The ten volume second edition Britannica is a greatly expanded, far more ambitious and much rarer work than the three volume first edition published a few years earlier. This set is unrestored in its original bindings. Several boards are detached and it is lacking 3 of the 340 plates, #s 161,162 and 173. Each title page has the bold owner’s signature of Catharine Flood McCall. Kate McCall, a native of Tappahannock, Virginia, went to England and Scotland with her Loyalist father during the Revolution. Archibald McCall built the elegant Georgian mansion now known as the Brockenbrough House on the campus of St. Margaret’s School and was well known in Essex County for his political opinions. A Sons of Liberty mob attacked his house. Kate returned to Virginia after the war to reclaim her property, including a significant number of slaves. The most interesting page in the whole encyclopedia may be the front free end paper of Vol. 10 where Kate has created her own manuscript index of the very extensive “Surgery” section. Might she have acted as a doctor for her enslaved population? She went on to establish and manage nail factories in both Richmond and Alexandria, a most unusual endeavor for a single woman in early Federal Virginia. There is a young historian at UVA presently working on her PhD dissertation that will include several chapters on Catharine Flood McCall.
By far the most significant book owned by a female Virginian that we have ever handled.