"Our Tools of Learning" : George Arthur Plimpton's Gifts to Columbia University

Early Modern & Modern Period > Page 2


Romani Grammaticae Institutiones Graecae

[Venice: In aedibus Aldi, et Andreae Soceri, 1515]

Plimpton 480 1515 M31

This copy of the only printing of Aldus’s Greek grammar was owned by Robert Hoe before joining the Plimpton collection.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


Grammatica Latina Philippi Melanchthonis

Parisiis: Ex officina Roberti Stephani, 1528

Plimpton 470 1518 M48

Philipp Melanchthon began teaching Latin and Greek at the University of Tübingen in 1514, and by 1518 when this work was printed, at the age of 21, he accepted the position of professor of Greek at the University of Wittenberg. There he was to become a dear friend and supporter of Martin Luther.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


Familiarium colloquiorum formulae, in graciam juventutis recognite ab Erasmo Roterodamo

Leipzig: V. Schumann, 1520

Plimpton 879.8 1520 Er153

Although Erasmus’s best-known work today is the Moriae encomium, (Praise of Folly), dedicated to his dear friend Sir Thomas More, he was best known in his own day as the author of the Colloquia and Adagia, aids for the study of elegant Latin. As Craig R. Thompson pointed out in his recent edition, the Colloquies exemplified the classical principle of education through pleasure, entertainment for edification, and as Erasmus himself wrote in his apology for the work: “I’m not sure that anything is learned better than what is learned as a game.”

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton

WILLIAM LILY, 1468?-1522

Guillelmi Lilij angli rudimenta

[London: Peter Treveris, ca. 1525?]

Plimpton 470 1525 L62 (STC 15609.5)

William Lily was the first High Master of St. Paul’s School, holding that office from 1512 until his death in 1522. This work, his Latin grammar, first published in 1513, was revised so extensively by Erasmus that the Basle editions, beginning with that of 1517, carried Erasmus’s name only as the author. The two texts were revised and combined in 1540 and published as the “Compendium of All Grammar.” Thought to have been produced for the young Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII, it was often called “King Edward’s Grammar.” This is an apparently unique edition of Lily’s work in English. While earlier scholarship ascribed the printing to Richard Pynson circa 1522, comparison of the type points to Peter Treveris as the printer.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton

SIR THOMAS ELYOT, 1490?–1546

The Boke Named The gouernour

London: [Thomas Marsh], 1557

Plimpton 370 1557 EL9 (STC 7640)

The Boke Named the Governour, first published in 1531, was the first treatise on education to be written in English. Although the book is aimed at preparing boys destined to fill high positions at court and in society, Elyot was a supporter of the humanist ideas concerning the education of women, publishing his Defence of Good Women in 1545. He did not, however, see education as extending to women the same privileges of power that would be given to boys through his humanist program of broad-based knowledge leading to independent judgement.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton

SIR THOMAS ELYOT, 1490?–1546

The Boke, Named The Governour

London: Thomas East, 1580

Plimpton 370 1580 EL9 (STC 7642)

Elyot’s Governour was based in the works of Erasmus, Castiglione, and Francesco Patrizzi, Bishop of Gaeta. It remained a textbook for behavior for many generations in England. Shown here is his advice for “The first learning in childhood,” “that I woulde have him learne Greeke and Latine authours, bothe at one time….”

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Auncient Philosopher Evclide of Megara. Faithfully (Now First) Translated into the Englishe Toung, by H. Billingsley, Citizen of London

London: By John Daye, [1570]

Plimpton 513 1570 Eu2 (STC 10560)

This celebrated book was the first English translation as well as the first printing of Euclid in England. Book XI has figures with mounted pieces that may be set up to show the form of the solid figures. Queen Elizabeth I’s philosopher, John Dee, contributed the “Mathematicall Preface” to the work. John Daye or Day, the printer, had produced the first English edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs in 1563.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


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