Rare Book Highlights: Micrographia

Illustration of Hooke's microscope, from Micrographia.

Illustration of Hooke’s microscope, from Micrographia.

Last month, I highlighted Nehemiah Grew’s Anatomy of Plants, published in 1682, in which an English physician turned his microscope to the world of plants. This month, I am going backwards–not too far, only about 20 years–to the book that inspired Grew’s microscopic research. That book is Robert Hooke‘s Micrographia, published in 1665.

Micrographia was the first book to delve deep into microscopic observations, and its publication reached far and wide. Isaac Newton read it, and Hooke’s observations of light inspired his experiments in Book 2 of Opticks. The great 17th century London diarist Samuel Pepys writes that he sat up reading it till 2 am, and called it “the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life.” The entry for the book in The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine bibliography states that the book “had an impact rivalling that of Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius,” Galileo’s 1610 pamphlet describing his telescopic observations of the Moon and four moons of Jupiter (Norman 1092).

Looking at its plates, you can see why. The book is particularly famous for its large, and perhaps alarming, illustrations of the flea and louse (above).

Illustration of cork under magnification, from Hooke's Micrographia

Illustration of cork under magnification, from Hooke’s Micrographia.

The book is noted for its first use of the word cells in describing the structure of cork, although Hooke did not understand the nature of what biologists later termed cells in the structure of plants and animals. Hooke made other observations published in the book that contributed to or are associated with other scientific theories. His observation of charcoal, for instance, includes his theories on combustion, an area of scientific work in which three other men (Robert Boyle, Richard Lower, and John Mayow) were actively engaged at the same time. Hooke’s observations of insects formed the first studies of insect anatomy.

Hooke began his observations with inanimate objects, including various types of cloth, the point of a needle, and the edge of a razor, which he discovered to be “a rough surface of a very considerable bredth from side to side, the narrowest part not seeming thinner then the back of a pretty thick Knife” (4). [Note that spelling peculiarities in quotations here and below are from the original work and indicate variations in spelling from the time period.] From there, he moved on to plants and to animals, specifically insects.

I was particularly struck by his observations of the sting of a bee, which he notes,”seems to be a weapon of offence, and is as great an Instance, that Nature did realy intend revenge as any” (163). He describes its structure as consisting of a sheath and a sword. The sheath he describes as being:

“arm’d moreover neer the top with several crooks or forks (pqrst) on one side, and (pqrstu) on the other, each of which seem’d like so many Thorns growing on a briar, or rather like so many Cat’s Claws; for the crooks themselves seem’d to be little sharp transparent points or claws, growing out of little protuberancies on the side of the sheath, which, by observing the Figure diligently, is easie enough to be perceiv’d; and from several particulars, I suppose the Animal has a power of displaying them, and shutting them in again as it pleases, as a Cat does its claws, or as an Adder or Viper can its teeth or fangs” (163-4).

Stop by Special Collections and University Archives to read more of Hooke’s observations and view the impressive folding plates. We hope to see you soon!


Instruction in the Archives!

On Monday, a class from the Iowa State University Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted (OPPTAG) visited Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). The course was titled “Cook Your Way Through U.S. History.” In the SCUA classroom, I demonstrated how to find SCUA materials on their topic (cookbooks) and reviewed procedures and handling guidelines in our reading room. Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist, reviewed different cookbooks from Rare Books and recipes from our Manuscript Collections & University Archives and provided students with context on the collections and books.

OPPTAG students viewing cookbook from Rare Book Collection

OPPTAG students viewing cookbook from Rare Book Collection

The students then came into our reading room and looked for historic recipes they plan to cook this week. You should come into our reading room too and check out our cool cookbooks! We’re open Monday-Friday from 10-4! You can also check out some selected cookbooks online in the Library’s Digital Collections.


Rare Book Highlights: Mapping the terra incognita of plants

By which Your Majesty will find, That there are Terrae Incognitae in Philosophy, as well as Geography. And for so much, as lies here, it comes to pass, I know not how, even in this Inquisitive Age, That I am the first, who have given a Map of the Country.

From the Nehemiah Grew’s dedication to King Charles II in The Anatomy of Plants.

“…there are Terrae Incognitae in Philosophy, as well as Geography. And for so much, as lies here, it comes to pass, I know not how, even in this Inquisitive Age, That I am the first, who have given a Map of the Country.”

So wrote Nehemiah Grew in The Anatomy of Plants, published in 1682, in his dedication “To His Most Sacred Majesty Charles II, King of Great Britain, &c.” Looking at the beautiful and abstract plates illustrating the inner structure of plants, I sometimes feel I am peeking into a whole separate world, which is why Grew’s Anatomy of Plants (call number QK41 G869ap) is one of my favorite books in our collections.

Plate from Grew’s Anatomy of Plants illustrating a sumach branch under magnification.

Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712) was an English physician, son of the English nonconformist minister Obadiah Grew, whose oppositional religious and political views (he was a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War) frequently brought him into conflict with the authorities. Nehemiah, unlike his father, was not politically active, and, in fact, he was a member of the Royal Society, a scientific society that had been granted a royal charter by King Charles II in 1662.

Illustrations of the roots of the primrose, wood-sorrel, devil's bitt, tuberous iris, dandelion, dragon plant, and spring crocus.

Illustrations of various roots in Grew’s Anatomy of Plants.

Grew is famous for being among the first naturalists to use the microscope to study plant morphology. He was also believed that plants resembled animals in having organs that each had an internal function, and throughout the book he devotes chapters to the use of each of the parts of the plants that he identifies. This correspondence between animals and plants can be seen in his noted observations of the flower parts that he suggested correspond to male and female sexual organs.

Plate of St. Johns wort flower under magnification from Grew’s Anatomy of Plants.

Stop by Special Collections and University Archives to explore more of Grew’s “mappings” of the inner world of plants.


Ex libris Charles Atwood Kofoid

Bookplate, reads "Ex-libris Charles Atwood Kofoid" in Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

Bookplate, reads “Ex-libris Charles Atwood Kofoid” in Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

Occasionally we come across a book with an interesting provenance, or history of ownership, that we didn’t know we had. Recently our reference specialist came upon a book in our collections with the bookplates of Charles Atwood Kofoid. A quick Google search informed her that Kofoid was an American zoologist of some note.

Kofoid (1865-1947) was a zoologist at University of California, Berkeley. He classified many new species of marine protozoans, and he was an early supporter of the creation of a marine station in La Jolla, California, first called the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, which later became Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He served as the assistant director at Scripps from 1903-1923. His papers are held at University of California, San Diego and the Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley. For photographs of Kofoid, see UC San Diego’s digital collection.

The title page and bookplate of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

The title page and bookplate of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen.

And the book? It is a copy of Geographische Geschichte des Menschen, und der allgemein verbreiteten vierfüssigen thiere : nebst einer hieher gehörigen zoologischen weltcharte by Eberhardt August Wilhelm von Zimmermann, published in Leipzig, Germany, in 1778 (call number: QL711 Z65g). It is a work of zoogeography, a field that studies the geographical distribution of animals.  Zimmerman was a German geographer and zoologist who traveled widely throughout Europe and was one of the first to publish books in this field.

Now comes the question, how do we happen to have this particular book in our collections? While we don’t have detailed records of all our acquisitions, a clue comes from the biography of Kofoid. He was born in Iowa’s neighboring state of Illinois, and worked for a number of years (1897-1903) as superintendent of the Illinois River Biological Station. Following that, in 1904-1905, he traveled with Alexander Agassiz on the Albatross Expedition as a planktonologist. Perhaps before his travels, he sold off some of his books, and this title made its way into the collections of Iowa State University Library.


Our unique copy of Guide to the Mushrooms

Cole, Emma L. Taylor. Guide to the Mushrooms. C.K. Reed, 1910.

ISU Parks Library Special Collections and Archives has a unique copy of this book: it was “extra-illustrated” by a previous owner. The customization of books has a long and varied history, and was sometimes taken to surprising extremes, with little or no regard for preserving books (even rare or costly ones) as issued. The great libraries of the world have collections of extra-illustrated and “Grangerized” books created by noteworthy and talented persons.

In the case of our Guide to the Mushrooms, the extra illustrations are 117 amateur watercolors of most or all of the mushroom species covered by the book. About 150 additional pages have been glued between the original 206 pages. The extra-illustrator also augmented the text by adding species entries, expanding the indices, and so on.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Here, the extra-illustrator added flair to a previously blank space.

 

Figure 2

Figure 2. The book’s front paste-down endpaper.

We aren’t completely sure who extra-illustrated this book, but the name, address, and upper-right note appear to be in the same hand, so maybe Mark M. Maycock was the artist. The penciled inscriptions were probably made by a bookseller, perhaps the same one who affixed the little label.

All of these elements are provenance evidence — copy-specific information about a book’s origin, history, and owners. The provenance of rare and/or valuable books is of great importance; in other cases, the information may be of interest to a select few people (family, scholars, librarians, or archivists).

Figure 3

Figure 3. Note the page numbering at top left and right.

The extra-illustrator glued in about 150 pages (about 75 leaves of paper) and wanted them to have numbers, too. His or her solution is evident above (FIG. 3): the sequence is 112, 112-1, 112-2, 113, and so on. If these details seem less than noteworthy, well, perhaps they are in this case. The fine points of most books’ typography, construction, and condition are of little to no concern; but, as with provenance evidence, precise physical description of the most important books is greatly appreciated by scholars and collectors. Their work sometimes relies on it — for example, to determine the authenticity or completeness of a copy, or to establish the correct or definitive version of a text.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Another scan from the book, just for the fun of it.

In-recataloging this book, I took special care to make notes about what makes ISU’s copy unusual. We’ll never find out who is interested in such things if we don’t describe them! Here’s a link to the book in our library catalog. If you want to see ISU’s extra-illustrated copy of Guide to the Mushrooms, visit us at the Parks Library Special Collections and Archives. If you want to see the book as issued, a complete scan is available online.


Thanks for coloring with us!

It’s been quite the week of coloring! We’ve enjoyed sharing our collections with you, and we hope you’ve enjoyed coloring them. Here is the final coloring page of the week. Another from Novo teatro di machine et edificii.

Vittorio Zonca’s Novo Teatro di Machine et Edificii… Call number: TJ144 .Z75n

Vittorio Zonca’s Novo Teatro di Machine et Edificii… Call number: TJ144 .Z75n

Click here to download and print this image.

Share what you have colored by tagging #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives


Friday Flower Power!

Happy Friday! Our first page of the day is from Histoire des insectes de l’Europe by Maria Sibylla Merian. Merian was a naturalist and nature artist known for her illustrations of insects and plants. This book contains many beautiful illustrations of insects, plants, and flowers.

 

MerianInsects

 

Click here to download the page.

Share your work, tag #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives 


Abstract coloring

To the botanist, it is an asparagus root, but to you it may be a maze of bubbles or the rings of Saturn. Let your imagination fly with this one! It is from Nehemiah Grew’s Anatomy of Plants from 1682.

Nehemiah Grew's The Anatomy of Plants. Call number: QK41 G869ap

Nehemiah Grew’s The Anatomy of Plants. Call number: QK41 G869ap

Click here to download and print the page.

Please share what you’ve colored! Tag #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives



Herbal illustrator

Good morning! Today’s coloring pages come from our rare books collection. First up is a page from Otto Brunfel’s Herbal from 1532. Brunfel was one of the three “founders of botany.” Many early herbals were printed with engravings that were meant to be hand-colored later. Now you can be an herbal illustrator!

Otto Brunfel's Herberum vivae eicones. Call number: QK41 .B835h.

Otto Brunfel’s Herberum vivae eicones. Call number: QK41 .B835h.

Click here to download and print the page.

Share your colored page! Tag #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives