In connection with the current exhibition at the University Library, Shelf Lives: Four centuries of collectors and their books, the Whipple and other libraries around Cambridge will be blogging about the various collectors who’s books have been deposited in their library. We start our involvement with the Steward Collection. This collection probably came to the library in the 1970’s when the Whipple Museum purchased a number of scientific instruments from the Steward family. The J.H. Steward company was established in London in 1852 and became J.H. Steward Ltd. in 1913. It produced instruments for optical measuring, observation, military use, drawing and surveying. The 100-odd books we have in this collection cover physics, optics, scientific instruments, astronomy, lubrication, meteorology and gemmology (James Henry Steward, who established the company, was also a jeweller). It’s nice to think that the staff of the company, which included many members of the Steward family, used these books for research and development. For example “Practical optics for the laboratory and workshop” by B.K. Johnson (STORE STEWARD 48) contains a company embossed piece of paper on which someone has written “see page 135”. This page has a diagram for apparatus which can be used to test the parallelism of axes in binoculars. This book also has a sheet of paper with handwritten equations on it. A number of the books in this collection contain signatures by various Stewards and the company stamp. More information on this family company can be found in an article written by David G. Rance for the Slide Rule Gazette.

http://www.sliderules.nl/mypapers/Gazette_12___J_H_Steward___a_family_dynasty.pdf

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