Posted by: soniahs | June 3, 2011

Book geekery

We made a moderately unplanned visit yesterday to the Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, which specializes in books, manuscripts, and maps before 1800. They have an extensive map collection, focusing on travel and trade- so a lot of maps from the “age of exploration.” Since we didn’t plan this trip ahead (it was a spontaneous suggestion of my Dad’s), we didn’t have any serious research in mind…

At any rate, they have quite a few old astronomy texts, as well as other natural history types of things. For me, the fun part was being able to read a 1st American edition of Origin of Species, printed in New York in 1860! (The larger library of which the Bell collection is a part has “newer” works like this one.)

Title page of the NY edition.

Since I’ve been reading this book in recent months for my metaphor project, it was pretty cool to see it in its original form. I got to play with the fold-out map, which was actually located on a different page than in the 1859 London edition. I’m not sure of the reason for that. Also, I feel there just aren’t enough fold-out maps in books nowadays- especially science books!

I had fun paging through the text and looking for various passages. It was especially cool to read the final “tangled bank” paragraph, which is quite poetic.

No, I did not take any photos of me reading it! Although I could have. I just never think of these things in time…



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