Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 763 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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Important Acquisitions 1 to 15 of 763:

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AuthorScotus, Michael.
TitlePhisionomia Magistri Michaelius Scoti.
ImprintParis: Renault Chaudiere
Date of Publication[c. 1527]
LanguageLatin
NotesAn early edition of Michael Scotus's "Liber physiognomiae": first printed in 1477. Despite its title, the true concern of Scotus work lies in more of an Aristotles Masterpiece vein, reflecting on physiognomys relation to intercourse, pregnancy, and embryology. The text is related to another medieval work, On the Secrets of Women, attributed to Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, but in fact drawing on Scotus. Most of what appears as book I in the printed editions contains a detailed treatise on generation of human beings, with anatomical and physiological descriptions, information on the best time for conception, on sexual behavior, and on the state of the fetus during each of the nine months after conception. The rest of book I deals with differences between genera and species of animals. Books II and III contain the Physiognomia proper (apart from some chapters on dreams and auguries from sneezes). In these a systematic survey of the different parts of the body, in connection with the basic or other qualities affecting them, is meant to show how souls are intrinsically dependent for their natures on the bodies that they inhabit: 'animae sequuntur corpus'" (Dictionary of Scientific Biography). Born in Scotland (at Balwearie, according to Sir Walter Scott), Michael Scotus (ca. 1175-1234) was educated in England but spent most of his life in Italy and Spain. The legend which grew up around the name of Michael Scot was due to his extraordinary reputation as a scholar and an adept in the secret arts. He figures as a magician in Dante's "Inferno" in Boccaccio's "Decamerone", in local Italian and Scottish folk-lore, and in Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel (Catholic Encylopedia).
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Universal Short Title Catalogue
Acquired on13/02/15
AuthorBoursalt, Edme, (1638-1701)
TitleMarie Stuard, Reine d'Ecosse, Tragedie.
ImprintParis: Jean Guignard
Date of Publication1691
LanguageFrench
NotesThe first edition of this remarkable addition to the canon of French Mary studies: a hot-blooded re-imagining of the life and execution of the Queen of Scots. Thought to be the earliest surviving work to contain the wholly fictional meeting between Elizabeth I and Mary. Boursault's tragedy is able to count its place in a certain lineage of French Mary plays, beginning with Montchrestien (1601) and Regnault (1634) and extending well into the 19th century. Like its predecessors, Marie Stuard amply reflects the age in which it was written: the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1683 (the year in which Boursault's play was first performed) officially ended the toleration of Huguenots, somewhat explaining his extreme vilification of Elizabeth and his tendency to idealize Mary. Nevertheless, Paulson et al. find it to be of significant theatrical and historical value. The plot of Montchrestien's play seems relatively simple and Reganult's shows scarcely much more complexity. Boursault, utilizing a novelesque approach and profiting from the advancements in theatrical technique, presents a complex series of intrigues... Norfolk's love affair with Mary, Morray's hatred of his sister and love of Elizabeth, Newcastle's betrayal of Norfolk and the abandonment and betrayal of Elizabeth add life and interest to the play. We feel that for this reason alone, it would be interesting and rewarding for Marie Stuard to be performed by a modern repertory group, which would revive Boursault's work from an unjust oblivion. Boursault is also guilty, however, of severe historical anachronisms, the least among them the inclusion of characters killed long before Mary's execution (Norfolk and Morray). Far more glaring, however, is the entirely made-up personal meeting between Elizabeth and Mary  an episode which enjoyed an important and enduring legacy, as Paulson et al. point out.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. M.G. Paulson, The Queens' encounter: the Mary Stuart anachronism in dramas by Diamante, Boursault, Schiller, and Donizetti, New York: Lang, 1987
Acquired on16/01/15
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe distillery of Scotland a national benefit; and the importation and use of foreign spirits, a national detriment.
ImprintAberdeen: J. Chalmers, R. Farquhar
Date of Publication1755
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis pamphlet, by an anonymous author, discusses the economics of Scottish production of spirits in the form of two letters to a friend, dated the 3rd and 22nd May. The author, who informs his friend that he was lately in Edinburgh, takes as his cue the topical theme: Whether the distillery of Scotland was a national profit or loss? He discusses the production of whisky in Scotland in relation to its annual use of 50,000 bolls of bear (i.e. barley). He also looks at the production other alcoholic spirits in England, Europe and the colonies in the Caribbean, analysing the costs of the ingredients and profit margins of exports and imports. His argument is that cheap imports of foreign spirits are harming the production of locally-produced whisky, which was suffering from high levels of taxation, in particular after the Act of Union and the imposition of an English malt tax in 1725. The author's concerns were no doubt motivated by the fact that in Scotland there were very few licensed distilleries, prepared to pay the taxes, but hundreds of illicit stills supplying the domestic market. Only two other copies of the is pamphlet are recorded by ESTC (at the British library and Harvard).
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on09/01/15
AuthorAnon
TitleNoticia e Circunstancias da Felicissima hora, em que a Senhora Rainha da Grao Bretanha deu a luz o suspirado Principe de Gales, herdeiro dos Reynos de Inglaterra, Escocia, & Irlada.
ImprintLisbon: Na Officina de Miguel Manescal
Date of Publication1688
LanguagePortuguese
NotesThis is rare Portuguese newsletter, dated 16 August 1688, which reports the birth of James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (the Old Pretender, 1688-1766), son of the James VII/II and his second wife Mary of Modena. The pamphlet describes events relating to the birth of the Prince, the baptism, diplomatic responses and the celebrations. 4 months after the publication of this newsletter James fled London on the approach of an army led by William of Orange, never to return to his capital.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on19/12/14
AuthorRoyal Caledonian Curling Club
TitleList of skips for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match to be played on Castlesemple Loch, Lochwinnoch + Railway arrangements for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club grand match.
Imprint[Glasgow?: Royal Caledonian Curling Club]
Date of Publication1876
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese two pieces of ephemera are evidence of the popularity of curling in 19th-century Scotland. They relate to a Grand Match played between the North and South sides of the Clyde in the winter of 1876-77, on Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire. The Grand Match was organised by The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), which was originally founded in 1838 as The Grand Caledonian Curling Club for the purpose "of regulating the ancient Scottish game of Curling by general laws". By 1842 the new national club had obtained royal patronage, becoming the RCCC. The RCCC promoted the game by providing medals for play between member clubs, encouraging the formation of groups of clubs into provinces so that larger bonspiels could be played, and instituting Grand Matches whereby the North of Scotland could play the South. The first Grand Match took place in Penicuik in 1847. Castle Semple Loch was first used for bonspiels in 1850, as relatively small (1.5 miles long) inland loch with a train station in the vicinity it was a handy location. The list of skips for the Match of 1876-77 reveals that the clubs represented were from both the east and west of Scotland, players coming from as far away as Hawick and Dunblane. The date of the match was not included on the list as that could be only decided once there was enough ice and of sufficient thickness to enable it to take place. In addition to the list of skips to be played, there is a separate sheet outlining the railway arrangements to transport the large number of players and spectators to Lochwinnoch station (in 1848, 680 curlers arrived in Linlithgow to play in the Grand Match as well as 5,000 spectators). The most recent Grand Match took place in 1979 on the Lake of Menteith.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesRoyal Caledonian Curling Club website (www.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org)
Acquired on12/12/14
AuthorPrimmer, Jacob, (1842-1914)
TitleThe great Protestant demonstrations of 1892
Imprint[Edinburgh?]
Date of Publication[1892?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA publication by the Church of Scotland minister and religious controversialist Jacob Primmer (1842-1914). Although educated in divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Primmer continued to educate himself by independent study and attendance at Christian Fellowship meetings, and, significantly, at the anti-popery classes instituted by John Hope (1807-1893). Primmer believed in total abstinence and sabbatarianism, and was committed to defending the principles, and often the forms and practices, of the original protestant reformers. Primmer believed his greatest achievement was the series of open-air demonstrations, or "historic conventicles", held throughout Scotland between 1888 and 1908. These were well-attended occasions, where Primmer's direct, pugnacious preaching style and bearded, prophet-like appearance were used to powerful effect. The list of demonstations for 1892 give 42 locations in Scotland with details as to the number of pamphlets given away, the number of persons present, hands held up against the resolution etc. The text is filled with anti-Catholic comments. Some of the condemnations include: the toleration of popish lotteries; the observance of popish superstitious days; the profane blessing of bells and idolatrous pulpets, and the popish archbishop and bishop of Edinburgh being invited to dine at Holyrood Palace with the moderator and other ministers of the Protestant church.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on21/11/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleAn ode made on the welcome news of the safe arrival and kind reception of the Scottish collony [sic] at Darien in America.
ImprintEdinburgh: James Watson
Date of Publication1699
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an extremely rare broadside (ESTC records only one other copy at Brown University library in the USA) which reproduces an anonymous poem of thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the first Scottish expedition to the Bay of Darien in late 1698. The proposed Scottish colony in Darien was the brainchild of the Scottish banker William Paterson. His idea was for Scotland to gain control of the Isthmus of Darien, the narrow neck of land linking Central and South America, now part of Panama. Scotland would thus have a key role in controlling the trade of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Patersons incredibly ambitious plan was conceived as a way for Scotland to alleviate the financial crisis that had gripped the country. It had never really recovered from the civil wars of the 17th century and their aftermath; moreover, a succession of poor harvests in the 1690s had led to famine, and trade had been seriously affected by England's continual wars against Scotland's main trading partners, France and the Netherlands. In 1695 the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies was established to further the scheme. The Company initially attracted interest from the English as well as the Scots. However, the East India Company saw the scheme as a threat to their monopoly on trade, so the English Parliament quickly turned against it, forcing potential English investors to take their money elsewhere. Attempts to raise money in the Netherlands and Hamburg in 1696 and 1697 came to nothing when local investors became aware of the English Government's opposition to the scheme. The financial shortfall was made up by the Scottish people; a wide cross-section - from the nobility to merchants to town burghs pooled their resources. As a result 400,000 sterling, a significant part of the national capital, was invested in the scheme. Hundreds of people volunteered to settle the land, eager to escape the impoverishment of their native Scotland and to get a share of what they imagined would be the treasures of the New World. An expedition set sail from Leith in July 1698, with five ships carrying around 1,200 people, including William Paterson and his family. They arrived in the Bay of Darien in late October of that year. The Scots set foot on the mainland a few days later  the ode gives the date as 4 November, although modern histories now suggest 2 November. They immediately set about creating a fort (Fort St Andrew) to secure the area which was to be called New Caledonia. Plans were also made to build a settlement called New Edinburgh. On December 29, Alexander Hamilton, the accountant-general of the colony, along with other representatives from the expedition, sailed for Scotland via Jamaica on a visiting English sloop in order to bring news of the safe arrival in Darien. Hamilton finally arrived back in Edinburgh on March 25 1699, carrying sealed letters and despatches from the colony, as well as some small pieces of gold sent home by the colonists. His appearance was marked with rejoicing in the capital: gun salutes, bell-ringing and bonfires were organised in Edinburgh. The ode, presumably composed shortly after Hamilton' return, captures the feeling of wild optimism in Scotland on hearing the news that the expedition had successfully negotiated its way past English warships and braved the terrors of the Atlantic Ocean to make landfall in Central America. Thanks are given to God and "His divine pow'r" for the safe journey of the ships, for making the sea "like a level bowling plain", and for soothing the "natives savage breasts", i.e. ensuring that the local Indian peoples were not hostile to the Scots. The poet expresses the hope that Indian gold will soon alleviate Scotlands poverty, "its temporal grand disease". The ode also hints at the rising tide of resentment in Scotland against the English Parliament and King William for their decision not to allow any English American and Caribbean colonies to give any form of assistance to the colony at Darien; a decision made mainly to avoid antagonising the Spanish. The final lines express the hope that the colony would secure Scotlands "liberty from powder-plots and arbitrary tyranny". What the Scottish public did not know was that by March of 1699 the expedition had turned into a disaster. The information William Paterson had received beforehand on Darien, from the London-based former buccaneer Lionel Wafer, who had travelled extensively in the region, namely that it was a sheltered bay, with friendly Indians and rich, fertile land suitable for agriculture, proved to be utterly misleading. The area was in fact a mosquito-ridden jungle, and the Indians had little interest in the trinkets the Scots had brought with them to trade for gold; moreover, the expedition leaders were incompetent and quarrelling bitterly amongst themselves. The Spanish, who were the dominant European power in the region, were implacably hostile to the idea of a Scottish colony being established in the midst of their American territories; they would be a constant menace to the scheme. Many of the settlers, including Paterson's wife and child, were dying from disease and the extremes of the tropical climate, which led to morale further disintegrating among them. Alexander Hamilton would have been aware of some of these problems before he left Darien, but as he had been rewarded by the Company with the huge sum of 100 guineas for his safe return to Scotland, he may have felt it prudent not to dampen the excitement which was sweeping through the country. The colony was initially abandoned in June 1699, less than three months after Hamilton's return to Scotland. The delays in communication from Central America to Scotland meant that the news was only confirmed in October 1699, after a second expedition had already been sent from Scotland to aid the first one. By mid-summer 1700, even before news of the failure of the second expedition had reached Scotland, popular anger about the whole Darien scheme was at its height. The printer of the ode of thanksgiving, James Watson, found himself in trouble with the authorities for printing three works which were highly critical of the way the enterprise had been run, including George Ridpath's "Scotlands grievances relating to Darien". On May 30 Watson caused further aggravation by printing what was in effect a condensed form of Ridpath's pamphlet, a broadside titled "The people of Scotlands groans and lamentable complaints". This broadside, which does not have an imprint, stated bluntly that the political leaders of Scotland had for the last 100 years been little more than servants of England and treated their own people as enemies, never more so than now, by failing to properly support the expeditions or to stand up to the English Parliament. Watson's Jacobite sympathies were well known to the authorities and these publications, printed without license from the Privy Council, were regarded as a step too far. In June 1700 he was imprisoned in Edinburgh's Tolbooth to await trial before the Privy Council. He was briefly released from prison later that month, when news reached Edinburgh of the settlers of the second expedition launching a successful surprise attack on nearby Spanish forces at Toubacanti. The attack, which had taken place in February of that year, was wrongly thought to be a decisive victory, when in fact it only offered temporary respite from the Spanish operations to besiege the colony. The colony was abandoned for good in March, the remaining settlers having surrendered to Spanish, and the survivors were already on their way home. A triumphant mob rioted through Edinburgh on 20 June, forcing the Tolbooth gaol to be opened and the prisoners to be released. Watsons reprieve was only temporary; once order had been restored to the city he was, on 25 June, found guilty of printing libellous material and banished from Edinburgh for a year and a day. He did return to Edinburgh in 1701 and eventually established himself as Scotlands leading printer of the early 18th century, becoming one of the Kings Printers for Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.l.285
Reference SourcesW.J. Couper, James Watson king's printer, Glasgow, 1910 (originally published in Scottish Historical Review, April, 1910); D. Wyn Evans, James Watson of Edinburgh: a bibliography of works from his press 1695-1722, Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions, Volume V, pt. 2, 1982; D. Watt, The price of Scotland: Darien, union and the wealth of nations, Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2007
Acquired on31/10/14
AuthorRobert Mackenzie Johnston
TitleField memoranda for Tasmanian botanists
ImprintLaunceston [Tasmania]: Walch brothers
Date of Publication1874
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a compact field guide for Tasmanian collectors of local flora, described the author as "an arranged epitome of Hooker's Flora of Tasmania." It is intended to help amateur botanists identify plants according to their order and genera, as well as providing a list of nearly all the flowering species of Tasmania. Each page of text is interleaved with sheets ruled in two columns, headed "locality" and "remarks", allowing the botanist to add his/her own observations about the plants they find. It is bound in the original green publisher's cloth by Walch and Sons of Hobart. The author, Robert Mackenzie Johnston (1843-1918) was born the son of a crofter in Petty, Inverness-shire. As a boy he developed an interest in natural history and was influenced by the works of the Cromarty-born geologist and journalist Hugh Miller. He left home in 1859 and did a variety of jobs in Scotland as well as studying botany, geology, and chemistry in evening classes at the Anderson's University in Glasgow. In 1870 he emigrated to Australia, moving on to Tasmania, at the time a self-governing colony of the British Empire, later that year. After working as an accountant for the Launceston and Western Railway and Government Railways he was appointed Government Statistician and Registrar-General 1882. Johnston retained his interest in botany and geology, and he collected specimens widely throughout Tasmania, the island being still relatively unexplored by European settlers. 'Field memoranda for Tasmanian botanists' was his first publication, inspired, according to his introduction, by him "having felt the want of a ready means of reference in the diagnosis of our wild flowers" during his rambles in the bush. The work is dedicated to the eminent Tasmanian botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn (1808-1881), who had Scottish parents. Johnston would go on to publish widely on natural history, geology, politics and statistics.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Dictionary of Australian Biography
Acquired on29/08/14
TitleCaledonian Mercury [15 issues for September - October 1737]
ImprintEdinburgh: Thomas and Walter Ruddiman
Date of Publication1737
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe 'Caledonian Mercury' was one of Scotland's earliest newspapers, being published three times a week from 1720 onwards, and lasting until the 1860s. In 1729, Thomas Ruddiman (1674-1757), future keeper of the Advocates Library, and his brother Walter, bought the paper. Ruddiman had already been printing the paper since 1724 at his printing house in the Lawnmarket in Edinburgh, and the death of the previous owner William Rolland gave him an opportunity to own a newspaper. As well reporting the main European news through rehashing the contents of the London newspapers, the 'Caledonian Mercury' also reported on Scottish events, becoming a forum for Ruddiman's own brand of moderate Jacobitism. Thomas Ruddiman passed on his half of the printing business to his son in 1739 and devoted himself to his work at the Advocates Library and scholarly publications. The paper remained in the Ruddiman family until 1772. NLS has an incomplete run of this important title, lacking all issues for the years 1737 and 1738. Early issues of the paper rarely come on the market, so this was a welcome opportunity to fill some of the gaps in the Library's holdings.
ShelfmarkRB.m.758
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; G. Chalmers, 'The life of Thomas Ruddiman' (London, 1794)
Acquired on29/08/14
AuthorGeorge Lyttelton, Baron Lyttelton
TitleDialogues of the dead. 5th edition.
ImprintLondon: John Murray,
Date of Publication1768
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first book published by John Murray I, thus marking the start of what would grow to be a mighty publishing business carried on by successive generations of his family. In October 1768, a young Scottish naval officer based in Brompton, London, John McMurray (he would change his surname to 'Murray' around this time) was looking for a business investment. He found a suitable one in William Sandby's bookselling business in Fleet Street. Sandby had published the first four editions of "Dialogues of the dead" and the 5th edition was Murray's first publication, "the book ushered Murray into the trade in a respectable manner" (Zachs, p.22). In November 1768 the book sold to customers at 5s. 6d. and to the trade at 2s. 11d. Two separate print settings of the 5th edition are known, which may indicate that Murray's first publishing venture go off to a shaky start, the first printing possibly not being good enough, necessitating a second printing. However, the book would go on to be a steady seller for Murray over the coming years. Baron Lyttelton (1709-1773) was an English politician and writer. His "Dialogues of the Dead" was first published anonymously in 1760 and consisted of a series of imaginary dialogues between important historical and literary figures, from Classical times right up to the 18th century, on moral themes. It was inspired by a work of the same name from the 2nd century AD by the Ancient Greek author Lucian of Samosata, who also wrote 'Dialogues of the gods'. A further model was the "Dialogues" of the French Catholic theologian Francois Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambrai (1651-1715). Three of the dialogues in Lyttleton's collection were written by the writer, Elizabeth Montagu, who was a close friend of him. The first three editions sold quickly, and Lyttelton wrote four additional dialogues in 1765, which were added to the 4th edition. Later critics were harsh in the criticisms of the work, regarding them as 'dead dialogues', lacking the humour or spontaneity of Lucian's originals.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.41
Reference SourcesW. Zachs, "The first John Murray and the late eighteenth-century London book trade" Oxford, 1998; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on20/07/14
AuthorAnonymous
TitleLe rapporteur de bonne-foi, ou Examen sans partialitie & sans pretention du differend survenu entre M. Hume & M. Rousseau de Geneve
ImprintParis?
Date of Publication1766
LanguageFrench
NotesConcerning the dispute between Hume and Rousseau. Included in Expose succinct de la contestation qui s'est elevee entre M. Hume. Et M. Rousseau, avec les pieces justificatives. (ESTC N31270). The ESTC record includes the following note: Pp.133-177 contain 'Le rapporteur de bonne-foi, ou examen ... du differend survenu entre M. Hume & M. Rousseau ... ', with a separate titlepage, and signed: T. Verax, i.e. Rousselot (probably).
ShelfmarkAB.1.214.44
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorHume, David, (1711-1776)
TitleFour Dissertations. I. The Natural History of Religion. II. Of the Passions. III. Of Tragedy. IV. Of the Standard of Taste
ImprintLondon: A. Millar
Date of Publication1757
LanguageEnglish
NotesA copy of the second state of the first edition, printed on large uncut paper. The largest leaves, for example the title page, measure 187mm by 110mm. Todd observed that a few copies on superfine Royal Paper may have measured 180 x 110mm (as against a maximum size of 170 x 100mm for the others) and have the words on pages 9, and 131 in final corrected state. For a full account of the muddled and controversial publishing history of these four important essays see Mossner, pages 319-335.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2893
Reference SourcesE.C. Mossner, The life of David Hume, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; W.B. Todd, 'David Hume: a preliminary bibliography', in Hume and the Enlightenment: essays presented to Ernest Campbell Mossner, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1974
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorFriedrich Wilhelm Gillet
TitleNeuer brittischer Plutarch oder Leben und Charaktere beruehmter Britten.
ImprintBerlin: Friedrich Maurer
Date of Publication1804
LanguageGerman
NotesFirst edition of a German-language collection of biographical sketches and anecdotes relating to famous Britons who had distinguished themselves during the French Revolutionary War. Among the 24 men described are the Scots Lord Duncan (Adam Duncan of Camperdown fame), Henry Dundas, Thomas Erskine, 1st baron Erskine, and Sir John Sinclair. The author was a German Lutheran minister (Ernst) Friedrich Wilhelm Gillet (1762-1829), who preached at the churches of Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichswerder in Berlin. Gillet was presumably a member of the large Huguenot community that had settled in the Berlin area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The work was intended as continuation of the popular English-language work by Thomas Mortimer "The British Plutarch; or, biographical entertainer" first published in London in 1762, which took as its inspiration the biographies of the ancient Greek author Plutarch of eminent Greek and Roman statesmen and generals. The book is illustrated with portraits of men it describes and has as its frontispiece an engraving of the wooden carving 'Tipu's tiger' (now held at the V&A Museum in London) which is mentioned at the end of the book in a series of anecdotes relating to Britain's war against Tipu Sahib, sultan of Mysore in South India. At the time of the book's publication (1804) Britain had resumed its war against France and its leader Napoleon, having been at war continuously with the French in the Revolutionary War from 1793 to 1802. Gillet adopts a relatively neutral tone in describing the eminent British; as a citizen of Berlin, the centre of Prussian power, he would have been aware that the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III was at the time pursuing a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic War. However, there is clearly an underlying admiration for the British in refusing to bow to France, which he describes as the most powerful nation in Europe, whilst at the same time expanding their empire in India. Prussia would eventually enter the war against Napoleon in 1806 and suffer a crushing defeat.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.37
Acquired on13/07/14
AuthorStoeffler, Johannes
TitleElucidatio fabricae ususque astrolabii, Ioanne Stoflerino iustengensi authore.
ImprintParis: Hieronymum de Marnef, & Gulielmum Cavellat
Date of Publication1570
LanguageLatin
NotesJohannes Stoeffler (1452-1531) was professor of mathematics at the newly founded University of Tuebingen, who wrote the first German work on the astrolabe. The astrolabe was an inclinometer, a device invented in c. 150 BC by the Ancient Greeks. It had a variety of uses such as locating and predicting the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice-versa, and in surveying and triangulation. Used in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, Stoeffler's work was a comprehensive manual of the instrument. The first part concerns the construction of the astrolabe. The full page woodcut illustrations are extended by paper strips to almost double the page size and clearly show the various stages in the construction process. The second part explains the use of the astrolabe with equally remarkable woodcut illustrations. First printed in Oppenheim in 1512, 1513 and 1524, further editions were printed in Paris in 1553, 1564,1569 and 1570. NLS already has three 16th-century editions of this work, but this particular copy has been acquired for its provenance. At the foot of title page is the signature "Alexander seton", which indicates that this book was formerly in the library of Alexander Seton (1556-1622), Chancellor of Scotland 1605-1622 and 1st Earl of Dunfermline. Seton came from a pious Catholic family and, as a younger son, was destined for a career in the church. In 1571, when he was about fifteen, he was sent to the Jesuit-run German college in Rome, presumably to avoid the upheaval caused by the Reformation in Scotland. In Rome he acquired an enthusiasm for books and a knowledge of mathematics. From Italy he travelled to France, where he studied law, and presumably purchased Stoeffler's 'Elucidatio fabricae' at this time. By late 1580 he was back in Scotland. Given the political and religious climate in Scotland in the 1580s a career in the church was no longer an option. He did, however, manage to have a successful if somewhat turbulent career in politics, conforming outwardly to the established church while remaining privately loyal to his Catholic faith. In 1604, as the highest ranking official of King James's government, the King made Seton chief Scottish negotiator for the proposed Anglo-Scottish Union. The negotiations failed but James was sufficiently impressed by his conduct to appoint him lord chancellor of Scotland in 1604. He subsequently became the King's principal adviser and agent in Scottish affairs in 1611. As a very wealthy man he had a large collection of books; on his death in 1622 the libraries at his properties at Pinkie and Fyvie were valued at the huge sum of 1333 6s 4d. According to his descendant Walter Seton, writing in 1923, this book "was probably one of his earliest purchases. He was using [this] signature up to about 1586". Walter Seton was then the owner of this book and ten others with the same provenance.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes; Walter Seton 'Some relics of Alexander Seton, Earl of Dunfermline', Scottish Historical Review, vol.20, no.79 (1923) pp.187-89.
Acquired on04/07/14
AuthorFrederick Rolfe
TitleA letter to the Marquis de Ruvigny
Imprint[Edinburgh : Tragara Press]
Date of Publication1959
LanguageEnglish
NotesOne of only two copies printed by Alan Anderson at the Tragara Press (the other copy is now in the Library of Congress), this single sheet, folded to make a 4-page booklet, reproduces the text of a letter sent in 1908 by Frederick Rolfe (aka Baron Corvo) (1860-1913) to Melville Amadeus de La Caillemotte de Massue de Ruvignes, 9th Marquis of Ruvigny and 15th of Raineval (1868-1921). This copy also includes a letter of Alan Anderson from 1992 to its former owner, the book collector and Rolfe scholar, Robert Scoble, explaining how the item came to be printed. In 1959, Anderson's friend, the writer and bookseller George Sims (1923-1999) was visiting him in Edinburgh. Sims had been a supporter of the Tragara Press from its start in 1954 and was interested in seeing the press in action. He and Anderson, selected this letter, a facsimile of which was reproduced in the Folio Society's printing of A.J.A. Symons's biography of Rolfe 'The Quest for Corvo'. Anderson printed off these two copies on rose-coloured Ingres paper for Sims and he would go on to print several Corvo/Rolfe items over the next 50 years. Rolfe's letter was occasioned by an enquiry from the Marquess of Ruvigny, a passionate genealogist, about his title 'Baron Corvo', which he had used as a pseudonym. Ruvigny was preparing his work 'The Nobilities of Europe'and was enquiring about the title's credentials. Rolfes two letters in reply were somewhat defensive, explaining that 'Baron Corvo' was a "tekhniknym", a trade name. According to Rolfe this term "is I hope as good an English word as 'pseudonym'.Certainly it fits my case more neatly ... As for 'Frederick Baron Corvo' ... it is the name under which Mr Rolfe has published certain works of Art & letters. And there I think that the matter had better rest: the people responsible for the idea being dead & I myself having ceased from using it." Rolfe's explanation was duly repeated, with spelling errors, in Ruvigny's work.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on04/07/14
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