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Johnston Lavis Collections

over 900 vols.

A collection of books from the library of Henry James Johnston Lavis (1856-1914) on vulcanology, incorporating the collection of Leopold J. Fitzinger (1802-84). Many of the works are extremely scarce and are not held by the British Library. There are over 900 volumes, plus offprints and periodicals; 129 volumes date from before 1700. The majority are concerned with Italian volcanoes and geology, particularly Vesuvius and Etna.

The earliest works are by Censorinus, De die natali (1503), Beroaldus, Opusculum de terremotu et pestilentia (1505) and Elisius, De balneis (c.1510). There are several descriptions of Naples, Pozzuoli and the surrounding area, the earliest dating from 1538. No less than forty-four books, dated 1632-35, deal with the eruption of Vesuvius in December 1631, the first serious eruption since AD 79.

Possibly the star of the collection is Sir William Hamilton’s Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the volcanoes of the two Sicilies (1776-9) in three volumes, with very fine hand-coloured plates.