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The Graves Library

Library Services in UCL has many fine book collections, of which the most outstanding are the Graves (bequeathed 1870), the Rotton (bequeathed 1926) and the Ogden (acquired 1953) libraries. The most important and valuable of these is the Graves collection.

John Thomas Graves was born in 1806 to a wealthy
An illustration from a book in the collection
Irish Protestant family. He was Professor of
Illustration of people using cannon in geometry taken from A geometrical practical treatize named Pantometria by Leonard Digges the Elder, published in 1591. Held in the collection.
Jurisprudence at University College London from 1838 to 1843. On his retirement from the College Graves became a Poor Law Inspector, but spent most of his time amassing a wonderful library of early scientific works. On his death in 1870 the bulk of this library was bequeathed to University College London. The library acquired contains over 10,000 books, 4,600 pamphlets, 51 manuscripts and numerous periodicals, covering mainly mathematics and astronomy. Described as probably the most important private mathematical collection ever made, it contains many rare and possibly unique items.

Probably the most important single collection within the Graves material is the Euclid collection, which contains eighty-three of the editions of Euclid's works printed before 1640. The collection includes the editio princeps published by Erhard Ratdolt at Venice in 1482, and amongst the translations are the first into any modern language, the Italian of 1543, the first German translation (1562), the first French (1564), John Day's edition of the first English translation with John Dee's preface of 1570, the first edition in Arabic (1594) and later translations into Turkish, Chinese, Persian, Hebrew, Finnish and many other languages.

The Graves collection includes seventy-five of the Library's incunabula and many famous books such as first editions of Copernicus's De revolutionibus of 1543, Newton's Principia and Opticks, and Thomas Salusbury's Mathematical Collections of 1661-65. There are first editions of fascinating "association copies" of the the works of Priestley, Boyle, Keppler, Galileo, and Napier and important runs of early scientific periodicals. There are also many treasures such as Henry Cavendish's copy of Pascal's Traité de l'équilibre des liqueurs of 1663 and, of special note, a copy of Galileo's Il Saggiatore, published in Rome in 1623 and inscribed to Galileo's friend Morandi.

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