William Hunter’s Library: the Es

Since the Project Transcription Team is now here and working well, it’s likely that our alphabetical updates will soon be out of sequence. So this post marks a new system of subtitling.

The ‘E’ section of Hunter’s Trustees’ Library Catalogue (now known as Museum Records 3 – or MR 3 for short) comprises 135 entries. This forms a small but rich section of the catalogue.

Early printing

E is particularly strong in Classical authors with many entries for Epictetus, Euclid, and Euripides, including some of Hunter’s incunables.

One of Hunter’s copies of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry was published in Venice in 1482 and features woodcut diagrams that illustrate mathematical equations. This was one of the 192 incunabula that Hunter purchased via his Paris agent at the sale of the library of Louis-Jean Gaignat, the late Receiver-General of Pleas at the Palace of Justice in Paris in 1769. Gaignat had died the previous year leaving a library of over 5,000 items. In addition to the 192 incunabula, Hunter bought eleven illuminated manuscripts and an assortment of other books. Euclides: Elementa geometriae. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 25 May 1482 is now Sp Coll Hunterian By.2.12.


Leaf from Sp Coll Hunterian By.2.12 showing woodcut mathematical diagrams

At the same sale, Hunter purchased Eusebij Cesariensis episcopi ecclesiastica hystoria per Rufinum viru[m] eloque[n]tissimu[m] de greco in latinu[m] traducta incipit feliciter… printed by Nicolaus Ketelaer and Gerardus de Leempt in Utrecht in 1474. Now Sp Coll Hunterian Bw.2.16, this is a history of  Christianity by Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (c. 300-c. 359) translated from Greek to Latin by Rufinus of Aquileia (345-410).


Opening page of text of Sp Coll Hunterian Bw.2.16

Hunter’s interest in early printing is well documented in his library. He collected 539 incunabula from all of the major presses of fifteenth-century Europe as well as more than 2,000 books printed by sixteenth-century scholar-printers.


Title page of Conrad Neobar’s edition of Epictetus’s Encheiridion (now Sp Coll Hunterian P.6.23)

An example of this is found at Sp Coll Hunterian P.6.23  where scholarly publisher Conrad Neobar’s 1540 edition of Epictetus’s Encheiridion can now be found. Neobar had been a notable proofreader of Greek at the Wechel press  before being appointed as Francis I’s printer of Greek books. Hunter bought this – along with 122 other books – at the sale of Sir Clement Cottrell Dormer’s books in 1764.


Page 133 of MR3 lists collections of essays – listed at ‘E’ for ‘Essay’ rather than their authors’ names:

Of these, two actually do have authors that start with E (Robert Eliot and the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. The other three, however, are two by Dominique Beddevole  and one by an anonymous author. The Beddevole publications (the two at the top of the list above) are not listed in the ‘B’ section of MR 3. The current transcription and digital resource project aims to made entries like these more accessible.

Project update

Our full team of eight transcribers is now in action and making excellent progress on transcribing MR3 and matching the entries to the library catalogue. Our information is currently stored on shared Excel spreadsheet files and once the initial transcription is complete, we will check each other’s work for accuracy and (hopefully!) to find any matches that have proved elusive so far or to account for any reasons why we might not find a match in the modern library catalogue.

We have also started to consult MR2, Hunter’s ‘Common Catalogue’ which was made during his lifetime to check if there is any additional information about the books listed in MR3.

MR1, Hunter’s medical book catalogue, is currently being digitised by the University Library’s photographic unit.


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Read previous blog posts for William Hunter’s Library: A Transcription of the Early Catalogues

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Categories: Archives and Special Collections, Library

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2 replies


  1. William Hunter’s Library: the Es – Karen Baston
  2. Whewell’s Gazette: Year 3, Vol. #38 | Whewell's Ghost

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