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IDS 101: Reading the Book of Nature: Rare Books


The Physiologus is an early Christian collection of naturalistic and allegorical descriptions from which the medieval beastiaries are derived.

Pliny's Natural History of the World

 C. Plinii Secundi opus divinum, cui titulus Historia naturalis, multoquam antehac unquam prodiit in lucem castigatius, una cum annotationibus Hermolai Barbari, Ac sincero exemplari eruditorum hominum, ex quo nonnula etiamà marginibus adscripta sunt. ... Ad lectorem ...

Title page from 1514 edition; engravings by Jehan Petit.  We own the 1526 edition.

Shakespeare probably read the English translation: PLINIUS SECUNDUS, Caius. The Historie of the World: Commonly called, the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus. Translated into English by Philemon Holland. London: Adam Islip, 1601.

Strabo's Geography 1707

The Geography of Strabo is the only surviving work of its type in Greek literature, and the major source for the history of Greek scholarship on geography and the formative processes of the earth.

Read online at Hathi Trust

Read about book here

Literary Sources for Shakespeare

The whole works of Homer, prince of poetts : in his Iliads, and Odysses / translated according to the Greeke, by Geo. Chapman ... [1616?]

The Romane Historie Written by T. Livius of Padua. Also, the Breviaries of L. Florus: with a Chronologie to the whole Historie: and the Topographie of Rome in old time. Translated out of Latine into English, by Philemon Holland, Doctor in Physicke. London, Printed by Adam Islip, 1600.

Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melanchology 1632

Book of Hours -- Praeces Piae

(Link to digital copy)

This Flemish Book of Hours, entitled Praeces piae, was produced during the second quarter of the 15th century, and has been associated by P.W. Parshall with other books produced for the diocese of Tournai, in modern Belgium. The text provides prayers for the eight hours of the day at which prayers were recited (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline). Illuminations include miniatures of Saints Catherine, Agatha, Barbara, Sebastian, Anthony, and Nicholas as well as other more general religious themes.

[Praeces [sic] piae]  

Article by Professor Adele Birnbaum about the Book of Hours (1972)

The Painted Word (2001), A Carson Grant project by Julie Sparks, Class of 2001, who researched and recreated the illumination techniques in medieval manuscripts.

CHD Guide to the Facsimile of the Willamette Hours (2002), A complete, annotated transcipt of Willamette's Praeces Piae from the Center for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark.

Article by Professor Ann Nicgorski about the Book of Hours (2003)

Reading the Social and Religious Messages of the Virgin in the Praeces Piae by Katrina Maher (2008) Art History Senior Thesis

Joseph van Huerne    Biography of the husband of Madame van Huerne De Puyenbeke Née De Schietere De Lophem, former owner of Praeces Piae

Catalogue d'une magnifique et précieuse collection de livres, de manuscrits et d'incunables, ... délaissés par feu messire Jean baron de Pelichy-van Huerne, ancien sénateur et bourgmestre de la ville de Bruges, dont la vente aura lieu publiquement ... le mardi 24 juillet 1860  Auction catalog of the Van Huerne book collection.  (See pages 45-46)

Livre d’heures à l’usage de Paris  Another book of hours once owned by Madame van Huerne De Puyenbeke

Melville Eastham  Biography from IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

Melville Eastham papers 1908-1973   Finding Aid for the Library of Congress collection of Melville Eastham's papers

Melville Eastham papers, 1908-1973 (pdf)  Finding Aid for the Library of Congress collection of Melville Eastham's papers

Medieval Manuscript Books

Books of Hours

Heures de Simon Vostre a l'usage de Langres

A page from a 1496 edition of Pigouchet and Vostre's printed Book of Hours from Princeton University Library exhibition, 2013

Rare Books seen at NYPL

Travel and Discovery Books @ Willamette

Scientific Books

Fore-Edge Paintings