Engraving of Wadham College (1675)

by David Loggan

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David Loggan's engraving of Wadham College

John Wilkins's book donations to Wadham

Wilkins presented books to his college, mainly in one lump donation in 1656; these are all marked in the hand of the librarian with that date and as the gifts of the 'Guardianus', or Warden. Wilkins's donations were not numerically imposing - he gave perhaps twenty titles, most of them rather small volumes. It is noticeable that they are all quite recent publications: roughly half are from the 1640s and the other half from the 1650s. The one imposing exception to these usually small-format presentations is the six-volume world atlas of the Dutch cartographer and publisher Jan Janszoon (Amsterdam, 1653), a state-of-the-art geographical tool. Wilkins also gave a few books of natural philosophy and medicine, being Kenelm Digby's Two Treatises (London, 1645), William Harvey's Exercitationes de generatione animalium (London, 1651), and the Ghent physician Hermann van der Heyden's Synopsis Discursuum (London, 1653), of which the first two feature in this exhibition. Also displayed is a collection of mathematical texts, which by their imprints must have been a later presentation from Wilkins.