He rescued important MS documents from waste-paper merchants, and toured the Continent in search of rare books to grace his sales. His Bibliotheca Anglica Curiosa (1771) is a pioneering essay towards a national bibliography. Paterson's catalogue descriptions were brief but reliable, with books listed alphabetically by subject rather than by size; some catalogues were fully indexed. A scholar manqué, he ended his days as librarian to W. Petty, marquess of Lansdowne, after a final bankruptcy.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.