[FOM] Principia Mathematica, first edition: Melbourne

Allen Hazen allenph at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Sep 8 03:12:35 EDT 2008

The University of Melbourne library has two copies of the first edition of
"Principia Mathematica."  (The Mathematical Sciences Branch Library and the
Philosophy departmental library have second editions.)

The one (in crumbling condition) on open shelves is confusingly marked "copy
2."  It appears to have been bought by the library when it first came out
(acquisition dates of 1911, 1912 and 1913 stamped on the title pages of the
three volumes).  There is no obvious way to tell how much it was used in the
first half of the Century: circulation slips in the backs only go back to
the 1970s.

A second copy (in much better condition), confusingly marked "copy 1," is
kept in Special Collections.  It appears to have been acquired as a set
(consecutive acquisition numbers in the three volumes, along with a 1951
date stamp), and the bookplate identifies it as part of the "Alfred Hart
Bequest, 1950." It appears to have passed though the hands of a Melbourne
bookstore (discrete store stamp inside front covers), but I saw no sign of
an earlier bookplate or other evidence that it had had a prior individual

At least some members of the Melbourne mathematics department were
apparently aware of developments in logic as early as the 1930s (pers. comm.
from a colleague), but the philosophy department, under the influence first
of neo-Hegelianism and then of Wittgensteinianism, seems to have ignored
modern logic until the 1960s.


Allen Hazen
University of Melbourne

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