Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Illinois acquires Isaac Newton manuscript

Isaac Newton manuscript purchased by the Library. Rare Book and Manuscript Library head Lynne Thomas with the purchase.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois has acquired a manuscript written by Sir Isaac Newton that provides instructions for making the philosopher’s stone, a substance thought to have special powers of transformation.

The “Opus Galli Anonymi” is Newton’s Latin translation of a French work on making the philosopher’s stone, with corrections and notes by Newton based on his own scientific work. The library bought the manuscript at auction for $275,000, thanks to a donation by Jim and Lionelle Elsesser of St. Louis, who are Illinois alumni and supporters of the University Library.

One of the strongest areas in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s collection is the history of science, said Lynne M. Thomas, the head of the library.

“We have a lot of materials on early scientific work,” she said. “We are at our heart an agriculture and engineering school. Our collections of early books dealing with agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, science and engineering are quite strong. It’s been an area of interest and expertise for our faculty for more than a century.”

The history of science, natural history and mathematics collection holds more than 7,000 volumes and the mathematics collection is ranked as one of the three most significant in the U.S. Among the documents in the collection are a nearly comprehensive collection of early works by the Greek mathematician Euclid and Newton’s “Principia Mathematica.”

Editor’s note: To reach Lynne M. Thomas, email lmt@illinois.edu.

Source: Illinois News Bureau

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Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Illinois acquires Isaac Newton manuscript
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Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Illinois acquires Isaac Newton manuscript
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois has acquired a manuscript written by Sir Isaac Newton that provides instructions for making the philosopher’s stone, a substance thought to have special powers of transformation.