December 2005 Rare Books acquisitions

Here is a small sample of books recently acquired by Rare Book Collections at the National Library of Scotland.

Engraving detail
Detail from 'The
Gardeners dictionary',

This is the frontispiece engraving in Philip Miller's The gardeners dictionary of 1737. Miller (1691-1771) was the most distinguished and influential British gardener of the 18th century. 'The gardeners dictionary' went through eight editions during his lifetime. Besides horticulture, it covered agriculture, arboriculture, and wine making. Miller was admitted a member of the Botanical Academy of Florence and the Royal Society of London. However, his contemporaries apparently looked upon him with some reservation, perhaps because of his habit of employing only Scotsmen.


Woodcut detail
Woodcut detail from
'Aesop's fables'

This is the frontispiece woodcut of a 1764 Glasgow edition of Aesop's fables in English translation. This edition appears to be completely unrecorded. It is designed as an educational book: the words of the fables are broken up into syllables by hyphens, so that the beginner can decipher them a piece at a time. This one is particularly notable for its naïve woodcut illustrations, which resemble those normally found in chapbooks.


Binding detail
Bible binding detail

The binding of this 1860 Holy Bible is an outstanding example of Victorian Scottish craftsmanship. It has elaborate gold tooling with beautiful patterns. The leaf edges are gilt gauffered, and fine brass clasps hold the sizeable volume together. There is a green embossed velvet lining inside the boards. The binding is the work of Frame of Glasgow, a binder who is recorded in the Scottish Book Trade Index, but about whom little seems to be known.

The work was especially commissioned for the 50th wedding anniversary of William and Agnes Renton on 7 July 1852. Inside the front board a silver shield is inserted; within it is an oval tablet containing an embossed family tree. A lock of the hair of 22 grandchildren is included.

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