The Rare Books Collection contains books and periodicals published before 1800, and rare later works. There are about 4600 books and 85 serial titles published before 1800

Rare Books Collection

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The Rare Books Collection contains books and periodicals published before 1800, and rare later works. There are about 4600 books and 85 serial titles published before 1800.

Most subjects are covered including mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine, biology and natural history. There are also more general works on geography, history, languages, many fine accounts of voyages of discovery and early works on alchemy and astrology.

The collection includes significant holdings of 16th to 18th century editions of works by ancient and medieval authors such as Aristotle, Plato or Archimedes and by later natural philosophers such as Robert Boyle, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton. The collection contains many of the great classics of science, technology and industry as well as minor works.

The books are supplemented by runs of early journals such as Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London; Acta eruditorum; Journal des sçavans; Gentleman’s magazine, Memoires de l'Academie royale des sciences; Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. There is a complete list of the early periodicals.

Highlights of the collection include:

General works

Early encyclopaedias

  • Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie (Paris, 1762-1772) 

Mathematics

Astronomy

Physics and natural philosophy

Alchemy

Chemistry

Earth sciences

Natural history

  • John F. Miller. Cimelia physica : Figures of rare and curious quadrupeds, birds (London, 1796)

Medicine

Civil engineering

  • John Smeaton. A narrative of the building and a description of the construction of the Edystone Lighthouse with stone. The second edition, corrected. (London, 1793)

Mechanical engineering

Military engineering

Mining 

  • Thomas Savery. The MinersFriend; or, An engine to raise water by fire, described (London, 1702)

Ballooning

  • Thomas Baldwin. Airopaidia : containing the narrative of a balloon excursion from Chester, the eighth of September, 1785 (Chester, 1786)

Exploration & Discovery