Early works illustrative of the History of Animal Husbandry, Farriery and the Veterinary Art

The Comben Collection

The Comben Collection of early works illustrative of the History of Animal Husbandry, Farriery and the Veterinary Art forms a distinct part of the Rare Books Collection.

The Collection comprises some 900 printed books and pamphlets dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, four-fifths of them predating 1850. There are 22 items from the sixteenth century, the earliest being the Aldine Press edition of Cato (et al.), Libri de re rustica (Venice, 1514); 64 from the seventeenth; and 198 from the eighteenth. The collection is particularly rich in the scarcer items of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century veterinary literature. 

A great majority of the works are in English, and published in Britain, but some of the more important foreign books are also present, in particular early Italian works on the horse. Among rare ephemera are a dozen advertising leaflets from the Victorian period and early twentieth century. While the majority of the collection is of primary printed material it is supported by a substantial set of reference works and other secondary material – in particular bibliographies, catalogues of other collections, histories and biographies.

The collection has been completely catalogued on the computer catalogue. There is also a published catalogue:

Historic books on veterinary science and animal husbandry : the Comben Collection in the Science Museum Library, Pauline Dingley.
London : HMSO, 1992.

The collection is particularly strong on books about horses, including:

Halfpenny, John, The gentleman's jocky (London, 1671).

A.S. The gentleman's compleat jockey : with the perfect  horseman, and experienc'd farrier... (London, 1696).

Freeman, S. The farrier's vade mecum; or, gentleman's pocket companion : a compendious treatise on the practice of  horse medicine... (London, 1772).

Stubbs, George, The anatomy of the horse (London, 1766).