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17th century science volume, 'Micrographia', discovered in SCOLAR

12 September 2012

Image of Micrographia from Cardiff Rare Books collection.

'Micrographia' is best known for its detailed copperplate engravings of Hooke's discoveries.

The University's Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) unit has discovered a famous 17th century volume, 'Micrographia', amongst the Cardiff Rare Books collection.

The most recent work discovered during the rare books cataloguing project is the 1667 edition of 'Micrographia: or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses', by Robert Hooke. 'Micrographia' was the first book to be written in English about the microscope, and records Hooke's stunning observations of plants, insects and fossils in scientific detail for the first time (the equivalent of the scanning electron microscope today!).

"This find not only illustrates the power in the 17th century of the emerging science of microscopy, but can also claim to be the first scientific best-seller, inspiring public interest in this miniature world, and producing this second edition only a year or so after the first edition," said Peter Keelan, Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Ken Gibb, Rare Books Cataloguer in SCOLAR said:  "Hooke was appointed Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society in 1662, and went on to become one of the greatest experimental scientists of the 17th century. 'Micrographia' features detailed copperplate engravings of Hooke's discoveries, offering the public their first close-up view of plant cells, a fly's eye, and fossils."

The Cardiff Rare Books collection, which was secured by the University in 2010, was assembled by Cardiff Public Library in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and features 14,000 rare and antiquarian books.

Ken added: "Cataloguing the Cardiff Rare Books Collection is a huge but fascinating task, and it has been exciting to reveal some of the hidden treasures contained in this remarkable collection. Last year we set up the SCOLAR blog as a way of sharing our latest discoveries with staff and students and so far we have featured a wide range of items from across the collection, including this latest information about our fine copy of the 'Micrographia'."

Visit the SCOLAR blog to see the latest findings in the Rare Books collection

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