Netherlandic Treasures
Netherlandic Treasures
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Early Scientific Works

Gemma, Frisius (1508-1555). Arithmeticae practicae methodus facilis. Paris: Thomas Richardus, 1549.

Gemma the Frisian was a prominent physician and astronomer. His work on practical arithmetic went through many editions. This copy was obviously much consulted by an early owner.

Purchased in 1924 from bookseller Edouard Champion (Paris).

Rembert Dodoens (1517-1585). Cruydeboeck. Antwerp: J. vander Loe, 1554.

Although he also composed works on cosmography and medicine, Dodoens is best known for his great botanical works. This work is the Dutch version of his De stirpium historia, a national herbal devoted to species indigenous to the Flemish provinces. The plants are grouped according to their properties rather than in alphabetical order as had been the rule in earlier medical botanies.

Purchased in 1943 from antiquarian book dealer Wheldon & Wesley (London).

Carolus Clusius (1526-1609). Aliquot notae in Garciae aromatum historiam. Antwerp: ex officina Christophori Plantini, 1582.

Notes on a botanical work (1563) by Garcia da Orta, a Portuguese physician who lived in Goa, India and published several works about native herbs and spices. Also included are Clusius's notes about plants observed by Sir Francis Drake, the English navigator and admiral, on the western coast of America during his circumnavigation of the world (1577-1580). In the dedication the author describes his visit to Drake. Among the plants described are cocoa and "Winter's bark," a bitter, medicinal bark named for Captain William Winter, who sailed with Drake. Passing through the Straits of Magellan in 1578, Winter used the bark to cure scurvy among his crew.

Clusius, born Charles de L'Écluse in Arras (now France, but then part of the Southern Netherlands), published numerous herbals and floras researched in Provence, Spain, and Austria-Hungary. In 1593 he was appointed to succeed Dodoens in the chair of botany at the University of Leiden, where he spent the rest of his life. He was the first to describe the tulip, which he was responsible for importing to the Netherlands.

Purchased in 1938 from antiquarian book dealer Francis Edwards (London).

Simon Stevin (1548-1620). De Beghinselen des waterwichts. Antwerp: C. Plantin, 1586.

This work on the principles of hydrostatics was issued and in this copy bound with two other titles by Stevin on this subject: De Beghinselen der weeghconst and De Weeghdaet. Stevin, an experimental and theoretical scientist, was also an accomplished engineer.

By choosing to write his works in the vernacular and by including a special preface in this book entitled "On the Worthiness of the Dutch language," Stevin supported the prestige of Dutch, in particular northern Dutch.

Purchased in 1908 from bookseller Henry Sotheran (London).

Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Kosmotheros, sive, De terris coelestibus, earumque ornatu, conjecturae. Hagae-comitum: A. Moetjens, 1698.

A celebrated astronomer and geometer, Huygens made his reputation with his telescope lens and with the improvements he made to the clock, being the first to apply the pendulum to the measurement of time. The work shown here is the first edition of his last work, which was published posthumously. It was also published in English in the same year under the title: The Celestial Worlds Discover'd: or, Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Productions of the Worlds in the Planets.

Huygens was the son of Constantijn Huygens whose Koren-bloemen is included in this exhibition; he dedicated the present work to his brother, another Constantijn (1628-1697).

Purchased in 1923 from bookseller Nijhoff (The Hague).

Georg Everhard Rumpf (1627-1702). D'Amboinsche rariteitkamer, behelzende eene beschryvinge van … schallvisschen … als mede allerhande hoorntjes en schulpen.. Amsterdam: François Halma, 1705.

Born in Germany, Rumpf had ties to the Netherlands through his mother. In 1652 he signed on with the Dutch East Indies Company, arrived in Java in 1653, and was stationed on the island of Ambon, where he spent the rest of his life. He is remembered for his work on the natural history of the eastern archipelago. The present work, The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet, concerns the marine fauna of the area, with rich, detailed description of animals and shells, and information gleaned from local peoples about the uses and dangers of tropical plants, animals, and minerals.

The portrait of the naturalist is from a life portrait drawn by his son between 1695 and 1696, by which time Rumpf had become blind. Both this work and his Ambonese herbal were published posthumously.

Purchased in 1929 from bookseller Nijhoff (The Hague).

From the University of Michigan Museums Library.

Anthony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). Opera omnia, seu arcana naturae. Leiden: apud J. A. Langerak, etc., 1719-1722. 4 volumes.

With the aid of microscopes for which he ground his own lenses, Leeuwenhoek discovered a hitherto unknown world. He examined countless microorganisms and tissue samples and gave the first complete descriptions of bacteria, protozoa, and red blood cells. He was elected to the Royal Society, London in recognition of his work.

Purchased in 1940 on Dunning Fund (source unknown).

Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738). Elementa chemiae. Leiden: I. Severinus, 1732. 2 volumes.

Distinguished as a physician, botanist, and chemist, Boerhaave taught at the University of Leiden for many years. The present work, first published in 1724, is considered his masterpiece.

Purchased in 1924 from bookseller Nijhoff (The Hague).