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Queen's University Library

Dated Collection and Other Treasures

The Pre 1700 Collection

[Early Venetian leather binding]

Early Venetian leather binding

With a few exceptions, books published before 1700 are shelved in a separate collection, by imprint date. The earliest book in the Library is an edition of Juvenal's Saturae (1475). There are about 15 incunabula (books printed between 1454 and 1500). The subject matter is about evenly distributed amongst three broad areas: Latin literature (plus a 1506 edition of Dante in Italian); history and philosophy (all in Latin plus a 1517 edition of Plutarch in Greek); and theology. In the latter group there are several Bibles and three books by Thomas Aquinas.

Overall, the collection of imprints up to 1699 numbers about 1200 volumes. The collection includes some sixty early Venetian bindings which have been the subject of study by an art conservation student at Queen's.

Highlights of the early-dated book collection:

Juvenal, 1st-2nd cent. A.D. [Works. 1475] Saturae

Published in Venice by Jacobi de Rubeis in 1475. Size: [96] leaves, 27 cm tall.
Bookplate: John William Burns, Kilmahew. Gift of William Murray, O.B.E.

Juvenal is a Roman poet, famous for his satire of indignation. He wrote 16 satires of life in Rome, ca. 100 A.D., denouncing the lax immorality and criminal tyranny of society. His style is epigrammatic and his sayings are often quoted.

[Catholic Church. Book of Hours] Hore dive virginis Marie secundum verum usum romanum

Published in Paris by Thielman Kerver in 1511.
Size: 108 leaves, illustrated, 18 cm tall.
Engraved bookplate: Sir Thomas North Dick Lauder, of Grange and Fountain Hall.

A book of prayers for the seven canonical hours: mattins (with lauds), prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline.

Bound in green velvet with metal corners and circlet badge on cover, depicting the Crucifixion. Printed with black illuminated borders and red initials. 19 full-page woodcut illustrations within ornamental borders.

[Book of Hours, 1511]

Book of Hours, 1511


Dante, Alighieri, 1265-1321. [Divina commedia] Commedia

Published in Florence by Filippo di Gunta in 1506. Size: [ca. 500] pages, 8 illustrations, 17 cm tall.
Armorial bookplate: Petri Ginori-Conti. Vellum binding.

The Divine Comedy, a long poem of 34 cantos written in Italian, is an allegorical work that relates a journey by the poet through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. With this masterpiece, Dante established Tuscan as the literary language of Italy. Includes commentary by A. Manetti and G. Benivieni.

Vesalius, Andreas, 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem 2nd enlarged edition.

Published in "Basileae, Per Ioannem Oporinum" in [1555]. Size: 6 leaves, 824, [46] pages, illustrated, 43 cm tall.

Inscribed by Sir William Osler as a presentation from Mr. Birmingham, a prominent Kingston lawyer who purchased the book for Queen's upon Osler's recommendation.

First published in 1543. The illustrations are by Jan Stephan van Calcar, a pupil of Titian. This volume is a treasure from both the medical and the artistic points of view. Vesalius, who became Professor of Anatomy at the University of Padua at the age of 22, revolutionized the study of anatomy.

[Vesalius' De Humani Corporis]

Vesalius' De humani corporis


Kircher, Athanasius, 1602-1680. Athanasii Kircheri ... Ars magna sciendi ...

"In XII libros digesta, qua nova & universali methodo per artificiosum combinationum contextum de omni re proposita plurimis & prope infinitis rationibus disputari ..."
Published in "Amstelodami apud Joannem Janssonium à Waesberge" in MDCLXIX [1669]. Size: 2 volumes bound in 1 (482, [10] pages), illustrated, 39 cm tall.
Gift of Arthur E. Covington in 1994.

An early work on logic, probabilities and scientific method. Added title-pages and engraved frontispiece. Head- and tail-pieces, initials. Leather binding, raised bands, gilt lettering, marbled end-papers.

Treasures in the Post-1700 Collection

[Squarcialupi Codex] Il Codice Squarcialupi : Ms. Mediceo Palatino 87, Biblioteca medicea laurenziana di Firenze

Published in Florence by Giunti Barbera, Libreria musicale italiana, in 1992.
Size: 1 score (ccxvi [i.e. 432] pages) with coloured illustrations, 42 cm tall + 1 commentary (287 pages), 42 cm tall + 1 score (18, [3], 359 pages), 33 cm tall.

Facsimile of a richly illuminated, Italian music manuscript of 15th century part-songs, decorated in 24 k. gold leaf; reproduced in full-colour, original size and format. The original once belonged to Italian composer and organist, Antonio Squarcialupi (1416-1480).

Issued in container. Facsimile volume is hardbound with paper reproduction of the original.

Limited edition of 998 copies of which this is copy number 570. Printer's autograph copy.

[Music manuscript page from Il Codice Squarcialupi]

Score decorated with an illustration of Landini (1325-1397), a blind composer.


Flamsteed, John, 1646-1719. Atlas coelestis

"By the late Reverend Mr. John Flamsteed, Regius Professor of Astronomy at Greenwich"
Published in London in MDCCLIII [1753]; no publisher name indicated.
Size: [5], 9 pages, illustrated with 27 double leaves of plates ; 55 cm tall. From the library of Arthur E. Covington.

Consists of charts of the constellations of the northern hemisphere printed on opposing leaves. Engraved title vignette; head- and tail-pieces. Portrait frontispiece. Rebound in leather quarter binding; raised bands; gilt lettering on spine.

Copy autographed, 1970-1977, by 12 prominent scientists in the field of radio astronomy. Several items laid in, including photographs and letters.

Diderot. Encyclopédie, ou, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers

"Par une société de gens de lettres, mis en ordre & publié par M. Diderot ... & quant à la partie mathématique, par M. d'Alembert ..."
Published in Geneva by Cramer, in MDCCLXXII [1772].
Size: 17 volumes, illustrated (some folded illustrations); 40 cm tall.
Armourial bookplate: Humphrey Sibthorp.

Included are the companion volumes to the "Diderot Encyclopedia", i.e. original editions of 11 volumes of plates, 5 supplementary volumes and a 2-volume index.

Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, now newly imprinted.

Published in Hammersmith, Eng. by William Morris, in 1896.
Size: 4 blank leaves, ii pages, 1 leaf, 554 pages, illustrated ; 43 x 30 cm.
Ex libris: "Lawrence of Arabia". Initials "TEL" on flyleaf.
Gift of C.L. Burton, Toronto, 1958.

Popularly known as "The Kelmscott Chaucer". Colophon: "Here ends the Book of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited by F.S. Ellis; ornamented with pictures designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and engraved on wood by W.H. Hooper. Printed by me William Morris at the Kelmscott Press ..."

This is one of 48 copies bound in pigskin.

[Kelmscott Chaucer]

Pages from the Kelmscott Chaucer


Last Updated: 03 September 2014

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