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Rare Books

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections

The Library's collections are rich and varied in this area. Two checked bibliographical catalogues give access only to high spots in the field:

1) Harrison Horblit. One Hundred Books Famous in Science (New York, 1964) [(ExB) 0494.476]
2) Printing and the Mind of Man (London, 1967) (checked photocopy available in Dulles Reading Room [(ExB) Z121.C3q]).


Also see record of the 1935 science exhibition in the Library in Biblia VI, 2 (June, 1935) pp.[12-13] [full text] . The Library does have original editions of many of the titles in the microtext series "Landmarks of Science." Cards for books in the series are in Public Catalogue 1. Also consult the record of the exhibition "Two Thousand Years of Science" prepared by Professor M. S. Mahoney in the spring of 1973. This 211 page book has photocopies of the title-pages of the books shown as well as copies of the labels. Shelved in the Dulles Reading Room [(ExB) Z7405 .H6P74 1973q]. As well, the Library has the following important sets:

I. Learned societies.


1. Royal Society, London. [8001.79.2 EXTRAN]


2. American Philosophical Society. [8004.1311 EXTRAN].

3. Académie Royale. [(Ex) 0914.494.61]

4. Imperial Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg [(Ex) 0917.116.2]

5. Royal Society of Arts [(Ex) T1.S63]

6. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin. (Miscellanea 1710-1734 /

Historie, 1734- / Nouveau Memoires, 1770- / Abhandlung, 179- /

all at call number 0912.17 [subdivided according to series])


II. Important periodicals.

1. Annales de Chimie (volumes to 1800) [(Ex) QD1.A7]

2. Journal de scavans [(Goertz) 8119]

3. Journal de physique [(Ex) Q2.J79]


III. Encyclopedias.

1. Diderot (folio, quarto, & octavo) [see Exhibition catalogue on Diderot's Encyclopedia (ExB) 0639.739. no. 8 (full text) ]. Folio [(Ex) 0984.325q]; Quarto [(Ex) AE25.E55]; Octavo [(Ex) 0984.325.33]. For particulars refer to: Robert M. Darnton. The Business of Enlightenment (Cambridge, 1979) pp. 624 for a summary of the publishing history and differentiation of editions. See also: Diderot's Encyclopedia 1751-1780. An Exhibit commemorating the 200th anniversary of its publication. [Notes on the Exhibit by Howard. C. Rice, Jr.] Princeton: The Library, 1951. [84] pages. [(ExB) 0639.739 no. 8] (full text) .

2. Encyclopédie Méthodique [(Ex) AE25.E5q] (Note: in 198 volumes)

In addition, there are substantial holdings of early Renaissance geographical material which are the gift of Caroline Newton: the Ptolemy collection of Grenville Kane; early astronomy (e.g. Copernicus, De Revolutionibus); material on early photography in the Graphic Arts Collections, and numerous German works of Freud and his contemporaries.

Records of important purchases and gifts of history of science books can be found in various issues of the Chronicle. As a point of departure, refer to Princeton University Library Chronicle XXVII, 3 (Spring, 1966) p. 193 [full text]; XXXII, 3 (Spring, 1971) p. 183-84 [full text] ; XXXIV, 1 (Autumn, 1972) p. 86-88 [full text] ; XXXIV, 3 (Spring, 1973) p. 197-8 [full text]. Also, every Autumn issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle since 1974 (except 1976) has a "History of Science" section in the listing of Recent Acquisitions.

Also consult: "The Rittenhouse Orrery: Princeton's Eighteenth-Century Planetarium, 1767-1954; a Checklist of Items Shown in the Exhibition Held in the Princeton University Library" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XV, 4 (Summer, 1954) pp.194-206 [full text] . The checklist covers 191 items, including many first editions of classics in astronomy.

The reader is also advised that there is a special history of science collection (the Rosenwald Collection) at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. The collection was formed by Herbert M. Evans (Berkeley, Calif.) and given by Lessing J. Rosenwald in 1951. A 400+ page checklist of the collection is available [(ExB) Z997 .E92].

Also see [Alfred Bush, compiler] Protective Coloring: Painting Birds to Life, an Exhibition of Modern Masters of Bird Illustration and Conservation. (Princeton, 1984). The exhibition catalogue of the show, by the same title is available in the Dulles Reading Room [(ExB) N7665 .P79 1984q]. Note in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XLV, 1 (Autumn, 1984) pp. 95-8 gives details. [full text]