The Archive of Guglielmo Libri From Its Dispersal to the Collections at the Biblioteca Moreniana

This excellent book written in Italian and English is devoted to the description of the Archive of Guglielmo Libri, which is deposited in the Biblioteca Moreniana in Firenze. The first part, written by Andrea del Centina and Alessandra Fiocca, is divided into four chapters. The book starts with a short biography of Guglielmo Libri (1802-1869), who was a mathematician, historian, patriot, journalist, proponent of science, collector and seller of antique books and manuscripts. There is a description of the complicated history of Libri's archive, which was one of the greatest and best stocked private archives in Europe and which later dispersed through a series of auctions in London between 1859 and 1864. His archive and library included not only historical family documents, but also hundreds of letters from scientists, historians, writers, politicians, and mathematical manuscripts, as well as many documents of great scientific interest. The third chapter gives further information about relationships between Libri and contemporary Italian mathematicians (for example Manzoni, Gherardi, Boncompagni) as well as European mathematicians, Libri's part in the buying and later sale of the volume containing the so called "Mathematical challenge papers" (letters exchanged between Ferrari and Tartaglia), the discovery of Fermat's and Leonardo da Vinci's manuscripts and the circumstances surrounding their sale. The fourth chapter contains a list of some letters (e.g., letters from Cauchy, Gauss, Betti, etc.) that have not been studied in detail up to now.
The second part, written in Italian by G. Adini and M. L. Tanganelli, contains the catalogue of the so called fund "Carte Libri", which is in the Biblioteca Moreniana in Firenze. There is a list of more than four hundred letters, two volumes of very rare manuscripts, many books and papers. Two alphabetical indexes are included at the end. This book will be very interesting and helpful for historians of mathematics who are interested in the development of mathematics in the first half of the 19th century.

Reviewer: 
mnem
Book details
Author:  Publisher: 
Published: 
2004
ISBN: 
88-222-5394-9
Price: 
€42
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