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 790 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 790:

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AuthorWalter Scott
TitleWaverley, o Ahora Sesenta Anos, Novela Historica por Sir Gualterio Scott.
ImprintMejico [Mexico City]: Galvan a cargo de Mariano Arevalo
Date of Publication1833
LanguageSpanish
NotesThis is the rare three-volume first Spanish translation of Scott's ground-breaking historical novel Waverley, no other copies being recorded as held in Europe. The place of publication, Mexico, is unusual and is explained by the fact that the translation is by the famous Cuban poet Jose María Heredia (1803-1839), then living in exile in the country. As a young man Heredia had been arrested by the Spanish authorities in Cuba for taking part in pro-independence activities and was banished from the island for life. He spent some time in the USA before moving to Mexico, where he became a naturalised citizen, working as an editor and translator. Heredia is regarded as first true Romantic poet in the Hispanic World and his combination of linguistic skills and literary talent made him an ideal person to translate Scott?s work.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2923
Acquired on27/05/16
AuthorWilliam Morris
TitleThe well at the world's end.
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1896
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Morris's fantasy novel the "Well at the World's End" was one of the last works to be printed at the Kelmscott in the year of Morris's death in 1896. It is thought to be one of the first examples of an entirely fictional fantasy world, and greatly influenced later fantasy writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The book follows the travels of Ralph, a prince of a tiny country, as he disobeys his father's wishes and runs away from home to adventure in the world, and seek out the fabled Well at World's End, said to grant eternal youth to those who drink from it. The book was christened by Morris as 'the Interminable' as it was in production from 1892-96, longer than any other Kelmscott Press title, which was mainly due to Morris being dissatisfied with the woodcut illustrations produced by Arthur Gaskin and turning instead to his trusted collaborator Edward Burne-Jones to do the illustrations. Limited to 350 copies on paper this particular copy is in its original vellum binding and is in near mint condition. It was formerly in the Library of Appleby Castle, Westmorland (Cumbria)
ShelfmarkKP.70
Acquired on20/05/16
AuthorKendall, E. G.
TitleCosmopolitan System of Dresscutting.
ImprintLondon : Cosmopolitan Dresscutting Association, 65A, Oxford Street
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete kit for home tailoring and dress cutting which includes the printed step-by-step instructions and five cardboard cut-out tools: the main chart, sleeve chart, child's sleeve, collar chart, and the "Cosmopolitan scale" used for measuring purposes. The kit is especially interesting for its provenance. The verso of the cardboard tools have the manuscript inscription "Miss Ireland" with the "sleeve chart" having "Miss Ireland 143 Constitution St. Leith". The 1889-90 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records a W[illia]m Ireland living at 143 Constitution Street Leith and a Miss Ireland, dressmaker at 41 Lothian Road Edinburgh. The 1899-1900 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records Misses M. & E. Ireland. milliners and dressmakers at 1 Great Wellington Street, Miss E. Ireland, milliner at 165 Leith Walk and Miss Ireland, dressmaker, at 41 Lothian Road, Edinburgh. The kit is accompanied by a carrying folder with the ownership label of the "Rodmure Dresscutting Association, 153 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Madame Levine, Manageress". The Rodmure School of Dresscutting was founded by Joseph Fox (1851-1933) who was credited with introducing the method of individual pattern-cutting to the city and in training many Glasgow seamstresses at his school. The Rodmure System incorporated a "scientific" sizing and cutting apparatus based on a system of radial punch holes and proportion. As the Cosmopolitan System of Dresscutting also incorporates complex measuring tools with punch holes one wonders whether Fox was adapting ideas from elsewhere. Fox's daughter Rhoda Levine was the school's manageress. She had a sister named Muriel, who trained as a Milliner in Paris before returning to Glasgow to open a dress shop near The Rodmure school. Although cutting systems like the Cosmopolitan and Rodmure systems were popular and seen as a solution to the technical problems created by the complex cut and fit of stylish women's clothing, they were criticized for not always equipping students with the skills of a true tailor. As the instruction booklets and accompanying tools for these systems were extremely complex, there was a lucrative market for schools of instruction on their correct application.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Acquired on16/05/16
AuthorT.J.
TitleDomestic, literary and village sketches.
Imprint[London: W. Nicol]
Date of Publication[1823]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first edition of a whimsical collection of notes on literary travels in Scotland, and local pastimes in Sussex. Poetry is included and there are digressions on painting, sculpture, and landscape gardening. The lithographs are claimed by the anonymous author as his/her own work and show a high degree of draughtsmanship. The work includes a separately-paginated section on "Ossian's Hall" containing extracts from Ossian's poems with "cursory observations" and a coloured plate depicting an imaginary Ossian's hall, probably based on the Ossian's Hall (formerly known as the Hermitage), built in the 18th-century near Dunkeld, which became a popular tourist attraction.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.03
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorFabre, Jean Raymond Auguste
TitleLa Caledonie, ou, La guerre nationale.
ImprintParis: Didot
Date of Publication1823
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is an epic poem by French poet and journalist Jean-Raymond-Auguste Fabre (1792-1839), written, in 12 books, in the style of Homer and Virgil and with some Ossianic flavour. Fabre worked as editor of the periodical "La semaine" and "La tribune" in the 1820s and was an ardent republican who drew inspiration from peoples' struggles against monarchy and tyranny. "Caledonie" is loosely based on ancient legends and on the text of Roman author Tacitus' work "Agricola" which covers the conquest of Great Britain, including the invasion of the northern part of the island, later to become Scotland. The poem depicts brave Caledonian warriors, with suitably Ossianic names, Olgar, Olnir, Fergus etc. fighting against the Roman invaders. Fabre also wrote a poem in a similar vein based on contemporary events, namely the siege of Missolonghi in 1825-26, during the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman empire. This copy is bound in contemporary polished calf in gilt and blind by the firm of Bradel of Paris with their label, and has the gilt initials 'P.B.' on the covers. It was subsequently owned by two famous book collectors who added their book labels to the front pastedown. The first of these is Mortimer Loeb Schiff's red morocco gilt book label. Schiff (1877?1931), sometimes known as Mortimer Leo Schiff, was an American banker who assembled an important collection of decorative bindings, illustrated books and signed bindings. The book was sold at auction by Sotheby's in 1938 and purchased by the English bibliophile Major J.R. Abbey. He in turn added his own green morocco gilt book label. The book was sold again by Sotheby's in 1967.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.964
Reference SourcesSeymour de Ricci, British and miscellaneous signed bindings in the Mortimer L. Schiff collection, New York, 1935
Acquired on29/01/16
AuthorThomas Christie
TitleAn account of the ravages committed in Ceylon by small-pox.
ImprintCheltenham: J. & S. Griffith
Date of Publication1811
LanguageEnglish
NotesRare printing of a detailed report by Scottish physician Thomas Christie (1773-1829) of the effects of smallpox epidemics in Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). Christie had served as medical superintendent-general on the island in the early 1800s and had introduced a successful programme of free of charge inoculation to counter the ravages of the disease. Although the native population were initially reluctant to be inoculated, they became gradually convinced so that by end of 1806 more than 50,000 people had been inoculated, and more than 25,000 in 1809 alone. Christie returned to Britain in 1809 and graduated as a doctor of medicine at Marischal college, Aberdeen, 24th June, 1809, he settled in Cheltenham, and published his account there.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2918
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on18/12/15
AuthorAdam Smith
TitleTheorie des sentimens moraux ou Essai analytique sur les principes des jugemens
ImprintYverdun : Pierre Kuppner
Date of Publication1799
LanguageFrench
NotesThis an unrecorded French-language edition of Adam Smith's "Theory of moral sentiments" with a Swiss imprint. It consists of the sheets of the Paris 1798 edition, which is the third translation of the work, by the marquise de Condorcet (NLS copy of this edition: ABS.2.87.36), but with new cancel title pages. The imprint is almost certainly false, as there is no record of a Pierre Kuppner publishing books in Yverdun (Yverdon-les-Bains) or anywhere else at the time. Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland was an intellectual and printing centre in the 18th century (a 1781 edition in French of the "Wealth of Nations" was published there), with a long established literary and typographical society, where intellectuals such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Fortune-Barthelemy de Felice stayed. This particular copy is in a contemporary full-leather binding and has a Polish provenance with the bookplate, dated 1821, of the Bibliotheca Sobolevskyana.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2919-2920
Reference SourcesJean Pierre Perret, "Les imprimeries d?Yverdon au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècle" (Lausanne, 1945)
Acquired on11/12/15
Author[William Agnew]
TitleThe book of signs
ImprintGlasgow : William Agnew
Date of Publication1880?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is unrecorded pamphlet depicts signs to be used for communication with deaf people. The author/artist and publisher, William Agnew (1846-1914) was himself deaf and left school to become a bookbinder, and after nine years went to work for the 'semi-mute' printer Mr A.F. Strathern. He is best known for painting a series of pictures showing Queen Victoria using finger spelling to communicate with a deaf woman on the Isle of Wight. In the pamphlet text Agnew refers to the incident with Queen Victoria that the painting related to, he also mentions the use of sign language by native Americans. Agnew was a keen supporter of using sign-language for educating the deaf, as opposed to using systems based on using articulation and speech, the latter approach being favoured by leading educators of the time. In the pamphlet he argues that oral education of the deaf is ineffective and expensive compared with finger and sign methods. He subsequently became involved in the fundraising for the building of a new Institute for Deaf and Dumb Adults in Glasgow and West Scotland, that would rely on instruction through sign language. Queen Victoria contributed money, and funds from an 1891 grand bazaar raised enough to purchase a site for the new building, with Agnew being made a Director of the Institution.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.08
Reference SourcesH Dominic, W Stiles, "Deaf artist William Agnew" https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/library-rnid/2011/12/20/deaf-artist-william-agnew/
Acquired on20/11/15
Author[Muriel Digby]
Title[Victorian 'Newspaper Cuttings' album containing numerous theatre programmes, playbills, clippings and other items]
ImprintS.l.: s.n.
Date of Publication[1881-1883]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis album records part of the acting life of Muriel Digby, who performed in many showings of a popular play "The colonel". The play by Francis Cowley Burnand (1836-1917), an English comic writer and playwright, satirised the popular aesthetic craze taking place in Britain in the second half of the 19th century. In October 1881 the Prince of Wales finally persuaded his mother, Queen Victoria, to attend a command performance of "The colonel" in Abergeldie Castle, near Braemar, Aberdeenshire, by Edgar Bruce's touring company, who were playing in Edinburgh at the time. The performance was much enjoyed by the Royal family, in particular by the Queen who had previously loved theatre performances and was viewing her first play in twenty years following the death of her husband Albert in 1861. It was however another five years after "The colonel" before she would watch another one. Two copies of the programme specially produced for the Abergeldie performance are attached to the first leaf of the album. Each one depicts both sides of the programme, with emblems on the front which are absolutely of the aesthetic movement style. The outer 'aesthetic' side was engraved and copyrighted by JA Lowell & Co. Boston, 1878. The inner printed side, incorporating the Royal coats of arms, was printed by James Turner & Co., Lithographers, Edinburgh. Many of the newspaper clippings and other items refer to the Abergeldie performance, one reporting "one of the most interesting events that has happened in the theatrical world for many years." Muriel Digby is not listed among the cast of the performers at Abergeldie but she did subsequently play female roles in "The colonel" in various performances around the UK. A Glasgow Gaiety Theatre playbill, for September 1882, depicts the bust of Queen Victoria ? with printed reference to the Abergeldie performance. Some of the newspaper clippings relating to performances of the play lack the name of the newspaper, but most have the name written above the clipping. No record can be located of any other copy of the Abergeldie programme.
ShelfmarkAB.9.216.01
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/11/15
Author[William Sotheby]
TitleTo His Majesty's ship Barham, appointed by the King to convey Sir Walter Scott to Naples.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication1831
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single sheet poem of 42 lines is by 'W.S.', William Sotheby (1757-1833), a poet and translator. The poem is dated 18 November 1831 at the end, with the address of Fair Mead Lodge, Epping Forest, which had been Sotheby's home since the early 1790s. Sotheby had been in the army in his youth and had been stationed in Edinburgh in the 1770s, where he came to know Walter Scott, then only a boy. The two remained friends; Scott may not have greatly esteemed Sotheby's talents as a poet but he had a sincere respect for the elder man. By the summer of 1831 Scott had suffered three strokes and reluctantly agreed to go on a tour of the Mediterranean to improve his declining health. In the poem Sotheby addresses the man-of-war HMS Barham, which had been provided at the command of William IV to take Scott to Malta and Naples rather than have him undergo an arduous overland journey. The ship had set sail in October, and Sotheby anticipates its return with its precious cargo, hoping, in vain, that the famous author will return restored to full fitness. In fact, Scott had a fourth stroke on the return journey, which was overland, and by the time he reached London in June 1832 he was dying, surviving long enough to return to Scotland and to die in his beloved Abbotsford. Only one other copy of this printing is recorded, in the British Library.
ShelfmarkAP.1.215.03
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/10/15
Author[David Whyte]
TitleGlenfinnan
Imprint[Inverness: D. Whyte]
Date of Publication1890?
LanguageEnglish
NotesUnrecorded commercially-produced album by the Inverness photographer David Whyte, containing 9 mounted albumen prints of the Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel area before the construction of the famous railway viaduct.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.156
Acquired on25/09/15
AuthorJakob Spiegel
TitleLexicon iuris ciuilis, ex uarijs probatorum autorum commentarijs congestum.
ImprintLugduni [Lyon] : Apud Sebastianum Gryphium,
Date of Publication1541
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is work on civil law by the German humanist and scholar, Spiegel (b. 1483). Spiegel served Emperor Maximilian I as his secretary and was also a confidant of Charles V, being influential in imperial and papal politics in the 1510s. This is perhaps his most important work, first published at Strasbourg in 1538 and here revised by the author. There are no recorded editions of this Lyon printing in the UK. The book has been acquired as it bears on the title page the ownership inscription of Adam Bothwell (1529?-1593) bishop of Orkney. Bothwell, son of a prominent Edinburgh family with links to government, had perhaps studied abroad - possibly, like his father, at the University of Orleans - and had already taken holy orders by 1552 when he became a minister. His links with Orkney began in the mid-1550s, and he was appointed to his see when he was only thirty. He played a major role in Scottish politics, and was a member of the privy council to Mary Queen of Scots, officiating at her marriage to the fourth Earl of Bothwell (no relation) in May 1567, and later the same year he anointed the infant King James VI at his coronation. Bothwell was a keen book collector, his library has been described as "impressively large and wide-ranging" (ODNB). It was listed not long after his death (the inventory is reprinted in volume II of The Warrender Papers published by the Scottish History Society in 1931), but this book does not seem to be amongst those listed in 1593, and it may have left the library before that date. The Library already has four books owned by Bothwell in its collections and this book is an important addition to the Library's collection of books printed before the Reformation and owned by Scots. As well as Bothwell's signature, this copy also has the 19th-century bookplate of Robert Graham. This is probably Robert Graham (d. 1815), 12th laird of Fintry, whose son Colonel John Graham (1778-1821) was the founder of Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape.
ShelfmarkRB.l.286
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Durkan and A. Ross, Early Scottish Libraries (1961), p. 29; D. Shaw, 'Adam Bothwell: a conserver of the Renaissance in Scotland' in I.B. Cowan and D. Shaw, "The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland" (1983), pp. 141-169.
Acquired on04/09/15
AuthorAnon
TitleAddress by the principal native gentlemen and other inhabitants of Bombay to Sir Charles Forbes, Baronet, on the occasion of erecting a statue of him at Bombay.
ImprintLondon: James Madden
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesSir Charles Forbes (1773-1849) was a Scottish politician who had worked in his youth in India in the family firm of Forbes & Co. in Bombay, ending up as head of the firm. On returning Britain he continued to take an interest in India as a member of Parliament. He sponsored charitable work in India, especially improving the Bengal water supply. A statue of him was placed in the town hall of Bombay in 1839, paid for by public subscription. This work commemorates his services to the commercial development of the country and the improvement in the living standards of the local people. Bound with the work is an unrecorded Gaelic pamphlet by Donald Macpherson, "Marb-Rann air Sir Tearlach Foirbeis Jar-Bharan" London, [1849] [An elegy on the death of Sir Charles Forbes, Baronet, paraphrased from the Gaelic, by the author].
ShelfmarkAB.9.215.05(1-2)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on26/06/15
AuthorJohn Wilson
TitleMusalmani din ka Raddi: or Refutation of Muhammadism, in Hindustani. 2nd edition.
ImprintBombay : [Bombay] Tract and Book Society
Date of Publication1840
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Wilson (1804-1875), Scottish missionary and orientalist, studied linguistics, medicine and theology in Edinburgh in preparation for missionary life and mastered the Gujarati, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Hindi, Persion, Arabic and Zend languages. In 1829, a year after graduating, he and his wife went to Bombay as missionaries. There they established a series of successful schools for both boys and girls, secured a printing press by an arrangement with the Bombay Tract and Book Society, and entered into public discussions with Hindu Brahmans, and with Muslims and Parsees. This controversialist work, lithographically printed in the Urdu language, was part of his attempts to convert local people to Christianity. It was first published in 1834 by the Bombay Tract and Book Society and an edition in Persian was also printed, presumably aimed at the Parsee community. Despite his proselytising mission Wilson was also indefatigable collector of oriental manuscripts who sought to preserve Indian historical monuments.
ShelfmarkAP.1.215.21
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on19/06/15
AuthorDaniel Ritchie ed.
TitleThe voice of our exiles or Stray leaves from a convict ship.
ImprintEdinburgh: John Menzies ; London W. S. Orr & Co.
Date of Publication1864
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work is based on a journal set up on board a convict ship the 'Peston Bomanjee' on a journey to Van Diemen's land (Tasmania) in 1852. The journal ran for 14 weekly issues between 25 April to 28 July and was edited by the Scottish naval surgeon Daniel Ritchie (1816-1865), who had been appointed surgeon superintendent to the 'Peston Bomajee' in that year. Ritchie was a strong believer in the rehabilitation of convicts through discipline and tutoring so that they could eventually become useful members of society, pointing out the financial and social benefits of educating convicts in the introduction to "Voice of our exiles". The long voyage to Van Diemen's Land gave him an opportunity to put his principles into practice by getting the convicts to contribute essays, poems and articles for his ad hoc journal. The articles covered a wide range of topic, including moral ones 'On sin', 'On Swearing' and 'Our gratitude to our Creator' as well as practical tips for surviving life 'down under' with some accounts of travel in Tasmania itself. Each issue was concluded with a weekly record by Ritchie which summarised the events of the previous week on board the ship. The journal no doubt helped to alleviate the tedium of the journey for the officers and 291 convicts on the ship and Ritchie felt its content was of sufficient interest to turn into a publication two years later, presumably to send to friends and fellow advocates of rehabilitation of convicts. This particular copy is a presentation copy from Ritchie to Sir Baldwin Wake Walker (1802-1876), a distinguished naval commander, who in 1854 was serving as Surveyor of the Navy. Ritchie would go on to serve in another convict ship before settling in Australia in 1857. He died in Edinburgh, while on a visit back to his native Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2917
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on15/05/15
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