New acquisitions from the Foyle Special Collections Library

The Foyle Special Collections Library has recently added the following new acquisitions to its holdings. Katie Sambrook, Head of Special Collections, introduces the first printed grammar of the Tamil language, while Brandon High, Special Collections Officer, writes about a publication on the subject of electricity in the 19th century.

Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg. Grammatica Damulica. Halæ Saxonum [Halle an der Saale]: litteris & impensis Orphanotrophei, 1716 [Rare Books Collection PL4753 ZIE]

gd_tpThe Foyle Special Collections Library is delighted to have acquired a copy of the first printed grammar of the Tamil language, compiled by the German Lutheran missionary Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) and published 300 years ago in his native Saxony. Copies of the Grammatica Damulica do not often become available for purchase and this new acquisition complements our existing holdings of works associated by Ziegenbalg, most notably his translation, with Johann Ernst Gründler, of the New Testament into Tamil.

Printed in 1715, this was the first New Testament to be published in any of the languages of India. Ziegenbalg had been sent with a companion, Heinrich Plütschau, to the Danish possession of Tranquebar, at the southern tip of India, at the behest of his patron, King Frederick IV of Denmark. They were the first Protestant missionaries to India, arriving at Tranquebar in 1707. Ziegenbalg immediately set about learning Tamil, with a view to translating the New Testament into that language.

gd009With financial support from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), this project came into fruition in 1715, with the printing of the New Testament in Tranquebar. Ziegenbalg also produced Tamil hymn books and catechisms and was instrumental in the establishment of schools and a seminary in Tranquebar. The tercentenary of his arrival in India was widely celebrated in that city.

The Grammatica Damulica was clearly aimed at potential fellow missionaries in Germany and elsewhere. Our copy appears to have belonged at some point to the library of the Société Asiatique in Paris and to have formed part of the collection of books and objects bequeathed to it by Édouard-Simon Ariel (1818-1854), a noted scholar of the Tamil language. An ink stamp on the title page indicates that the book was later the subject of an exchange with another unspecified library.

Édouard Hospitalier. L’électricité dans la maison.
Paris: G. Masson, 1887 [Early Science Collection: TK145 HOS]

ed_op152This lavishly illustrated and comparatively rare book is one of a series which Hospitalier wrote about electricity and its uses. It offers insights not only on the scientific development and technical applications of electricity but also casts light on the fascination of the 19th century with electricity’s potential and its consequences for everyday life. The book discusses the domestic applications of electricity, including lighting, alarms, telephones, clocks and electric games and toys.

This book complements our existing holdings on the subject. This includes the collection of Sir Charles Wheatstone, items from whose library featured in the 2015 Weston Room exhibition on the former King’s professor.

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