May 24, 2022

Rare Books: British Library Launches eBook Treasures Series With Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Arundel


The launch of a major collection of digitized materials (upcoming releases listed below).

From a BL News Release (With Multiple Screenshots to Download):

The British Library has launched today a ground-breaking “eBook Treasures” series which will allow iPad users to download entire ancient manuscripts. Starting with Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Arundel (1478-1518), users will now be able to hold rare, unique and original manuscripts in their hands and explore them in depth and spectacular high-definition.


Introductory prices are £3.99 for Codex Arundel HD Highlights and £9.99 [$7.99/USD] for the complete version, with Mercator’s Atlas priced at £6.99 [$19.99/USD].

More information can be found at

Developed with Armadillo Systems [the developers of the Turning the Page software], each eBook will allow users to access greater content and in-depth detail about the item such as written, video and audio interpretation. eBooks will be viewable full-screen, with award-winning realistic page-turning and can also be viewed offline.

Over the coming months, users will be able to download other Library Treasures in HD, including:

  • ‘Literature’ – Alice’s Adventures Underground (1862-64), Carroll’s handwritten and illustrated original of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, William Blake’s notebook (1700s) and Jane Austen’s The History of England (1791)
  • ‘Sacred Texts’ – The Tyndale Bible (1526), the first English language Bible to appear in print and Sultan Baybars’ Quran (1304-6), the epitome of sumptuous Arabic calligraphy
  • ‘Music’ – Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (1741) and Beethoven’s Pastoral Sketchbook (1808).
75 titles will be available over the next two years, either in their entirety or as a selection of highlights, allowing unprecedented access to some of the British Library’s most precious manuscripts.

The Codex Arundel (1508-10), is one of Leonardo’s most prolific notebooks filled with illustrations and written in ‘mirror script’. His manuscripts document scientific and technological practice before the scientific revolution and few manuscripts by his contemporaries have survived. The Codex Arundel is one of the most important sources for understanding da Vinci’s work as a natural philosopher, engineer and artist.

The initial ‘eBook Treasures’ collection will also feature the Mercator Atlas of Europe (1570s). Gerardus Mercator, arguably the best cartographer of all time, put the Atlas together to plan the Prince of Cleeves’ tour of Europe. Painstakingly compiled using copies of maps, Mercator pieced them together and pasted them into the atlas.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.