Saturday, May 23, 2009

Overdue Library Books?

Hopefully not this overdue! Peter Dizikes reports that the Boston Public Library was stunned when Julie Geissler turned up at their doorstep with a first-edition copy of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. The book, overdue by over eighty years, is one of three first-edition copies owned by the Boston Public Library. (According to Janet Browne, around 1,100 first-edition copies were printed in total.) Dizikes speculates that the library was able to acquire multiple copies because the book was intended for general sale to the public, rather than limited to academicians. Although none of the Boston Library copies have acquisition records, Dizikes traces their inscriptions back to Robert Gordon Tatham, a respected London doctor, and Charles Lacaita, a member of the British Parliament and botanist. The book returned by Geissler contains no information about its origin.

Ben Picozzi

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