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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1951
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The series, "The Book-Lover's Library", edited by Henry Wheatley, included this work by the editor: Literary Blunders, a Chapter in the History of Human Error, which was published by Elliot Stock in London in 1893. Its chapter headings are inviting: "Blunders in General", "Blunders of authors", "Blunders of Translators", "Bibliographical Blunders", "Lists of Errata", "Misprints", "Foreigners' English", and what turns out to be of the highest interest, to me: "Schoolboys' Blunders". Now admittedly some of the humor in recounting errors comes down a very long nose, and with a dryness exceeding the terms to describe "dry"–but the chapter on the blunders of children comes to us with a good nature, and is genuinely entertaining, and delightful.

It reminds me at once of Maurice Sendak (with Ruth Krauss in A Hole is to Dig) and Ambrose Bierce ( Devil's Dictionary), and even a little bit of lemon-flavored Menckenosia ( The American Language), though the author assures us that the examples he charitably shares are true, and in spite of some of their high and unintentional wit are all the work of children. This would make make the selection a sort of Borgesian/Biercian Sendakian insight of child's-play and blunder, a beautiful mix of occasional deep insight and naive assertion of quick-thought.

Here are some examples:

“What s Faith?–The quality by which we are enabled to believe that which we know is untrue.''

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

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The fantastic Jesuit Andrea Pozzo published results of his researches on perspective in his Perspectiva pictorum et architectoru (1693),
explaining how he was able to compellingly, unbelievably represent
three-dimensional images on two-dimensional spaces, this image showing
plan and projection and profile, effectively giving you a
three-dimensional cross section of the architectural element…and having them seemingly float in space. His work is just absolutely gorgeous.

Pozzo 7

Pozo 2

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1902 Part of the History of Lines series

Rolevinck canon
This work was one of the early best-sellers from the time of the Incunabula, a book that went into 33 editions between 1475 and 1500, and into five different languages, and a number of different authors/annotators and publishers–a book with a very full publishing history. The Fasiculus temporum, by Werner Rolevinck (a Monk and renowned historian at Cologne, 1425-1502), and printed originally in 1474, is an early history reaching back to the Roman times, and perhaps one of the very earliest chronological histories. It was a compendium of reaches into dim dust, histories including plagues, epidemics, diseases, monsters and other interesting bits.

It was also illustrated; some of the woodcuts were used several times in the course of the book; many were quite interesting. For example, the image above, showing the storming and siege of a town, features the normal allotment of soldiers, plus–extraordinarily–a cannon.

What brings us to the History of Lines series is that the structure of the book is very impressive–and complex. It must have been quite a chore to set into type, as the text lines vary impressively–that, and the chronological nature of the work has text running normally, and then top-to-bottom, occasionally upside down, and then quite frequently in circles. Anyone with any experience in letterpress printing could quickly appreciate the effort it took to put this book into print.

Rolevinck text

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JF Ptak Quick Post

Well, this is more properly called "the Acciples", but for the sake of modernity we'll keep to "the teacher", and it is a beautifuil woodcut image has been reproduced and copied many times over the centuries. The source for it all is Promptuarium argumentorum dialofice ordinatorum, which was printed in Cologne by Henricus Quentell in 1496. The work is in the field of pedagogics and philology, and so the stout attention of the pupils and teacher to one another.


JF Ptak Science Books Post 1901

Rockets ley794

I've selected a few representatives of design for the covers of pamphlets and books published in the field of rocket development and space flight published in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's (with one from the 1951). They have a certain expectant sameness them, and, as leading publications in their field, have a remarkable similarity in their (black and white) design. The combined efforts of these works wound up in the engineering labs of Peenemuende and then int he V-1 and V-2 rockets that pulverized the United Kingdom during WWII. Later this same expertise, and some of the same engineers, "wound up" in the United States developing the American space program. The most famous of these Paperclipped scientists was Wernher von Braun, whose name is so intimately connected with the Vengeance Weapons as well as the Apollo space program. It is interesting to note that for many years if twas impossible to find von Braun's name on any exhibition description in the Air and Space Museum in D.C.–it just wasn't there, so far as I could tell, on no displays, even though I went looking for it pretty closely. On the 30th anniversary of the Moon landing, I went to von Braun's grave to see if it had been remembered in any way–there wasn't anything there, just his simple small slab, next-door to and within eyesight of a Jewish cemetery.

Rudolf Nebel (1894-1978), very early member of the Raketenflugplatz, assistant to Hermann Oberth and very nearly the first to successfully conduct an experiment with a liquid-fueled rocket, beaten to the finish line by a man whose work he was not familiar with, Robert Goddard. He defined right-wing in the Weimar era, and was part of a paramilitary organization called Stralheim; Wernher von Braun seems to have succeeded in the avenue that Nebel tried to travel along. Nebel published this work in 1932, a year before the Nazi party came into power, and before his crotchety problems with teh SA began.

Rocket nebel797

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Theodore Andrea Cook wrote a lovely book called The Curves of Life, published by the admirable firm of Constable and Company in London in 1914, a book which is filled with all manner of marvels of insight in finding curves in natural and created situation. (I wrote a little about the book in an earlier post about stairs, here.) The beauty of spirals found in fero-concrete, geometries of Minoan clay seals, the beauty of the human laminae of cochlea of interval, the colon of the Dogfish, Maori war canoes, and so on, were all subject matter ripe for the discriminant picking of Mr. Cook as he explored the depths of curves.


One thing that perhaps escaped his grasp–at least in this book–was the curve in the costume of Baroque women oif semi-high (or at least non-ordinary) standing. As I've seen a number of times in some illustrated books, the trend towards the curvilinear is absoutely outstanding. The example that I came across tonight is an excellent example. Of course there was no great need to supply interesting bits of social life in these engravings of famous architectural achievenents outside of supplying a human scale to the structures, but as if often the case the artist (or engraver) went a little further than was really demanded by the artistic "needs" of the image and provided some interesting and at times very unexpected glimpes into somewhat-common street life

This image comes from Regles des cinq ordres d'architecture de Jacques Barozzio de Vignolle, which was originally written by Vignolla (1507-1573) in 1560. and published in 1680 or so. The engraving of our interest here is "Elevation du Portail de la Cathedrale de St. Paul de Londres", and the main part of that is the 1% in the bottom quarter, showing a very roundish dress.


An outstanding curve of high fashion, not seen in the Cook book.

This also reminds me a little of bombing fashinistas in an earlier post I wrote (here), showing parachuting (though they look a little like bombs) on this 1904 image.


JF Ptak Science Books Continuing Post 718

"Salad, a term derived from the Latin sal (salt), which yielded the form salata, 'salted things' such as the raw vegetables eaen in classical times with a dressing of oil, vinegar or salt. The word turns up in Old French as salade and then in late 14th century English as salad or sallet." Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2006 (Quote found at Food Timeline, here.)

===blog==aug 19==salad I was looking for an antique recipe for pesto and came
across this remarkable book by Salvatore Massonio, Archidipno overo dell'insalata
e dell'vso di essa
, published in Venice by Marc'Antonio Brogiollo in 1627. It
is in short a philosophical cookbook for salads—and the first of its kind
dedicated solely, devoted entirely, to the salad. IT must have been a revolutionary
publication, and probably intended for the very wealthy. The book is no slim effort: 68 chapter and
425 pages long, it describes the stuff of the salad and its dressing. Actually salad wasn’t limited to just greens
in this book, and his quasi-vegetarian sentiment was tested by including cold
salted meats, cold salted tongue, livers and such in the mix. But Massonio was definitely far ahead of
anyone else at the time dealing with the benefits of the salad for both health
reasons, as well as for making the salad not a meal in itself but an appetizer
for something larger to come. In another
great possible “first”, the wonderful Massonio seems to be the first to
describe the use of garlic in a sauce.

Now. About that pesto recipe…all I need is some stuff from Italy
and a special-marble mortar and I’ll be somewhat on my way, at least as the
purists are concerned. The birthplace of pesto, Liguria,
takes its poition as the originator of the great green delicacy very seriously,
legislating exactly how and with what peso should be made. And that is as it should be.

"They say the divine Augustus was preserved in a time of ill health by the use of lettuce, and no wonder, because it aids digestion and generates better blood than other vegetables. It is eaten cooked or raw. You season raw lettuce this way if it does not need washing…put it in a dish, sprinkle with ground salt, pour in a little oil and more vinegar and eat at once. Some add a little mint and parsley to it for seasoning so that it does not seem entirely bland…" — Platina: On Right Pleasure and Good Health, [Italian:1475, original text in Latin], translated by Mary Ellen Milham [Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies:Tempe] 1998.

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1877

Books suicide on a title page_edited-1For a number of years following the invention of the movable type press, title pages were very simple affairs, generally starting with a simple statement of the title (the incipit) and then right off to the beginning of the book, right there on the same page, with the information about who printed the book where and when saved for the final page of text, the colophon. Ornamentation came a little slowly (or perhaps slowly), with the first recognizable-to -modern-eyes title page appearing in the Calendarium of Regiomonatnus, printed in woodcut and metal-type in Venice in 1476, with the date unusually displayed in Arabic numerals. The issue of more appealing display in book presentation–the approachable title page, illustrations and covers–became a true issue after the printers in Augsburg in the 1470's revolutionized book production by introducing a more industrialized method of production.

The issue of illustration really didn't start to ramp up until after 1500 when the expensive and time-consuming standard of using woodblocks in the production of images was replaced by the copperplate engraving. And it was during this time, in the very early 16th century, that ornate and illustrated images began to appear on the title page itself.

One example of a curious approach to illustration belongs to Hans Holbein, who created a somewhat three-dimensional ornamental and cascading title page that also happened to contain an image of Cleopatra in a suicide-by-snake. The snake may have been an Egyptian asp, and perhaps not, if she committed suicide by this manner at all. Cleopatra finally was led to this end on 30 August 30 BCE after a long string of affairs and consorts with Rome and its Emperors, failing finally after the death of Marc Antony and the rejection by OCtavian (who later would become Augustus, perhaps the greatest of Roman Emperors). In any event, we see Cleopatra here committing the deed, with what may be some of Antony's Alexandria-based fleet in the background.

The design was copied many times, and used for a number of different title pages–the first time being in a work by Erasmus in 1523, and in the example below, later, in 1526. Offhand it is difficult for me to say if there are earlier suicides on thte title pages of books, but this would certainly be among the earliest, if not the earliest yet.

(Also appearing on either side of the columns in the middle of the page is Dionysius of Syracuse, an autocrat of the highest order, here shown plucking bits of treasure from the statues of gods. There were two rules named Dionysius, father and son, I and II; the elder may have been killed by the younger via physician-assisted poisoning; the younger (of Damocles and the sword fame among other things usually not so pretty) was equally tyrannical and also came to a bad end.)

Books suicide on a title page

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

I wish that I had been keeping track of (pre-1900) pamphlet cover designs over the 30-year period that I have been dealing professionally with books. There have been so many designs that have popped up with very unexpected flavors that I think an entire exhibition could be made of them. This idea was brought home–again–with this beautiful cover for an 1825 pamphlet:

Cover design623
Which is a detail from:

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1874 [One in a series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things .]

The remarkable engravings below are even more so when you consider that they were published more than two hundred years afer the death of their originator. Bartolomeo Eustachi (1500/1524-1574) was one of the founding member of a very small school of modern anatomy (another being Vesalius) who undertook very careful dissections in his study of the body, finishing (in 1552) a work of paramount importance just nine years after the publication of Vesalius' revolutionary work–it was a work that would remain unpublished for 162 years. The threat and fear of excommunication and other reprisals at the hands of the Catholic Church prevented its publication, the full work not seeing the light of day until 1714. It would be published several times more in the 18th century, a great tribute to an anatomist whose work was still being studied more than 200 years after its completion.

One of the great missing books then belongs to Eustachi, his Romanae archetypae tabulae anatomicae novis…(with the examples of images below being published in Rome in 1783) belongs to a very small class of technical/medical books published long after they should have been and which still were found to be of great and substantial use. He was an absolutely superb anatomist, using dyes and injections for visually troublesome areas, as well as early versions of "microscopes" to observe miniscule bits. He was a fine student of his physician father, well-versed in classical education, and by 1549 he was the professor of anatomy at the Archiginnasiodella Sapienza, where he was also able to avail himself of a number of cadavers for dissection.

He worked on his anatomy for several years, readying 47 plates for publication. It would come to pass that only eight of them were published during his lifetime–those on the kidney and teeth, published as De Renum structura (the first work dedicated to that organ), and De dentibus (for the teeth), respectively.

The engravings–rather, the incised plates of the engravings–went missing after Eustachi's death, and stayed so until (as noted above) 1714. According to , Eustachi's work was still prized 160+ years later for their elegance and beauty and detail because:

"… they provided some of the best descriptions of the base of the brain, the sympathetic nervous system (the nerves that control the constriction of blood vessels, among other things), the vascular system, and the structure of the larynx."

[More images below]
among many other reasons.

I can't help but wonder what the result of the publication of this book would have affected if it had been available in 1552. It stands to reason that if it was still being used in 1789, and still useful and respect and "current", then it would lead me to believe that it would have had a major impact 227 years earlier.

(Source: Bartholomeo Eustachi: Tabulae anatomicae. (Rome, 1783), . Historical Anatomies on the Web. US National Library of Medicine.)

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