Sapientia veterum

By: Francis Bacon

Collection ID



Printed Book








Printed on Paper


13.8 × 8.5 × 1.8 in. (35 × 21.5 × 4.5 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

Francis Bacon is famous for his contributions to the development of empirical science and the modern scientific method. He was also a Christian who wrote about the relationship between knowledge and the Christian faith. In Sapientia veterum (Wisdom of the Ancients), Bacon discusses a variety of ancient myths, outlining the hidden truths they ostensibly contain. His discussion covers not only history and mythology but also science, morality, and religion. This copy is part of a collected volume of Bacon’s works released in 1665.

Printed in 1665 by Johann Baptist Schönwetter, Frankfurt, Germany. Acquired by the Biblioteca nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, Naples, Italy.[1] Acquired by the John Crerar Library, Chicago, Illinois;[2] Deaccessioned in 1984 by John Crerar Library, Chicago, Illinois.[3] Acquired by 2020 by Ted Steinbock, private collector, Louisville, Kentucky;[4] Privately purchased in 2020 by Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] A stamp on the title page which reads, “Dvplvm Bibliothecae V. E.,” indicates the book was once a duplicate in the Bilioteca nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, the national Italian library in Naples. There are also three small circular stamps on the title page that require further research. [2] A bookplate for the John Crerar Library appears on the front pastedown, along with several handwritten call numbers and a John Crerar Library perfin stamp on the title page. There are two additional call numbers on the first page of the text. [3] The John Crerar Library bookplate has been stamped, “This book is no longer the property of the John Crerar Library,” along with the initials “PL” and a deaccession date of “7/10/84.” According to Sem Sutter, formerly of the University of Chicago Library, “PL” refers to Patrick Lally, a graduate student in the Department of History who assisted with the merger of the University of Chicago Library and the John Crerar Library. The same deaccession stamp appears on the back of the title page by the John Crerar Library perfin stamp. [4] Many duplicate works from the merger of the University of Chicago Library and the John Crerar Library were auctioned by Christie’s in the University of Chicago Rare Science Duplicates, Part I (1994) and Part II (1995). This work does not appear in online records of that auction. Paperwork from Ted Steinbock indicates the purchase of three copies of this work: one in 1994 from Maggs Bros., bookseller, London, England; a second in 1994 from Bernard Quaritch, bookseller, London, England; and a third at an unknown date from Sothebys. Additional research is necessary to confirm if this copy is one of those three.

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