We have recently catalogued an acquisition of 61 books purchased from Professor Jim Secord. They are a nice variety featuring nature books for children, popular works and a few serious items. What makes some of them extra special is the connection they have with previous owners, in either the form of annotations, inscriptions, or book plates.

The acquisition contained a few books which are totally new to our collections, including a copy of Methods of ethics by Henry Sidgwick and Heredity by C. W. Saleeby. But it also added different editions of books we already have. These include a 9th edition of George Combe’s The Constitution of Man, taking our number of copies of this work up to seven. There were two different editions of R.C. Punnett’s Mendelism, meaning that we now have three different editions in the Whipple. A copy of Darwin’s The expressions of the emotions in man and animals takes the versions we have of that up to three. Lets now take a quick look at a few interesting items from the new acquisition.


Tomlinson inscriptionTaylor-The Mine TP


Rev. Isaac Taylor’s The mine. Taylor (1730-1829) was a successful engraver, winning the gold palette of the Society of Arts for the best engraving of the year in 1790 before turning to writing and engraving educational books. He is credited with being the first person to use the word “teen” to mean young people when it appeared in one of his book titles in 1818. His daughters are recognised as the authors of twinkle, twinkle little star. The book we have comes with an inscription telling us that it was a gift from granny to grandson.

Other children’s authors featuring in the acquisition include:

Mrs Eliza Elder Brightwen (1830-1906)

Mrs Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825) & Dr. John Aiken (1747-1822) (a brother and sister team)

Olinthus Gregory (1774-1841)

Mrs Jane Loudon (1807-1858)

Jeremiah Joyce (1763-1816)

Fanny Umphelby (1788-1852)

Aritotle SpinesAristotle’s Masterpiece: There are three different editions of this book by “Aristotle” in the acquisition. They all have similar but different titles all mentioning his “Masterpiece” or “works.” None of them have a clear date of publication but it has been guessed that they are from 1890-1900. The Aristotle in question is not the ancient Greek one but a made up Pseudo Aristotle who may have been William Salmon (1664-1713). The “Masterpiece” was first published in 1684 as a guide to reproduction and childbirth (basically a sex manual). By the 18th century it had become a best seller and was banned in American in the 1870’s under the Comstock Acts.

Napoleons Book of Fate cover

Napoleon’s Book of Fate: Supposedly found by Charles-Nicolas-Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt while on the French expedition to Egypt in 1801, this book was given to Napoleon and translated for him by a German scholar. Napoleon supposedly consulted the book often but when his army was defeated at Leipzig in 1813 it fell into enemies hands. The book uses a basic version of geomancy to answer a specific question. There are many versions online should you want to try it. There is, of course, much doubt aboutits connection to Napoleon. Copies were appearing before Egyptian hieroglyphs were successful translation using the Rosetta Stone. Here we can see the cover of the Book of Fate and part of the chart used for answering the questions asked.

Napoleons Book of Fate plate 3

 Here are some photographs of some more books from the acquisition:



Library Assistant