Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland
A collection of early scientific works from the library of Sir John Ritchie Findlay, Bt. (1866-1930), proprietor of The Scotsman, deposited by his son on long-term loan in 1931. The 255 volumes and 37 pamphlets date from the 16th to the 20th century, but are chiefly 16th- and 17th-century continental imprints. There is a strong representation of works on horology and sundials, astronomy and astronomical instruments, mathematics, navigation and related subjects. Little is known about Findlay as a book collector, but he was a notable collector of scientific instruments, amassing a significant collection at auctions in the early 20th century. The earliest item in the collection is Opus sphericum (Cologne, 1501) written by Joannes de Sacro Bosco (John of Holywood or Halifax) in the 13th century, which was a key text on astronomy studied in universities throughout Europe until well into the 17th century. Another post-incunable of interest is Johannes Stoeffler's Calendarium Romanum Magnum (Oppenheim, 1518), a compendium of astronomical, geographical, medical and historical information. Printed in red and black, it is illustrated with numerous woodcuts. The collection also includes Giovanni Paolo Gallucci's Theatrum mundi et temporis (Venice, 1589) , the first modern celestial atlas, - two rare works by the Glasgow-born mathematician and almanac compiler James Corss - Ouranoskopia (Edinburgh, 1662) and Practical geometry (Edinburgh, 1666) -, and a very rare broadside by Thomas Wright, entitled A calculation of the moon's eclipse and phenomenon at Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1732). Works from Findlay's own lifetime include Pillow problems (London, 1895) by Charles L. Dodgson (alias Lewis Carroll) and Modern sundials (Edinburgh, c.1912), a trade catalogue.
A.D. Morrison-Low, 'Sold at Sotheby's: Sir John Findlay's cabinet and the Scottish antiquarian tradition', Journal of the History of Collections, 7 (1995), 197-209.