Contents and Arrangement

English commonplace book, 1660-1689

1 item

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

An anonymous, English, seventeenth-century commonplace book, written in a number of hands, containing both literary and scientific entries. The volume demonstrates the wide intellectual interests of the age and of the milieu in which the Royal Society existed in the last two decades of the seventeenth century and beyond. ‡b Topics range from religion, literature, and science to carpentry, fishing and the English statute law governing it. The volume would seem to date initially from the period 1660-1670, but there are additions: works published in the 1680s are referred to. While the bulk of the entries are in English, there are some in Latin (not many), a substantial number both in Spanish and translated from the Spanish, some in Italian, and some translations from the French, with one text on fortification in that language (ff.111r-113v). The most heavily cited Spanish source is Pedro Mexia, Silva de varia leccion (1540). Often the sources are identified, sometimes by date of edition, sometimes by page. Folio (310 x 200mm): ff. [i], 171 (inclusive of blanks), foliated [2], 1-65, 73-84, 87, 92-128, 130-180, [3], with clear evidence of stubs of cancelled (cut out) leaves, plus 4ff. containing indexes loosely inserted, written in ink in various hands on paper watermarked with a fools cap, the index leaves on a different paper (fleur-de-lys crowned). Conserved and rebound in the Preservation Office, 2013. Housed in a drop-spine box with the former binding, a contemporary binding of parchment over pasteboard, hand-lettered on spine in ink "COMMON/ PLACE/ BOOK." The boards are badly warped and lack their ties. The North Library bookplate is on the inside front pastedown.

The scientific material falls into two classes, the general and miscellaneous, and the more precise transcription of quite lengthy passages. There are notes on a number of practical subjects such as gunnery, fortification, terms in navigation, and much else. Another lengthy transcription is that of Henry Sheere's (source not identified) Discourse touching the current in the streight of Gibraltar, a work not published until 1703, but one which circulated in manuscript from 1673, the date of composition. The 47 numbered paragraphs entitled "Observations and Maximes" (ff. 62r-66v), formerly misattributed to Edmond Halley, is comprised of extracts from many sources and is unrelated to Halley. There are also passages transcribed from Boyle's Experiments and considerations touching colours of 1664 (f.1??). On ff.116v=117r (127v-128r) there is a copy of Sir Jonas Moore's An excellent Table for the finding of the periferies . . . of all elleipses or ovals . . ., which was printed as a single sheet in [1674?] and again with imprint dated 1676. However, as with the literary materials, these are all jottings and no overiding aim or interest may be discerned.


Shelved alphabetically by author, or in some cases by title.

Collection History


No materials were separated during 2003 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sylvia Yu and Teresa Basler in 2002-2003. Finding aid written by Sylvia Yu and Teresa Basler in 2002-2003.

Finding aid updated periodically with new accessions by Kelly Bolding, Faith Charlton, and Chloe Pfendler, 2013-2017.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

English commonplace book; Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature, RTC01, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Find More


See the double issue of The Princeton University Library Chronicle devoted in its entirety to a survey of the Taylor Collection: Robert J. Wickenheiser, "The Robert H. Taylor Collection" (Vol. XXXVIII, no. 2 and 3; Winter-Spring, 1976-77), contains 13 articles by such scholars as G. E. Bentley, James Thorpe, Mary Hyde, Charles Ryskamp, E.D.H. Johnson ("Romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian: Part Two-Manuscripts, Letters, and Drawings," pp. 212-224), H. W. Liebert, Richard M. Ludwig, John V. Fleming, Earl Miner, and Thomas P. Roche. Also, the entire Winter, 1986 issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle focuses on the Robert H. Taylor Collection. See also: Robert H. Taylor, "Contemporary Collectors III: The Robert H. Taylor Library" in the Book Collector Vol. 3, no. 4 (Winter, 1954); "Association Copies from the Collection of Robert H. Taylor" in the Gazette of the Grolier Club [New series], (June, 1969), no. 10; and A.D. Wainwright, "Robert H. Taylor" in the Gazette of the Grolier Club [New series], (1986), no. 38.

Beerbohm, Max, Sir, 1872-1956
Byron, George Gordon Byron, baron, 1788-1824
Pope, Alexander. 1688-1744.
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950.
Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 1751-1816.
Strachey, Lytton, 1880-1932.
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 1811-1863.
Trollope, Anthony
Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900
Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941.