Scientific Discovery Through the Ages

We are proud to announce the acquisition of a unique collection of 280 rare books and manuscripts relating to the history of scientific discovery from the late 15th to the 20th centuries. Made possible through a generous bequest from the Hinkes family, the collection was assembled over 20 years by the late Dr. Elliott Hinkes, a member of the School of Medicine’s class of 1967.

“This is one of the most significant collections ever acquired by the Sheridan Libraries,” said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums. “We are honored to have been chosen by the Hinkes family as the recipient of these magnificent volumes. Dr. Hinkes’ intellectual generosity, as a collector and a man of science, will live on through future generations of Hopkins students and faculty who will have access to these seminal works in their original form.”

The Dr. Elliott and Eileen Hinkes Collection of Books of Scientific Discovery has been well known in the antiquarian book trade as one of the most important collections of its kind and constitutes one of the major rare book bequests in recent memory to a U.S. research university.

The earliest and rarest materials range from a 1495 edition of the works of Aristotle to early editions of many of the most important and influential works of the Scientific Revolution. The collection also contains seminal works from the European Enlightenment, milestones from the Industrial Revolution, and a rich collection of the leading scientific publications of 20th-century achievements in science. For collection highlights, keep reading after the jump.

Highlights include:

*A unique second edition of Copernicus’ treatise on the heliocentric theory of the galaxy, completely unbound, and unsewn, as issued from the printer in 1566 (no other such copies are recorded)

*A first edition of Galileo’s illustrated treatise on the discovery of sunspots (1613)

*A first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s monumental treatise on gravitation, the Principia (1687)

*The first printed description of Uranus, the first planet to be discovered since classical antiquity (1781)

*The first appearance in print of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, in a rare paper printed by the Linnaean Society (1858)

*27 rare offprints and first editions of the works of Albert Einstein, including the first printed formulation of E=mc2

*Original copies of the three 1953 articles by Watson and Crick outlining the nature of DNA

In addition to books on scientific discovery, the collection also includes such rarities as a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with the technology of moveable type, and a copy of the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated world history drawn from the Bible.

“Dr. Hinkes, never a serious collector except for some interest in stamps as a boy, was a self-professed autodidact, someone who discovered a passion for antiquarian rarities that gradually led to the accumulation of a truly remarkable collection of some of the greatest milestones in the history of science,” said Earle Havens, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Sheridan Libraries. “He grew to become a true connoisseur as well, keen to find copies in the finest condition, many of them in historically interesting early bindings and endowed with historically important provenance.”

After early admission to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a member of the “Year One” class of 1967, Hinkes received his undergraduate degree from the School of Arts and Sciences in 1964. Upon earning his medical degree, Hinkes continued his training at Stanford where he completed his internship and residency. He then went to UCLA, where he completed a fellowship in Oncology and Hematology.  Dr. Hinkes maintained a private practice specializing in Medical Oncology and Hematology in the Los Angeles area for more than 30 years and was an Associate Clinical Professor at UCLA.

Hinkes’ decision to give the books to Johns Hopkins was motivated not only by a sense of pride in his alma mater but by the knowledge that the collection would be used for scholarly work. “The books are where Elliott and I wanted them to be,” said his wife, Eileen. “It warms my heart to learn that our donation of the collection will make such an impact at Hopkins.”

An exhibition of the Dr. Elliott and Eileen Hinkes Collection is planned for October, 2011.

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