Monogram, label and stamp: Clues to the fate of a rare book

Many rare books have had a long and exciting journey on their way to a safe haven in a library. These works have for example seen continuous change in ownership and travelled through many countries over the centuries. The fate of these ‘travelling books’ has often been documented: thus handwritten notes, stamps and labels have assumed the role of storyteller, in many cases leaving unsolved mysteries in their wake.

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L.galvani Teaser

The terror of frogs and the birth of the novel Frankenstein

Many thousands of frogs fell victim to Luigi Galvani’s scientific curiosity, and all because the anatomist observed how the leg of a dissected frog began to twitch as if from nowhere. This occurrence took place in Bologna in 1780 and led to one of the most important discourses in scientific history – and to the birth of the novel Frankenstein.

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15193136 Featured

From the eruption of Krakatoa to Munch’s The Scream – the phenomenon known as the twilight effect

On 27 August 1883 the volcano known as Krakatoa, itself part of an island archipelago of the same name, was destroyed in an enormous explosion. The detonation’s blast is said to have been heard thousands of kilometres away, sending shock waves round the world several times.

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Drawing electricity out of the clouds: Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Letters about Electricity’

‘Eripuit caelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis’ (He snatched the thunderbolt from heaven and the sceptre from tyrants) is an epigram about Benjamin Franklin, coined by the French economist and minister Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot (Möhring 2010, p. 253). It shows that Franklin achieved fame in the eighteenth century not only as co-author and signatory of the American Declaration of Independence but also as researcher into electricity and inventor of the lightning conductor.

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14486486 Featured

Assertio 123 – Galileo Galilei recants

When the title of a book is ‘Anticopernicus catholicus’, it is not necessary to explain that its author Giorgio Polacco pits himself against the heliocentric world view and it is likewise clear that the arguments of the Roman Catholic church must be anticipated. That his own condemnation and adjuration – printed in full – also had to be used as an argument would not have pleased Galileo Galilei at all.

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14 02 28 Etheritage Froben

“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” – Froben’s printer’s signet

They acted as a kind of copyright and were supposed to protect publications against unlawful reprinting by third parties: printer’s marks, also referred to as printer’s signets. They were added to books by the first publishers of printed material to label their source clearly. As there

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