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Very rare book find!

Recently my father in law gave me a few old books he had lying around in the garage where he can't remember where he got them from. I noticed that there were a part set of 5 books from the "Waverley" & "Benedictine"series by Sir Walter Scott the most famous Scottish writer in history. Sir Walter Scott's novel of Ivanhoe (1819) become one of Europe's most read books and remains one of the world's most read still today not to mention his rendition of the famous Scottish outlaw and thief "Rob Roy MacGregor" (1817).
As the popularity of Sir Walter Scott's writing grew, it was only then did he admit his true identity as he had originally published under a pseudonym. Then the books were republished and also then translated into French which was at the time the 2nd most spoken language in Scotland due to historical ties. It is these early translations that I have come into possession of.

Updated 27th August 2011
We have discovered that at one stage they formed part of the aristocratic Contessa (Countess) Caroli Rava's collection in Italy as seen from an insert added to the inside back cover that also has a handwritten date of 1916 which may point to the year of purchase.
Before this they appear to have been brought into Italy (c1823) by a Biblioteca (Library) Gabrielli (although we have not as yet found information on this library) as seen by a insert added to the front inside cover showing the coat of arms although originally printed in France by a "Libraire de Charles Gosselin"

The books I was given include:
  1. The Fortunes of Nigel (1822)
  2. Guy Mannering (1815)
  3. L'Antiquaire (1816)
  4. Le Monastere (1820)
  5. L'Abbe (1820)
the five books from the series
 







Currently we are researching their rather particular history as the books appear to be first editions in French and have had inserts added by various libraries in Italy & France. Helping in this matter is the British History Museum's rare books department. Below is an email from the National Library in regards to the French translations of "The fortunes of Nigel":
Dear Enquirer,
Thank you for your enquiry.

The British Library's earliest holding of a French translation of Sir Walter Scott's, The fortunes of Nigel, dates from 1836 (brief record below) however I do not believe this is the first French language edition as COPAC, the UK and Ireland's National and Academic Library Union Catalogue indicates an earlier edition (1822) is held in the National Library of Scotland. The COPAC record for the 1822 edition follows the British Library's 1836 record:

System number 003317304
Cataloguing level Minimal record
Author - personal Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Uniform title [Separate Works under Subheadings. The Fortunes of Nigel ]
Title Les Aventures de Nigel ... Traduction nouvelle par M. A. Montémont.
Publisher/year Paris, 1836.
Physical descr. 312 p. ; 8º.
Added name MONTEMONT, Albert.
Holdings (All) Details
Shelfmark 012611.g.43.

COPAC record of earlier edition:

Main author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832.
Title details: Les Aventures de Nigel / traduit de l'anglais par le traducteur des romans historiques de Sir Walter Scott.
[ Fortunes of Nigel. French. 1822 ]
Series: Oeuvres Complètes ; t. 59-62
Published: Paris, 1822.
Physical desc.: 4 v. ; 12mo.
Language: French
For local availability select a library name below.
Copies held by:
National Library of Scotland

A search for International holdings on OCLC Worldcat idicates that the BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE also hold this 1822 edition and it could reasonably be expected to be the first such French edition.

Closer interrogation of the BNF catalogue reveals that there are two records for an 1822 edition and whilst they may be the same edition, you would need to check with the BNF to be certain. I suspect it is the same edition. The BNF catalogue records are below:

Type : texte imprimé, monographie
Auteur(s) : Scott, Walter (1771-1832)
Titre(s) : Les aventures de Nigel [Texte imprimé], par Sir Walter Scott
Traduction de : The fortunes of Nigel
Publication : Paris : C. Gosselin, 1822
Description matérielle : 4 vol. ; in-12
Note(s) : Traduit par Mme Collet, d'après Barbier
Autre(s) auteur(s) : Collet, Fanny Angel Mme. Traducteur
Notice n° : FRBNF31339474

Type : texte imprimé, monographie
Auteur(s) : Scott, Walter (1771-1832)
Titre(s) : Les Aventures de Nigel... [Texte imprimé]
Publication : Paris, 1822
Description matérielle : In-12
Note(s) : T. II
Autre(s) auteur(s) : Collet, Fanny Angel, Mme. Traducteur
Notice n° : FRBNF30257288

The most thorough method of determining the identity of the First French edition is to consult a Bibliography of Walter Scott.
Unfortunately, the British Library does not have the staff resources to undertake this kind of research, however, should you choose to, you are welcome to visit the British Library's Reading Rooms where you could consult a prominent Walter Scott Bibliography such as the one below:

System number 000791216
Cataloguing level Minimal record
Author - personal CORSON, James Clarkson.
Title A Bibliography of Sir Walter Scott. A classified and annotated list of books and articles relating to his life and works, 1797-1940.
Publisher/year pp. xv. 428. Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh, London, 1943.
Physical descr. 8º.
Added name Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832 Appendix.
Holdings (All) Details
Shelfmark 11900.e.82.

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