A very nice copy!

University of Glasgow Library

Today marks the 501st birthday of influential Zurich born scholar, physician and naturalist, Conrad Gesner (26 March 1516 – 13 December 1565).

Portrait_Gesner Portrait of Gesner by Tobias Stimmer, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Conrad Gesner was every part the ‘Renaissance man’, a true polymath with a wide range of interests which are reflected in the breadth and variety of his works. Although perhaps best known for his influential encyclopedic works on the natural world his early works on other topics establish Gesner’s clear fascination with compiling and organising inventories of knowledge.

Take, for example, one of Gesner’s earliest works in our collection, the Bibliotheca universalis, published in 1545 (Sp Coll Ferguson Ak-x.17). Here, Conrad attempted to compile a compendium, organised alphabetically by author, of all the printed books (in Greek, Latin and Hebrew) in circulation for the first time. A daunting task not short on inventorial ambition and…

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