Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Rare Book With an Identity Crisis

by Stephen J. Gertz

The second edition? Third edition? Fourth edition? What?

It's enough to make a cataloger/bibliographer do a spit-take.

Renowned bibliographer and entertainer, Danny Thomas -
Master of the spit-take.

The editor of the 1660 edition of Christopher Airay's Fasciculus præceptorum logicorum (A Bundle of Logic) seems a bit confused.

"On the whole it is clear that the editor of the 1660 edition [of Fasciculus præceptorum logicorum] was not aware of the existence of the 3rd edition of 1637, and was careless in allowing ‘altera’ to remain on the title of his own issue ... The book makes a bibliographer gasp. It calls itself the 2nd edition on the title page, and the 3rd edition in the preface, while being in reality the 4th!" (Madan, Oxford Books: A Bibliography of Printed Works Relating to the University and City of Oxford...).

Just in case the editor (alas, unknown; perhaps the publisher, Henry Hall) is reading from the grave, the first edition of this book of logic for the young was published in 1628, and the second edition in 1633.

That a previous owner has inked "1679" over "1660" on the title page certainly doesn't help this copy.

Christopher Airay (1601 - 1670) was a graduate of Queen’s College, Oxford. "The six books of this work show traditional scholastic origins in that Airay divides logic into propositions, which may be true or false, and discourse, which deals with the truth or falsity of particular propositions and the interrelationship between propositions as set out in syllogistic form. His discussion of the nature of discourse shows that he was, to some extent, influenced by the Ramists, particularly in emphasizing the laws of demonstration" (ODNB).

Madan says that Airday "seems to have had nothing to do with any edition of his Logic."  Madan adds, in his notes for this 1660 edition, that "the Restoration definitely ended the medieval period of Oxford ... [and 1660] was a wild year in Oxford."

So wild was 1660 in Oxford that publisher Henry Hall had no idea at all of just what edition of Airay's Logic he was issuing. And Airay, apparently, saw no logic in monitoring the various editions of Fasciculus præceptorum logicorum.

[AIRAY,  Christopher].  Fasciculus præceptorum logicorum: in gratiam juventutis academiæ [sic] compositus & typis donatus. Editio altera limatior operâ secundâ. Oxford: Henry Hall, 1660. 12mo in 8s. vi, 224 pp.

Madan 2477; . ESTC R202006. Wing A820. Cf. ESTC (2d ed.) 241-243.

The bibliographical info on this title in Wikipedia's biographical entry for Airay (linked to above) is incorrect.

Image courtesy of Blackwell Rare Books, with our thanks.

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