A Royal Society book at US-icu.

I’ve been studying the copy of the Philosophical Transactions at he University of Chicago Library Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center on a Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship.

As part of that work I’ve been trying to understand the sources of their Transactions, which include the Calvary bookshop of Berlin. The volumes of the Transactions from Calvary have a distinctive binding in half, morocco-grained sheep with a gold stamp for the library in the lower left of the upper board on the sheep. The binding on this Greek grammar follows the same pattern, but on green cloth.

Binding for PA253

It has the bookplate and markings associated with the Berlin collection purchased by the university in the late 19th century.

But at the top of this webpage you can see a stamp on the verso of the title page marking this book as the property of the Royal Society of London, given by Henry Howard as part of his Norfolk library. In the catalog of Henry Norfolk’s donation, this book is listed in the G section as “Gretseri (Jac.) Grammatica Græca.” (57) At the end of the book is a stamp that explains why this book is in Chicago.

Sold stamp

Linda Peck explains that the Royal Society sold books three times. In 1829 they sold manuscripts to the British Museum. From 1924 to 1925, they auctioned books at Sotheby’s. And in the 1870s, they sold books through the bookseller Bernard Quaritch who listed many of them in their 1873 catalogue.

Since this book was purchased from the Calvary bookshop in late nineteenth century, it seems most likely that it was part of the Quaritch sale. The topic aligns with the interests of the Calvary bookshop, which specialized in philology and sold the university an extensive selection of ancient Greek authors.

The Improvement of Knowledge through the Circulation of Books

American libraries purchased many early books like this one from the Royal Society sales, transferring the books from one continent to another. This transfer makes perfect sense with the mission of the Royal Society and the aims of American institutions at the time. The Royal Society still sought to spread knowledge, but found this books outside of its active interests. American institutions sought to find historical materials to build their collections, and had newly developed interests.

A great deal of useful research material can be found because of the thoughtful dispersal of unwanted books. This one was in the University of Chicago’s founding philological collection.