OUSELEY, Sir William.
Catalogue of Several Hundred Manuscript Works in Various Oriental Languages.
First edition. Decidedly uncommon, just 10 copies on OCLC, no copies traced at auction. Catalogue of one of the finest collections of such works in private hands at that date. Ouseley (1767–1842), became fascinated by Oriental studies when during his education in Paris. After a brief period of military service with the 8th Dragoons, he sold out and went to Leiden to continue his studies. “In 1795 Ouseley published Persian miscellanies … a treatise on the various styles of Persian handwriting, enriched with many illustrations of manuscripts, and numerous notes showing considerable research. On his return to England in 1796 Ouseley was gazetted major in Lord Ayr’s regiment of dragoons stationed at Carlisle … In 1801 he wrote to the earl of Chichester dwelling on his ambition to become an envoy to some eastern court, and asking the earl to use his influence in procuring a government subsidy and approval for a proposed journey to Persia [which did not] take place until 1810, when Sir William accompanied his brother, Sir Gore Ouseley, as private secretary, on his mission to the shah of Persia … In July of 1810 they started from Portsmouth on HMS Lion for India and Persia, from where William Ouseley returned to Britain with the new treaty in July 1812. He published his account as Travels in Various Countries of the East, More Particularly Persia whose title-page states that the author was an honorary fellow of the Royal Societies of Edinburgh, Göttingen, and Amsterdam, and a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. His valuable collection of Persian manuscripts was offered for sale, and the catalogue, written by himself and printed in 1831, contains notices of 724 manuscripts”. (ODNB). The collection remained unsold at his death in 1842, being purchased the following year by the Bodleian. This copy inscribed on the front free endpaper; “To Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart, with Sir Wm. Ouseley’s compliments, London July 24th 1831”. Phillipps, the foremost bibliomaniac of his own or any other era, managed to resist the temptation to add Ouseley’s collection to his assemblage of over 60,000 manuscripts.
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Quarto. Stitched in original marbled wraps. Housed in black cloth drop-back box, title gilt to spine. Facsimile frontispiece with some hand-colour. A little rubbed on the wraps, lightly browned, overall very good.