Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pepys and the Theatrum Machinarum

Samuel Pepys was a great bibliophile and diarist. His collection gives some insight into the extant literature of the time. When it comes to the TM, we know:

  • He owned neither a Ramelli nor a Besson (not even in Spanish like Hooke!)
  • He did own Boeckler's Architectura curiosa nova (num 2488; pg. 19)...
  • ...and his Theatrum Machinarum Novum (num 2473; pg.19). The popularity of Boeckler among the Fellow of the Royal Society is surprising given that he was a fairly minor player who ripped off Jacopi de Strada!
  • Strada's work gets no mention; nor Zeising; nor Zonca; nor Branca.
  • The 1672 Coignard edition of Vitruvius is present (num 2915 pg. 184)
  • Wilkins's Mathematical Magick (num 802; pg. 190) but no Bates.
  • Agricola's De re metallica (num 2357; pg. 3)
  • There is also a work by Salomon de Caus: La practique et demonstration des horloges solaires (num 2602; pg. 34). Unfortunately, it's the wrong one.
Pypys's Appendix Classica is quite an amazing thing. It certainly demonstrates a strong adherence to Ramus classification principles. Remisiscent of Galileo's system, it breaks down the world into various classification headings. The structure of chapters is quite remarkable:
  • Arts and sciences
  • Boyle
  • Church
  • Cicero
  • Consutilia
  • Cotton-Sr. Robert
  • Devotion
  • Dictionarys & Lexicons- Vid. Grammars
  • Diversion
  • England
  • English
  • Grammars, Dictionaries & Lexicons
  • History
  • Latin
  • Law
  • Letters
  • Lifes
  • Liturgys
  • Liturgick Controversies
  • Manuscripts
  • Musicks
  • Narratives and Trials
  • Navy- vid. Sea
  • Parliament- []Proceedings
  • Philosophy
  • Plays
  • Poems
  • Scripture
  • Sea & Navy
  • Sermons & Preachers
  • Studiorum Methodi.
  • Tailles- Douces
  • Travels & Voyages
  • Trials- vid. Narratives
  • Vulgargia
It's quite convenient that he provides added entries for a one page list of subject headings!

Under Arts and Sciences, he lists works on Agrigulture, "Anneiling on Glass," Architecture, Carpentry, Chiromancy, "Chymistry," cryptography, "Cutting for the Stone" [he suffered from stones in his urinary tract], Drawing, "Dialling," teaching the dumb and deaf to speak, Fortification (featuring works by Blome, DeFer, and Scala), "Japanning," Joinery, Opticks, Painting, Perfuming, Smithery, Surveying, and Turning.

He also lists works on games and sports inlcuding a work on dice and two on cockfighting.

His manuscripts may contain an entire tressure trove of information on the type of documents that were actually used at the time. His diaries are notoriously stingy on navy-related technical information. A typical entry states: "spent day at office." The modern manuscripts may be more informative. Interesting entires include: instructions to pumpmakers and general costs for pumps, and ordnance. Recovering those manuscripts may be a challenge.


McKitterick, David. (ed.) (1991). Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge: VII. Facsimile of Pepys's catalogue. D.S. Brewster.
Smith, N.A. (ed.) (1991). Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge: I. Printed books. D.S. Brewster.


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