The Sun, The Moon, The Stars – One Thousand Years of Cosmological Gazing!


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The sun, the moon, the stars!

The Rare Books Department invites you to a hands-on display of more than one thousand years of cosmological gazing. From Ptolemy to Galileo to Einstein, hold the books that brought the heavens down to earth.

Rare Books Classroom

J. Willard Marriott Library, Level 4

Monday, August 21

10 am to 1 pm

Image featured on poster from:

Harmonia Macrocosmica
Andreas Cellarius
Amsterdam: Jansson, 1661
Second edition
QB41 C39

See you at the eclipse!

Eclipses from Trio


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“There is something moving between us,
But we hurtle on in close conjuction for a while.”
–from “Eclipse” by Leland Kinsey

Eclipses from Trio
Leland Kinsey
The Janus Press: VT, 2014
N7433.4 A1 T75 2015

From the colophon: “These poems appeared previously in Northern Almanac published by Catamount Arts in St Johnsbury Vermont This edition is illustrated with original digital prints and lithographs by Claire Van Vliet (covers printed at UMGrafik in Copenhagen and solar eclipse at SKHS in Oslo) and the digital prints printed on an Epson by Ellen Dorn Levitt who also made the eclipse diagrams; binding executed by Audrey Holden; and printed letterpress at The Janus Press on handmade papers from Barcham Green and St Armand in an edition of one hundred and forty of which this is for the University of Utah.” Inscribed by Leland Kinsey.

The sun, the moon, the stars!

Please join the Rare Books Department for a hands-on display of stars from our collections, representing more than one thousand years of cosmological gazing. This open house is in conjunction with a solar eclipse gathering hosted by the J. Willard Marriott Library and The University of Utah’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Rare Books Department
Monday, August 21, 10AM to 1PM
Rare Books Classroom, Level 4
J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah

The Cosmic Sidereal Galactic Abecedarium of the Universe & Other Tangential Star Ephemera


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“Adore the sun, rising with all his rays, receiving the obeisance of gods and demons, the shining maker of light.”
— The Ramayana

The Cosmic Sidereal Galactic Abecedarium of the Universe & Other Tangential Ephemera
Sibyl Rubottom and Jim Machacek
San Diego: Bay Park Press, 2001
N7433.4 R73 C67 2001

From the colophon: “This ABC book of the universe was created from March to November 2001. During this period Jim’s mother Agnes died and took her place among the stars, Sibyl’s husband Al had successful open-heart surgery, and then the Sept. 11 tragedy occurred. Throughout it all the stars remained our constant as we created visuals with photopolymer plates, wood type, monogramming, digital imaging, and a zinc intaglio plate for the cover. Text was printed on a Vandercook Universal I letterpress in various fonts of Venus and Clarendon type. The flexagon was offset printed at the Printing Shoppe with thanks to Peter & Darryl. Thanks also to Jim Goode for his computer genius and Rhiannon for typesetting help. A galaxy of thank-yous for Jerry and Al for computer assistance, editing & their cosmic patience during our sidereal voyage. The Abecedarium was printed at Bay Park Press on Somerset Book, Fabriano Rosapina Blanco and Rives BFK papers. This is copy Q of 26.”

The sun, the moon, the stars!

Please join The Rare Books Department for a hands-on display of stars from our collections, representing more than one thousand years of cosmological gazing. This open house is in conjunction with a solar eclipse gathering hosted by the J. Willard Marriott Library and The University of Utah’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Rare Books Department
Monday, August 21, 10AM to 1PM
Rare Books Classroom, Level 4
J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah

Book of the Week — Instituzioni Analitiche ad uso della gioventu’ italiana


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Instituzioni Analitiche
Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799)
Milan: Nella Regia-Ducal Corte, 1748
First edition
QA35 A27 1748

Maria Gaetana Agnesi was the eldest in a family of at least twenty-one children. Her father, Pietro Agnesi, a wealthy silk merchant, could afford to provide her with some of the best tutors available. A child prodigy, at an early age she had mastered Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, German and Latin.

She was shy, and suffered convulsions and headaches, but had strong impetus to please her father, who was focused on moving his family from its merchant class status to aristocracy. He proudly and frequently had her present at small social gatherings in which she gave discourses in Latin on natural philosophy — subjects such as the nature of tides and the origins of spring water –, mathematics, or the nature of the soul. These discourses took place in her well-appointed family home, surrounded by lush furnishings and paintings of sacred subjects.

Several of her sisters entered convents. One of her brothers became a monk. Pietro Agnesi denied Gaetana’s request to enter a convent, but eventually agreed to keep her out of the public sphere.

Instituzioni Analitiche is her momumental work, which she dedicated to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Her objective was to give a complete comprehensible analysis of algebra, with emphasis on relatively new concepts. She wrote in Italian rather than Latin in an attempt to attract younger readers (in particular her brothers) and other readers, such as women, who were less than welcome in the world of Latin scholars. She explained elementary algebra, classical geometry, differential calculus, and integral calculus. Calculus was little understood by many intellectuals, including mathematicians, of the time — Isaac Newton had only recently died in 1727, Leibniz in 1716. This was the first vernacular textbook on calculus. And the first mathematics book to be published by a woman.

In her introduction, Agnesi states that some of the methods, material, and generalizations in her book were original to her. Her book was translated into English and French. John Hellens, editor of John Colson’s English translation, noted that Colson “found [Agnesi’s] work to be so excellent that he was at the pains of learning the Italian language at an advanced age for the sole purpose of translating her book into English, that the British Youth might have the benefit of it as well as the Youth of Italy.”

Today, Agnesi’s name is known to math students for her geometric “curve,” the witch of Agnesi, expressed as a mathematical equation.

Agnesi received her greatest recognition from Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) in the form of two letters. The first letter (June 1749) congratulated her on the publication of her book and was accompanied by a gold wreath containing valuable stones and a gold medal. In his second letter (September 1750), the pope appointed her to the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at Bologna. Though she accepted the position as “honorary,” she ultimately did not teach there.

Following the death of her father, she no longer engaged in any scientific activity and spent the rest of her life in religious studies, devoting herself to the poor, the sick, the hungry and the homeless. She was all but forgotten for her treatise on calculus.

Illustrated with fifty-nine copper engraved folding plates and two folding tables. Copper-engraved title page vignettes, headpieces and historiated initials. Rare Books copy bound in early nineteenth century calf over paste paper boards, green and red gilt-lettered spine labels.



Recommended reading:
Mazzotti, Massimo. The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007, QA29 A28 M39 2007, L1, General Collection

Book of the Week — A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes Under the Auspices of the United Stated Governement


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“These questions are not technical questions; they are political and social questions, and the answers given to them may affect all mankind for generations. In thinking about them the men on the project have been thinking as citizens of the United States vitally interested in the welfare of the human race. It has been their duty and that of the responsible high government officials who were informed to look beyond the limits of the present war and its weapons to the ultimate implications of these discoveries. This was a heavy responsibility. In a free country like ours, such questions should be debated by the people and decisions must be made by the people through their representatives. This is one reason for the release of this report. It is a semi-technical report which it is hoped men of science in this country can use to help their fellow citizens in reaching wise decisions. The people of the country must be informed if they are to discharge their responsibilities wisely”
— Henry De Wolf Smyth

Henry De Wolf Smyth (1898- 1986)
Washington, D. C: U. S. Govt. Print. Off., 1945
First edition

On August 6, 1945 the United States government dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. One week later, after a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, the United States War Department issued an official account of the Manhattan Project which produced the bombs, written by Princeton physicist Henry D. Smyth.

The program to develop a nuclear weapon had its origins in 1939, when a group of scientists, including Albert Einstein, apprised President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the vast destructive power that could be unleashed by the recently-discovered fission of uranium. By mid-1942 a top-secret program had been instituted under the Army Corps of Engineers’ Manhattan District. Smyth’s involvement began with his research at Princeton, where he headed the physics department, on electromagnetic methods of separating uranium isotopes. In 1943 he was appointed associate director of the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, working on the production of the heavy water needed to regulate the speed of neutrons in a chain reaction.

In April 1944 General Leslie R. Groves, chief of the Manhattan Project, asked Smyth to prepare a report on the project for release after the expected deployment of the bomb. The press release became known simply as the “Smyth Report.”




Book of the Week — A New Hieroglyphical Bible, for the Amusement and Instruction of Children


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“…so also can nothing be more unprofitable, than the too customary mode of charging the infant memory with verses, or even chapters of abstract doctrines, or passages, about the true meaning of which, schoolmen themselves have hitherto been divided in opinion.” — from the Preface

A New Hieroglyphical Bible, for the Amusement and Instruction of Children
Alexander Anderson (1775-1870)
New York: Published by Samuel Wood & Sons, And Samuel W. Wood & Co…Baltimore, 1818
BS560 H54 1818

Hieroglyphic Bibles were a natural development from emblem books, in which often complex visual images served as emblems for intellectual or aesthetic ideas presented as moral or religious lessons. The first one was published in Augsburg in 1687. French and Dutch editions followed in the eighteenth century. The first English edition appeared fairly late, but it was followed by at least thirteen other editions before the end of the eighteenth century. The first American hieroglyphic Bible was published in 1788 by Isaiah Thomas.

Alexander Anderson has been called the father of wood engraving in America, and was certainly one of its masters. His work included prints, almanacs, fiction, travel, children’s books, Bibles, religious tracts, medical texts, and broadsides.


On Jon’s Desk: Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, A Celebration of Heritage on Pioneer Day


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Photograph by Scott Beadles

“The greatest inheritance of man is a posterity; the greatest inheritance of a posterity is a Christian Ancestry – that these greatest inheritances may live in record, this volume is issued.”

– From the Title Page of Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah

Title: Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah

Author: Frank Esshom

Published: Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Company, 1913

Call Number: F825 E78 1913

First Edition


Happy Pioneer Day! What better way is there to celebrate Pioneer Day than to look at some photographs and biographies of the Utah pioneers themselves? Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah makes it easy to get an idea of who these pioneers were. Compiled by Frank Esshom over the course of six years, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah is a collection of 6,482 photographs and biographies published in an edition of 5,000 copies in 1913. In the preface, speaking on reasons why he is proud of the work, the author wrote, “… it will live as a memorial to those men whose deeds were rapidly being forgotten. The story of the leaders has been told repeatedly, but that of the rank and file, the ones who did the actual pioneering and building has not been told before. This will cause them to live on perpetually, and each succeeding generation will know their labors; their deeds will increase in miraculousness; their valor will be more greatly appreciated; their heroisms stand out unprecedented, showing the quality of the men who dared to turn their faces toward an unknown desert and to build homes, and an empire.” (page 11)

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah is organized into three sections. The first section contains the photographs of the men profiled. The second section is comprised of their biographies, arranged alphabetically by the earliest male head of household by that name, followed by entries for his male descendants. The biographical entries typically list vital information, date of arrival in Utah, marriages and children, LDS church office held, occupation, and other information of interest. The third section includes a chronological history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the ancestry of Joseph Smith, Junior.

The two primary faults in this collection of biographies are that some of the records contain inaccuracies (no source data is included) and that there were approximately 70,000 pioneers – meaning this work contains only about ten percent of them. Many of those were, of course, women, who probably lost husbands or fathers along the way. Many stories of the “rank and file” who actually did most of the pioneering and building did, even after this book’s publication, go untold.

But let’s not be too hard on Esshom’s work. Despite its lack of completeness, what was gathered and published was actually quite extraordinary under the constraints of the time it was compiled. Describing the process used to gather the information for this book the author wrote,

“After a year of gathering material and data in Salt Lake City, a year was spent in Weber and Utah counties in the same quest. Then a thorough search was started, as a beginning to the end; the Bishop of every ward from Yellowstone National Park and Upper Oregon on the north and northwest to Vernal, Emery and St. George on the south and southeast in Utah, was visited. … [the bishop] gratuitously furnished the author with the names of the Pioneers who had died in his ward, and the names of their representative male descendants, also the names of the Pioneers who were living in his ward and the names of their representative male descendants. … After this organization was perfected, the author, assisted by a corps of solicitors visited each house in every ward in all of the stakes in the territory above mentioned, where a Pioneer or the descendant of a Pioneer lived as given by the Bishop of the ward, or could be secured from inquiry, and gathered the portraits and genealogies as complete as it was possible to so do, and arranged for the information unobtainable at that time to be sent to him. The gathering of this data, which could be acquired in no other manner, probably required more than fifty thousand calls, the assistance of every photographer in the territory, [and] the traveling of thousands of miles, which was made over every kind of roads in all kinds of weather, and by every mode of conveyance.” (page 11)

It is no wonder the preface for Francis Marion Lyman points out that, “In nineteen hundred and eight, after a year’s labor gathering data for the Pioneers’ history, the vastness of the undertaking dawned upon its promoters and depressed them to almost stupidness.” (page 6)

It’s a miracle we have what we have in this one volume of Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. So grab your favorite cast iron cooking device, fry some flatbread, and discuss your pioneer heritage with the family on this Pioneer Day. Then come check out Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah and see how close Frank Esshom got with the records of your pioneer ancestors. It’s fun for every pioneer-heritaged family.

~ Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator

Rare Books Online Exhibition – La Parola Scritta: XVI Centuries of Italian Culture in Ink


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La Parola Scritta: XVI Centuries of Italian Culture in Ink

In honor of the 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States, this exhibition includes books from the 15th through the 19th century celebrating Italian contributions to printing, poetry, theater, music, geography, mathematics, botany, astronomy, anatomy, law, typography, dance, travel and more. Many of the books in this exhibition are first editions, including the first printed edition of Euclid’s Geometry (Venice, 1482) and Galileo’s Dialogo (Florence, 1632). The reception for this exhibition included hands-on displays of medieval manuscript facsimiles and 20th century artists’ books. Those books are included in the online exhibition.

Book of the Week — On Painting


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“Colour and light have an important relationship in the act of seeing…colours multiply among themselves, but, like the elements, there are only four true colours from which other species of colour are born. There is red, the colour of fire; blue, of air; green, of water; and earth, ashen grey…from these four colours according to the addition of light or dark, black or white, are made innumerable other hues. Therefore the mixing in of white will not change the basic colour, but just make tints;’ and black has a similar power, with its addition making an almost infinite number of colours. You can see colours alter in the shade; when the shade deepens the colours fade, when the light brightens they become brighter and clearer.” — Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti (1401-1472) and Susan Allix
London: 1999
ND1130 A4813 1999

Leon Alberti was born in 1401 in Florence. His art was influenced by the work of Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Masaccio. He wrote On Painting in order to “set forth principles to be followed by the painter.” Alberti then turned his attention to architecture, for which he is better remembered today. He wrote De Re Aedificatoria and received several commissions for building projects. He had a deep understanding of the classical past, but an eye for contemporary change. He wrote on sculpture, poetry, prose, mathematics, engineering and other topics. His work was studied by generations of artists.


This translation of On Painting is by Susan Allix, based on the Italian text published in L. B. Alberti, Opere Volgari, Volume Terzo. Allix writes, “This translation…is a painter’s translation and includes those parts that seem to hold, for the present, the most important of Alberti’s ideas…it has been extensively abridged to prevent it from becoming several volumes.”

In a letter to Michael R. Thompson Rare Books, Allix wrote, “One day I started to read Alberti’s book and was astounded at his idea that everything begins with a dot. I spent a long time struggling away with fifteenth century Tuscan (helped with a more modern translation), but present Italian hasn’t altered so much and I did find it readable. I wanted my own translation. Slightly unprofessionally some of this was done in the afternoon quiet of an Italian camping site. One interesting page is where I followed Alberti’s instructions on how to achieve a squared pavement. So complicated, I never believed it would work, but lo and behold the perspective of the squared pavement appeared!”


This edition contains twenty-eight intaglio prints, the result of four years of sketchbook observation and drawing, plate-making and reworking the plates. The prints were made from copper, zinc, and Perspex plates, and contain a wide variety of techniques. There is etching, drypoint, and mezzotint, often in combination, and also open bite, aquatint, sand grain, and carborundum. The plates have been printed black and white and color in intaglio, relief and blind. All the inks are made from pure pigments ground in copperplate oil, so interleaving sheets is necessary to stop the plates from offsetting. As each plate is hand-inked and printed separately, complete uniformity is not possible. Twenty of the prints are in color, seven in black and white, one in blind, and many have extra hand-coloring on the prints or the type. The first ten copies, of which this is number three, have watercolor and pencil paintings on Japanese paper between each of the three of Alberti’s books.

Bound in full cream goatskin, upper cover tinted with a border of darker purple dye, extending to the spine, and an abstract design of other lighter tints and various colored goatskin onlays with textured endpapers.


Rare Books copy has holographic letter written in ink on both sides of the press’s stationary from Allix to book collector Denis Collins, prospectus, and biographical article about the author, entitled “God is in the datail,” laid in. Signed in ink on the verso of the front flyleaf: “For Denis/with warmest regards/Susan/11 April 2000.” Collins’ stamp on recto of terminal endpaper. One of twenty-two copies, numbered and signed by the artist.


Article on Utah Arabic Paper fragment added to


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“But in the end it was the eunuch Kāfūr, the slave of their father, who held the strongest political hand over the country.”

P. Utah Inv. 1383
Cairo, abt 954 CE

Arabic papyrologist Naïm Vanthieghem has added a paper to, publishing an Arabic paper fragment held in the Rare Books Department’s Arabic Papyrus, Parchment and Paper Collection. The paper is titled “Une contribution pour la table d’un prince ikhchidide. Édition de P. Utah Inv. 1383” and may be downloaded here.

Naïm Vanthieghem has identified this piece as being written in Cairo about 954. The fragment concerns business with Abū al-Ḥasan Alī b. Muḥammad al-Iḫšīd, “the third and last sovereign Ikhchidid,” about whom little is known.

“His father Muḥammad b. Tuġǧ al-Iḫšīd, a Turkish mercenary, founded the Ikhchicid dynasty in 935. The dynasty ruled in Egypt on behalf of the Abbasid caliphs. Upon his death, his two sons Unūǧūr (946-961) and Alī (961-966) succeeded him….But in the end it was the eunuch Kāfūr, the slave of their father, who held the strongest political hand over the country. At the disappearance of Alī, in 966, Kāfūr evicted Aḥmad, son of Unūǧū…and exercised power directly until his death in 968. The unfortunate Aḥmad briefly inherited the throne, before the Fatimids toppled it in 969. The reign of Alī was marked by many shortages and economic crises that weakened the power of the Ikhchidids and thus favored the advent of the Fatimid caliphs.”

In the past, Naïm Vanthieghem has contributed descriptive terms to many pieces from the Utah Arabic Papyrus, Parchment and Paper Collection and published several pieces in international academic journals. Read about some of his other articles here.

Thank you, Naïm! We look forward to seeing more of your work with our collection.