Over recent years, a family of Chinese bookcollectors has gradually been depositing items from its collection of rare,antique, and first imprint Western language books at the NCL for safe keeping.The books from the Cheng Ting Tangcollection include an original document which records the results of theFrench constitutional referendum that made Napoleon ‘First Consul for Life’, aswell as a copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio.
In an interview with a Central News Agencyreporter, NCL Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng said that, given limited funds,it was very difficult for the NCL to purchase antique Western language books onthe open market. Because first imprints have a particularly high asking price,the library relies on donations or deposits from private collections. To giveTaiwan’s scholars with opportunities to examine such books and documents, inrecent years the NCL has begun sending librarians and experts overseas to carryout research that will enhance the library’s understanding in this area.
In 2018, Cheng Ting Tang began tosuccessively deposit items in its collection with the NCL. At the time ofwriting, 43 titles spanning a total of 49 volumes have been relocated to thelibrary, many of which are valuable first imprints. They include an 1843edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; an 1871 edition of The Descentof Man and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin; a 1620 edition ofNovum Organum Scientiarum by Francis Bacon; a 1762 edition of Du Contrat Socialou Principles du Droit Politique [The Social Contract] by Jean-JacquesRousseau; and a 1637 edition of Discours de la Method [Discourse on the Method]by René Descartes. The latest document, said to be the only one of its kind inthe world, was published in 1802.