Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

When I set out to learn more about the provenance of one of our rare books, I could not have predicted the twists and turns that would lead directly to the library of one of the world’s greatest scientists. Our copy of John Browne’s Myographia nova, or A graphical description of all the muscles in humane body was published in London in 1698. When it appeared on my desk for cataloguing I expected to find some interesting (and gory) anatomical engravings and not much else. I opened the book to reveal an unusual bookplate bearing only a Latin motto, “Philosophemur”, with no indication of the previous owner’s name. On closer examination it was apparent that this bookplate had been pasted directly over an earlier, smaller bookplate, obscuring it completely. There were two handwritten shelfmarks, one at the top left of the page, “732_24”, and one at the foot of the bookplate which reads “Case V…

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