Friday, October 15, 2010

The Life of Science Library

While researching books about alchemy at the Boston Athaneaum, I discovered a wonderful short introduction to the history of alchmey published in 1949, The Alchemists, Founders of Modern Chemistry , by Frank Sherwood Taylor, H. Schuman (New York). The publisher, Henry Schuman, was a world famous antiquarian specializing in collecting and selling books on the history of medicine (and science). The Taylor introduction to Alchemy was the 9th title in the Schuman sponsored series, The Life of Science Library. From my experience as a Cognitive Science publisher with MIT Press, I was familiar with the importance many members of the scientific community placed on acquiring antiquarian and rare copies of books on the history of science and I always enjoyed visitng the antiquarian dealers who would display thier books the major scientific conference.

While I was focused on Alchemy research that day, I did immediatley read the list of the previous 8 titles in the series. Wow, what an interesting launch of a Series, including a biogrpahy of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, the founder of modern neuroscience. I made note of the Cajal title and decided to further investigate the Life of Science Library. Since then I discovered I owned a book from the Series and have acquired a couple of more (out of topical interest but also to understand the publishing of the Series over time) and I've created a bibliography of the books published in the Series from 1947-1965. If I was still a science publisher I'd be reserching the copyright for each title and putting a few back in print.

A warning to anyone interested in acquiring titles in the Life of Science Library: MANY OF THE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE VIA PRINT ON DEMAND PUBLISHING. While the individual titles are difficult to find as First Edition in Good to Fine Condition, they are availbale and the POD versions are generally more expensive and DO NOT INCLUDE THE ILLUSTRATIONS. Beware of the advantages and disadvantages of "new publication" vs. searching for and finding a First Edition.

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