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Unlocking the Senior Library: Michaelmas Term 2017

Last term’s Unlocking event looked at the first 300 years of the Senior Library, from the heady days of the 15th century, when Lincoln’s library must have been one of the finest in Oxford, to the major bequests of the 18th century.  It was particularly exciting to be able to show some of the College’s manuscripts, normally kept in the Bodleian.
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Discover Lincoln: the Nuremberg Chronicle

Lincoln’s collections of books and archival materials along with its spaces and places tell a wonderful story of its distinctive heritage. The ‘Discover Lincoln’ series will look at the unique objects and historic places of Lincoln told through Lincoln’s best asset – its people. We hope that you will enjoy discovering or rediscovering part of what makes Lincoln so special. This week’s entry comes from Dr Cristina Dondi (Oakeshott Senior Research Fellow) and focuses on the Nuremberg Chronicle. Read more

Unlocking the Senior Library Trinity Term 2017

This Term we were very excited to have the termly Unlocking the Senior Library session curated by one of our students for the first time. Alice Fraser, who is reading for a Masters in Archaeology, has been working in the Senior Library once a week, investigating the Archaeology section in order to produce a collection-level description and she shared with us some interesting items she has discovered as she has worked through the collection. Read more

Oxford Jewish Cultural Week Exhibition

On Tuesday 16th May, we contributed an exhibition to Oxford Jewish Cultural Week. Showcasing some of the treasures of our Hebrew Book collection, including works owned and used by Rectors Richard Kilbye and Thomas Marshall and our oldest work containing Hebrew type, the exhibition also featured Library and Archive material relating to Samuel Alexander, the first professing Jew to be elected Fellow of any College in either Oxford or Cambridge. Read more

A Syriac New Testament

I am currently cataloguing the corner of the Senior Library that houses a small collection of books in Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Syriac and Ethiopic, languages that pose a challenge to even the hardiest antiquarian cataloguer. These books come largely from the library of Thomas Marshall (1621-1685), Rector of Lincoln and a remarkable philologist who left over 1,000 books to the College.  Among this collection are 4 of the earliest works printed in Armenian, translations of the Quran and a variety of polyglot editions of parts of the Bible. Read more

Conservation: Bursar’s Day Books

Conservators at the Oxford Conservation Consortium work to save Lincoln's heritage.

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A Methodist Pocket Book

In the course of my work in the Archive, I have recently come across a tiny gem in the College collection of Wesleyana:img_1187 The Methodist Pocket Book for the Year of our Lord 1798. The volume measures 8 x 12 cm and contains “poetry, anecdotes and a variety of useful and edifying articles” as well as blank spaces where the owner could record expenditure. The book was printed for G. Whitfield, City Road [Chapel], London and could be bought at Methodist Chapels “in Town & Country”. George Whitfield had been left John Wesley’s types and presses in his will, and he was a prominent publisher of Methodist works in the period following Wesley’s death. Read more

Richard Kilbye: Lincoln’s first great collector of Hebrew books

Lincoln Unlocked was officially launched on November 23rd with a lecture on Richard Kilbye, Lincoln’s earliest collector of Hebrew books, by Joanna Weinberg, Oxford Professor of Early Modern Jewish History and Rabbinics.

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A Renaissance library of Hebraica and Judaica

Among the treasures of Lincoln’s Senior Library is its collection of Hebraica and Judaica. Although this is not the largest collection of Hebrew books in Oxford college libraries, as a fine result of the systematic collecting of books in the field of Hebrew and Jewish studies it is one the most remarkable collections of printed Hebraica and Judaica in Oxford. Read more

Unlocking the Senior Library: astrophysics

Towards the end of the Michaelmas term, as part of our “Unlocking the Senior Library” series, the Senior Library opened its doors to a group of Oxford astrophysicists interested in exploring material in our collection that related to their fields of study. It was with some trepidation that I set about choosing books from the historic collections that might be relevant to a group representing a range of specialities, from exoplanetary science to the evolution of galaxies, very much outside my area of expertise.

Aristotle, Opera (Basel, 1539)

Aristotle, Opera (Basel, 1539)

The final selection included 16th century editions of the works of some of the earliest Greek and Arab astronomers, from an Aldine edition of Simplicius’ commentary on Aristotle’s De coelo (Venice, 1526) to editions of Ptolomy’s Almagest (Basel, 1538) and Abu al-Hasan’s De iudiciis astrorum (Basel, 1551). One of the treasures of the Senior Library is a copy of Erasmus’ edition of Aristotle’s works (Basel, 1539) in which one section, the Physics, is heavily annotated in Greek by a 16th century reader.

Cassini, Abrege des observations (Paris, 1681)

Cassini, Abrege des observations (Paris, 1681)

We moved on to the 17th century with two important first editions: Kepler’s Tabulae Rudolphinae (Ulm, 1627) and Hevelius’ Selenographia (Gdansk, 1647), the first complete lunar atlas and a landmark in lunar topography. We also looked at editions of works on comets by Cassini and Halley and, of course, Newton’s Principia (the second edition). We ended with a run of printed volumes of astronomical observations made at the Radcliffe Observatory from the first half of the 19th century.

Interdisciplinary encounters can sometimes feel like ships passing in the night. This was the opposite, with genuine engagement on both sides. I gained a new appreciation of the intellectual context of the books we looked at, and conversely I believe our guests enjoyed seeing familiar topics in historical context. For me at least it was one of the highlights of 2014.
Dr Sarah Cusk is the antiquarian cataloguer at Lincoln, cataloguing the early printed books in the Senior Library.
 With thanks to Vinesh Rajpaul for his photographs of the event.
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