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Grolier Club Exhibitions

General Bibliography

The discipline of bibliography, as well as book lists of all kinds: national, author, and subject bibliographies; catalogues of books for sale, by auction or bookseller; and inventories of libraries both public and private.

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Trithemius, Johannes.

Liber de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis. [Basel: J. Amerbach, 1494].

Johannes Trithemius (1462–1516), abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Sponheim and later of St. James in Würzburg, is honored with the title of “father of bibliography” for the first systematic bibliography of the printing age. Trithemius lists 7,000 works of nearly 1,000 writers, mostly ecclesiastical. 

Harper Fund, 1959.

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Gesner, Konrad.

Bibliotheca Universalis.... Zurich: Christoph Froschauer, 1545.

Before he was thirty, Konrad Gesner (1516–1565), professor of physics and natural science and a doctor of medicine in his native Zurich, compiled the Bibliotheca universalis, the first international bibliography of authors writing in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Published in four parts between 1545 and 1555, this list of 12,000 titles has been called “one of the epochal works in the annals of bibliography.”

Gift of Leonard L. Mackall, 1928.

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Grudé, François.

Premier volume de la bibliothèque du sieur de la Croix Du Maine. Paris: L’Angelier, 1584.

The first edition of the first French national bibliography and literary biography. François Grudé (1552–1592) at an early age began gathering a large personal collection of books in French, Greek, Latin, Spanish and Italian. Grudé issued a prospectus for a detailed catalogue of his library, but it aroused little interest, and he eventually published this Premier volume on his own. Two additional volumes were planned, but neither appeared: at age forty Grudé was assassinated for suspected Protestant sympathies.

Gift of Harrison D. Horblit.

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à Beughem, Cornelis.

Incunabula typographiae …. Amsterdam: J. Wolters, 1688. 

The study of incunabula (books printed during the infancy of printing, from the Latin cunae, “cradle”) has been a cornerstone of bibliographic research for centuries. This work by Cornelis à Beughem (fl. 1678–1710), is recognized as the first bibliography devoted to fifteenth-century printed books. Shown here is a list of works by St. Augustine, including the 1467 City of God printed by Sweynheim and Pannartz in Subiaco; the Grolier Club copy of this work is shown elsewhere in this exhibition. 

Gift of Richard E. Priest, 1995.

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Kennett, White.

Bibliothecae Americanae primordia …. London: Churchill, 1713.

One of the founding members of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, White Kennett (1660–1728), antiquarian, topographer, and bishop of Peterborough, hoped to prepare a history of the propagation of Christianity in the English-speaking American colonies, and for that purpose he began collecting books, charts, maps, and other documents. The work never materialized, and eventually Kennett presented his collections to the Society and issued this bibliography, the earliest on the literature of North America. The Grolier Club copy is from Kennett’s own library, with his bookplate.

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1892.

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Hauber, Eberhard David.

Bibliotheca acta & scripta magica. 2nd ed.—Lemgo: J. H. Meyer, 1738–1745. 6 volumes.

The detailed bibliographical entries in this influential bibliography on demonology, witchcraft, and the occult are accompanied by an extensive commentary in which the author argues vehemently against the belief in witches and other supernatural forces.  The woodblock plate is from a chapter in volume one concerning written pacts between humans and the spirit world; it shows a handprint and burn marks purportedly left by a ghost to seal a pact.  

Purchased from the Harper Fund.

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Schnurrer, Christian Friedrich.

Bibliotheca Arabica. Halle: J.C. Hendel, 1811.

The first comprehensive bibliography of Arabic texts and scholarly works on Arabic language and literature printed in Europe from 1505 to 1810, Bibliotheca Arabica remains the standard reference on the subject. Most of the books described by Schnurrer (1742–1822), professor of Oriental languages at Tübingen, were part of his own working library; which was acquired after his death by All Souls’ College, Oxford. 

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Polain, Marie-Louis.

Catalogue des livres imprimés au quinzième siècle des bibliothèques de Belgique [manuscript], ca. 1920–1933.

In 1920 noted bibliographer Marie-Louis Polain (1866–1933) was asked to compile a catalogue of the incunabula in Belgian libraries, and to that end Polain began to collect typographic samples of early printed books from Belgium, photographic negatives, and detailed notes for each work. Polain published his Catalogue des livres imprimés au quinzième siècle des biblio-thèques de Belgique in 1932. The extensive archive of this ambitious bibliographical project—some 25 linear feet of material—is one of the most frequently consulted archival collections in the Grolier Club Library.

Gift of Hans P. Kraus, 1979.