Graves Library

14,000 vols and 51 mss

This magnificent library was bequeathed in 1870 by John Thomas Graves, Professor of Jurisprudence, UCL 1838-43. A book collector all his life he maintained interests in the three separate studies of law, classics and mathematics. His handsomely bound library which has been described as one of the most complete and valuable private libraries of its kind consists of an extensive collection of early books, pamphlets and manuscripts principally devoted to the early mathematics but also embraces the history of physics, applied mathematics in all its branches and to a lesser extent chemistry and the biological sciences. A large number of items were printed before 1640; 105 of the library's 202 incunabula originally belonged to the Graves collection, as did fifty-one outstanding individual manuscript items. The most important single collection within the Graves library is the Euclid collection which has been added to by special purchases now comprises well over 260 items and contains eighty-three of the editions of works by Euclid printed before 1640; the College Library now holds all the first nineteen from the editio princeps published by Erhard Ratdolt at Venice in 1482, to the edition in 1574 of Accolti at Rome. The first complete translations into modern languages are to be found there also. A collection of treatises by Sacrobosco, of which the Graves Library holds a fourteenth century manuscript, are represented by eight incunabula and a number of early printed versions. Other notable famous works include first editions of Newton's Principia and Opticks, Thomas Salusbury's Mathematical collections of 1661-65, and first editions of the works of Priestley, Boyle, Kepler, Galileo and Napier, as well as important runs of early periodicals, such as a complete set of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societyfrom its first volume of 1665. French scientific periodicals are equally strong: the Academie des Sciences is represented almost completely with Histoire from 1699-, Memoires from 1816- and Comptes rendus from 1835-. Other early European scientific journals are well represented too, as well as association copies of great historical interest which are constantly to be found, such as Henry Cavendish's own copy of Pascal's Traitez de l'equilibre de liqueurs of 1663. Of the fifty-one manuscripts, the most interesting are eleven early manuscripts on astronomy, astrology, mathematics and materia medica, much rarer than theological or liturgical manuscripts of the same period. Two of the most notable of these are an early 14thcentury Tractatus de sphera of Sacrobosco, and a 15th century illuminated calendar. Books are traceable through UCL Library's on-line catalogue: eUCLid

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Last modified 10 April 2000