Sylva Sylvarum

Hot off the printing presses…three hundred and fifty years ago!

Look at this rare tome that appeared on our desk today from the closed stack. It’s the Sylva Sylvarum: or A Naturall Historie In Ten Centuries, by Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626). It was originally printed in 1627, but our edition is from 1676. A relative youngster! It’s kept in our closed stacks (Call Number: Q155.B14 S95 1676).

You can read the University of Rochester’s thorough description of the book and its engravings here.

I asked my historian friend Benjamin Breen, editor-in-chief at The Appendix, if he had any details to add to UR’s description of the Sylva Sylvarum. He wrote back that “the twin pillars in the frontispiece represent the Pillars of Hercules dividing the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, which for Bacon were a metaphor for the threshold between what we know (the Mediterranean of classical antiquity) and what there’s left to find out (the New World beyond the seas).” Pretty cool!

Here are a few (somewhat blurry, sorry) images of the book:

The frontispiece, with its symbolic columns.

Bacon muses on what types of instruments meʃh well.

93. Experiment Solitary touching the Producing of Feathers and Hairs of diverse Colours. (^excellent band name idea)

Take note: sleep is really important. And naps have been awesome for centuries!

And now you know a cure for gout.

Check out The Appendix, an extremely engaging history journal and a great resource, recently featured in the New Yorker, Jezebel, Slate, and Radiolab. Here’s the Facebook page.

Learn more about our collections at http://library.tc.columbia.edu/col_overview.php.