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Highlights from the collections

The following is a list of on-line images of some of the more interesting early printed books in the collections organized chronologically. This is by no means an exhaustive list and is subject to ammendment and expansion. Digital images of provenance evidence and notable bindings associated with early printed books are also available via the Provenance and Binding Index. If you would like further information on any of the books pictured here, please contact the Special Collections Librarian (tel. 01223-339393).

15th Century

1466

Cicero's De Officiis, Mainz : Fust & Schoeffer, 1466. The earliest printed text in the Library. (Colophon & binding).

1469

Caesar's Works, Rome : Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1469. Editio princeps. (Illuminated first leaf).

1474

Ovid's Works, Venice : Rubeus, 1474. Early edition belonging to Lorenzo de Medici? (Illuminated first leaf with Medici arms, initial incorporating portrait of Ovid & other provenance markings).

1475

Bible. Vulgate, Venice : Franz Renner & Nicolaus de Frankfordia, 1475. Earliest Venetian Bible. (Illuminated first leaf with initial incorporating portrait of St Jerome & binding).

1482

Euclid's Elements, Venice : Ratdolt, 1482. Editio princeps, with the first printed mathematical diagrams. (Opening to text).

1483

Bartholomaeus Anglicus's De proprietatibus rerum, Nurnburg : Koberger, 1483. (Illuminated initial & blind-stamped binding).

1488

Hyginus's Astronomicon poeticon, Venice : Blavis, 1488. Early, if inaccurate, astrological diagrams. (Woodcuts of Sagittarius & Capricorn).

1489

The dictes and sayings of the philosophers, Westminster : William Caxton, 1489. A reprint of the first dated book printed in England. (Opening leaf with Caxton's device).

1499

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Venice : Aldo Manuzio, 1499. Illustrated dream fantasy. (Illustrations & binding).

16th Century

1514-17

Bible. Polyglot. Complutensian, Alcala da Henares : Brocar, 1514-17. First polyglot Bible. (Title-page & Opening to Genesis).

1516

Polyglot Psalter, Genoa : Porro, 1516. Heptaglot Psalter including footnotes containing the first printed description of Columbus' journeys. (Double-page spread & detail of footnote regarding Columbus).

1516

Thomas More's Utopia, Louvain : Martens, 1516. First edition. (Map of Utopia).

1517

Stromer's Algorithmus linealis, Leipzig : Thanner, 1517. Early treatise on the abacus. (Text & illustrations).

1526

Hermoniakos' paraphrase of The Iliad, Venice : De Sabio, 1526. First text printed in modern Greek. (Title-page).

1531

Purstinger's Onus ecclesiae, Cologne : Quentel, 1531. Catholic controversial work on state of the Church. (Title page with woodcut of the Antichrist).

1531

Tacuinum sanitatis, Strassburg : Schott, 1531. Tabular work on health, with woodcuts, based on Arabic original. (Double-page spread & illustrations).

1532

Cortes' De insulis nuper inuentis Ferdinandi Cortesii ad Carolum V. Rom. Imperatorem narrationes, Cologne : Neuss, 1532. Contemporary edition of Cortes' 2nd & 3rd letters to Charles V. (Hand-coloured title page).

1535

Bible. English. Coverdale, [Cologne or Antwerp?], 1535. First complete translation into English. (Opening to Genesis, with woodcuts of the six days of the creation).

1535

Ptolemy's Geography, Lyon : Trechsel, 1535. Servetus' edition of Ptolemy, with maps, including the first to bear the legend 'America'. (Details from maps of Ethiopia, South America & Britain).

1537

Bible. English. Matthew's, Antwerp : Crom, 1537. Second complete translation into English. (Opening to Genesis, with woodcut of the Garden of Eden).

1539

Great Bible, London : Grafton & Whitchurch, 1539. Special printing on vellum, with hand-colouring, possibly for Thomas Cromwell. (Title page to the New Testament & Hagiographia & binding).

1540

Boece's Hystory and croniklis of Scotland, [Edinburgh : Davidson, 1540?]. Printing in Scots of an early history of Scotland. (Title page & detail of text).

1557

Lykosthenes' Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon, Basel : Petri, 1557. (Woodcuts of seamonsters & rhinoceros).

1559

Gemini's Compendiosa totius anatomie delineatio, aere exarata, London, 1559. Illustrated anatomical work. (Illustration & hand-coloured title-page).

1563

Foxe's Book of martyrs, London : John Day, 1563. First edition. (Woodcut of the burning of Latimer & Ridley).

1564

Luther's Works, Jena : Richtzenhan & Rebart, 1564-70. 16th-century edition with contemporary pigskin binding bearing portraits of Luther & Melanchthon. (Details from the chronology of the papacy & binding).

1566

Testimonie of Antiquitie, London : John Day, 1566. The first printing of Anglo-Saxon. A work by Aelfric of Eynsham in parallel English & Anglo-Saxon versions (pp. 10-11).

1579

In the Parliament haldin at Striviling the XXV. day of Julii, the zeir of God, ane thousand, fyve hundreth, thre scoir and auchtene zeiris, Edinburgh : John Ross, 1579. Laws from James VI's first Parliament in Scotland (Title page).

1584

Bible. Icelandic, Holar : Jonsson, 1584. First Icelandic Bible. (Title page, opening to Genesis & binding).

1587

Digby's De arte natandi, London : Dawson, 1587. Pioneering work on swimming, with illustrations. (Illustration of swimmers).

1588

Bible. Welsh. Morgan, London : Christopher Barker, 1588. First Welsh Bible. (Title page).

1590

Adams's Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam vera descriptio, Anno D. MDLXXXVIII, London, 1590. Sequence of charts of the progress of the Spanish Armada. (Hand-coloured title-page & detail from chart)

1595

Nadal's Adnotationes et meditationes in Evangelia, Antwerp : Nuyts, 1595. Lavishly illustrated work for proselytizing produced by the Jesuits. (Engraving of Christ's descent into Hell)

1598

Tagliacozzi's Cheirurgia nova, Frankfurt : Saur & Kopf, 1598. Early work on cosmetic surgery. (Illustration of a prosthetic nose)

17th Century

1600

Gilbert's De magnete, London : Short, 1600. Earliest substantial scientific work produced in England, & first to contain the term electricity. (Illustrations).

1611

Pontanus' Rerum et urbis Amstelodamensium historia, Amsterdam : Hondius, 1611. (Illustrations of the Bourse, and the voyages of Dutch travellers).

1612-28

Lauro's Antiquae urbis splendor, Rome, 1612-28. Pictorial work on Roman antiquities. (Illustration of the vision of the prophet Daniel, from the opening to the work).

1615

De Caus' Raisons des forces mouvantes auec diverses machines tant utilles que plaisantes, Frankfurt : Norton, 1615. Illustrated work on hydraulics. (Engravings of a hydraulically powered fire-engine & garden feature).

1616

Cluver's Germaniae antiquae, Leiden : Elzevir, 1616. (Illustrations of ancient Germans).

1617

Van Meur's Icones, elogia ac vitæ professorum Lugdunensium apud Batavos, Leiden : Clouck, 1617. Early promotional text for Leiden University. (Illustrations of the library & anatomical theatre).

1621

Theatre d'honneur de plusieurs princes anciens et moderne, Paris, 1621. Album of engraved portraits cut out and stuck in. (Hand-coloured title page & portraits of Henri III & IV of France).

1622

Drayton's Poly-Olbion, London : Lownes & Mathewse, 1622. Topographical poem, with decorative maps. (Hand-coloured title-page & map of Cambridge).

1632

Strada's De Bello Belgico, Rome : Corbelletti, 1632. (Engraved title page, with map in the form of the Belgic Lion).

1637

Book of common prayer, Edinburgh : Robert Young, 1637. Archbishop Laud's controversial edition which caused rioting when introduced in Scotland. (Title page).

1640

De Laet's Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien. French, Leiden : Elzevir, 1640. (Woodcut of a sloth?).

1644

Colom's L'ardante ou flamboyante colom de la mer, Amsterdam : Colom, 1644. Ship's pilot's guide & charts. (Engraved title page with French title pasted over the Dutch & navigational chart).

1651

Hobbes' Leviathan, London : Crooke, 1651. First edition. (Engraved title-page).

1652

Benlowes' Theophila, London : R.N., 1652. Lavishly illustrated poetical work. (Engravings).

1655

Inigo Jones' Most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng on Salisbury plain, London : Pakeman & Chapman, 1655. (Title-page, frontispiece portrait & engraving of Stonehenge).

1659

Dee's Conversations with spirits, London : Garthwait, 1659. First, posthumously published, edition of Dee's account of his spiritualistic encounters. (Frontispiece & title page).

1665

Hooke's Micrographia, London : Martyn & Allestry, 1665. Pioneering work on microscopy. (Engravings of a flea and other microscopical views).

1666

Bible. Armenian, Amsterdam, 1666. First printed Armenian Bible. (Title-page & opening to Genesis with woodcuts of the Creation  & gauffering to textblock).

1670

Diophantus' Arithmetica, Toulouse : Bernard Bosc, 1670. Contains the first statement of Fermat's 'Last Theorem'. (Detail showing Fermat's 'Last Theorem').

1676

Sammes' Britannia antiqua illustrata, London : Thomas Roycroft, 1676. Early antiquarian work on ancient Britain. (Engraving of a sacrificial idol).

1677

Seller's Atlas caelestis, [London : John Seller, 1676]. Astronomical charts. (Hand-coloured charts of the sun, moon & comets).

1681

Ludolf's Historia Aethiopica, Frankfurt : Zunner, 1681. Major work on Ethiopian history and culture. (Illustration of hippopotamus, & one of the frontispiece portraits).

1684

Exquemelin's History of the Bucaniers, London : Malthus, 1684. One of the first English editions, for which Henry Morgan sued the publishers. (Frontispiece portraits).

1685

Algonquin Bible, Cambridge, Mass. : Samuel Green, 1685. 2nd edition of John Eliot's translation of scripture into Algonquin. (Title page).

1687

Sandford's Coronation of James II, London : Newcomb, 1687. Sumptuously illustrated celebration of the event. (Engravings of the coronation feast & procession).

1687

Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, London : Streater, 1687. Seminal scientific work on gravitation. (Title page & text with illustration).

1688

Milton's Paradise Lost, 4th ed., London : Bentley & Tonson, 1688. First illustrated edition. (Engraving of Satan tormenting souls).

1690

Loggan's Cantabrigia illustrata, Cambridge, 1690. Sumptuously illustrated overview of Cambridge Colleges. (Plan view of St John's).

18th Century

1704

Psalmanazar's Historical and geographical description of Formosa, London, 1704. Pseudographic account of the customs and culture of Taiwan. (Engraving of a funeral procession).

1715

Taylor's Methodus incrementorum directa & inversa, London : Pearson, 1715. Seminal work in the development of calculus, containing the first statement of Taylor's Theorem. (Title page).

1717

Reelant's De religione Mohammedica, Utrecht : Broedelet, 1717. (Engraving of the precinct at Mecca).

1720

Lamy's De tabernaculo foederis, de sancta civitate Jerusalem, et de templo ejus, libri septem, Paris : Delespine, 1720. (Illustrations of the Temple of Solomon & Noah's Ark).

1777

Captain Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole, and round the world, London : Strahan & Cadell, 1777. (Engravings).

1798

Wordsworth & Coleridge's Lyrical ballads, 1st ed., London : Arch, 1798. (Title page).

19th Century

1805

Repton's Observations on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, London : Taylor, 1805. (Coloured illustrations with folding scenes).

1808

Clarkson's History of the rise, progress and accomplishment of the abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament, London : Longman ... [et al.], 1808. (Illustration of conditions on a slave ship).

1811

Shelley's Necessity of atheism, Worthing : Phillips, [1811]. Anonymous controversial tract which got Shelley sent down from Oxford. (Title page and conclusion).