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The Complutensian Bible (Alcala de Henares: Arnaldo Guillen de Brocar, 1514-17).

One of two variants of the Complutensian or Ximenes Bible held by the Library. This was the first polyglot edition of the Bible printed so that scholars could compare the various translations. Editing began in 1502 under the supervision of Cardinal Ximenes, primate of Spain, confessor to Queen Isabella, Grand Inquisitor, and critic of Columbus's treatment of the native Americans, "to revive the hitherto dormant study of the Scriptures", but wasn't completed for many years.

Francis Sandford, The history of the coronation of the most high, most mighty, and most excellent monarch, James II (London, 1687).

The coronation feast, complete with spectators, and a detail of a long-suffering parader carrying the kettledrums, in Francis Sandford's book detailing James II's accession, produced two years after the event, and one year before James was removed from the throne by the "Glorious" Revolution. The sumptuous illustrations also show the regalia worn, plans of all the buildings involved, and fireworks on the Thames.

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, The history of the bucaniers (London, 1684).

Exquemelin had hands-on experience of life as a privateer, having retired from the profession in 1672. Originating in Normandy, he had been sold into slavery on the sugar plantations, but after suffering beatings and starvation, escaped to make his fortune on the high seas. He had this memoir first printed in Dutch in 1676, although as he was not a professional writer the publisher added an extra chapter and abridged the original French manuscript to make it more palatable to the reading public of Holland.

John Seller, Atlas caelestis (London, 1677)

John Seller was hydrographer to Charles II and James II and produced a prolific output of maps, charts and geographical and nautical publications, being granted a monopoly for the former for thirty years. This work contains fifty-five plates all of which are brightly hand-coloured in this copy. The plates shown here portray the sun, the moon, and various comets.

Sir Isaac Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (London, 1687).

The first edition of Sir Isaac Newton's most famous work, which contains the summation of his theories on the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which now bear his name. The quote "all matter attracts all other matter with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them" sums up his theory and has stood the test of time.

Hiob Ludolf, Historia Aethiopica (Frankfurt, 1681).

The land of Ethiopia had long fascinated Europeans, not merely as an exotic and foreign land full of strange beasts, as evidenced by the incredibly ferocious looking hippo portrayed in this volume (first image below), but also as an ancient and independent Christian empire beyond the realms of Islam which hemmed them in. It had adopted Christianity in the 4th century A.D. but had been cut off from Western Europe by the spread of Islam across northern Africa and the Middle East.

Aylett Sammes, Britannia antiqua illustrata (London, 1676).

As the subtitle of this volume, 'The antiquities of ancient Britain, derived from the Phoenicians', indicates, Aylett Sammes attempted to accommodate British antiquity with classical and biblical histories by postulating a pedigree for the ancient Britons from a civilization mentioned in those accounts.

The Bible in Armenian (Amsterdam, 1666).

This detail comes from the first printed Armenian Bible: "The editio princeps of the Armenian Bible ... In the 17th century Armenian manuscript Bibles had become so scarce and costly that the Patriarch Jacobus Caractri about 1662 despatched an ecclesiastic named Uscan (or Osgan) to Europe to arrange for the printing of an edition of the Armenian Scriptures. This Uscan ... went first to Rome, but afterwards moved to Amsterdam, where he supervised the publication of this Bible" (Darlow & Moule).

Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God naneeswe Nukkone Testament kah wonk Wusku Testament (Cambridge, Mass., 1685).

Printing reached the English colonies in New England in 1638, when a press was set up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Joseph Glover. In 1685 Samuel Green, who printed this volume, was apparently the only printer operating in Cambridge, although presses had been established in Boston and Philadelphia. The text is a translation into a local Algonquian language of the Bible.

John Milton, Paradise lost, 4th edition (London, 1688).

An engraving of Satan tormenting the damned in Hell from the fourth edition of Milton's epic. This was the first illustrated edition of the text, produced twenty years after the first edition and fourteen years after Milton's death. It was also the first edition with which Jacob Tonson was associated. Paradise lost had not been particularly successful when Tonson bought half the copyright in 1683 (he obtained the other half in 1690).

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