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Bathe Collection in the History of Technology

The Bathe Collection is comprised of some 1,500 volumes on the history of technology before and after the Industrial Revolution. Its importance lies in the breadth of the collection, not the rarity of the works themselves. Topics range from steam engines, "theatre of machines," Renaissance military manuals, "books of secrets," hydraulics, and architecture to natural history and encyclopedias. The collection spans the 16th to 20th centuries, providing scholars with an unusually extensive overview of the history of technology and its practitioners.

The collection was willed to Swarthmore by Greville Bathe, author of several books on the history of technology, and it includes Bathe's books, galley proofs, and manuscripts. Some of the highlights of this collection are Geronime Cardano's De Rerum Varietate (1557), with the first appearance in print of Leonardo da Vinci's mechanical investigations, De Re Militari by Flavius Vegetius Renatus (1532) and Jacques Besson's Theatre des Instrumens Mathematiques et Mechaniques (1579), said to be the first published book devoted to engineering.

photo of pages from De Re Militari, published in 1532

"De Re Militari" by Flavius Vegetius Renatus, 1532