University of Delaware Library

Exercitationes de generatione animalium William Harvey. Exercitationes de generatione animalium. Quibus accedunt quaedam de partu: de membranis ac humoribus uteri: & de conceptione. Padua: Typis heredum Pauli Frambotti, 1666.

William Harvey is most famous for discovering the circulation of blood, but just as important was his work on reproduction.  He opposed earlier theorists who believed human life began with a seed produced by the male.  Harvey himself theorized that all life came from eggs: not only for birds, but also for mammals.  Because the microscope had not yet been invented, he had no way to prove his theory, but he became famous for the dictum omne vivum ex ovo or “all life from eggs.”  The engraved frontispiece of his treatise on the subject depicts Jove opening an egg and releasing all forms of life into the world.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Walter Charleton. Gualteri Charletoni exercitationes de differentiis & nominibus animalium. Quibus accedunt mantissa anatomica, et quaedam de variis fossilium generibus, deque differentiis & nominibus colorum. Oxoniae, e theatro Sheldoniano, 1677.

Walter Charleton (1619-1707) was an English physician who received his medical training at Oxford. At the age of twenty-four, he was appointed physician to Charles II. Charleton was a prolific writer who produced works on subjects ranging from anatomy to the mystery of Stonehenge. Exercitationes de differentiis & nominibus animalium is an encyclopedic work on all of the then-known animals, including snakes, insects, birds, fish, and fossils. His list of foreign and British birds includes eight engraved illustrations.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates

Exercitationes de differentiis & nominibus animalium


Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning

Francis Bacon. Of the Advancement and Proficience of Learning, or, The Partitions of Sciences, Oxford: Printed by Leonard Lichfield for Robert Young & Edward Forrest, 1640.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, politician, and scientist during the reign of Elizabeth I. He revolutionized scientific thought by delineating the inductive method. He argued that the only knowledge of importance to man was empirically rooted in the natural world and that a systematic inquiry would allow man to uncover the secrets of nature.

The illustration on the title page represents the analogy between the great voyages of discovery and the explorations leading to the advancement of learning. Bacon sees science as passing beyond the knowledge of ancient learning toward a New World. The Latin phrase under the ship is from the Book of Daniel and translates as "Many will pass through and knowledge will be increased."

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Robert Boyle. Some Considerations Touching the Usefulnesse of Experimental Natural Philosophy.  Propos’d in a Familiar Discourse to a Friend, by Way of Invitation to the Study of It. Oxford: Printed by Henry Hall for Richard Davis, 1664-1671.

Robert Boyle (1627-1691) is known as one of the fathers of modern chemistry.  He was an important proponent of the experimental methods devised by Francis Bacon, which were the forerunners of the modern scientific method.  In his most famous work, The Sceptical Chemist (1661) Boyle argued against Aristotle’s view that the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) were the basis of all material things.  He advocated a science based on experimentation and observation rather than on a priori assumptions.  In Some Considerations Touching the Usefulnesse of Experimental Natural Philosophy (first published in 1663), Boyle argued for teaching experimental science in schools.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates

Some Considerations


Unterricht in der natürlichen Magie

Johann Nikolaus Martius. Unterricht in der natürlichen Magie, oder, Zu allerhand belustigenden und nützlichen Kunststücken. Berlin und Stettin: Bey Friedrich Nicolai, 1786-1807.

This dictionary of experiments, demonstrations, and tricks in the fields of electricity, magnetism, optics, chemistry, mechanics, numbers, and cards was first issued in 1739. Early volumes focus more on magic, but later expanded and enlarged editions of the book developed into a very useful and instructive record of the latest discoveries in physics and chemistry. The experiments in this twenty-volume work range from card tricks and producing charm mirrors to recipes for preserving sour cherries and removing ink spots. Johann Christian Wiegleb (1732-1800), who edited this expanded version of Martius' work, was one of a growing group of apothecaries in the eighteenth century that played an increasingly active role in scientific research, especially in chemistry.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates

Johannes Jacobus Wecker. Antidotarium Generale à Io. Iacabo Vuekero Basiliense Reipublicae Colmariensis Physico Nunc Primum Laboriese congestum, methodicè digestum. Basel: Per Eusebium Episcopium & Nicolai Fr. hæredes, 1576.

This work is a companion volume to the author's De Secretis and is concerned almost exclusively with chemical and medical secrets and preparations. Of special interest is the section that provides instructions on how to conduct chemical experiments and includes a variety of illustrations of distilling apparatus.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates and Melva B. Guthrie Fund.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 
Goethe’s Theory of Colours; Translated from the German with Notes by Charles Lock Eastlake.  London: J. Murray, 1840.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is best known as a celebrated literary figure of the German Romantic period.  While most critics would point to Faust as his most important work, Goethe himself considered his greatest achievement his Farbenlehre, or his science of color.  This work, published in 1810, disputes Newton’s theory that white light is made up of a spectrum of colors.  Goethe argued instead that colors resulted from a mixture of dark and light, an idea demonstrated in the color plate shown here.  Despite Goethe’s confidence in his theory, it was based on a misunderstanding of Newtonian optics and has long been considered a failure.

Sir Charles Eastlake translated and published Goethe’s Farbenlehre, not because he agreed with Goethe’s attack on Newton, but because Goethe’s ideas about color closely mirrored those of the Renaissance and so were useful for the practice of painting.  Eastlake’s translation made Goethe’s ideas very influential in England, especially for the Pre-Raphaelites and for J.M.W. Turner, who made a careful study of the book and applied its ideas to his own unique approach to color.

Lammot du Pont Memorial Book Fund 

Goethe's Theory of Colours

L'Optique des Colours Louis-Bertrand Castel.
L’Optique des Colours, fondée sur les simples observations, & tournée sur-tout à la practique de la peinture, de la teinture & autres arts coloristes.  Paris: Braisson, 1740.

Like Goethe, Louis-Bertrand Castel (1688-1751) opposed Newtonian color theory.  However, unlike Goethe, who had thought that Newton’s experiments were flawed, Castel rejected experimental science altogether.  Castel supported the views of René Descartes, a French philosopher who distrusted sense perception and advocated science based on logical thought rather than on empirical observation.  “Newton,” Castel complained, “reduced man to using only his eyes.”

Castel himself theorized that vibrations produced color, just as they produced sounds.  He concluded, therefore, that colors and sounds were analogous, which led him to attempt to develop the “ocular harpsichord” described in this book.  The harpsichord was supposed to display colors in correspondence with particular notes.  He had originally meant for the harpsichord to remain theoretical, but the skepticism of his critics caused him to spend thirty years trying to construct such an instrument.

Melva B. Guthrie Fund

Versuch eines farbensystems Ignaz Schiffermüller.  Versuch eines farbensystems.  Vienna: A. Bernardi, 1771.

With Versuch eines farbensystems, Ignaz Schiffermüller attempts to show the practical uses of Castel’s ideas on color.  On the frontispiece, he presents a very ornamental illustration highlighting Castel’s color wheel.  Much of the rest of the book deals with dyeing techniques and materials.

Melva B. Guthrie Fund, D.L. Hawkins Memorial Library Fund, and Frank W. Tober Memorial Fund


Auguste Vinçard. Art du teinturier coloriste sur laine soie fil et coton. Paris: Auteur and Chanson, 1820.

Auguste Vinçard was a professional dyer in Paris who had been a student of Pierre Laboulaye-Marillac (1771-1824), the director of the dye works at the Gobelins tapestry factory. The book is arranged as a dictionary with each term and technique explained in great detail. It also includes a description of the basic principles of dyeing. Art du teinturier coloriste contains twenty-five mounted samples of dyed yarn and cloth. The samples of silk, cotton, and wool are arranged by color: white, blue, yellow, black, red, green, and violet. In addition, there are twenty-seven engravings depicting the dyeing processes. The University of Delaware's world-renowned collection of books on dyeing and bleaching includes European and American works from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates

Art du teinturier


Ausfarbungen auf Federn

Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedrich Bayer & Co. Ausfärbungen auf Federn. Leverkusen: Farbenfabriken vorm. Friedrich Bayer & Co., 1910.

In 1863 businessman Friedrich Bayer and master dyer Johann Friedrich Weskott established a dyestuffs factory in Barmen, Germany. Soon afterwards, the two men purchased an interest in a coal tar dye factory in the United States and began exporting intermediates. The descendants of Bayer and Weskott established Friedrich Bayer & Co in 1881. Now known as Bayer AG, the Company is an international health care and chemicals corporation.

This is one of a group of three hundred sixty-four trade catalogs from a variety of European dyeing manufacturers issued between 1895 and 1925. This time period was significant for developments in the commercial uses of synthetic dyes.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates and Melva B. Guthrie Fund


F. F. (Friedlieb Ferdinand) Runge. Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe. Veranschaulicht in Selbständig Gewachsenen Bildern (Fortsetzung der Musterbilder). Oranienburg, [Germany]: Selbstverlag, 1855.

This self-published work by the German chemist F. F. Runge (1795-1867) is an important addition to the world-renowned collection on dyeing and bleaching housed in Special Collections. Runge, who was a pioneer in the use of paper chromatography, published Der Bildungstrieb der Stoffe in a relatively few copies. It contains eighty-three chromatagrams showing concentric zones of different substances present in a solution, which had radiated from the point of application. The result is one of the most beautiful and certainly unique of all dyeing books.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates and Melva B. Guthrie Fund.



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