This Week’s War: 203

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‘Things are much as they were, the Hun is preparing another blow in France and has already struck in Italy. I think he is failing there.’

Personal diary of Percy Bates, entry dated 19th June 1918 [D641/2/1/5].

This Week’s War: 202

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“It’s the soldier we worry about; he has been shrapnelled, […] shell-shocked, and gassed, but is still hard at it as adjutant. But he is tired, though cheerful.”

Extract from a letter dated 14th June 1918, from Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh to Robert Andrew Scott Macfie, who was serving abroad in the Army, [GLS E1/1/22].

‘Seeing Euclid’ at the Harold Cohen Library

Euclid’s Elements of Geography is the subject of a new display in the Harold Cohen Library. Throughout the summer, a network of exhibitions – ‘Seeing Euclid’ – will highlight the legacy of Euclid’s work in Early Modern Britain and Ireland, with displays of books and other artefacts from the first two hundred years of Euclid in print. Organised as part of the University of Oxford’s AHRC funded research project ‘Reading Euclid’, the exhibition is a collaboration between nearly thirty institutions across Britain and Ireland.

Written around 300BCE, Euclidean geometry has held sway in Europe for nearly two and a half thousand years. It has been used by surveyors to map fields and architects to design buildings, as well as being critically important to the teaching of mathematics at many different times and in many different places. Early thinkers turned to it as a source of philosophy, whilst later readers saw in it a monument to the genius of the Greeks, or an exercise for improving the mind. Nearly three hundred editions of the text appeared between 1482 and 1700 – with a particular resurgence in the seventeenth century – and more than 1900 copies of these editions survive in libraries and repositories across Britain and Ireland. As a consequence, this text represents an important meeting point in the history of mathematics, the history of ideas, the history of practice, and the history of the book.

The ‘Seeing Euclid’ website includes details of the displays at each of the participating institutions. The display at the Harold Cohen Library runs until the 15th July and is open to external visitors as well as members of the University, Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm.

 

Items on display:

Contenta. Euclidis Megarensis Geometricorum eleme[n]torum libri… XV.

Paris: Henri Estienne, 1516

This is the earliest edition of Euclid’s Elements held by the University of Liverpool, and the first to be printed in France. Our copy was part of a British Museum duplicates sale of 1787.

Euclidis Megarensis, philosophi & mathematici excellentissimi, Sex libri priores, de geometricis principiis, Graeci & Latini

Basel: Johannes Herwagen, 1550

This item has been owned by a number of interesting characters, including royalty.

 

The elements of geometrie of the most auncient philosopher Euclide of Megara. Faithfully (now first) translated into the Englishe toung, by H. Billingsley, citizen of London.

London: John Day, 1570

This was the first English translation of Euclid. The edition boasts striking engravings, and a number of pop-up diagrams – which give the book a 3D, interactive aspect.

 

Euclides metaphysicus, sive, De principiis sapientiae, stoecheidea E.

White, Thomas

London: John Martyn, James Allestry and Thomas Dicas, 1658

This copy of a work by Thomas White (1593-1676) – English priest and scholar – contains an inscription by Dr. Sir Charles Scarburgh (1615-1694), physician to Charles II, James II, William III and Prince George of Denmark. Scarburgh was working on an edition of Euclid at his death, which was completed by his son in 1705.

More information about each of these items is available on the ‘Seeing Euclid’ website, and in the physical display.

 

Other works of Euclid at the University of Liverpool include:

Euclidis Elementorum libri XV. breviter demonstrati, opera Is. Barrow, Cantabrigiensis, Coll. Trin. Soc. Et prioribus mendis typographicis nunc demum purgati.

London: Abel Swall, 1687

This pocket-sized Latin edition, issued by English mathematician Isaac Barrow (1630-1677), contains the inscription of William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882), a Liverpool-born economist and logician. On the title-page are two further inscriptions: G. Stinton, E. Coll. Reg. Oxon, and Matt Walls.

 

Evclidis elementorvm libri XV. Græce et latine, quibus, cum ad omnem mathematicæ scientiæ partem, tum ad quamlibet geometriæ tractionem, facilis comparatur aditus.

Cologne: Maternus Cholinus, 1564

This early, compact edition has a number of ownership marks, many of which have been obscured – or in the case of a bookplate, torn out. There is also a pencil drawing of a building on one of the endleaves.

 

Euclid’s Elements of geometry. In XV. books: with a supplement of divers propositions and corollaries….Published by the care and industry of John Leeke and George Serle, students in the mathematicks.

London: George Sawbridge, 1661

This was the third complete edition of Euclid in English, and includes a reprint of the John Dee preface that first appeared in the 1570 translation. The edition also contains the first English printing of Euclid’s Data. With an engraved frontispiece portrait of Euclid and verse by G. Wharton:

New Accessions: May 2018

 

SPEC 2018.a.004

The following of Christ is an English translation of Imitatio Christi, a work traditionally attributed to the German canon Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380–1471). Written around 1420, it became one of the most widely read and frequently translated of Christian devotional works.

This edition was printed and sold by John Sadler of Harrington Street, Liverpool, in 1755. Sadler was primarily an engraver and printer for the pottery trade, but he also produced a number of Catholic devotional books.

This book marks a landmark for Special Collections, as it was our 10,000th item reported to the English Short-Title Catalogue! According to ESTC it is one of only two known copies of the 1755 edition in Britain, with two more copies reported in the United States.

 

SPEC 2018.a.003

 

Our second new accession is another translation, and another Liverpool publication. Printed in 1802 by William Jones – a bookseller, printer, publisher, stationer and “seller of patent medicines” based on Castle Street – Memoirs of the year two thousand five hundred is an English translation of the French work, L’an 2440: rêve s’il en fut jamais, by French dramatist and writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier. Originally published in 1770, the novel is set in 2440 (or in the English edition, “for the sake of a round number” 2500), presenting a future France based on Enlightenment political theories. It was one of the very first novels to present a utopian vision of the future, and was especially pioneering in choosing a real place in which to set it – namely Paris. The novel was immediately banned in France and condemned as blasphemous in Madrid, where distribution was subject to a fine and six year prison sentence. Despite this, it is thought to have had an important influence on subsequent French and English speculations about the future.

Finally, we have two books containing volumes 1 and volumes 4-6 of William Combe’s The r[oya]l register. Combe was a prolific writer, best known for his Doctor Syntax series. Published between 1778 and 1784, this register contains often lengthy descriptions of the activities of aristocrats and other notables of the period. Written in the distinctive writing style of the author, the tone has been described by one bookseller as “somewhere between ‘Hello’ magazine and ‘Private Eye'”.

Volume one contains the bookplate of the Earl of Morley:

SPEC 2018.a.005

 

Bibliography:

Alkon, Paul K, Origins of futuristic fiction, (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1987)

Liverpool Bibliographical Society, The book trade in Liverpool to 1805: a directory, (Liverpool: Liverpool Bibliographical Society, 1981)

Stableford, Brian M., The plurality of imaginary worlds: the evolution of the French roman scientifique, (Encino, CA: Black Coat Press, 2016)

 

 

This Week’s War: 200

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‘By the way one item will amuse you, five large wooden cases turned up the other day for an officer in our regiment. “Looks like drink” says one. So we all sit round hoping it’s Beer. First case is opened and is found to contain four dozen of “Malvern” water. – Oh well at any rate now we’ll have a Whiskey and Soda. A bottle is opened but Malvern water is apparently aqua pura – unfizzy – plan H20!!!!’

Letter from Denis H. Bates to Sir Percy Bates sent from Cairo, dated 25th May 1918 [D641/3/4/13].

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“We are fed-up with aeroplanes here, and even if I hear a ‘battle in the air’ overhead I cannot be bothered to look at it. There is plenty of bombing by enemy planes on clear nights in the neighbourhood, but it has never yet got very close to us.”

Entry dated May 27th 1918, War Diary 1917 – 1919, by Aleyn Lyell Reade [ALR. A. 1. 2].

This Week’s War: 198

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‘Visited LONE FARM and Machine Gun Emplacements. Captain R. CARR, M. C., R. E. received orders to report to R.A.F., and handed over to new Adjutant – Captain G. S. HALLAS, M. C., R.E.’

War Diary / Intelligence Summary of University of Liverpool graduate J. H. Forshaw, Captain and Adjutant of the 55th Divisional Royal Engineers, entry dated 14th May 1918 [D113/1/2].

Exhibition: “…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma

Having previously been displayed in Dessau-Roßlau (for the 2018 annual commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz), the exhibition titled “…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma is currently being displayed at the Liverpool Central Library until 26th May 2018. Many of the photographs used in the exhibition originate from the Georg Althaus Photographs here at Special Collections and Archives.

The exhibition presents case studies of the persecution of German Sinti and Roma (‘Gypsy’) families under National Socialism between the 1930s and 1945. Most of the images are photographs of members of nine Sinti and Roma families, which were taken by the photo-journalist Hanns Weltzel (1902-1952) in and around his home town of Dessau-Roßlau. The exhibition coincides with the 75th anniversary of the mass deportation of Germany’s Sinti and Roma (‘Gypsies’) to Auschwitz concentration camp, which included many of the individuals featured within the photographs.

For the launch of the Liverpool leg of the exhibition, Radio Django Berlin (a Gypsy-Jazz string band led by Janko Lauenberger, grandson of a Sinto Holocaust survivor who figures in the exhibition) performed music described as “the original sound of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli meets 21st-century Gypsy-Jazz”. Prior to this, co-curators Eve Rosenhaft (Professor of German Historical Studies, University of Liverpool), and Jana Müller (Alternatives Jugendzentrum Dessau) presented the stories of the victims and survivors captured in the photographs. The event took place as part of the Writing On The Wall Fest (WOW Fest) – a snippet of the musical performance and photographs of the event are available on the WOW Fest Instagram.

For more information on the exhibition and guided tours led by Professor Eve Rosenhaft, please do see the WOW Fest website. Information on the Gypsy Lore Society Collections and related material can be found on our webpages.

This Week’s War: 197

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Two Years in India

Pte. E. J. Nelis (Costing Department) Manchester Regiment, writes to inform us that he has now completed two years service in India. He much appreciates the parcels which he receives from time to time from the Comrades’ Fund.

Extract from Cunard magazine May 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].