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Current Topics and Events


IT has been common knowledge for some time in the scientific world that the Royal Society intended to dispose of part of the collection of early printed books in its library, especial attention having been directed to the fact in the report of Council issued to fellows in November last, and published in the Year Book of the Society. While it is true that during the last few years the Society has received large gifts of money, it has to be borne in mind that without exception the application of such moneys has been limited to certain definite objects, and none is available for the general purposes of the Society, however badly it may be needed; that, no doubt, explains the last sentence of the president's letter to the Times of March 27, “As circumstances stand, sentiment must be tempered by practical expediency.” The larger portion of the books are relics of the collection presented to the Society in 1666 by Henry Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, and only those volumes which have no scientific interest or are duplicates are being offered for sale; but two of the books' which are likely to fetch very high prices-a Bible, and Richard Baxter's “A Call to the Unconverted,” both translated into the Massachusetts Indian language-were presented to the Society in 1669 by John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut. One of the features of the collection is a series of several hundred Reformation Tracts printed in Germany, more than one hundred of these being by Martin Luther. Among other books of interest are Caxton's second edition of “The Canterbury Tales,” 1484, Fust's “Liber Sextus Decretalium” (1465), and Cicero's “De Officiis” (1466). A first edition of Euclid, included in the sale, is a duplicate. It is the intention of the president and Council that the proceeds shall be kept as a separate fund, known as “The Arundel Library Fund,” to be used for the purchase of scientific books. A nucleus has already been formed by the sale to the British Museum, at its own valuation, of some seventy items.

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Current Topics and Events. Nature 115, 504–508 (1925).

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