I.G. de rebus auspiciis serenissimi, & potentissimi Caroli gratia magnæ Britanniæ, &c. sub imperio illustrissimi Iacobi Montisrosarum marchionis…: Supremi Scotiæ gubernatoris anno 1644, & duobus sequentibus præclarè gestis, commentarius.

Paris, ex Typographia Ioannis Bessin, propè Collegium Remense. 1648.


8vo. pp. (xxiv), 563 (i). Large paper, Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut and typographical headpieces, small woodcut initials, printed label, ‘6506’ from the sale of Bolongaro-Crevenna at head of front pastedown, bookplate of Robert Maxtone Graham below. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. A fine, large paper copy in exceptional contemporary French red morocco in the style of Le Gascon, covers double gilt ruled to a panel design, outer panel filled with a fine scrolled roll, middle panel with two fine dentelle scrolls elaborate fleurons to corners, central panel bordered with a small pointillé roll, elaborate corner pieces with scrolled and pointillé tools around a central oval worked to a lozenge form with fine scrolled tools, spine richly gilt with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled with further pontillé rules to compartments, richly gilt with scrolled tools and semé of small tools, edges with gilt dentelle roll, combed marble endpapers.

A fine, large paper copy of this most interesting contemporary biography of the feats of the great Scottish General, James Montrose, in a stunning contemporary morocco binding attributable or very close to the great French binder Le Gascon, from the exceptional library of Bolongaro-Crevenna. “Dr. George Wishart was born in 1599… In 1626 he moved to St. Andrews as second charge, and it has been conjectured that is was there that he first met the Earl of Montrose, who matriculated at the University of St. Andrews in 1627… When the Presbyterians obtained the ascendancy, Dr. Wishart fled to England with Archbishop Spottiswood. On 19th October 1639, he was appointed to a lectureship of All Saints Church, Newcastle, and in 1640 he was presented at St. Nicholas Church, Newcastle. When Leslie and the Scots army took Newcastle on 19th October 1644, Wishart was taken prisoner, and, on the charge of corresponding with royalists, was imprisoned in the Thieves’ Hole, Edinburgh. After 7 months in prison, Wishart was liberated when the Marquis of Montrose arrived in Edinburgh after his victory at Kilsyth on 15th August 1645. Wishart joined the royal army at Bothwell, and was appointed private chaplain to the Marquis of Montrose. In this capacity he accompanied the Marquis in his campaign both at home and abroad, and his narrative of Montrose’s campaign is that of an eye-witness and biographer. It was first published in Amsterdam … 1647. When the Scottish Parliament tried Montrose in abstentia in 1649, Wishart’s book was brought as evidence against him. A bounty was pledged by Parliament and the Church of Scotland for his capture, and he was sentenced in abstentia to be hanged with Wishart’s book around his neck. The sentence was carried out in the following year after Montrose was captured and brought to Edinburgh.” The Wishart Society.

“Les reliures de Le Gascon sont de veritables objets d’art.” Edouard Rouveyre. ‘Connaissances nécessaires à un bibliophile.’ This binding is very similar in style and the tools are nearly identical to a binding attributed to Le Gascon in a Sotheby’s sale at Paris,  2011, sale PF1113, lot 51, the 1595 edition of the works of Montaigne. It shares the same oval centre surrounded by near identical scrolled tools and pointillé work. “The style of Le Gascon, so-called, was in vogue between the years 1640, and 1665” Herbert P. Horne ‘An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled Bindings’.

The binding is also very similar in design and tools to another binding attributed to Le Gascon in the Tenschert Catalogue ‘Biblia Sacra’ 2004, no. 59, a Greek New Testament. Many of the best binders of the period imitated the work of Le Gascon, who was then at the height of fashion, and if this binding is not by Le Gascon or his atelier, it is by someone who was imitating him as closely as possible. The gilding and use of pointillé tools is particularly fine, the morocco is of the highest quality. As this is a large paper copy in a very rich binding, it was almost certainly made for presentation, though there is no indication of to whom.

A wonderful copy from the extraordinary library of Bolongaro-Crevenna, the francophile Italian merchant from Amsterdam, whose magnificent collection was sold in Paris between 1775 and 1793. This work was in his sale of History books in 1789 lot 6506; see ‘Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de M. Pierre Antoine Bologaro-Crevenna … Volume 4” Amsterdam, chez Changuion 1789.


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SCOT, Sir John


Delitiae poetarum Scotorum hujus aevi illustrium.

Amsterdam, Iohannem Blaeu, 1637.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. Two volumes. pp. 1) 1-12, (ii), 13-699, (i): 2) pp. 573, (iii). Roman letter some Italic. Blaeu’s woodcut printer’s device on both titles, small woodcut initials “Bought at Amsterdam Sept. 25 1877, H. A. B.” on front fly. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot or mark. Very good copies, crisp and clean; volume I in contemporary vellum over boards, nearly matching vellum, titles inked on spines in same C17th hand.

First edition of the largest anthology of Scottish neo-Latin poetry ever produced, edited by the Fife laird Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit and the Aberdonian poet Arthur Johnstone. The two volumes were printed at the sole cost of Scot and preserved the last fruits of Scottish latinity. Scottish neo-Latinists saw themselves first and foremost as part of an international community of renaissance humanists fascinated by the Classical past. Despite James VI’s accession to the English throne in 1603, and subsequent negotiations over closer Anglo-Scottish Union, the majority of the Scots featured in the Delitiae poetarum Scotorum identified much more closely with the cultural and intellectual life of Continental Europe than they did with that of England.

“The Delitiae Poetarum ltalorum opened the floodgates to a series of national anthologies, all in Latin, all entitled Delitiae, all printed in Frankfurt. Along came collections for France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Denmark. (…) There was a strange irony in all this. Neo-Latin was, of course, the international language par excellence, transcending national boundaries. (…) Yet the collections clearly had competitive, nationalistic ambitions. It was as if the new chauvinism and confidence of the Renaissance vernacular languages had been diverted into Neo-Latin. (…) (John Scot of Scotstarvet) had the time, motivation and, most importantly, the money to undertake the Herculean labor. John Scot of Scotstarvet, a Fife laird and a dilettante poet himself, had the education and finances to win friends and influence people, particularly in Europe. What makes the subsequent enterprise of special interest is the fact that we have a detailed account of its progress, for Scot scrupulously preserved all incoming mail. The correspondence, now in the National Library of Scotland, reveals a great deal: how Scot accumulated and edited the material and why it took almost twenty years before the Delitiae found its way into print. (…)

From about 1619, Scotstarvet had been collecting and receiving specimens of Scottish latinity. (…) Work by thirty-seven poets was finally chosen. Many of those included had made a name for themselves abroad: James Crichton in Italy, George Crichton in Paris, Thomas Dempster almost everywhere; John Barclay’s Latin novels were widely read in Europe; John Johnston used European presses almost exclusively; Andrew Melville was well-known among Continental Calvinists; James Halkerston wrote witty epigrams on the Pope and Henri III. (…) The work avoided overt antiquarianism which by this time would probably have lacked popular appeal. Still Scotstarvet could be proud of his labours; the text was sound and Blaeu did it justice. In the next century, Samuel Johnson would call it “a collection to grace any nation.” Perhaps the greatest satisfaction to those who produced it was that the English never had the like.” Christopher A. Upton. ‘National Internationalism: Scottish Literature and the European Audience in the Seventeenth Century’.

Very good copy of this important national anthology.

Shaaber S83/J238.


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Rerum Scoticarum historia.

Edinburgh, Alexandrum Arbuthnetum, 1582.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. ff. (iv), 85, (i), 74-249, (i). Roman letter. Large woodcut printer’s device on title, title within typographical border, floriated initial and woodcut ornaments, early book label removed from outer edge of title page, early autograph beneath ‘Gar Schur’ with marginal annotations in the same hand throughout, “the Rev? Professor James Copper DD from JSM and CSM” on front end paper, “W Douglas Simpson from Tho Cooper Elgin 1946 above” letters tipped in from Sir John Stirling Maxwell of Pollock House concerning the gift to Copper. Title page very slightly dusty, with a little age yellowing in places. A fine copy, crisp and clean, with good margins in contemporary vellum over thin boards, yapp edges, all edges finely gauffered, a boar, hare and a dog stamped on upper edge, vellum a little soiled.

Rare first edition of this important History of Scotland and the most important work of George Buchanan (1506-1582), Scotch historian and scholar, man of affairs and tutor to James VI. The ‘History’ was Buchanan’s chef d’oeuvre and was an immense success. It was immediately translated into the continental languages and was the chief, if not the only source from which foreigners knew anything about Scotland. By the middle of the C18 it had been reprinted nineteen times.

The first three books give a description of the physical characteristics of the country and the rest its history by the reigns of its kings. The earliest part is largely fabulous; from Malcolm on it improves, and by the middle of the C13 it is a work of value. By the reign of James V it has the merit of being written by a virtual contemporary, albeit a very partisan one. For Buchanan, Mary could do no right and her opponents no wrong. “For a time Buchanan was on very good terms with Mary. (…) Following the murder of Mary’s second husband Lord Darnley, in 1567, Buchanan turned against her and became the Queen’s most violent detractor. Buchanan was instrumental in preparing the case for the prosecution against Mary, narrating her misdeeds and attempting to justify her deposition in the polemical ‘De Maria Scotorum Regina’.. His political theory had the same aim, justifying the rights of resistance against tyrannical monarchs (…) In his Rerum Scoticarum Historia, published in 1582,the last year of his life Buchanan sought to demonstrate that his principles of resistance were embedded in the grand sweep of Scottish history.” Dr Caroline Erskine. ‘George Buchanan: Political Thought in Early Modern Britain and Europe’.

The work was immensely influential in shaping popular opinion, not just in its own time but for nearly two centuries afterwards, and no Scotch historian of the period can neglect it. The work was also particularly influential in England particularly on writers such as Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. “It is also evident that large numbers of English readers had access to sections of Buchanan’s Rerum Scoticarum Historia, even if they could not read the Latin edition of 1582, through the admittedly hostile translation/ adaptation of Francis Thynne published in Holinshed’s Chronicles when it was revised in 1587, one of who was William Shakespeare. As it was likely, but hardly inevitable, that James VI of Scotland would succeed Elizabeth, there was an understandably widespread interest in the violent and rocky course of Scottish history in England in the late 1580’s and early 1590’s” Dr Caroline Erskine.‘

From the library at Pollock House in Glasgow which was in the Maxwell family for 700 years. In 1939 Sir John Stirling-Maxwell drew up a conservation agreement over the estate with the National Trust for Scotland, of which he was a founder member. His daughter gifted the house and estate to the City in 1966.

A very good copy of this important first edition.

ESTC S107152. STC 3991. Aldis 182. Lowndes I 300.


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De Scotorum fortitudine, Doctrina & Pietate, ac de ortu & progressu haeresis in Regnis Scotiae & Angliae nunc primum in lucam editi.

Paris, Petri Baillet, 1631.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (xviii) 288 (iv). Roman letter. Engraved printer’s device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, modern bookplate of Duncan Shaw to pastedown, early press mark on fly, later autograph on fly. Title page fractionally dusty, very occasional minor marginal damp staining, light browning and largely marginal foxing (very poor quality paper). A good copy in contemporary polished vellum over thin boards, remains of ties, red morocco label gilt on spine.

First edition, second issue, with the dedicatory epistle to Charles I and not Cardinal Francesco Barberini, Protector of Scotland; “an ‘Index rerum’ and an ‘Index alphabeticus omnium sanctorum’ have been added; otherwise this is a reissue of the sheets of no. 208 (the first issue)”. Allison and Rogers. The book was seen through the press during the author’s absence from France by Jean Morin of the Paris Oratory. Chalmers (c. 1580-1642) was head of the Scots College in Paris, while his brother was a priest at the Paris Oratory. The authorship of the work is often erroneously given to David Chambers, Lord Ormond (c. 1530-1592), historian and jurist. Very little is known of the real author.

The work includes a history of the Scots from the earliest days to the author’s own time, and their interaction with various peoples, i.a. the English, Danes and Norwegians, as well as discussing the Scottish Church and the introduction and spread of ‘heresy’ in both England and Scotland. It was said of him that he “loved Scotland more than the truth” and this work is an undeniably nationalistic and Catholic interpretation of events. This second issue includes a list of saints with Scottish connections. He claims i.a. that the Scots were responsible for the foundation of four major European Universities. Given that the work includes, in the appendix, a chapter detailing the Elizabethan persecution of Mary Stuart and Scottish Catholics in general it is surprising that the dedicatory epistle was changed to Charles I. However, Jean Morin was one of the Priests who accompanied Queen Henrietta to England for her marriage to Charles in 1626, and Chalmers was perhaps using this connection to attempt to further the cause of Scottish Catholics.

A very good copy of this interesting and rare history of Scotland.

Allison & Rogers I, 209; Shaaber C-182; Brunet I, p. 1514 “Livre rare et recherché”; Lowndes I, p. 359.


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