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Smithsonian Libraries' Rare Texts Include Early Superstars of Science


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Jun 6, 2005
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Smithsonian Libraries' Rare Texts Include Early Superstars of Science - by Michelle Donahue/ in Astrophysics, Marine Science, Research News. Technology, Zoology/ Smithsonian Science News/ smithsonianscience.si.edu

"Tucked away on the lower levels of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History are some of science’s most glittering literary treasures: rare and unique texts, some written in their authors’ own hand.

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Special Collections contain more than 40,000 books, journals, maps, prints and manuscripts, some handwritten, some painstakingly produced one at a time during the early days of typeset printing. Many date from between the 15th and 19th centuries, but some are older, such as the 13th century illuminated encyclopedia entitled De proprietatibus rerum, written on vellum by the Franciscan professor of theology, Bartholomaeus Anglicus.

The collections, held at the Dibner Library of the History of Science (in the American History Museum) and the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History (in the Natural History Museum), include first-edition works by notables such as Sir Isaac Newton, Tycho Brahe and Benjamin Franklin, as well as the surviving volumes of James Smithson’s personal collection..."


Ferrante Imperato, “Dell’historia natural,” 1599 (detail)