The Texas A&M University Libraries have acquired a collection of rare books about treating animals and animal care, with some of the books nearly 500 years old.
It's a collection that every veterinary school in the world would envy, says Esther Carrigan, associate dean and director of the Medical Sciences Library.
"It is a remarkable collection, and several of these books are not owned by any other library in the world," Carrigan said in a Texas A&M press release.
The books, known as the Veterinary Medicine and Equine Science Collection, were purchased from a retired veterinarian, Dr. John G.P. Wood of rural Reepham, England. There are more than 900 titles, with special emphasis on horses and farriery. These books document veterinary medicine from the 16th to the early 20th century and detail diseases of the horse, which was considered the working animal critical to farming and the military, Carrigan said in the release.
Public funding can't be used for special collections, so the books were purchased with money from the endowment for A&M's Sterling C. Evans Library. Fundraising is under way to recoup part of the cost.
Selections from the collection are on display at the Medical Sciences Library in honor of World Veterinary Year, which celebrates the founding of veterinary education 250 years ago in Lyon, France.
Of particular note is the first published book on veterinary medicine, "Vegetii Renati Artis Veterinariae," written in 1528. Some of the other rare books include "The Historie of Foure-footed Beastes" by Edward Topsell, which Carrigan says is an early work in zoology and has woodcut illustrations. It was published in 1607.
Another work is "The English Horseman and Complete Farrier: Directing All Gentleman and Others How to Breed, Feed, Ride and Diet All Kinds of Horses, Whether for War, Race Or Other Service" by Robert Almond. Published in 1673, the book says its author "is a well known and skillful farrier of the city of London, practicing therein above 45 years."
"It is considered extremely rare, and some British book dealers we have consulted say they have never seen a copy of it in over 50 years," Carrigan noted.
Another book, "The Anatomy of a Horse" by Andrew Snape, is one of the first written on equine anatomy that was published in English and is often called the first modern veterinary textbook, Carrigan says of the 1687 work.
The entire collection is being processed at the Medical Sciences Library. Rare materials will be housed in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, home of Texas A&M's rare books, manuscripts, and archives.