Science, Illustration and the Royal Society

Science, Illustration and the Royal Society
The December 2012 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the Rare Book Society was given by Roger Gaskell (, a leading dealer in early scientific, medical and technical books. This seminar spelt out the importance of images in scientific books of all periods, analysing different kinds of graphics to show how they function in scientific communication. The Scientific Revolution in Restoration England is particularly important for this story and examples were drawn from the works of Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke and other members of the Royal Society – including Sir Christopher Wren, not always remembered as a scientific draughtsman. The knotty problems for collectors of the bibliographical description of plates in book were also dealt with.

Before setting up as an independent dealer more than twenty years ago, Roger was the science and medicine expert, first at Bernard Quaritch Ltd., then Pickering and Chatto Ltd., where he was also managing director.  He has written and given conference papers on the history of libraries, bibliography and scientific illustration and is an occasional lecturer in the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science in the University of Cambridge.

The seminar took place on Tuesday 11 December 2012 in Room G37, Senate House Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. 

All the seminars are aimed at a broad audience including book-collectors, book-dealers, historians of all kinds, librarians, indeed at anyone with an interest in collecting any sort of text from the sixth former to the retired professor. The atmosphere is informal, as are the presentations. Many of the talks are illustrated by actual examples.

The seminars are held in the University of London’s Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, and run from 6.00 to 7.30 pm, usually on the second Tuesday of the month.