Roger Gaskell Rare Books

roger gaskell

I stock rare and important printed books and manuscripts in a range of scientific, medical and technical subjects, mostly from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.  As well as the books traditionally regarded as significant for the progress of science, I am interested in obscure works that have been little studied.  Printing history, especially as it relates to the printing of illustrations, is something of a speciality too.

I have always paid particular attention to binding, provenance and annotation and aim to stock books in original condition wherever possible. This brings us closer to the historical period of the book and can tell us about its production, distribution and reception: a book in a modern binding is stripped of much of this information. Now the physical book, in all its individuality, is of all the more significance as more images of printed books become readily available online, making one copy serve for the whole edition and thus ignoring the variability of hand printed books. As well as private collectors, many of the great academic libraries are among my customers and I am always conscious that future generations of scholars may be studying the physical object, and will want as much information as the physical book can supply.
Roger Gaskell Rare Books was established in Warboys in Cambridgeshire in 1989, after I had worked in the booktrade in London for eighteen years, first for Bernard Quaritch Ltd, then for Pickering and Chatto Ltd.
My research interests include the production of illustrations in scientific books. I am an associate researcher and run seminars in bibliography in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. I teach a course ‘The Scientific Book to 1800’ at Rare Book School, University of Virginia. In the course I take a bibliographical approach to scientific illustrations by studying print making processes and the technical, visual and intellectual implications of integrating images in books of the hand-press period. I deal with the bibliographical description of illustrated books as well as a formal analysis of the images themselves.

Roger Gaskell Interviewed by Sheila Markham


Roger Gaskell Rare Books
R. & L. Gaskell
Established in 1989
VAT no. GB 550 6050 74
My logo is taken from the title page of Guidobaldi del Monte (1545-1607) Mechanicorum liber (folio, Pesaro, Hieonymus Concordia, 1577), regarded as the most important contribution to mechanics since Archimedes. The globe and lever device is an illustration of the saying ascribed to Archimedes, ‘Toleret quis si consisteret’ - give me a place to stand and I will move the earth. The device was frequently used in later works on mechanics, but I do not know if it has a prior history. In Mathematical magic (1648), John Wilkins gives a version of the device, and explains that ‘[Archimedes] was frequently wont to say, how that he could move, Datum pondus cum data potentia, the greatest conceivable weight with the least conceivable power: and that if he did but know where to stand and fasten his instrument, he could move the world, all this great globe of sea and land’ (pp. 79-80).