Oronce Fine. Protomathesis (Paris: Gerardi Morrhij & Ioannis Petri, 1532)

Boyndlie f 16.8

Protomathesis by the french mathematician and cartographer Oronce Fine (1494-1555) is a theoretical compendium of arithmetic, geometry, cosmography and horology. The library holds three copies of this work one of which has a rich history of previous ownership held in the Boyndlie Collection.

James Cargill (1565-1616?) is regarded as Scotland’s first botanist and is thought to have attended King’s College, Aberdeen before travelling to Switzerland where he studied medicine under the tutelage of Caspar Bauhin in Basle, gaining his MD in 1598. His main interest, however, was botany which he studied with Bauhin in Basle and in Monbeliard with Bauhin’s brother, Jean. His friendship with Caspar Bauhin lasted all of Cargill’s life and he is recorded as sending Bauhin samples of seeds, plants and seaweeds. Cargill signed this book on several pages throughout including one which follows the practice of defining ownership from the point of view of the book ‘Jacobus Cargill me possidet.’

Cargill then passed this book to Robert Gordon of Straloch (1580-1661). Gordon was possibly the first graduate from Marischal College in 1597. Gordon also travelled in the continent, returning to his family home where he took an active part in Aberdeenshire affairs. It is as a cartographer, however, that he is remembered, most notably the work he did on maps for Blaeu’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1644-45), at the request of Charles I. There are several inscriptions throughout the volume written by Gordon stating that he was given the book by Cargill. We do not know how the two men knew each other, but this book establishes that the two were connected.

The third signature on the title-page is that of George Kerr. Kerr attended Marischal College as an Arts student but later became a surgeon. He was ship’s surgeon on the whaling vessel the Christian and his diary of this voyage, from 1791 is kept in the university archives (MS 2238). Kerr helped to found the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society and seems to have been a colourful character in the city. It would appear that he was unable to handle his financial affairs for in 1821 his extensive library was sold “by auction, in virtue of a warrant from the magistrates of Aberdeen.” This book is listed in the library catalogue.