Rare Book of the Month

The New-England Farmer; or, Georgical Dictionary, by Samuel Deane (2nd edition, 1797)

Agriculture is justly thought to be the most ancient art; and it is certainly by far the most useful, necessary and beneficial. The subsistence and welfare of mankind depend more on it than on any, or all others: And all other arts would soon be useless, were the culture of the surface of the earth... more

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (1788)

In the fall of 1787 Alexander Hamilton was facing a crisis. The recently concluded Constitutional Convention had been charged with revising the Articles of Confederation to provide a framework for the government of the newly independent United States. But after four months of contentious debate in Philadelphia, the delegates presented to the American public a... more

Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, by Sir John Harington (1607)

The Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto’s epic Orlando Furioso first appeared in print exactly 500 years ago. Taking inspiration from the French Chanson de Roland, Ariosto recounted the fantastic adventures of one of Charlemagne’s knights, Roland (Orlando) and his associates. The main stories concern Orlando, who has been driven mad by his unrequited love for the... more

Report on Meteorology to the Secretary of the Navy, by James P. Espy (1850)

Weather forecasts are something that we take for granted in the 21st century. Most of us don’t give much thought to the science behind our weather apps, websites, or 24-hour television channels. But in fact the science of meteorology is a fairly recent one. Two hundred years ago there was very little understanding of the... more

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde (1899)

In the winter of 1895 Oscar Wilde was the toast of the London stage. A production of his An Ideal Husband opened in January to critical and popular acclaim. His new play, The Importance of Being Earnest, had its premiere at the fashionable St. James’s Theatre on February 14. The opening night audience was delighted... more

Systema Cosmicum, by Galileo Galilei (1635)

Banned Books Week  is observed each September by librarians, publishers, authors, educators, and readers to show “support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” By calling attention to various attempts to restrict access to books and other materials, Banned Books Week reminds readers that freedom of... more

The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1754), by Thomas Chippendale

By the end of the 18th century, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) was the most famous furniture designer in England and North America. The term “Chippendale” had come to refer to a style of furniture prevalent throughout Europe and the United States. What started Thomas Chippendale on the road to this renown was the publication of a... more

Sarum Breviaries (1555, 1556)

One of the shelves in my office has a small label that reads “Problems.” On it are books that were found, in a recent inventory of ZSR’s Rare Books Collection, to have incorrect or nonexistent catalog records. One of my summer projects this year is to evaluate and create records for this small collection of... more

Complete Book on the Judgment of the Stars, by ʻAlī ibn Abī al-Rijāl (1485 Erhard Ratdolt edition)

One of the oldest printed books in ZSR’s Rare Books Collection is a Latin translation of Alī Ibn Abī al-Rijāl’s principal scientific work, Kitāb al-bāriʻ fī aḥkām al-nujūm. The text, commonly known as Liber in iudiciis astrorum,  is a treatise on astrological methods by an 11th century Arab mathematician, printed in 1485 by a German printer... more

Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns (1787)

In December of 1786 a young country poet from the west of Scotland traveled to Edinburgh. Robert Burns hoped to drum up support for a second edition of the collection of poems that he had recently published by subscription in Kilmarnock. On 6 December Burns wrote to a friend I have now been a week... more