Made upon the Bills of Mortality. Basing his work primarily on London's weekly Bills of Mortality, which had been published since 1593, Graunt noted the regularity of certain vital phenomena, such as higher death rates for children under six years of age, constructed the first life expectancy tables, and attempted to use his data to describe various characteristics of populations.

Graunt was well aware of the limitations of his data, however, citing such defects as lack of thoroughness, inadequate disease vocabulary, and dishonest reporting of deaths from certain causes such as syphilis.  His work first established the uniformity and predictability of many important biological phenomena when taken in large numbers, such as the greater number of female babies, the longer lifespans of females, the high mortality among infants.

It has long been debated how much Graunt's friend, the economist William Petty, contributed to the Observations; recent opinion has it that most of the work is Graunt's, although Petty may have made a few contributions. 

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) No. 144.   Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 933.

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Working Around the English Monopoly on Solid Graphite 1662

In 1662 Germans in Nuremberg attempted to work around the English monopoly on solid graphite for pencils by trying to manufacture graphite sticks from powdered graphite, sulphur, and antimony.

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Mechanistic View of the Human Body 1662

Detail of page from Decartes' De homine figuris.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire page.

Detail of title page of Decartes' De homine figuris.  Please click on link below to view and resize entire page.

Rene Decartes.

In 1662 René Descartes published De homine figuris. . . in Leiden. He had written the manuscript in French, originally intending it to accompany his Discours de la méthode (1637) but suppressed it after the condemnation of Galileo in 1633, fearing that his mechanistic view of the human body might be considered heretical. The physician Florentius Schuyl translated Descartes' text into Latin. The Latin edition included 10 engraved plates, including a "dissected" plate of the heart with the interior parts shown by means of lift-up flaps, plus engraved and woodcut text illustrations. Two years later the book first appeared in French in an edition published in Paris, with different illustrations.

De homine was the first attempt to cover the whole field of "animal physiology." It was based upon Descartes's concept of "l'homme machine," an automaton constructed by God to approximate real men as closely as possible.  By using this literary device Descartes was able to avoid the restrictions and encumbrances of traditional physiology and theology, and to explain all physical motions, except for deliberately wilful, rational or self-conscious behavior, in purely mechanical terms. The work is particularly noteworthy for containing "the first descriptive statement of involuntary action which bears a recognizable resemblance to the modern concept of reflex action." Descartes had first used the word "reflex" in a neurophysiological sense in Les passions de l'âme (1649). 

J. Norman (ed.) Morton's Medical Bibliography (1991) no. 574. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 627.

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The First Book on the Appreciation of Prints and the First Description of Mezzotint 1662

In 1662 English diarist, gardener, and ecologist John Evelyn issued a book entitled Sculptura: or the History and Art of Chalcography and Engraving in Copper: with An ample Enumeration of the most renowned Masters and their Works. To which is annexed a new Manner of Engraving, or Mezzotinto. . . .This book, published in London, was the first book on the appreciation of prints rather than a technical manual for producing them.  In it Evelyn announced a new printmaking process, the mezzotint, "Invented, and communicated by his Highnesse" the soldier, inventor, and amateur printmaker, Prince Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria. The work included Prince Rupert's print, after Jusepe de Ribera, known as Head of the Executioner, or The Little Executioner, or The Small Executioner. It was a detail from Rupert's largest and most famous work, "The Great Executioner," considered one of the genre's finest examples. From Evelyn's diary and papers preserved in the British Library we know that Rupert first showed the technique to Evelyn February 24, 1661. However, Rupert and Evelyn conspired to keep details of the process secret, lest it be "prostituted" at too cheap a rate.

The second edition of Evelyn's book appeared in 1755. It incorporated corrections and additions taken from Evelyn's manuscript notes, a portrait of Evelyn by Thomas Worlidge (1700-1766), translations of the passages in Greek and Latin, and a memoir of the author.

In his "Advertisement" to Sculptura, Evelyn stated that he, as well as William Faithorne (1662), had made a translation of the second part of Bosse's Traicté (1645) "but, understanding it to be also the design of Mr. Faithorn, who had (it seems) translated the first part of it, and is himself by Profession a Graver, and an excellent Artist; that I might neither anticipate the worlds expectation, nor the workmans pains, to their prejudice, I desisted from printing my copy, and subjoyning it to this discourse."  This second part of Evelyn’s translation did not therefore appear in his Sculptura 1662 or any subsequent edition until the discovery of Evelyn's manuscript in the library of the Royal Society. The complete Evelyn translation did not appear until 1906 as Evelyn's Sculpulptura with the unpublished Second Part, edited by C. F. Bell.

Wax, The Mezzotint: History and Technique (1990) 21-22.

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The First Work in English on the Technique of Engraving and Etching 1662

In 1662 English painter and engraver William Faithorne published in London The Art of Graveing and Etching wherein is exprest the true way of Graveing in Copper, allso the manner & method of that famous Callot & Mr. Bosse, in their seuerall ways of Etching. The first work in English on engraving and etching, Faithorne's book was primarily a translation of Bosse's Tracté des manières de graver en taille douce sur l'airin (1645)The second edition, or second issue, of Faithorne's book appeared in 1702. The 1702 edition added "The way of Printing Copper-Plates, and how to make the Press."

In February 2013 Marlborough Rare Books of London offered for £18,500 a unique copy of the first edition of Faithorne's book, which retained a suppressed second part, comprising pages 49-72, "The Way of Printing Copper-Plates, And withal How to make the Press" that was first published in the second edition. From their description of the copy I quote:

"The book is a translation of Abraham Bosse’s Traité des Manières de grave[r] 1645 which was undertaken by Faithorne. For some unknown reason Faithorne decided to suppress the second part although he had taken the trouble to translate it, engrave the six plates and have it printed. John Evelyn, his ‘Advertisement’ appended to his own translation of Bosse’s work under the title Sculptura, states that he, as well as Faithorne, had made a translation of the second part, ‘but, understanding it to be also the design of Mr. Faithorn, who had (it seems) translated the first part of it, and is himself by Profession a Graver, and an excellent Artist; that I might neither anticipate the worlds expectation, nor the workmans pains, to their prejudice, I desisted from printing my copy, and subjoyning it to this discourse.’

"This second part of Evelyn’s translation did not therefore appear in his Sculptura 1662 or any subsequent edition until the discovery of the manuscript at the Royal Society. The complete Evelyn translation was not to appear until 1906.

"Although the pagination is continuous to both parts of Faithorne’s work the type is slightly different and the sheets are now gathered in fours rather than eight’s. Clearly there was some sort of a hiatus when Faithorne learnt that Evelyn was going to publish a translation. It seems likely that an agreement was decided between the two translators on who indeed was going to actually publish this second part. It is quite possible that Faithorne became aware of the deleterious effect that publishing a guide to printing copperplates could have on his own business and quickly supressed the second part. For whatever reason the only evidence today that the second part ever saw the light of day in 1662 is the present copy.

"It was not until 1921 when a 1702 reissue surfaced, with new title and additional preliminary matter, that this second part was known to have been printed at all. To date ten libraries now hold copies of the 1702 issue, but the only copy of Faithorne’s work as it was intended to be issued is the present copy.

''This copy has only come to market twice in the last 150 years. It appeared sometime in the early 1950s when the Robinson brothers were slowly disposing of the enormous Thomas Phillips collection. Apparently it may have been sold whilst the catalogue was still in proof to the collector C.E. Kenney for £125. It next appeared in the eighth and last sale of C.E. Kenney library on 21st October 1968 as lot 4334 when it was bought by Sanders of Oxford for Christopher Lennox-Boyd at £680."

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Argument for Forest Management 1664

In 1664 English writer, gardener, and diarist, John Evelyn published a protest against the destruction of England's forests to fuel her glass factories and iron furnaces. His book, the verbose title of which was Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty's Dominions. .  . .To Which is Annexed Pomona, or an Appendix Concerning Fruit-Trees. . .also Kalendarium Hortense; or Gardeners' Almanac. . . . was influential in establishing a much-needed program of reforestation in order to provide timber for Britain's burgeoning navy. This program had a lasting effect on the British economy.

Sylva also bears the distinction of being the first official publication of the Royal Society, which had been permitted to publish in 1662.  The first edition contained two appendixes, "Pomona" and "Kalendarium Hortense"; the second of these, a gardening calendar, was often reprinted separately, and proved to be Evelyn's most popular work.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 745.

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The Earliest Bibliography of Bibliographies 1664

In 1664 French Jesuit geographer, historian, and bibliographer Philippe Labbé issued the first bibliography of bibliographies: Bibliotheca bibliothecarum curis secundis auctior accedit Bibliotheca Nummaria 

"It is basically an alphabetical list, arranged by authors' first names, followed by eight intricate subject indices, among them one of publishers' and booksellers' catalogues. Appended is a very useful numismatic bibliography" (Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development [1984] no. 62).

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The First English Publication Entirely on Printing 1664

In 1664 English writer Richard Atkyns published in London at the press of John Streater a 24-page pamphlet entitled The Original and Growth of Printing: Collected out of history, and the Records of the Kingdome. Where is also Demonstrated, that Printing appertaineth to the Prerogative Royal; and is a Flower of the Crown of England. Atkyns's pamphlet was the first publication in England entirely on printing, and the first English work on the history of printing. Atkyns preceded the pamphlet version with a broadside edition published circa 1660, of which Bliss located only two copies (British Library and Chetham Library, Manchester).

In A Pair on Printing (1982) Carey S. Bliss reproduced Atkyns's pamphlet, with a new introduction. 

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Robert Hooke's Graphic Portrayal of the Hitherto Unknown Microcosm 1665

In 1665 Robert Hooke published Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses in London. This was the first book devoted entirely to microscopical observations, and also the first book to pair its microscopic descriptions with profuse and detailed illustrations. This graphic portrayal of the hitherto unknown microcosm had an impact rivalling that of Galileo's Sidereus nuncius (1610), which was the first book to include images of the macrocosm shown through the telescope. It was also the second book published under the auspices of the Royal Society of London.

Hooke began his observations with studies of non-living materials, such as woven cloth and frozen urine crystals, then proceeded to investigations of plant and animal life.  He published the first studies of insect anatomy, giving a lucid account of the compound eye of the fly, and illustrating the microscopic details of such structures as apian wings, flies' legs and feet, and the sting of the bee.  His famous and dramatic portraits of the flea and louse, a frightening eighteen inches long, are hardly less startling today than they must have been to Hooke's contemporaries.  His botanical observations include the first description of the plant-like form of molds, and of the honeycomb-like structure of cork, which last he described as being composed of "cellulae"— thereby coining the modern biological usage of the work "cell" to describe the basic microscopic units of tissue.

In January 2014 a digital facsimile of the first edition of Hooke's Micrographia was available from the National Library of Medicine's website at this link.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1092.

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Jacques Raveneau Issues the First Book on the Detection of Forged Documents 1665 – 1666

In 1665 and 1666 French forensic writing expert Jacques Raveneau published the first book on the detection of forged documents:Traité des inscriptions en faux et reconnoissances d'escritures & signatures par comparison & autrement. In the Bibliothèque nationale de France there is a copy published by Raveneau and dated 1665 (B. N., F. 42404). All other copies cited in OCLC when I searched in January 2016 were of the second, or permitted issue, issued in Paris by Thomas Jolly in 1666. According to Anne Sauvy, Livres saisis à Paris entre 1678 and 1701 (1972) No. 19, the 1665 edition bears a privilege dated July 1665. In that copy is a note indicating that this privilege was obtained improperly. Presumably Raveneau had to delay publication until he obtained an accepted privilege; the privilege in the 1666 edition is dated April 8, 1666. The edition includes a florid dedication to French magistrate Guillaume Ier de Lamoignon, marquis de Basville, who was first president of the Parliament of Paris. The dedication is prominently featured on the title page.

In spite of the political influence of the dedicatee, authorities suppressed publication of the 1666 edition, believing that the information it contained was as useful to forgers as it was to those who attempted to detect forgeries. Sauvy indicates that Raveneau may have been imprisoned for publishing this work. Whatever the case, its suppression in Paris did not prevent its publication elsewhere. An edition was published in Luxembourg, 1673, and another edition was issued in Paris, in 1691 by Jean Guignard.

(This entry was last revised on 01-08-2016.) 

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Journal des sçavans: The First Scientific Journal Begins Publication January 5, 1665

On January 5, 1665 French writer Denis de Sallo, Sieur de la Coudraye (pseudonym Sieur d'Hédonville) published from Paris the first issue of the first French literary and scientific journal, Journal des sçavans. This was also the earliest scientific journal published in Europe, predating Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London by three months.

"The journal ceased publication in 1792, during the French Revolution, and although it very briefly reappeared in 1797 under the updated title Journal des savants, it did not re-commence regular publication until 1816. From then on, the Journal des savants became more of a literary journal, and ceased to carry significant scientific material" (Wikipedia article on Journal des sçavans, accessed 07-31-2009).

In February 2014 the Journal des sçavans was available online from the Gallica digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France Gallica digital library at this link

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The Oldest Continuous Journal of an Academy of Science Begins Publication March 6, 1665

On March 6, 1665 Philosophical Transactions: Giving some Accompt of the Present Undertakings, Studies, and Labours of the Ingenious in Many Considerable Parts of the World began publication in London by the Royal SocietyPhilosophical Transactions is the oldest continuously published journal of an academy of science.

Leading up to its first publication, on 1 March 1664/5, two years after the granting of its charter, the Royal Society authorized its second secretary, Henry Oldenburg, to publish at his own expense a monthly collection of scientific papers communicated to him either by members of the society or by foreign scientists. Although it was not the earliest scientific periodical, since Journal des sçavans antedated it by three months, Philosophical Transactions, with its long papers, book reviews and notices of work in progress, became the primary means of communication between English and Continental scientists, and served as a model for later periodicals issued by scientific academies.

"The first volumes of what is now the world's oldest scientific journal in continuous publication were very different from today's journal, but in essence it served the same function; namely to inform the Fellows of the Society and other interested readers of the latest scientific discoveries. As such, Philosophical Transactions established the important principles of scientific priority and peer review, which have become the central foundations of scientific journals ever since. In 1886, the breadth and scope of scientific discovery had increased to such an extent that it became necessary to divide the journal into two, Philosophical Transactions A and B, covering the physical sciences and the life sciences respectively" (http://rstl.royalsocietypublishing.org/, where all issues of Philosophical Transactions are available online)

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 148.

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The Great Plague of London April 1665 – September 1666

A scanning electron micrograph depicting a mass of Yersinia pestis bacteria, which is the cause of the Bubonic Plague.

Between April 1665 and September 1666 plague killed 75,000 to 100,000 people in London, up to a fifth of London's population.

"The disease was historically identified as bubonic plague, an infection by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted through a flea vector. The 1665-1666 epidemic was on a far smaller scale than the earlier "Black Death" pandemic, a virulent outbreak of disease in Europe between 1347 and 1353. The Bubonic Plague was only remembered afterwards as the "great" plague because it was one of the last widespread outbreaks in England.

"At the time, the outbreak was blamed upon the French. In early April 1665, two infected French sailors were said to have collapsed and died at the junction of Drury Lane and Long Acre in London. These cases were said to have brought about all subsequent infections. This theory has been largely dismissed as anti-French propaganda. The British outbreak is actually thought to have originated from the Netherlands, where the bubonic plague had occurred intermittently since 1599, with the initial contagion arriving with Dutch trading ships carrying bales of cotton from Amsterdam. The dock areas outside of London, including the parish of St. Giles-in-the Fields where poor workers crowded into ill-kept structures, were the first areas struck by the plague. Personal and public hygiene was very minimal during this period, contributing to the spread of disease. During the winter of 1664-1665, there were reports of several deaths. However, the very cold winter seemingly controlled the contagion. But spring and summer months were unusually warm and sunny, and the plague spread rapidly. As records were not kept on the deaths of the very poor, the first recorded case was a Rebecca Andrews, on April 12, 1665" (Wikipedia article on Great Plague of London, accessed 01-03-2009).

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Michel de Marolles Writes the First Book on Print Collecting 1666

In 1666 French churchman, translator, and print collector Michel de Marolles, abbé de Villeloin, published in Paris at the press of F. Leonard Catalogue de livres d’estampes et de figures en taille douce, the first book on print collecting. Marolles had his collection of 123,400 engravings "by more than 6,000 masters" bound into 400 large volumes (p. 15). He arranged the collection into schools, and in his preliminary and concluding essays he illuminated market conditions and the methods and tastes of fellow collectors. He also documented the relative weighting, in acquisition decisions, of physical condition, rarity, provenance, artist, engraver and the beauty of the image. Perhaps as a result of this book Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, purchased Marolles' print collection for 26,000 livres, and it became the basis of the Cabinét des Estampes at the Bibliothèque royale (Bibliothèque nationale de France).

In his Discours en forme de préface (19pp.) Marolles described his project for a History of Painters (Histoire des peintures). Not having a family, he wrote that he put together this catalogue in case he would need to sell his collection. In his book Les Amateurs d'autrefois (1877) museum director, art historian and collector Louis Clément de Ris told of searching unsuccessfully for the terms of Marolles' deal with Colbert. Not finding any record, de Ris suspected that Marolles' may have sold the collection discretely, and that Colbert requested the catalogue.

Marolles distinguished "originals", i.e. those engraved by the master, from those engraved by others. He identified a substantial number of engravers, and he explained to other collectors how to arrange their collections into albums. He also listed the plates in many famous illustrated books subjects like cartography, architecture, travel.

In February 2015 it was my pleasure to acquire for my collection a copy of Marolles' work in a contemporary French red morocco binding. This book, which I bought from Jean-Baptiste de Proyart, was formerly in the library of the distinguished collector and connoiseur Hans (Jean) Fürstenberg.

Schanapper, Curieux du grand siècle, Collections et collectionneurs dans la France du XVIIe siècle II. Oeuvres d'art (1994) 247-48.

In March 2015 a reproduction of an excellent engraved portrait of Marolles by Claude Mellan, and dated 1648, was available from the Art Gallery of New South Wales at this link.

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Jean Talon Conducts the First Census in North America 1666

In 1666 Jean Talon, the first Intendant of New France, conducted the first census of New France (Canada). Talon conducted the census largely by himself, travelling door-to-door among the settlements of New France. He did not include Native American inhabitants of the colony, or the religious orders. This was the first census conducted in North America.

"According to Talon's census there were 3215 people in New France, and 538 separate families. There were 2034 men and 1181 women. Children and unmarried people were grouped together; there were 2154 of these, while only 1019 people were married (42 were widowed). 547 people lived in Quebec, 455 in Trois-Rivières, and 625 in Montreal. The largest single age group, 21-30 year olds, numbered 842. 763 people were professionals of some kind, and 401 of these were servants, while 16 were listed as 'gentlemen of means.' "

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Joachim Johann Maders Issues the First Anthology on Libraries and Library Science 1666

In 1666 Joachim Johann Mader published the first anthology of texts on libraries, archives and "library science": De bibliothecis atque archivis virorum clarissimorum libelli et commentationes. Cum praefatione  de scriptis et bibliothecis antediluvianis. 

"The work is prefaced by his account of antediluvian libraries—those of Adam, Noah, etc., and then follow several monographs from such authors as Justus Lipsius, Franz Schott, Fulvio Orsino, Michael Neander, and pieces on the Vatican and Escorial libraries"  (Catalogus Catalogorum [Predominantly Post-1900]. Part III of the Private Library of Hans P. Kraus. Catalogue 190, H. P. Kraus [company,] no. 538).

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The First Treatise on Chemistry Written by a Woman 1666

La chymie charitable et facile, en faveur des dames, a book on practical chemistry, pharmacology and medicine written for the common reader, written by French autodidact Marie Meurdrac (?1610-1680) and first published in Paris in 1666, was the first treatise on chemistry written by a woman. Clearly a work that found a wide market, it underwent five editions in French, the last of which was published in 1711, six editions in German, and one in Italian.

Little is known about Meurdrac except that she was born into an aristocratic French family in north-central France, and that in 1625 she married Henri de Vibrac, commander of the guard unit of Charles de Valois, Duke of Angoulême. Valois was the illegitimate son of Charles IX of France and Marie Touchet.  As part of the Duke's retinue, Meurdrac lived in the château de Grosbois in Boissy-Saint-Léger, Val-de-Marne.

"In the lengthy foreword, Meurdrac candidly reveals her hesitation about publishing the treatise that had been intended solely as a permanent record of her research. Further, she questions the larger issue of a woman's right to publish and its ensuing consequences. 'I remained irresolute in this inner struggle fro two years,' she writes. 'I objected to myself that it was not the profession of a lady to teach, that she should remain silent, listen and learn, without displaying her own knowledge. . . that a reputation gained thereby is not ordinarily to her advantage since mean always scorn and blame the products of a woman's mind.' Meurdrac ultimately decided to go public as Damoiselle [sic] M. M., declaring that 'minds have no sex and that if the minds of women were cultivated like those of men and if enough time and expense were spent to instruct them, they would be equal to those of men.

"Her decision to publish was rooted in her unwavering belief that her practical book was useful remedying women's illnesses as well as a guide to the presevation of their health. Unquestionably an early feminist who broke ground in an area where few women dared to tread, Meurdract felt that not sharing knowledge that should ameliorate the lives of others would be a betrayal of the Catholic principle of charity as well as incompatible with her inquistive temperament. A true seventeenth-century femme savante, Meurdrac, along with other learned women, who were later ridculed in Molière's comedy Les Femmes Savantes (1672), would not be deterred in the quest to investigate, comprehend, and contribute to the advancement of scholarship" (Smeltzer, Ruben & Rose, Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine, New York: The Grolier Club, 2013, No. 85, p. 94).

A few copies of this work bear the date of 1656 on their title pages, leading to the impression that the first edition was published in 1656. However, those copies bear the imprimatur dated 1666 like the rest of the edition, showing that the 1655 date was a typographical error, corrected in most copies. 

(This entry was last revised on 06-15-2014.)

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The Great Fire of London September 2 – September 5, 1666

From September 2 to September 5, 1666 The Great Fire of London swept through the central parts of the city.

"The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall. It threatened, but did not reach, the aristocratic district of Westminster (the modern West End), Charles II's Palace of Whitehall, and most of the suburban slums. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's ca. 80,000 inhabitants. The death toll from the fire is unknown and is traditionally thought to have been small, as only six verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded anywhere, and that the heat of the fire may have cremated many victims, leaving no recognizable remains."

"The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming; significant scapegoating occurred for some time after the fire. Evacuation from London and resettlement elsewhere were strongly encouraged by Charles II, who feared a London rebellion amongst the dispossessed refugees. Despite numerous radical proposals, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire" (Wikipedia article on Great Fire of London, accessed 06-11-2009).

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The First Medical or Scientific Publication in North America, Known from a Single Surviving Copy 1667

In 1667 Samuel Green, using a press in Cambridge, Massachusetts owned by the president of Harvard, Henry Dunster, printed the first medical or biological publication in North America—an edition of a London plague tract: Thomas Vincent's Gods Terrible Voice in the City of London wherein you have the Narration of the Two Late Dreadful Judgements of Plague and Fire, Inflicted by the Lord upon that City; the former in the year 1665. The latter in the year 1666. By T.V. To which is Added, the Generall Bill of Mortality, shewing the Number of Persons which Died in Every Parish of all Diseases, and of the Plague, in the Year Abovesaid. Vincent's tract had been published in London earlier in the same year. The Cambridge, Massachusetts printing is known from a single copy preserved at Harvard University. It is also probably the first publication in North Americaon any subject to with science.

The pamphlet was reissued in 1668 by another Cambridge, Masschusetts printer, Marmaduke Johnson. This 31 page pamphlet is known from a single copy preserved in the American Antiquarian Society.

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Construction of Samuel Pepys's Bookshelves -- Among the Earliest Extant August 17, 1667

On August 17, 1667 Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:

"So took up my wife and home, there I to the office, and thence with Sympson, the joyner home to put together the press he hath brought me for my books this day, which pleases me exceedingly."

and a few days later he wrote:

"and then comes Sympson to set up my other new presses for my books, and so he and I fell into the furnishing of my new closett ... so I think it will be as noble a closett as any man hath."

"The surviving bookcases have paired glazed doors each in 21 small panes, over a low section, also with glazed panes, made to hold large folio volumes. The door of the lower section slide to the side like a sash window, probably Pepys' own invention. The base moldings and cornices are finely and robustly carved with acanthus leaf. Such tall bookcases with doors glazed like paned windows, were a contemporary innovation, but Pepys was alert and curious and well-connected in London, and there is no reason to think his "book-presses" were the very first with glass-paned doors. Pepys began with three or four and kept adding to them until he had twelve" (Wikipedia article on Sympson the joyner, accessed 02-18-2009).

Wormald & Wright, The English Library before 1700 (1958) illustrate as plate 2 a drawing preserved in the Pepysian Library showing how the bookcases were originally arranged in Pepys' house in York Buildings before they were moved to Magdalene College, Cambridge.

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Description of the "Mathematical Organ" 1668

In 1668 Organum Mathematicum  by the German Jesuit scientist Gaspard Schott was posthumously published in Nuremberg. In this book Schott described his “mathematical organ,” and his calculating machine based on Napier’s rods.

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John Wilkins Creates A Universal Language Based on a Classification Scheme or Ontology, and a Universal System of Measurement 1668

In An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language English clergyman and natural philosopher John Wilkins  attempted to create a universal, artificial language, based upon an innovative classification of knowledge, by which scholars and philosophers as well as diplomats, scholars, and merchants, could communicate. Wilkins intended his "universal language" as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, existing "natural" languages. His scheme has been called ingenious but completely unworkable.

In this book Wilkins also called for the institution of a "universal measure" or "universal metre," which would be based on a natural phenomenon rather than royal decree, and would also be decimal rather than the various systems of multipliers, often duodecimal, that coexisted at the time. The meter or metre would not gain traction until after the French Revolution.

"During the final stages of work on his Essay Wilkins lost his house and most of his belongs and papers, in the great fire of London, but being eager to complete his scheme he enlisted the help of John Ray and Francis Willioughby to improve the botanical and zoological nomenclature. This was a major factor in stimulating Ray to develop his own classificatory studies. Similarly, Samuel Pepys reported that he helped to draw up a table of naval terms, such as the names of rigging. Even with this and other help, Wilkins admited his scheme's shortcomings and called upon the Royal Society to improve it. Although various fellows of the society spoke highly of the scheme for a while, only Robert Hooke showed any lasting commitment to it, and the committee established to improve on the Essay never reported. Scholars have argued about the major influences upon Wilkins's linguistic studies. There is little evidence that the universal language schemes of Amos Comenius played any significant role; Mersenne may have been an inspiration but George Dalgarno, to help whom Wilkins had begun to draw up classifactory tables of knowledge after 1657, was a more dirrect influence" (ODNB).

By "real character" Wilkins meant:

"an ingeniously constructed family of symbols corresponding to an elaborate classification scheme developed at great labor by Wilkins and his colleagues, which was intended to provide elementary building blocks from which could be constructed the universe's every possible thing and notion. The Real Character is emphatically not an orthography in that it is not a written representation of oral speech. Instead, each symbol represents a concept directly, without (at least in the early parts of the Essay's presentation) there being any way of vocalizing it at all; each reader might, if he wished, give voice to the text in his or her own tongue. Inspiration for this approach came in part from (partially mistaken) accounts of the Chinese writing system.

"Later in the Essay Wilkins introduces his "Philospophical Language," which assigns phonetic values to the Real Characters, should it be desired to read text aloud without using any of the existing national languages. (The term philosophical language is an ill-defined one, used by various authors over time to mean a variety of things; most of the description found at the article on "philosophical languages" applies to Wilkins' Real Character on its own, even excluding what Wilkins called his "Philosophical Language")

"For convenience, the following discussion blurs the distinction between Wilkins' Character and his Language. Concepts are divided into forty main Genera, each of which gives the first, two-letter syllable of the word; a Genus is divided into Differences, each of which adds another letter; and Differences are divided into Species, which add a fourth letter. For instance, Zi identifies the Genus of “beasts” (mammals); Zit gives the Difference of “rapacious beasts of the dog kind”; Zitα gives the Species of dogs. (Sometimes the first letter indicates a supercategory— e.g. Z always indicates an animal— but this does not always hold.) The resulting Character, and its vocalization, for a given concept thus captures, to some extent, the concept's semantics.

"The Essay also proposed ideas on weights and measure similar to those later found in the metric system. The botanical section of the essay was contributed by John Ray; . . .  

 "Jorge Luis Borges wrote a critique of Wilkins' philosophical language in his essay El idioma analítico de John Wilkins (The Analytical Language of John Wilkins). He compares Wilkins’ classification to the fictitious Chinese encyclopedia Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, expressing doubts about all attempts at a universal classification. Modern information theory also suggests that it is a bad idea to have words with similar but distinct meanings also sound similar, because mishearings and the resulting confusion would be much more prominent than in real-world languages. In The Search for the Perfect Language, Umberto Eco catches Wilkins himself making this kind of mistake in his text, using Gαde (barley) instead of Gαpe (tulip)" (Wikipedia article on An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, accessed 06-16-2010).

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François Mauriceau Founds the Science of Obstetrics 1668

Frontpiece detail from Les maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées.  Please click on link below to view and resize image of entire page.

François Mauriceau.

In 1668 French surgeon François Mauriceau published Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées. Avec la bonne et veritable méthode de les bien aider en leurs accouchemens naturels, & les moyens de remedier à tous ceux qui sont contre-nature, & aux indispositions des enfans nouveau-nés. Mauriceau issued his book with a frontispiece drawn by Antoine Paillet and engraved by Guillaume Vallet which included a cameo portrait of himself, illustrations of his instruments, and a notice in small print at the foot of the page with the address of his office where he could be consulted, as well as its cross-street. It was unusual in the 17th century for a medical author to advertise his practice on the frontispiece of a serious medical treatise.

Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées established obstetrics as a separate science and became, via its many translations, a dominant force in seventeenth-century obstetrical practice. While much in Mauriceau's treatise echoed the teachings of his predecessors, the work also included several important new features, such as Mauriceau's detailed analysis of the mechanism of labor, his introduction of the practice of delivering women in bed rather than in the obstetric chair, the earliest account of the prevention of congenital syphilis by antisyphilitic treatment during pregnancy, and the rebuttal of Paré's erroneous account of pubic separation during birth. The third edition (1681) contained Mauriceau's instructions for extracting the aftercoming head in breech delivery with the aid of an index finger in the infant's mouth, now called the "Mauriceau maneuver."

Mauriceau put the book through a total of four revised editions during his lifetime and translated it into Latin in 1681. It also appeared in German, Dutch, and Italian. In 1673 the work was translated into English by Hugh Chamberlen the elder, who discovered the obstetrical forceps, and whose family succeeded in maintaining a monopoly on the use of this device by keeping it a secret from the medical world for nearly two centuries. 

♦ Mauriceau published a dedication in his book "A tous mes chers confreres: Les Maitres Chirurgiens Jurez de la Ville de Paris." This was the illustrious Confraternité de Saint-Côme established in the 13th century. In 2010 it was my privilege to sell the dedication copy of this work, which Mauriceau presented to the Paris surgical society, bound in contemporary red morocco, gilt, emblazoned on the front and back cover with an inscription that read "Ce Livre Appartient a la Compagnie des Maistres Chirurgiens Jurez de Paris."  At the end of the printed dedication Mauriceau signed with his paraph. Later he noted the publication of each new edition in 1675, 1681, and 1694, by writing a notice to that effect and signing it, thus signing the final page of the dedication a total of four times. Each of the later inscriptions were written in slightly different colored inks. In addition, all pages of the text were red ruled by the binder--a highly unusual practice for a medical book.

Norman, Morton's Medical Bibliography, 5th ed. (1991) no. 6147. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1461. Norman, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine (1995) no. 33. 

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"On the Burning of a Library": A Work of Self-Consolation 1670

As a result of the burning of his home and the destruction of his library, which included numerous unpublished manuscripts on a wide range of subjects, in 1670 Danish physician and anatomist, Thomas Bartholin, published in Copenhagen (København) De bibliothecae incendio, a work of self-consolation. In this work Bartholin recounted examples in history of other library losses through fire, and catalogued and summarized the vast amount of his intellectual work that was "lost to Vulcan." He also consoled himself with a bibliographical list of his works that had already been published in print, and thus had their content protected from catastrophic loss from fire:

"Books are not so readily exposed to destruction if they have multiplied themselves by the aid of type so that they may be read in more than a thousand copies dispersed throughout the earth, unless this universe which we inhabit be subjected to common ruin or flames spread themselves to all corners of the earth. It is by the benefit of divine art that I am as yet able to collect or seek again from friends or from booksellers my other works which were previously published. If judgment in this matter had been left in the hands of Vulcan, I should be bereft even of this small portion of my books. Unless it is burdensome to the reader, I shall subjoin a catalogue of my personal library constructed from works hitherto published in my name or dedicated to me, which Vulcan consumed with the rest, but with less harm to me since they are available elsewhere." (p. 32).

Bartholin then listed 129 printed works either written and published by him or dedicated to him.  At the end of De bibliothecae incendio Bartholin expressed gratitude that he survived the fire even if his "brain-children" were sacrified, and thanks the king, Christian V, for his support after this tragedy. By this time Bartholin was regarded as the leading physician in Denmark, and because of this tragic accident the king of Denmark freed Bartholin's estate of all taxes and appointed Bartholin his personal physician, with handsome compensation.

♦ Bartholin's work reflects a scholarly perspective very different from our time, and also exhibits what would have to be called credulity, especially with the following reference to Homer written in gold on a dragon's intestine—a story which, according to Bartholin, was repeated by several authorities:

"The library of Constantinople, founded by Theodosius the younger in 473, and a rival to that of Ptolemy [i.e. the Library of Alexandria], in the reign of the Emperor Zeno was consumed by a fire instigated by the leader of the image-breakers, the [later] Emperor Leo the Isaurian. Earlier, in the time of Basilicus Tyrannus, the same library had perished in flames aroused by the plebs in their hatred of Basilicus [Basiliscus], and among the books was the intestine of a dragon twenty feet long on which the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer had been written in letters of gold. But Claudius Clemens in his Bibliothecae Instructio considers that it had been snatched from the conflagration, because when Leo the Isaurian, struck by a mad fury against the sacred images, burned whatsoever volumes had been restored of the thirty-three thousand of the library, Constantinus, Cedrenus, Zonaras and Glycas testify that the intestine was still there, unless perchance, in a kind of veneration a new one had been fashioned in imitation of the former intestine which had perished in the first fire. According to the Annals of Constantinus Manassus [Manasses], translated by Lewenclavius, in which the fire is well described, I am disposed to consider the one instigated by Leo III, the Isaurian, as the first." (p.7.)

Bartholin, On the Burning of His Library and On Medical Travel, translated by C. D. O'Malley (1961) 7, 32. (Bracketed insertions and hyperlinks are my additions.)

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The First Print Surviving from New England 1670

The earliest surviving American portrait print, and the first print of any significance made in New England in any medium, was a woodcut portrait of Boston puritan clergyman Richard Mather probably by the earliest American engraver and first printer in Boston, John Foster issued in 1670. Five copies of the print survived; they are preserved in the American Antiquarian Society, Harvard, Massachusetts Historical Society, Princeton, and University of Virginia. It has been suggested that the print may have originally accompanied copies of a pamphlet entitled The Life and Death of that Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather, published in Cambridge in 1670, a year after Mather’s death.

"Apparently the cut was made on the flat side of a board. All known impressions are printed from two blocks, the head and shoulders on one block and the balance of the portrait on the other. This use of two blocks is difficult to explain. Foster may have done so deliberately for some unknown reason, or perhaps the block split in the course of its cutting or printing, or possibly Foster, dissatisfied with his cutting of some portion of the portrait, sawed the block in two and recut the portion he did not like on a second block" (Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1670-1870, Vol. I (1968) No. 1).

Of the five surviving copies the Harvard impression differs from the others:

"It is on different paper. At least three of the others, and probably all four, are on paper with an eighteenth-century Pro Patria paper mark. One has not been examined. The blocks of the Harvard print match, making the line of the shoulders continuous and natural; in the others there is a distinct step as in the one at the Massachusetts Historical Society. It lacks the others' scratched lines of the sleeves and jacket-opening. It appears to have been printed on a press; the other four show evidence of being 'spooned' proofs. The four have printed titles, though the type is differently positioned in each case. In sum, there is something here which needs explanation.

"The step in the line of the shoulders apparently results from printing with damp blocks, although why they were damp is still an unsolved problem. Wood, of course, expands very much when wet and much much across the grain than with it. Here we have horizontal grain in the upper block and vertical grain in the lower" (Holman, "Seventeenth-Century American Prints," Prints in and of America to 1850, Morse (ed) [1970] 25-30).

Shadwell, American Printmaking. The First 150 Years (1969) No. 1., plate 1.

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More Affordable and Easier to Use than the Pascaline 1671

Pierre Petit's Arithmetic Cylinder.

Pascal's Pascaline calculator.

In Dissertations academiques. . . avec un discours sur. . . un cylindre arithmetique published in Paris in 1671, Pierre Petit described an arithmetic cylinder, which he said was more affordable and easier to use than Pascal’s Pascaline.

John Napier (1550-1617) invented several mechanical methods to simplify and speed up the arithmetic calculations, especially multiplication.  His most famous invention was his Napier Rods, later known as Napier’s Bones.  Pierre Petit improved on Napier’s Bones by devising an arithmetic cylinder using long bands of paper strips with all of the multiples of John Napier’s rabdology.  The long bands were then attached end to end and mounted on a wooden cylinder the size of a child's drum or a hat. The reckoning principles were identical to Napier's bones.

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The First Book on a Calculating Machine Published in English 1673

Title page of Samuel Morland's The Discription and Use of Two Arithmetick Instruments.

Samuel Morland.

The adding device of Samuel Moreland, made by Humphry Adamson.

Morland's multiplication machine, based on the principle of Napier's bones.

In 1673 English diplomat, mathematician and inventor Samuel Morland published in London The Description and Use of Two Arithmetic Instruments. This was the first monograph on a calculating machine published in English, and after Galileo's Compasso, and Napier's Rabdologiae, the first book a calculator in any language, apart from Pascal's 18-page pamphlet on the Pascaline.

After entering government service in 1653 Morland was chosen to accompany a British diplomatic mission to the court of Sweden's Queen Christina. The Swedish Queen was a noted patron of the sciences, and Blaise Pascal had presented her with one of his Pascaline calculators in 1652. It is likely that Morland had the opportunity to familiarize himself with the Pascaline while in Sweden.  

During the 1660s Morland devised  three calculating machines—one for trigonometry (1663), one for addition and subtraction (1666) and one for multiplication and division (1662). In his book Morland described two calculating devices, which worked "without charging the memory, disturbing the mind, or exposing the operations to any uncertainty." Morland's device is regarded by some as the first multiplying calculator.

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Leibniz Invents the Stepped Drum Gear Calculator 1673 – 1710

In 1673 German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz made a drawing of his calculating machine mechanism. Using a stepped drum, the Leibniz Stepped Reckoner, mechanized multiplication as well as addition by performing repetitive additions. The stepped-drum gear, or Leibniz wheel, was the only workable solution to certain calculating machine problems until about 1875. The technology remained in use through the early 1970s in the Curta hand-held calculator.

Leibniz first published a brief illustrated description of his machine in "Brevis descriptio machinae arithmeticae, cum figura. . . ," Miscellanea Berolensia ad incrementum scientiarum (1710) 317-19, figure 73. The lower portion of the frontispiece of the journal volume also shows a a tiny model of Leibniz's calculator. Because Leibniz had only a wooden model and two working metal examples of the machine made, one of which was lost, his invention of the stepped reckoner was primarily known through the 1710 paper and other publications. Nevertheless, the machine became well-enough known to have great influence. 

Leibniz conceived the idea of a calculating machine in the early 1670s with the aim of improving upon Blaise Pascal's calculator, the Pascaline. He concentrated on expanding Pascal's mechanism so it could multiply and divide. The first recorded indirect reference is in a letter from the French mathematician Pierre de Carcavi (Carcavy) dated June 20, 1671 in which Pascal's machine is referred to as "la machine du temps passé." Leibniz demonstrated a wooden model of his calculator at the Royal Society of London on February 1, 1673, though the machine could not yet perform multiplication and division automatically. In a letter of March 26, 1673 to Johann Friedrich, where he mentioned the presentation in London, Leibniz described the purpose of the "arithmetic machine" as making calculations "leicht, geschwind, gewiß" [sic], i.e. easy, fast, and reliable. Leibniz also added that theoretically the numbers calculated might be as large as desired, if the size of the machine was adjusted; quote: "eine zahl von einer ganzen Reihe Ziphern, sie sey so lang sie wolle (nach proportion der größe der Maschine)" ("a number consisting of a series of figures, as long as it may be in proportion to the size of the machine").

On July 14, 1674, Leibniz informed Heinrich (Henry) Oldenburg, secretary of the Royal Society, that a new model had "at last been successfully completed" and was able to "produce a multiplication by making a few turns of a particular wheel, without any effort." The letter also refers to his good fortune in being able to entrust the work to the Parisian craftsman and clockmaker Olivier (or Ollivier: his first name does not seem to be known), ‘a man who preferred fame to fortune’ (quoted in M.R. Antognazzi. Leibniz: an intellectual biography [2009]). Leibniz showed off an improved version of the calculating machine at the Académie royale des sciences in Paris on January 9, 1675, and on his final departure from Paris on October 4, 1676 took a further improved model to show Oldenburg in London.

After Leibniz’s departure, work on the calculating machine continued under the supervision of his Danish friend Friedrich Adolf Hansen (1652-1711), and Leibniz continued to correspond with Olivier. The Leibniz archive includes three letters from Olivier, dated March 24 and July 29, 1677 and  November 15, 1678; indeed Leibniz seems to have had some effort made to have Olivier called to Hanover to continue his work. After about 1678 work on the machine seems to have lapsed until Leibniz began to develop a new prototype in the early 1690s. At some point Leibniz's wooden model and his first metal machine were lost. The second machine, which was built from 1690 to 1720, is preserved in the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek, Hanover. 

On May 21, 2014 Christie's in London auctioned Leibniz's autograph draft contract between Leibniz's friend Adolf Hansen, acting on Leibniz's behalf and the clockmaker Olivier in Paris, for the construction of Leibniz's calculating machine. The 3.5 page contract written by Leibniz in French consisted of 20 numbered articles with some details of payments left blank. The contract was undated but Christie's assigned to it the date of circa 1677. The manuscript came "from the collection of the French Leibniz scholar Lous-Alexandre Foucher de Careil (1826-1891) -- by descent – private collection."

From Christie's catalogue description I quote:

"‘Le dit sieur Leibniz m’ayant informé partie par écrit, et partie de vive voix et par quelques modelles, d’une machine Arithmetique de son invention; en sorte que je n’y ay trouvé aucune difficulté, je me suis engagé à l’executer de la manière suivante …’

"The contract comprises 20 meticulously detailed clauses, describing in detail the machine and the financial and practical arrangements for its construction: it is to produce numbers up to three figures; it is to be capable of multiplication and division, as well as addition and subtraction, with the mechanism (consisting of a system of fixed and mobile pieces, and equal and unequal cogs) described in detail, first for multiplication and division, then for addition and subtraction, noting that the operations should be effected immediately ‘et non pas comme dans la machine du temps passé après un delay ou intervalle’; the machine is to be perfectly finished, made of iron or steel, and enclosed in ‘une petite boëtte propre, à fin qu’il ne paroisse que ce qu’il faut pour l’opération’; the operation of the machine is then specified. The contract goes on to note that Olivier had previously agreed to construct such a machine in one or two months for a payment of ‘cent écus blancs ou trois cens francs’, part of which has been advanced, but that he had failed (in part because of illness) to give satisfaction; he now engages to complete the work in three months, with his goods as surety; and he is to show the progress of his work to Hansen, and inform Leibniz by letter, each week. 

"‘La machine doit avoir deux pieces aussi longues qu’elle, dont l’une est immobile et sert de base à tout, l’autre est mobile, et glisse dans la première, à fin d’aller de chiffre en chiffre lors qu’on change les multiplicateurs ou les quotiens de la division …

"La piece mobile porterà ce qui sert pour le nombre qui doit estre multiplié et pour le nombre qui doit estre divisé: au lieu que la precedente servoit pour le produit, pour le multipliant, et pour le quotient cellecy portera donc les roues à dens inégales, et ce qui sert à les ajuster, et à les mettre sur un nombre donné, afin que tantost 9, tantost 8, tantost 7 dens inegales rencontrent la roue de la partie immobile qui y repond …’ "

Christie's estimated the contract at £200,000-£300,000; however, the manuscript did not sell in the auction.

(This entry was last revised on 07-26-2014.)

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The Mathematical Analysis of Pendulum Motion 1673

Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist Christiaan Huygens published Horologium oscillatorium sive de motu pendulorum ad horologia aptato demonstationes geometricae in Paris in 1673. Depite the reference to time-measurement in its title, this work is a general treatise on dynamics of bodies in motion, with an emphasis on the motion of the pendulum. It contains the first mathematical analysis of pendulum motion, including the formula for the relation between the period and the time of free fall from rest, the rule for deriving the center of oscillation for both simple and compound pendulums, and proof of the tautochronism of the cycloid (the arc traced by a point on a circle when the circle is rolled along a flat plane), which made possible Huygens's invention of the first reliable pendulum clock in 1656. Also included are Huygens's theories of the evolutes of curves, descriptions of his marine clocks and their trials, the first value for the force of gravity (which he derived using a simple pendulum), and the most important of his studies of centrifugal force; these last were used by Newton in his determination of universal gravitation.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1137.

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The World's Oldest Auction House is Founded 1674

Stockholms Auktionsverk (Stockholm's Auction House), the world's oldest auction house, was founded in 1674.

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The Beginning of Palaeography 1675

Jesuit Daniel van Papenbroeck (Papebroch) published "Propylaeum antiquarium circa veri ac falsi discrimen in vetustis membranis" in Acta sanctorum, Aprilis II (Antwerp, 1675) I-LII. In this paper Papenbroeck proved that a charter guaranteeing certain privileges to the rival religious order, the Benedictines, supposedly issued by the Merovingian king Dagobert in 646, was a forgery. He also argued that handwriting should be examined carefully before an ancient document is accepted as genuine. This paper may be considered the beginning of palaeography.

Boyle, Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographical Introduction (1984) no. 71.

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Laws of Book Production and the Book Trade 1675

In 1675 lecturer on law in Halle and Jena, Ahasaver Fritsch published in Jena Tractatus de typographis, bibliopolis chartariis et bibliopegis (Treatise on Book Printers, Booksellers, Paper Manufacturers and Bookbinders). This treatise on the book trade focused on specifically on statutes, ordinances, liberties, disputes, censorship and inspection of printing offices and bookshops.

"Fritsch is one of the first writers on the subject to explicitly define an author's exclusive right to permit new editions of his work. The first publisher, however, has a right of priority to the publication of the new edition, provided that he offers the author terms which are as good as those promised by competing publishers (p.47). In Fritsch's view, however, the author's right is not meant to produce profit, but only honour. Quoting the Jena law professor Johannes Gryphiander (1580-1652), he states on page 37f.: 'The works of authors are sold to book printers and book sellers for a certain price, but in such a way, though, that the latter have the profit, whereas the honour goes to the former.' Fritsch' s views on authors' rights to new editions and his notion that the author may expect to gain honour but not profit, are probably based on his own experiences and hopes as an author and lecturer. However, when he presents a detailed justification of book privileges, Fritsch proves himself to be a judicious political theorist: privileges do not fall into the general category of monopolies which are to be rejected. He gives three reasons for arguing thus: (i) the demands of natural justness ('natürliche Billigkeit'), whereby the first publishers have to be protected, so that they may recoup their investment; (ii) publishers are encouraged ('angefrischet') by the award of privileges to have valuable new books printed at their expense; (iii) privileges are granted only for a limited term, so that they cannot seriously harm the public in any way. These three aspects sound quite modern: a special protection is justified on the grounds of the natural right not to suffer unjust damages and to recoup what one has invested. Furthermore, such special protection is justified as the means of providing an incentive for further publishing ventures. Nevertheless, such exemptions from the general rejection of monopolies are only to be allowed for a strictly limited term" (Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org, referring to the anonymous German translation of 1750).

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The First Bibliography of Rare Books 1676

In 1678 philologist and bibliographer Johann Hallervord published the first bibliography of rare books issued with the book collector in mind: Bibliotheca curiosa in qua plurimi rarissimi atque paucis cogniti scriptores in Königsberg and Frankfurt. Hallervord (1644-1676) mentioned more than 2800 authors, and included information on anonymous and pseudonymous works. As the son of a bookseller, and probably a scion of the Hallervord family of publishers in Stettin, Hallervord had access to important  public and private libraries in Königsberg and in the Baltic regions, on which he was able to base his research.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 75.

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The First Book on the Classification of Birds Without Respect to Geographical Boundaries 1676

After the death of Francis Willoughby (Willughby) at the age of 37, in 1667 English clergyman and naturalist John Ray published in London, through the auspices of the Royal Society, Francisci Willughbeii . . . ornithologiae libri tres, in quibus aves omnes hactenus cognitae in methodum naturis suis convenientem redactae accurate describuntur. . . . The small folio work included 77 copperplate engravings and 2 folding charts.

Ray and Francis Willoughby studied bird life together, during 1662-63 visiting the west coast of England, the Netherlands, journeying up the Rhine Valley to Zürich, visiting Italy, with Willoughby continuing to Spain. They were the first ornithologists to discard the Aristotelian principles of classification by function, replacing them with a morphological system based on beak form, foot structure and body size that reflected the true relationships even better than Linnaeus’s “natural system” of sixty years later. They were also the first to develop a classification of birds that was independent of geographical boundaries. The credit for this system almost certainly belongs to Ray, who prepared the final version of the Ornithologia from notes left at Willoughby’s death, and who had done the major part of the observations and records during their years of partnership. In an attempt to bring order out of the chaos of tradition, Ray collated his and Willoughby’s observations against those recorded by all previous writers, eliminating duplicate species, species vaguely described or reported on hearsay, and species that were clearly fabulous. An English version, which Ray also prepared, was published in 1678. A few copies of the Latin edition were published on large paper and hand-colored.

Keynes, John Ray: A Bibliography (1951) no. 39. Raven, John Ray Naturalist (1950) ch. 12. Wing W-2879. 

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Filed under: Natural History, Science

The First Book Auction in England October 31, 1676

The first auction sale of a library in England was the library of clergyman Lazarus Seaman sold on October 31, 1676. Bookseller William Cooper published a catalogue of the sale, which took place at Seaman's house:

Catalogus variorum & insignium librorum instructissimæ bibliothecæ clarissimi doctissimiq[ue] viri Lazari Seaman, S.T.D. Quorum auctio habebitur Londini in ædibus defuncti in area & viculo Warwicensi, Octobris ultimo. Cura Gulielmi Cooper bibliopolæ.

Though the main body of the catalogue was in Latin, Cooper took care to publish his conditions of sale in English. In his Foreword to Munby & Coral, British Book Sale Catalogues 1676-1800: A Union List (1977) Anthony Hobson reproduced the Address to the Reader published in the Seaman catalogue as "the ancestor of all subsequent 'Conditions of Sale' ":

"To the Reader.


"It has not been usual here in England to make Sales of BOOKS by way of Auction, or who will give most for them: But it having been practised in other Countreys to the Advantage both of Buyers and Sellers; It was therefore conceived (for the Encouragement of Learning) to publish the Sale of these Books in this manner of way; and it is hoped that this will not be unacceptable to Schollers; and therefore we thought it convenient to give an Advertisement concerning the manner of proceeding therein.

"First, That having this Catalogue of the Books, and their Editions under their several Heads and Numbers, it will be more easie for any Personal of Quality, Gentlemen, or others, to Depute any one to Buy such Books for them as they shall desire, if their occasions will not permit them to be present at the Auction themselves.

"Secondly, That those which bid most are the Buyers; and if any manifest Differences should arise, that then the same Book or Books shalle forthwith exposed again to Sale, and highest bidder to have the same.

"Thirdly, That all the Books according to the Catalogue are (for so much as know) perfect, and sold as such; But if any of them appear to be otherwise before they be taken away, the Buyer shall have his choice of taking or leaving the same.

"Fourthly, That the Mony for the Books bought, be paid at the Delivery of them, within one Month's time after the Auction is ended.

"Fifthly, That the Auction will begin the 31st of October at the Deceased Dr's House in Warwick Court in Warwick lane punctually at Nine of the Clock in the Morning, and Two in the Afternoon, and this to continue daily until all the Books be Sold. Wherefore it is desired, that the Gentlemen, or those Deputed by them, may be there precisely at the Hours appointed, lest they should miss the opportunity of Buying those Books, which either themselves or their Friends desire" (Hobson, op cit. x-xi).;

ESTC System No. 006092171; ESTC Citation No. R25610. 

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The First Map Engraved and Published in New England 1677

In 1677 printer John Foster of Boston published A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from the first planting thereof in the year 1607 to this present year. . . To which is added a Discourse about the Warre with the Pequods in the year 1637. By W. Hubbard, Minister of Ipswich. This book contained a woodcut map captioned "Map of New-England, Being the first that ever was cut here cut," with the legend "The White Hills" in the general region of the White Mountains. This was the first map engraved and published in New England and it predated by five years the earliest datable map published in Latin America.

"From June 1675 to the autumn of 1676 New England experienced an epidemic of Indian fights known ever since as King Philip's War. The Indians almost won it. Before the end of 1677, eight accounts of the war had been published in London, one of them in verse. The best of them was in the picturesque prose of the Reverend William Hubbard, teacher of the First Parish in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Foster printed a Boston edition of it in the spring of 1677; Thomas Parkhurst published a London edition a surprisingly short time later.

"Hubbard's narrative of King Philip's War is distinguished among books in that it contained the first map ever engraved and published in America. This deservedly famous production (first American map and first book illustration in one) bears no name of cartographer, engraver, or printer. But in the words of an eminent and cautious scholar, Lawrence C. Wroth, it has been 'generally conceded to be the work of John Foster.' It is the best known of Foster's engravings and the least rare. Randolph G. Adams, in his valuable study of Hubbard's Narrative, gave the locations of sixty-two maps in 1939 still in copies of the book.

"The map shows New England from Nantucket to Pemaquid Point and from New Haven almost to the White Mountains. It's orientation is odd in that it looks west instead of north. This is not uncommon among early maps of the Atlantic coast. People were still mentally in Europe; their maps tended to look across the ocean. The Foster map is a fairly primitive example of the wood engraver's art. It suggests the woodcut maps of 150 years earlier rather than the typical European copperplate map of the seventeenth century. . . .

". . . . The Forster map is printed from a block incised on the plank or side grain of the wood, probably with a knife. It measures roughly 12 by 14 inches. Needless to say, it is very unlikely that a genuine example exists without the creases resulting from being folded into the book" (Holman, "Seventeenth-Century American Prints," Prints in and of America to 1850, Morse (ed) [1970] 37-40, 41-43).

Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1670-1870, Vol. I  (1968) No. 2.

Shadwell, American Printmaking. The First 150 Years (1969) No. 2, plate 2. Shadwell's No. 3 and plate 3 describe a variant state of Foster's map prepared to illustrate the English edition of Hubbard's book published in London by Thomas Parkhurst in 1677. In that version the caption "White Hills" in the Boston version was replaced by "Wine Hills."

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Precursor of Malthus 1677

In The Primitive Organization of Mankind Considered and Examined According to the Light of Nature (1677) English jurist Matthew Hale  "seems to have been the first to use the expression 'Geometrical Proportion' for the growth of a population from a single family" (Hutchinson). In this he anticipated Malthus. Hale believed that in animals, especially insects, various natural calamities reduce the numbers to low levels intermittently, so maintaining a balance of nature.

J. Norman (ed.) Morton's Medical Bibliography, 5th ed (1991) No. 215.

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The First Published Rules for Archival Operation? 1678

Regole, e Capitoli per l'eretione, e mantenimento degli Archivii publici delle Città di Piacenza, e Parma were published in Parma, Italy in 1678. These may be the first published principles, rules and procedures for archival administration and operation.

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The First Doctoral Degree is Awarded to a Woman June 25, 1678

On June 25, 1678 Venetian philosopher, linguist, musician, and mathematician Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Padua. This was the first doctorate awarded to a woman.

Piscopia originally applied for a doctorate in theology; however, church officials refused, eventually allowing award of the doctorate in theology instead. 

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Leibniz on Binary Arithmetic March 15, 1679 – 1705

A manuscript dated March 15, 1679 by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, preserved in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bibliothek Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek, Hannover, “includes a brief discussion of the possibility of designing a mechanical binary calculator which would use moving balls to represent binary digits.”

Though Leibniz thought of the application of binary arithmetic to computing in 1679, the machine he outlined was never built, and he published nothing on the subject until his Explication de l'arithmétique binaire, qui se sert des seuls caracteres 0 & 1; avec des remarques sur son utilité, & sur ce qu'elle donne le sens des anciens figues Chinoises de Fohy' published in Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences année MDCCIII. Avec les mémoires de mathématiques, which appeared in print in 1705.

"The publication of the Explication was prompted by Leibniz's correspondence with Joachim Bouvet, a member of the Jesuit Mission in China. Leibniz had developed an interest in China, and in April 1697 he edited a collection of letters and essays by members of the Mission, entitled Novissima Sinica. A copy of this came into the hands of Bouvet, who wrote to Leibniz on 18 October 1697 expressing his commendation of the work. Thus began an extended correspondence between the two men which proved to be very important for the dissemination of Leibniz's ideas about binary arithmetic. The crucial exchange began on 15 February 1701, when Leibniz wrote to Bouvet describing for his correspondent the principles of his binary arithmetic, including the analogy of the formation of all the numbers from 0 and 1 with the creation of the world by God out of nothing. Bouvet immediately recognised the relationship between the hexagrams of the I ching and the binary numbers and he communicated his discovery in a letter written in Peking on 4 November 1701. This reached Leibniz, after a detour through England, on 1 April 1703. With this letter, Bouvet enclosed a woodcut of the arrangement of the hexagrams attributed to Fu-Hsi, the mythical founder of Chinese culture, which holds the key to the identification. Within a week of receiving Bouvet's letter, Leibniz had sent to Abbé Bignon for publication in the Mémoires of the Paris Academy his Explication de l'Arithmétique binaire,... & sue ce qu'elle donne le sens des anciens figures Chinoises de Fohy. Ten days later he sent a brief account to Hans Sloane, the Secretary of the Royal Society. Leibniz viewed binary arithmetic less as a computational tool than as a means of discovering mathematical, philosophical and even theological truths. He remarked to Tschirnhaus in 1682 that he anticipated from the use of binary numbers discoveries in number theory that other progressions could not reveal. It was at the same time a candidate for the characteristica generalis, his long sought-for alphabet of human thought. With base 2 numeration Leibniz witnessed a confluence of several intellectual strands in his world view, including theological and mystical ideas of order, harmony and creation. Fontanelle, secretary of the Paris Academy, wrote the unsigned review of Liebniz's paper for the Mémoires section of the volume. He noted that arithmetic could have different bases besides ten; bases such as 12, and two as in the case of Leibniz's binary system. He also noted that although the binary system was not practical for common use Leibniz thought that it would be of advantage in advanced mathematics" (W.P. Watson, antiquarian book description, accessed from ilabdatabase.com on 01-21-2010). 

This manuscript was first published in 1966 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Leibniz's death as Herrn von Leibniz' Rechnung mit Null und Eins. That book included facsimiles of Leibniz's "Explication de l'arithmétique binaire" (1705), his two letters to Johann Christian Schulenberg on binary arithmetic (March 29 and May 17, 1698), published in the Opera Omnia of 1768, and historical articles and German translations.

(This entry was last revised on 07-26-2014.)

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The World's First Postage Stamp from the First Postal Service to Allow Registration and Pre-Payment April 1 – December 1680

On April 1, 1680 English merchant William Dockwra, with partner Robert Murry, founded the first Penny Post in London, for mail delivery within the city of London and its suburbs to a distance of 10 miles.  The service worked on the basis that the one penny postage was paid when the letter was accepted. This was in contrast to alternative private courier systems which were paid upon delivery of mail by the recipient. Under that system mail was often refused. 

Dockwra's London Penny Post was the first postal system to use hand-stamps to postmark the mail to indicate the place and time of mailing and that the postage was prepaid, but handstamps were not used in the first months of the post's existence. The earliest knnown Penny Post postmark is dated December 13, 1680.

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Filed under: Communication

Foundation of Palaeography and Diplomatics 1681

In his book on medieval documents, De re diplomatica libri sex, published in Paris in 1681 Benedictine monk Jean Mabillon founded the formal study of palaeography and diplomatics, laying down the principles for dating scripts and ornament in manuscripts.  At this time the term palaeography did not exist. It was later coined by Mabillon's pupil Bernard de Montfaucon, who in his Palaeographia Graeca (1708) applied similar principles to the dating of Greek manuscripts.  

Initially paleography developed to resolve legal disputes over documents. During the Middle Ages, the production of spurious charters and other false documents was common, either to provide written documentation of existing rights or to bolster the plausibility of claimed rights. These spurious documents were later employed to bolster claims that were fraudulent. In 1675 the Jesuit Daniel van Papenbroeck (Papebroch) proved that a charter guaranteeing certain privileges to the Benedictines, supposedly issued by the Merovingian king Dagobert in 646, was a forgery.

"The French Benedictine order, which had recently been revived under the title of the Congregation of Saint Maur and was devoting itself to various scholarly enterprises, treated van Papenbroeck's work as a challenge. One of its most able members, Dom Jean Mabillon (1632-1707), spent several years in studying charters and manuscripts, drawing up in a systematic way for the first time a series of criteria for testing the authenticity of medieval documents. The result was De re diplomatica (1681), to which we owe the word diplomatic, normally used as the technical term for the study of legal and official documents. Mabillon's work dealt also to a lesser extent with manuscripts, but was resticted to Latin. It was immediately recognized as a masterpiece, even by van Papenbroeck, who had a cordial exchange of letters with Mabillon, acknowledging that his attempt to prove the spuriousness of all Merovingian charters was an excess of skepticism. On the other hand his thesis about the charter of 646 was upheld" (Reynolds & Wilson, Scribes and Scholars 3rd ed [1991] 189).

Boyle, Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographical Introduction (1983) No. 72.  Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) No. 158.

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The First Scientific Book Written by a Native Latin American to be Published in the Western Hemisphere 1681

Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora published Libra astronomica y philosophica in Mexico City in 1681. This may be the first scientific book written by a native Latin American published in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1690 Sigüenza y Góngora published another edition of Libra astronomica y philosophica also in Mexico City. This was the last word in a controversy between Sigüenza and the jesuit priest and astronomer Eusebio Kino over Sigüenza's scientific explanation of comets.

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Joseph Moxon Issues the First Comprehensive Printing Manual 1683 – 1684

In 1683 and 1684 English hydrographer, printer, punch cutter, globe maker, and instrument maker Joseph Moxon published in London his Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing as part of his survey of the chief trades of his day. This was the first printing manual published in English, and the first comprehensive manual in any language published on printing—a trade that was passed down through apprenticeship, without truly useful printed manuals, since the mid-15th century.  

Moxon's Mechanick Exercises was intended to furnish his readers with basic instruction in all the chief trades of his day. Fourteen numbers, devoted to smithying, joining, carpentry and related arts, were issued between 1677 and 1680, before possible disappointment with sales, and the "breaking out of the [Popish] Plot"— which "took off the minds of my few customers from buying. . . ." (Moxon's "Advertisement," Vol. ii)— forced Moxon temporarily to cease production.  

¶ Volume 1 was the first book in England to be published in parts, or fascicules. Moxon resumed the series in 1683 with Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing, issued in twenty-four parts during 1683 and 1684. The general title page was issued with the first number in 1683, and bears that date in its imprint. The numbers were each two printed sheets (16pp., 4to) with one or more copperplate engravings, at 2d. per sheet and 2d. per plate. "Although 500 copies were printed, very few complete sets have been preserved, the work being, perhaps, the most difficult to obtain in the whole range of typographical literature" (Bigmore & Wyman, A Bibliography of Printing II (1880) 54). Bigmore & Wyman describe a second edition of 1693-1701, and a third edition of 1703, a portion of which they say is the "fourth edition." It is not unusual for sets of this very rare work to combine parts from different editions.

Moxon had worked for years as a master printer. He had also cut steel punches for letters, made moulds and matrices, and cast and sold type. In 1676 he published Regulae trium ordinum literarum typographicarum, or the rules of the three orders of print letters... Shewing how they are compounded of geometrick figures, and mostly made by rule and compass. Useful for writing masters, painters, carvers, masons, and others that are lovers of curiosity. (Bigmore & Wyman II, 56).  His type in that work were based on Dutch originals that he knew from experience in Holland.  

In the second volume of Mechanick Exercises  Moxon provided detailed technical accounts of the tools of the compositor and pressman, the art of typefounding, and the work of the compositor, corrector, pressman and other members of the printing trades as they had come down to his day. Most of these skills had not changed materially for nearly two hundred years, and would remain unaltered until the mechanization of printing in the nineteenth century. Moxon's manual "put into writing a knowledge that was wholly traditional" with such success that it was copied by virtually every writer of printing manuals and served as a standard text for over two hundred years.  

Moxon, Mechanick Exercises, edited by Davis and Carter [1962] vii ff.  

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1561.

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What the Journeyman Printer Needs for Ready Reference 1684

Daniel Michael Schmatz published in the German town of Sultzbach Neu-vorgestelltes auf der löblichen Kunst Buchdruckerey gebräuchliches Format-Buch. This was not a comprehensive printing manual like Moxon's but, "a guide to imposition, different alphabets, Greek and Latin abbreviations, alchemical and pharmaceutical symbols. This is what the journeyman printer needed for ready reference." (Roger Gaskell). It was the fourth printing manual published in German.

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The First Publication on the Differential Calculus 1684

In 1684 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz published his first paper on the differential calculus: "Nova methodus pro maximis et minimis, itemque tangentibus, quae nec fractas nec irrationales quantitates moratur, & singulare pro illi calculi genus" in the periodical, Acta eruditorum issued from Leipzig. He published the paper nine years after he had independently discovered the differential calculus.  Although Newton had probably discovered the calculus earlier than Leibniz, Leibniz was the first to publish his method, which employed a notation superior to that used by Newton.  The priority dispute between Newton and Leibniz over the calculus is one of the most famous controversies in the history of science; it led to a breach between English and Continental mathematics that was not healed until the early nineteenth century.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 160.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1326.  

♦ In April 2012 I learned that there are three issues of this publication involving two different settings of type, and two different versions of the copperplate geometrical diagram. An early issue, incorporating numerous mathematical errors in the typesetting on p. 467, was included in the Norman library.  It is illustrated in volume two of Christie's auction catalogue (1998) lot 613.  A different, and presumably later printing with the errors corrected on p. 467, is illustrated by Horblit, One Books Famous in Science (1964) no. 66a.  A third issue, either before or after that in the Norman library, but prior to that described by Horblit, was reported by Dieter Schierenberg BV in 2011. That issue incorporates the earlier state of p. 467 but with the addition of "M. Oct." at the top of the plate under the plate number.

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The First Hieroglyphic Bible for Children 1684 – 1692

Melchior Mattsperger compiled Die Geistliche Herzens-Einbildungen in zweihundert und fünffzig biblischen Figur-Sprüchen vorgestellet. This work, first published in 2 volumes in Augsburg, Germany in 1684 and 1692, was the first hieroglyphic bible, combining brief complete biblical passages and a combination of text and images to represent words or parts of words, in rebus form. 

The first English language edition of this work, A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible, was printed in London in 1783. The first American edition followed in 1788. Introducing children to brief biblical passages with an intriguing combination of text and image, numerous editions with a variety of biblical selections and illustrations were issued through the first half of the nineteenth century.

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Aristotle's Masterpiece 1684

In 1684 in London an anonymous writer cobbled together excerpts from Leviinus Lemnius's The Secret Miracles of Nature (1658) and Jacob Rüff's (Rueff) The Expert Midwife, or An Excellent and Most Necessary Treatise of the Generation and Birth of Man (1637) to create  Aristotle's Master-Piece, or the Secrets of Generation printed For J. How.  This work, neither by Aristotle, nor a masterpiece, became one of the perennial best-sellers through the nineteenth century, with hundreds of editions issued in England and America over 250 years.

"It was still on sale, contents largely unaltered, in Soho sex shops in the 1930s. Instead of keeping up with changes in theories of sex and reproduction, the Masterpiece provides a guide to topics of perennial appeal. It explains why children look like their parents—but not always!—and argues that for a woman to conceive, her pleasure is as important as the man's. The book changed in style, with new typefaces and pictures, but readers' response to it changed more. Boys pinched it from their mothers, men shared its saucy secrets and women relied upon its advice" (http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Babies/Aristotle.html, accessed 06-23-2012).

When I wrote this entry in June 2012 I was unable to find an entry for the 1684 edition in the English Short Title Catalogue. That online bibliography cited 97 other editions of the text printed before 1800, the earliest of which was dated 1690. The 1684 London edition was cited in Wing's Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland . . . second edition (1994) 3697fA, mentioning copies in 5 institutions. 

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The First Book Review Journal: an Early Long-Distance Intellectual Community and Social Network 1684 – 1718

In 1684 French philosopher Pierre Bayle initiated publication of Nouvelles de la république des lettres (News from the Republic of Letters). This journal, edited and largely written by Bayle from March 1684 through February 1687, was the first known book review journal. Though written in French, the work was published in Amsterdam to avoid censorship. After Bayle stepped down as editor the journal was continued 

". . . by Daniel de LarroqueJean Barrin and Jean Le Clerc through April 1689. Publication was suspended from then until January 1699 when it was resumed under the editorship of Jacques Bernard. He continued it through December 1710; it was then suspended until January 1716, when he resumed and continued until the final issue in June 1718" (Wikipedia article on Nouvelles de la république des lettres, accessed 11-06-2013).

Bayle's Nouvelles de la république des lettres is considered the first work to translate the Latin expression Respublica literaria into a modern language. The periodical had an association with the "Republic of Letters", a long-distance intellectual community and social network in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe and America.

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Anatomy in the Style of Dutch Still-Life Painting 1685

Plate from Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis. Please click on the link below to view and resize full page. 

Title page of Bidloo's Anatomia humani corporis. 
Please click on the link below to view and resize full page. 

Govert Bidloo.

Gerard de Lairesse (1641–1711) by Rembrandt.  Lariesse suffered from congenital syphilis.

In 1685 Dutch physician, anatomist, poet, and playwright Govert Bidloo published Anatomia humani corporis. This large folio contains an engraved title, engraved portrait of Bidloo by Abraham Bloteling after Gérard de Lairesse and 105 engraved plates after Lairesse, probably by Bloteling and Peter and Philip van Gunst. The work was issued in  Amsterdam for the widow of Joannes van Someren, the heirs of Joannes van Dyk, Henry Boom and widow of Theodore Boom.

Considered as an artistic meditation on anatomy, Gerard de Lairesse’s designs are a total departure from the idealistic tradition inaugurated in the mid-16th century by the Vesalian woodcuts. They are also worlds apart from the productions of the Odoardo Fialetti - Giulio Casserio collaboration. Lairesse displayed his figures with everyday realism and sensuality, contrasting the raw dissected parts of the body with the full, soft surfaces of undissected flesh surrounding them; placing flayed, bound figures in ordinary nightclothes or bedding; setting objects such as a book, a jar, a crawling fly in the same space as a dissected limb or torso. He thus brought the qualities of Dutch still-life painting into anatomical illustration, and gave a new, darker expression to the significance of dissection. De Lairesse’s images of dissected pregnancies and premature infants also reflect compassion—a quality unusual in art that was intended primarily to be scientific.

A painter and writer on art theory, Lairesse was influenced by Rembrandt, who painted his portrait in 1665, and also by the French styles of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. The French called Lairesse the “Dutch Poussin.” Lairesse suffered from congenital syphilis, which gave him a deformed nose visible in Rembrandt’s portrait. Perhaps because he had always lived with disease Lairesse had more than a casual interest in medicine. Syphilis made him blind in 1690, and for the rest of his active life Lairesse supported himself by lecturing and writing about art, publishing two books on drawing and painting which were widely reprinted and translated throughout the eighteenth century.

Some of Lairesse’s drawings were probably engraved by Abraham Bloteling (Blooteling). A line engraver and creator of mezzotint plates who worked in both Holland and England, Bloteling was particularly famous for the quality of his mezzotints, for which he initiated a more thorough system of preparing the grounds, and may have invented the rocker. According to historian of medical book illustration Ludwig Choulant, prior medical scholars Albrecht Haller and Johann Carl Wilhelm Moehsen believed that some plates in the series were engraved by the brothers Pieter and Philip van Gunst. Despite imperfections from the point of view of dissection, which Choulant and others have pointed out, the Bidloo-de Lairesse anatomical studies reflect much that is good, including early depictions of skin and hair from observation with a microscope.

Bidloo began this project with de Lairesse around 1676 during a period in which he was also writing plays in Amsterdam, obtaining his medical degree, and working as a surgeon. It would appear that Bidloo brought his flair for drama to the conception and realization of this project. The 105 large drawings were probably completed about 1682, after which the plates had to be engraved—a huge production.

In 1690 Bidloo's publishers issued an edition in Dutch, and in 1698 William Cowper issued an expanded English with new text using Bidloo's original plates, but without crediting Bidloo, resulting in a famous plagiarism dispute in the era before copyright.

Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (1920) 250. Dumaître, La Curieuse Destiné des Planches Anatomiques de Gérard de Lairesse (1982). Hofer, Baroque Book Illustration, 146. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) No. 231. Roberts & Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Body, 309-17. Wax, The Mezzotint: History and Technique (1990) 25-26.

♦ In 2012 it was my pleasure to sell a spectacular large paper copy of Bidloo's atlas, bound in contemporary full red morocco, and emblazened with the coat of arms of its first owner, to Vassar College as their 1,000,000th book. Vassar produced a spectacular website describing the copy, with background, images and a video. The excellent video, which beautifully described this wonderful copy, is here:

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Locke's Method of Indexing Commonplace Books 1685 – 1706

In 1685 English physician and philosopher John Locke published "Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils" in Le Clerc's Bibliothèque universelle II (1685). This was translated into English in Le Clerc's Observations (London, 1697).  It was first published separately as A New Method of Making Common-Place-Books ; written by the late Learned Mr. John Lock, Author of the Essay concerning Humane Understanding. Translated from the French. To which is added Something from Monsieur Le Clerc, relating to the same Subject. A treatise necessary for all Gentlemen, especially Students of Divinity, Physick, and Law. There are also added two Letters, concerning a most useful method for instructing Persons that are Deaf and Dumb, or that Labour under an Impediments of Speech, to speak distinctly; written by the late Learned Dr. John Wallis. (London, 1706.) 

Locke began keeping commonplace books during his first year at Oxford in 1652.  On pp. [vi] and [1] of the 1706 edition we find a chart printed in red and black showing how he was able to create an expandable index of topics on two pages in each commonplace book. The index contained a line for every letter of the alphabet and for each letter there were sub-divisions based on the vowels a, e, i, o, and u. He described his method as follows:  

"When I meet with any thing worth putting into my Common-Place-Book, I presently look for a proper Head. Suppose for Example, the Head were Epistle;  I look in the Index the First Letter which the Vowel that follows, which in this Case E I. If there is found any Number in the Space marked E I, that shows me the space designed for Words which begin with E, and whose Vowel that immediately follows is I, I must refer to the Word Epistle in the Page what I have to take notice of, I write the Head in pretty large Letters, so that the principal Word is found in the Margin, and I continue the Line in writing on what I have to remark. I constantly observe this Method, that nought but the Head  appear in the Margin, and on on without carrying the Line again into the Margin. When one has thus preserv'd the margin clear, the Heads, present themselves at First Sight" (1706 edition p. 6).

Locke's method of indexing his notes was reflective of styles of reading and note-taking characteristic of his time.  According to a very widely quoted passage by Robert Darnton:

“Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end (unless they are digital natives and click through texts on machines), early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were therefore inseparable activities. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it; and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your own personality. . . By selecting and arranging snippets from a limitless stock of literature, early modern Englishmen gave free play to a semi-conscious process of ordering experience. The elective affinities that bound their selection into patterns reveal an epistemology — a process of knowing — at work below the surface" (Darnton, “Extraordinary Commonplaces,” New York Review of Books 47 (20)[December 21, 2000] 82, 86).

Locke's method of indexing commonplace books remained widely used for at least one hundred years. Toward the end of the 18th century English publisher John Bell published notebooks entitled Bell’s Common-Place Book, Formed generally upon the Principles Recommended and Practised by Mr Locke.” These included eight pages of instructions on Locke’s indexing method, a system which not only made it easier to find passages, but also served the higher purpose of “facilitat[ing] reflexive thought.”

♦ Reflecting upon Robert Darnton's comment, perhaps my personal reading and writing style is more representative of the seventeenth century than the twentieth or twenty-first.  Throughout my career in the antiquarian book trade, which began in the 1960s, I found myself moving between subjects in the course of a day as I catalogued various books in stock, read about other books for sale, or discussed the different interests of clients.  With access to the Internet in the 1990s it was, of course, possible to follow-up more efficiently on diverse topics with Internet searches and hyperlinks.  The way that From Cave Paintings to the Internet is written, as a series of reading and research notes connected by links and indexed in a database, may be viewed to a certain extent as analogous to the method of maintaining and indexing commonplace books described by Locke. ♦

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Newton's Principia Mathematica 1687

In 1687 Isaac Newton published Philosophia naturalis principia mathematica in London through the efforts and expense of astronomer Edmond Halley.

We probably know as much about the printing history of Newton's Principia mathematica as of any book of the seventeenth century.  The definitive scholarship on the writing and printing of the Principia appears in I. B. Cohen's Introduction to Newton's "Principia" (1971), and in Koyré‚ and Cohen's variorum edition of the Principia (1972), which also contains William B. Todd's definitive bibliography of the first three editions.  Other useful research on this work was conducted by A. N. L. Munby nearly forty years ago.  Munby's and Todd's observations may be summarized here. The original printer's manuscript in the hand of Newton's amanuensis, Humphrey Newton, still exists, as do various copies of the first edition with Isaac Newton's autograph corrections.  The expenses of publication of the first edition were borne by Edmond Halley, as neither Newton nor the Royal Society had sufficient funds, and booksellers, who in those days often acted as publishers, typically refused to risk their own money on esoteric scientific books.  Halley also edited the work and saw it through the press, reporting his progress to Newton in a series of letters which are preserved at Cambridge. 

Having paid for the edition himself, Halley sent out presentation copies at Newton's direction and also sent Newton twenty copies for his personal use.  Halley decided to market the book by placing copies on consignment with various booksellers, and he sent Newton forty copies, some bound, some in sheets, which he asked Newton to "place in the hands of one or more of your ablest booksellers to dispose of them." Munby observed that many of the bindings of the two-line imprint issue were similar, suggesting that Halley may have had many of the copies bound at one shop.

Munby researched the significance of the two states of the title page of the Principia, concluding that the more commonly found state, with the title page uncancelled and the so-called two-line imprint, reflects Halley's initial sales strategy of placing the work on consignment with many booksellers ("apud plures Bibliopolas").  The state with the three-line imprint, including the name of the bookseller, Samuel Smith, reflects Halley's decision to turn over a significant portion of the edition to Smith, probably for foreign distribution.  The antiquarian bookseller Heinrich Zeitlinger of Henry Sotheran Ltd., first made the useful observation that many of the copies with the three-line "Smith" imprint were exported to the Continent.  Smith was known to be very active in the import and export of books, and Munby stated that he knew of only two "Smith" copies in contemporary English bindings.  

From his bibliographical analysis of the first edition Todd concluded that the edition was divided between two compositors, one setting the first two books, the other setting the third.  "The first compositor, however, was allowed too few sheets and too many foliations, a circumstance which necessitated his signing a supplementary gathering *** and paging it 377-383, 400."  Todd identified typographical variants which seem to be randomly distributed throughout the edition and are thus not indicative of any priority.

Todd also described the distribution of watermarks in the Principia: "The text paper exhibits a water-mark of a fleur-de-lis within a coat of arms (Heawood 626) only in preliminaries and certain sections in the earlier portion of the books, indicating perhaps that the signatures so distinguished are of later, revised settings printed off at the same time.  All copies have this water-mark in P-2K; some have it also in A, F-G, M-O, 2M-2N."  The distribution of watermarks appears to have nothing to do with the distribution of the variants listed above.

In estimating the size of the first edition Munby acknowledged that the work went out of print quickly and was already difficult to obtain in December 1691, when Nicholas Fatio de Duillier discussed a new edition in a letter to Christiaan Huygens.  Extrapolating from the partial census figures available in 1952, Munby conjectured that at least 150 copies of the work were then extant, concluding from this and from the book's relatively common appearances in the sale rooms that "the whole edition cannot have comprised less than three hundred copies, and the figure may well have been a hundred more than this."  The plentiful sales records in the forty years since Munby's account would certainly corroborate the higher estimate. Copies with the three-line imprint are much rarer than those with the two-line, suggesting that the so-called "Smith" copies may only have comprised  between seventeen and thirty-three percent of the edition. 

Newton's personal copy of the first edition of the Principia, with Newton's autograph corrections for the second edition, is preserved at the Wrenn Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1586. Cohen, Introduction to Newton's Principia, ch. IV.  Munby, "The two titlepages of the distribution of the first edition of Newton's Principia," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 10 (October 1952).  Todd, "A bibliography of the Principia.  Part I: The three substantive editions," in Koyré‚ & Cohen, Isaac Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica II,  851-853.

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The First Reading Primer Designed for the American Colonies 1687 – 1690

The first reading primer designed for the American colonies was The New- England Primer first issued in Boston, Massachusetts between 1687 and 1690 by English printer and publisher Benjamin Harris, who came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1687 to escape the brief Catholic ascendancy under James II. Harris based The New England Primer on a textbook which he had previously printed in England called The Protestant Tutor.  His New England Primer, with its heavily religious orientation, became the most successful textbook published in 18th century America, and the foundation of most early American schooling until it was replaced by Noah Webster's textbooks toward the end of the eighteenth century.

Schoolbooks were often read to death.  Remarkably the earliest surviving edition of Harris's New-England Primer was published in Boston by T. Kneeland & T. Green in 1727. This is known from a copy in the New York Public Library. Harris's supposed first edition of 1687-1690 is known from an advertisement for a second Harris edition of 1691 in Henry Newman's News from the Stars published in Boston, 1691, leaving the assumption that an edition had preceded it.  However, no copy of either edition survived.

Heartman, The New-England Primer Issued Prior to 1830. A Bibliographical Check-List. . . . (1934).

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The First Attempt to Collect and Organize the Literature of Early Printing 1688

Cornelis a Beughem's Incunabula typographiae s. catalogus librorum scriptorumque proximis ab inventione typographiae annis ad annum Christi MD inclusive in quavis lingua editorum, published in Amsterdam in 1688, was the first attempt to comprehend and organize the collected literature of early printing, and the first use of of the term incunabula in the title of a book on the history of early printing. Beughem cited approximately 3000 titles. Beughem, a bookseller and city counselor at Emmerich, in the Duchy of Cleves under the rule of the Electors of Brandenburg, and author of several bibliographies, has been called the foremost bibliographer of the 17th century

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The First Independently Published Bibliography of Mathematics 1688

In 1688 bookseller and city counceller in Emmerich, Cornelis a Beughem issued Bibliotheca mathematica et artificosa novissima. . . conspectus primus. This was the first independently published and comprehensive bibliography of mathematics, limited to books published from 1551 onward. Pages 465-526 contained a bibliography of atlases.

Bibliotheca mathematica was one of a series of bibliographies Beughem issued through the Amsterdam firm Janssonius-Waesberghe, listing books published throughout Europe in the relevant subject area during the second half the seventeenth century in any language, whether first or revised editions. Beughem's bibliographies were distinguished from earlier bibliographies by their arrangement by author, and by their limited chronological coverage to the present and the immediate past. Bibliographia mathematica followed bibliographies by Beughem of law and politics (1680) and medicine and physics (1681). 

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 84.

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The First American Public Document to Protest Slavery and One of the First Written Public Declarations of Universal Human Rights April 1688

The 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, drafted by Francis Daniel Pastorius and signed by him and three other Quakers living in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Germantown Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, was the first protest against African-American slavery made by a religious body in the English colonies. It was also the first American public document to protest slavery and one of the first written public declarations of universal human rights. The signed document was forwarded to the monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of the Religious Society of Friends without any action being taken on it. 

"Some of the early English settlers of Philadelphia and its surrounding towns were wealthy and purchased slaves to work on their farms. Although many such slaveowners also had immigrated to escape religious persecution, they saw no contradiction in owning slaves, because serfdom, slavery and servitude had existed in Europe since the Middle Ages. Although serfdom was abolished in northwestern Europe by 1500, servitude was ubiquitous in Europe, sometimes under harsh conditions. Many immigrants to the new colony were indentured servants, working for several years in exchange for being carried on a boat to the new colony. Slaves were widely owned in the colonies and local slave markets made purchasing slaves easy. The slave trade was protected by the British crown and some thought it necessary for economic growth in the colonies. It was justified by racism and intolerance towards what many British saw as 'uncivilized' cultures. Many ship owners and captains made large profits carrying slaves from Africa to the Caribbean islands and the mainland colonies. William Penn oversaw the economic progress of his colony and once proudly declared that during the course of a year Philadelphia had received 10 slave ships.

"The first settlers of Germantown were soon joined by several more Quaker and Mennonite families from Krisheim, also in the Rhine valley, who were ethnic Germans but spoke a similar dialect to the Hollanders from Krefeld. Some out of pragmatism attended the local Quaker Meetings held in the newly built homes of immigrants, becoming involved and accepted in the Philadelphia Quaker community, and eventually joining as members. However, in several ways they felt themselves outsiders, which allowed them to see and question what the English could not. Some attended the Quaker Meeting temporarily while they waited for a Mennonite minister to arrive, and then helped to build the first Mennonite Meetinghouse. The town prospered and grew, and a Quaker Meeting was organized at Thones Kunders's house, under the care of Dublin (Abington Meeting). By 1686 a Quaker Meetinghouse was constructed near the current site of Germantown Friends Meeting.

"The German-Dutch settlers were unaccustomed to slaves, although from the shortage of labor they understood why their British neighbors relied on slaves for prosperity. Slaves and indentured servants were a valuable asset for a farmer because they were not paid. Yet the German-Dutch settlers refused to buy slaves themselves and quickly saw the contradiction in the slave trade and in farmers who forced people to work. Although in their native Germany and Holland the Krefelders had been persecuted because of their beliefs, only people who had been convicted of a crime could be forced to work in servitude. In what turned out to be a revolutionary leap of insight, the Germantowners saw a fundamental similarity between the right to be free from persecution on account of their beliefs and the right to be free from being forced to work against their will" (Wikipedia article on Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, accessed 11-03-2013).
The Germantown Quaker Petition Aginst Slavery is preserved in the Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford College.
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The First Paper Mill in the United States 1690

In 1690 William Rittenhouse founded the first paper mill in the United States, on Paper Mill Run, also known as Monoshone Creek, a small tributary of Wissahickon Creek, outside Philadelphia. The location was then known as Rittenhousetown.

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"Political Arithmetick": Application of Statistics to Economic Theory and Policy 1690

Political Arithmetick, or, a Discourse Concerning the Extent and Value of Lands, People, Buildings; Husbandry, Manufacture, Commerce, Fisher, Artizans, Seamen, Soldiers; Publick Revenues, Interest, Taxes, Superlucration, Registries, Banks; Valuation of Men, Increasing of Seamen,of Militia's, Harbours, Situation, Shipping, Power at Sea, &c. As the same relates to every Country in general, but more particularly to the Territories of His Majesty of Great Britain, and his Neighbours of Holland, Zealand,[i.e. Denmark] and France. by English Economist Sir William Petty, published in London in 1690, was a major comparative study of the wealth and economic policies of England and her rivals France and Holland. This was the first of Petty's works to contain in its title the phrase "political arithmetick" he had coined to describe the application of statistics to economic theory and policy. Petty was the first to employ numerical evaluation in economics, and his work provided the decisive impulse toward econometrics and the general application of statistics.

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Huygens's Wave or Pulse Theory of Light 1690

Traité de la lumière. Ou sont expliquées les causes de ce qui luy arrive dans la reflexion, & dans le refraction, et particulièrement, dans l'étrange refraction du cristal d'Islande. . . Avec un discours de la cause de la pesanteur by Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist Christiaan Huygens, published in Leiden in 1690, announced Huygens's wave or pulse theory of light, which he developed in 1676-1677. Huygens completed the Traité in 1678, but left it unpublished for twelve years, until stimulated by the appearance of Isaac Newton's Principia (1687) and by a visit with Newton in 1689.

Huygens conceived of light as an irregular series of shock waves or pulses proceeding with very great but finite velocity through the ether, a medium consisting of uniformly minute, elastic particles pressed closely together. Using the ether as the medium of light wave propagation, he showed that all points of a wave front originate partial waves, and thereby generate further wave motion; light, therefore, consists not of a transference of matter, but rather of a "tendency to move." This theory enabled Huygens to explain both reflection and refraction of light, but not the phenomenon of polarization, which he observed in his earliest studies of Iceland spar crystals (cristal d'Islande), and described in the present work.

Huygens's wave theory of light remained neglected for over 100 years, until Thomas Young resurrected it to explain optical interference

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1139.

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Filed under: Science

"Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic," the First Newspaper Published in North America, Suppressed after a Single Issue September 25, 1690

On September 25, 1690 English publisher Benjamin Harris, proprietor of the London Coffee House in Boston, Massachusetts published Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic. This was the first newspaper issued in North America. The issue contained 4 pages, the last left blank for users to write in pieces of news to hand around with the newspaper.  

"It focused on local news, and included gossip; one item concerned King William's War and atrocities attributed to Native American forces allied to the British, current in September 1690. Without a license, it was closed down after a single issue, Harris was jailed, and the next newspaper did not appear until 1704, when John Campbell's Boston News-Letter was the first American newspaper to last beyond the first issue" (Wikipedia article on Benjamin Harrison (publisher), accessed 06-05-2012).

Isaiah Thomas, The History of Printing in America, Vol. II,  333. Berry & Poole, Annals of Printing [1966] 139.

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The First Map of All of New Spain 1691 – 1694

Between 1691 and 1694 polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongóra prepared the first-ever map of all of New Spain.

"He also drew hydrologic maps of the Valley of Mexico. In 1692 King Charles II named him official geographer for the colony. As royal geographer, he participated in the 1692 expedition to Pensacola Bay, Florida under command of Andrés de Pez, to seek out defensible frontiers against French encroachment. He mapped Pensacola Bay and the mouth of the Mississippi: in 1693, he described the terrain in Descripción del seno de Santa María de Galve, alias Panzacola, de la Mobila y del Río Misisipi" (Wikipedia article on Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongóra, accessed 01-10-2009).

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The Bibliotheque du Roi Opens to the Public 1692

Having been expanded under Louis XIV, the Bibliothèque du Roi, now the Bibliothèque national de France, first opened to the public in 1692, under the administration of Abbé Louvois, Abbé Louvois was succeeded by the Abbé Bignon, who instituted a complete reform of the library's system. Catalogues of the collections were published from 1739–53 in 11 volumes.

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Filed under: Libraries

The Breslau Tables 1693

In 1693 English astronomer, mathematician, geophysicist, meterologist and physicist Edmond Halley published "An Estimate of the Degrees of Mortality of Mankind, Drawn from Curious Tables of the Births and Funerals at the City of Breslaw, with an Attempt to Ascertain the Price of Annuities Upon Lives" in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. He compiled the "Breslau Tables" to show the proportion of men able to bear arms. . . to estimate mortality rates, to ascertain the price of annuities upon lives.

J. Norman (ed), Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed. (1991) no. 1687.

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The First Book Catalogue Published in America 1693

The first book catalogue published in North America was the auction catalogue of the library of the non-conformist minister and natural philosopher Rev. Samuel Lee (1625?-91) issued in Boston by bookseller Duncan Cambell (d. 1702). It is known from a single surviving copy preserved in the Boston Public Library:

The library of the late Reverend and learned Mr. Samuel Lee. Containing a choice variety of books upon all subjects; particularly, commentaries on the Bible; bodies of divinity. The works as well of the ancient, as of the modern divines; treatises on the mathematicks, in all parts; history, antiquities; natural philosophy [,] physick, and chymistry; with grammar and school-books. With many more choice books not mentioned in this catalogue. Exposed at the most easy rates, to sale, by Duncan Cambell, bookseller at the dock-head over against the conduit.

"Bookseller's catalogue: 1200 short author entries, in Latin and English, arranged (not entirely consistently) by subject, within subject by language (either Latin or English), and within language by format. The subject headings are divinity (by far the largest); physical books (medicine and science); philosophy, cosmography & geography; mathematical, astrological and astronomical books; history, school authors; juris prudentia, miscellanie, and three miscellaneous lots of consecutively numbered entries"(Winans, A Descriptive Checklist of Book Catalogues Separately Printed in America 1693-1800 [1981] no. 1).

ESTC System No. 006467597; ESTC Citation No. W19259.

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Jean Imberdis Publishes First Book on the Manufacture of Paper 1693

In 1693 Jean Imberdis (b. 1667) a Jesuit, issued the first book on the manufacture of paper, entitled Papyrus sive ars confiendae papyri from Cleremont, at the press of Damian Boujon. The work, which was written in the form of a didactic poem, was issued anonymously, as a tribute to the primary industry in Imberdis's native town of Ambert, home of several paper mills. When the Paper Publications Society issued the first English translation in 1952 they indicated that the original printing survived in only a single copy. However, they did not identify the location of that copy, and when I wrote this note in February 2016 it was unclear whether the single original printed copy remained extant. The Latin text is best known from the facsimile of the Latin edition with French translation published by August Blanchet in 1899. The text was translated into German by Wilhelm Niemeyer and sumptuously issued by Armin Renker in 1944/45.

The model of Imberdis's poem of 486 hexameter lines, was Virgil's Georgics, on which virtually all similar didactic poems had been modeled since the Middle Ages. The technical subject matter presented a great challenge to the poet who could not always express the details in elegant verses. The first English translation was prepared by Eric Laughton and beautifully issued as Papyrus, or the Craft of Paper, with a detailed subject index, by the Paper Publications Society of Hilversum, Holland in 1952. The edition was limited to 200 numbered copies on handmade paper by J. Barcham Green.

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The End of Pre-Publication Censorship Stimulates Newspapers and Other Publishing 1695

In 1695 lapse of the Printing Act in England ended pre-publication censorship in that country, stimulating the growth of newspapers and other publications.

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The First Licensed Woman Printer in North America Was Illiterate May 13, 1696

In 1685 printer William Nuthead set up the first press south of Massachusetts, in St. Mary's City, Maryland. There he printed forms for the government. After William's death in 1695 his widow, Dinah, continued the printing business, and when the capital of Maryland moved to Annapolis that year Dinah also moved her press.

"Dinah Nuthead, the widow of William, was a woman of admirable courage. . . . Entirely without education, not well provided with money, she yet made plans to carry on a business in which some knowledge of letters and a certain amount of capital is usually regarded as indispensable. She was shrewd enough to realize, however, that if she were successful in finding a journeyman printer to conduct her establishment, the possession of that rare article, a printing press, would surely provide a decent maintenance for herself and her two children. Boldly she made the venture" (Wroth, A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland 1686-1776 [1922], 12-13).

On May 5, 1696 Dinah Nuthead petitioned to be licensed to print forms for the government, and eight days later her petition was granted: 

" 'Dinah Nuthead of Ann Arundell County Widow, Robert Carvile, and William Taylard of St. Maries County Gentn' gave bond to the Governor to the amount of 100 pounds for the good behavior of Dinah Nuthead in the operation of her press. The Instrument continues as follows:

" 'Now the Condition of this Obligation is such that if the said Dinah Nuthead shall exercise and Imploy her printing press and letters to noe other use than for the printing of blank bills bonds writts warrants of Attorney Letters of Admrcon and other like blanks as above - sd nor Suffer any other person to make use thereof any otherwise than aforesd Unless by a particular Lycense from his Exncy the Governor first had and obtained And further shall save harmless and indempnifye his sd Exncy the Governor from any Damage that may hereafter Ensue by the said Dinah Nuthead misapplying or Suffering to be misapplyed the aforesd Printing press or letters otherwise than to the true intent & meaning before expressed, Then this Obligation to be Voyd or else to Remain in full force and Virtue.'

"This fearsome instrument for the protection of the Province against the evils of indiscriminate printing was signed by certain witnesses, by the two bondsmen and by the principal, who, as one observes, was compelled to make her mark instead of signing her name to the document, a disability under which she labored to the end of her days. Clearly Dinah Nuthead herself could not have intended to act as the compositor in the establishment which she had brought up from St. Mary's to the new seat of government at Annapolis" (Wroth, op. cit. 13).

Wroth, The Colonial Printer (1938) 154-55.

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The First Country-Wide Printed Union Catalogue of Manuscripts 1697

In 1697, the year of the death of English astronomer and scholar Edward BernardCatalogi librorum manuscriptorum Angliae et Hiberniae in unum collecti cum indice alphabeticum was issued from Oxford at the Sheldonian Theatre, in two folio volumes. Listing around 30,000 manuscripts, this was the first printed attempt at a union catalogue of manuscripts for a country—England, including Ireland, the conquest of which had been completed by the British in 1691.  Centuries earlier in the Middle Ages union catalogues of manuscripts had been compiled in England. About 1320 Oxford Franciscans had compiled, on the basis of on-site surveys, the Registrum Anglie de libris doctorum et auctorum ueterum — a manuscript union catalogue of some 1400 manuscript books in England, Scotland and Wales, and around 1350 the Benedictine monk Henry of Kirkestede, prior of the royal abbey of St. Edmund at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk—traditionally known as Boston Burienis, compiled a union catalogue of manuscripts in English libraries entitled Catalogus de libris autenticis et aposcrifis

Bernard had worked on the catalogue for years when in 1692

"a movement started in Oxford to follow up the catalogue of printed books in Bodley with a catalogue of the manuscripts there and in college libraries. Dr. Edwards, Principal of Jesus, approached the curators of the Clarendon Press, who accepted the proposal. The scheme was enlarged to include the collections in Cambridge and in cathedral libraries and finally in private libraries. Cambridge kept aloof; only four colleges sent their catalogues, and the University Library and the remaining colleges were represented only by a reprint of the lists made by Thomas James in 1600. Bernard was in ill health and died on 12 January, 1697, while the book was still in the press" (Simpson, Proof-Reading in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries [1970] 189, see also 190-94).

Though the printed catalogue identified Edward Bernard as the only author, it was actually a cooperative venture compiled by several scholars. Arthur Charlette, Master of University College, Oxford, seems to have been in charge of gathering information for the catalogue. However, the most significant contributor other than Bernard was probably the Harleian librarian, palaeographer and scholar of Old English Humpfrey Wanley. Wanley researched holdings of collectors in England whose libraries needed to be included, and was the author of four catalogues of holdings within the union catalogue: (1) the Free School at Coventry, (2) Basil Fielding, 4th Earl of Denbigh (3) St. Mary's Church, Warwick, and (4) John Ayres. Wanley also compiled the index to the entire work, wrote the Preface and corrected some of the proofs. References to Wanley's work on the catalogue appear in his letters. See Letters of Humfrey Wanley, Palaeographer, Anglo-Saxonist, Librarian, 1672-1726, Edited by P. L. Heyworth (1989). 

The catalogue is notable for containing the holdings of numerous significant private collectors as well as institutional libraries. Among the better-remembered collectors whose manuscripts are recorded are Samuel Pepys, John EveynWilliam Laud, Thomas Bodley, John Leland, Roger Dodsworth, Richard James, Robert Huntington, and Antony Wood. The crucial holdings of Sir Robert Cotton were not included in Bernard's catalogue because just one year earlier Thomas Smith's Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum bibliothecae Cottonianae had been issued in identical format by the same printer. My copy of Bernard's catalogue was bound at the time with Smith's catalogue of the Cottonian library at the back of its second volume. It would appear that the two works were intended to supplement one another. 

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The First Printed Facsimile of a Manuscript 1697

In 1697 German historian of law Heinrich Günther von Thülemeyer published from Frankfurt Copia manuscripti aureae bullae Caroli IV Rom. Imp. quo in Austiissmia Bibliotheca Caesarea Vindobonensi invenitur, atque annot Christ. 1400 . . . .  This large folio publication was a page-for-page reproduction of an illuminated medieval manuscript of Die Goldene Bulle commissioned by King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia, and produced in 1400. The manuscript was preserved  in Vienna (Codex Vindobonensis 338).

Significant for book history, Thülemeyer's edition followed the large format of the medieval manuscript exactly, reproducing the two-column calligraphic text of all 46 leaves in type, and the numerous color images in black and white copperplate engravings, very close to their appearance in the original. Thülemeyer followed his facsimile with a commentary. This was the first full facsimile of a manuscript ever printed. It was not an exact facsimile since the images were not in color and the printed pages did not include all the marginal ornamentation present in the manuscript.

In 1977 publisher Akademische Druck in Graz, Austria published a full-size folio facsimile of Thülemeyer's 1697 facsimile, reproducing twenty pages of the original illuminated manuscript in color facing corresponding pages in the black and white facsimile showing the correspondence between the original manuscript and the 1697 edition. The 1977 edition, itself a minor landmark in the history of books as "the first facsimile of the first facsimile," was edited by Armin Wolf. Unlike most of Akademische Druck's facsimiles, which were expensive limited editions, the 1977 work was issued as a trade publication, and presumably in a relatively large printing, at a reasonable price.

(This entry was last revised on 01-12-2015.)

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First Public Lending Library in North America 1698

The St. Phillips Episcopal Church Parsonage Provincial Library in Charleston, South Carolina, was founded in 1698. It was the first public lending library in the American Colonies.

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Filed under: Libraries

Baroque Anatomy and Plagiarism (?) 1698

English surgeon and anatomist William Cowper published The Anatomy of Humane Bodies. . . . in 1698. This large folio volume included a mezzotint portrait of Cowper by Smith after Closterman, an allegorical engraved title attributed to Abraham Bloteling with pasted-on English title in cartouche, a second engraved title with vignette by Sturt, and 114 plates, of which 105 were designed by Gérard de Lairesse and probably engraved by Bloteling, and 9 plates mostly drawn and engraved by Michael van der Gucht. The volume was printed in Oxford at the Sheldonian Theatre and issued in London by Samuel Smith & Benjamin Walford.  From the format standpoint it is one of the largest volumes published in England during the seventeenth century.

Cowper's atlas was the first edition in English of the original anatomical plates designed for Govert Bidloo by Gérard de Lairesse, a painter who rivaled Rembrandt in popularity in his time. The plates were originally issued with Bidloo's Latin text and published in 1685. There was also an edition in Dutch in 1690. Bidloo’s text, however, was widely criticized, and perhaps because of this, or because sales were disappointing, Cowper, or his publisher, was able to obtain 300 sets of Bidloo's original plates from the publishers in Amsterdam. Cowper arranged to supply an entirely new text in English to accompany the reissue of the original engravings, with a few additions. Cowper also commissioned nine new plates. Cowper's new English text was clearly superior, and the basis for later Latin editions. However, Cowper did not acknowledge Bidloo, even going so far as to paste over Bidloo’s name with his own in the cartouche on the engraved allegorical title.

At this time neither copyright nor rights of authorship existed. The first copyright law passed was the British Statute of Anne in 1709. Without legal recourse, Bidloo chose to attack Cowper in print, resulting in a bitter plagiarism dispute between the two— one of the most famous in medical history. In 1700 Bidloo went so far as to publish his Gulielmus Cowper, criminalis literari citatus, coram tribunali, attacking Cowper in considerable detail. 

Russell, British Anatomy, no. 211.

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A Visionary Library Cataloguing Scheme That Was Not Realized 1698

In 1684 the librarian of the Bibliothèque du roi in Paris, Nicolas Clément, completed a catalogue in manuscript of the library according to a classification system of Clement's design. He classified manuscripts by language, format and materials within formats. Printed books he arranged in 23 classes by a letter of the alphabet. This basic system, known as "lettrage Clément," was maintained by the Bibliothèque nationale de France until 1999.

By 1688 the growth of the collections in the Bibliothèque du roi made Clément's catalogue inadequate, and he and his staff embarked on the project of compiling a new one, which was eventually completed in 1714. In an attempt to create a more useful catalogue in 1698 Danish scholar Fredéric de Rostgaard proposed a new method for arranging a library catalogue in a letter to Clément. This was published as a pamphlet entitled Projet d'une nouvelle methode pour desser le catalogue d'une bibliotheque selon les matieres avec le plan. Relatively few copies were printed but the pamphlet appears to have undergone two editions in 1698. The second, augmented edition was reprinted by Johann David Köhler in Sylloge aliquot scriptorum de bene ordinanda et ornanda bibliotheca studio et opera (1728). Rostgaard's scheme never seems to have been implemented; however, it may be summarized as follows:

Rostgaard called for a subject arrangement subdivided chronologically and by format. His goal was to organize the catalogue so that authors writing on the same subject and all editions of the same work were found together. These goals he proposed to achieve through a printed catalogue. Printing the catalogue of a large institutional library was itself a radical idea in the seventeenth century as the Bibliothèque du roi and other institutional libraries traditionally maintained their catalogues in manuscript volumes, which had to be consulted in the library.

Rostgaard illustrated examples of his cataloguing scheme in his pamphlet, showing the spread of two facing pages divided into four parallel columins, each column containing books of a certain format arranged so that books of various formats published on a certain subject within the same year would appear opposite one another in parallel columns. He also called for a secondary arrangement in which books which entirely concern a subject appear before those in which only a part concern a specific subject.

At the end of his proposed catalogue Rostgaard provided instructions for an alphabetical index of subjects and authors, with authors entered by surname. He expected works bound together to have separate entries for each title, and expected the word order of titles as found on the title page of each work to be preserved in the catalogue. Whenever authorship of anonymous works was known he expected that to be identified in the catalogue

Strout, "The Development of the Catalog and Cataloging Codes," Library Quarterly 26 (1956) 254-275.

Delisle, "Notice sur les anciens catalogues des livres imprimés de la Bibliothèque du roi," Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes," 43 (1882) 165-201.  

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There Are 150 Paper Mills in England 1699

There were about 150 paper mills in England by 1699. At this time they employed about 2500 people, or an average of about 16 people per mill, making paper by hand.

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A Universal Bibliography, but Only for "A and B" 1699

Pandectae Brandeburgicae Continentes I. Bibliothecam. . . Auctorum inpressorum [!] & Manuscr. partem. . . nomina plurimorum, Anonymorum, Pseudonymorum & c. explicata. . . II. Indicem materiarum praecipuarum, of which only the first volume (A-B) was issued by Christoph Hendreich in Berlin in 1699, was an attempt to produce a universal author bibliography of books and manuscripts. It was named for Frederick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg, whom Hendreich served as librarian. The first volume covering letters A and B listed 50,000 works by 15,000 authors, reflective of the significant growth in recorded information by the end of the seventeenth century. The author, who died in 1702, did not live to complete any further volumes.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 92.

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The Structural Relationships between the Body of Man and the Anthropoid Ape 1699

In 1699 English Physician and comparative anatomist Edward Tyson published in London Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris; or, the Anatomy of a Pygmie Compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape and a Man, including 8 folding plates engraved by Michael Vandergucht after drawings by the artist and anatomist, William Cowper.

Tyson's anatomy of the "orang-outang" (in Tyson's case a chimpanzee rather than an orangutan) was the first work to demonstrate the structural relationships between the anatomy of man and the anthropoid ape. For Tyson the term Orang-Outang meant "man of the woods."

In 1641 the Dutch surgeon and anatomist Nicholas (or Nicolaes) Tulp had used the same words to describe a chimpanzee, which he illustrated in his Observationum medicarumThis book included the first, limited description by a scientist of an African anthropoid ape. Regarding Tulp's description Tyson said that "I confess that I do mistrust the whole representation."

The ape which Tulp described seems to have come from Angola, and Tulp had the opportunity to observe it in the private menagerie of the Prince of Orange. Tulp seems to have learned the name orang-outang from Samuel Blomartio, a friend who had lived in Borneo and was familiar with the Javanese word for "man of the woods." Tulp seems to have been under the impression that orangutans were widely distributed throughout the tropics rather than limited to Asia, and thus confused the two species. The classification of the orangutan in the the Ponginae (Pongo) subfamily of the family hominidae, outside of the subfamily homininae from which humans descend, and to which the chimpanzee belongs, had not yet occurred.

Perhaps with some humor, but also to confirm the anatomical similarities, Tyson had Cowper draw the standing dissected figures of chimpanzees in the style of the famous Vesalian musclemen. A believer in the "Great Chain of Being" or scala naturae, Tyson identified the chimpanzee as the link directly below mankind, stating in his "Epistle Dedicatory" that it "seems the Nexus of the Animal and Rational."

Tyson's anatomical study— the first conducted of a great ape— had a powerful influence on all subsequent thought on man's place in nature. Thomas Huxley referred to it extensively in his 1863 book with that title. Tyson's last section of Orang-Outang is devoted to "A Philological Essay Concerning the Pygmies of the Ancients," an early contribution to the study of primate-oriented folklore.

Cole, History of Comparative anatomy, 198-221. Montague, Edward Tyson (1943) ch. 8. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2120.  Spencer, Ecce Homo. An Annotated Bbiliographic History of Physical Anthropology (1986) no. 1.92.

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