Looking closely at 3½ inches of Thomas Jefferson’s Library

Three books from the Retirement Library of Thomas Jefferson are now held in Firestone: one came as a gift in the 1870s, another was presented in 1905, and the third gift arrived in 1944. Their journey toward Princeton began in Washington in 1829 when Nathaniel P. Poor auctioned the library formed by Jefferson during the latter years of his life.

At Monticello each book had a particular place in Jefferson’s bibliothecal scheme. Central to the scheme was his positing a continuum between book in hand and thought in mind. For Jefferson, mind entailed memory, reason, and imagination. These three faculties were, in turn, mirrored by human endeavors in history, philosophy, and the fine arts. Considered as an outcome of one of these endeavors, any book could be placed within one of these three classes or its sub-divisions. So placing it situated the book both in mind and on the shelf.

Now held at Princeton are auction lot numbers 236, 716, and 753. It’s extraordinary that these three gifts — each received decades apart — today form a pattern: the Library now has one book each from Jefferson’s three major classes.

• Memory / History is represented by

• Reason / Philosophy is represented by

• Imagination / Fine Arts is represented by

[Jefferson’s own handwritten entries in his 124 page library catalogue, now available digitally at the Library of Congress.]

Auction lot number in red crayon on front paste-down.

(Ex) 9825.380 • Inscribed by Professor Charles A. Young in 1860, who gave it to the Library in 1905.

Lot number in pencil; Bigelow’s inscription in ink.

(Ex) HB871.E93 • Purchased by Andrew Bigelow and sold at his sale in 1877 to a member of the Green Family of Trenton, NJ , who, in turn gave it to the Library in the 1870s.

(Ex)2767.1665 • Pencil note in back of volume 1 details sale of book in 1831. There are two slips of ms. notes initialed ‘V.S.’ and dated ‘Febr 12 [18]32’ mounted on two leaves in companion portfolio. Gift of Henry N. Paul in 1944.

Newly acquired: Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (Istanbul, 1803)

(Right) Curator John Delaney, holding front cover, remarks on the Atlas
to colleagues associated with the Near Eastern Studies Program: James Weinberger, Michael Cook, Sükrü Hanioglu, Michael Laffan, Svat Soucek.
[Photograph courtesy of William Blair]

(Above) Title page of the Atlas. [Call number: Historic Maps, item 5745136]

(Below) Detail of east coast in the map of North America.

Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections announces the acquisition of a rare Ottoman imprint, Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (New Atlas Translation). Printed in Istanbul in 1803 in an edition of just fifty copies, the Atlas is the first Muslim-published world atlas based upon European geographic knowledge and cartographic methods. The Library of Congress reports just seven extant copies in Istanbul, and it appears that there are only three others in the U.S.: Library of Congress [see LC’s announcement], the Newberry Library, and the John Carter Brown Library [see JCB’s note(item 30)]. These are the only known complete copies outside of Turkey.

The Atlas is based upon the General Atlas of the Four Grand Quarters of the World of William Faden, a copy of which was acquired by Mahmud Raif Efendi when he was a private secretary at the Ottoman embassy in London. While still in London, Mahmud Raif Efendi wrote a geographic work, İcalet (or Ucalet) ül-Coğrafya, in French. This 80-page geographical study was translated into Turkish, printed in 1804, and bound with the Cedid Atlas Tercümesi. This modernizing bureaucrat is also the author of Tableau des Nouveaux Reglemens de l’Empire Ottoman, a work describing military reforms undertaken in the empire. Princeton also owns a copy of this important work.

The purchase of Cedid Atlas Tercümesi was made possible by funds from two sources: the Rare Books Division and the Friends of the Princeton University Library. For more information, contact John Delaney (delaney@princeton.edu), curator of Historic Maps.