The the Calvary bookshop’s copy of the Transactions.

This series of thoughts has been puzzling out John Lowthorp’s abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London at he University of Chicago Library Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center. We figured out the source of the books and noted that they had similar bindings.

The new university President bought the S. Calvary and Company’s entire book collection to establish the library. I’m grateful to Catherine Uecker for pointing out an online exhibit that explains the details.

The collection included a range of periodicals, but some were still to be bound,

There were provisions for securing additional scholarly periodicals and for the packing and binding of the books, as well as for the compilation of a list of all the books purchased (source)

The longer exhibit catalog explains that there was a conflict about the terms of the arrangement, but that

Calvary continued to complete and bind journals for the University [during the disagreement] (18)

This finally explains the mystery of both the volume and its binding. This is the binding made by a nineteenth-century German bookbinder imagining what the University of Chicago might want: morocco grained, dark half sheep, with somber and dark marbled boards; the name of the new university tactfully gold-tooled in the lower-left corner of the upper cover; the name of the journal displayed on the spine with the volume number establishing it as one of a long row of Transactions from the Royal Society. I think I can see that through the collaged image of what remains of the binding on two different volumes,

Collaged binding

As for the early state of the plates, the binding does not resolve that, but gives a direction for further investigation. John Lowthorp’s abridgment sold out as a subscription. The only copies available were either second-hand or resold by distributors who bought several. A second edition appeared around 1719, quickly followed by other editions. It might be worth looking at old Calvary sale catalogs to see if they had other editions and where the other volumes of this edition went, or came from.