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 755 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 755:

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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.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
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
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
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
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
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
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe Highland rogue: or, the memorable actions of the celebrated Robert Mac-gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy.
ImprintLondon: J. Billingsley
Date of Publication1723
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the earliest printed account of the life of Rob Roy, Robert MacGregor (c. 1671-1734), Scottish outlaw and folk hero. Rob's fame extended well beyond his Stirlingshire homeland; hence the publication in 1723 of this account of his colourful exploits. His double life as a cattle trader who enriched himself through cattle raiding and running protection rackets; his feud with the Marquess of Montrose who, according to him, pursued him vindictively for debts he could not pay; his involvement with the Jacobite cause which made him a fugitive; all these ingredients made him the stuff of popular legend. In 1716 he was attainted for high treason for his role in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. In 1717 the British government passed the Indemnity Act, which effectively pardoned all those who had taken part in the Rising, but the Clan Gregor and Rob were specifically excluded from the benefits of the Act. Rob remained at large, an outlaw and rebel until 1725, well after this work was published. His situation changed when General George Wade was sent to Scotland by the British government with the authority to offer remaining rebels the chance to receive a pardon after writing letters of submission. Rob in his letter argued that he had never meant to be a rebel, even though the facts spoke otherwise. He spent the rest of his life living in the Balquhidder area, acting occasionally as a spy for General Wade but also still dabbling in cattle raiding and protection rackets. This anonymous work, supposedly based on "authentick Scotch MSS" (which are no longer extant), purports in the preface to tell "not a romantic tale & but a real history: not the adventures of a Robinson Crusoe, a Colonel Jack, or a Moll Flanders." The preface is signed "E.B." which has led to the work being ascribed to the Quaker author Elias Bockett (1695-1735), but this seems unlikely in view of the nature of other works by him on religious and political controversies. Lives of notorious criminals were very popular among the English reading public of the early 18th century, and a number of authors, including Daniel Defoe, were happy to churn out biographies to meet popular demand. Inevitably, given the subject matter of the work and the mention in the preface of Robinson Crusoe, Colonel Jack and Moll Flanders - all works written by Defoe in this period  'Highland rogue' has been widely attributed to Defoe. Sir Walter Scott stated that Defoe ought to have written it, without actually confirming that he was the author. However, it is not attributed to Defoe in Furbank and Owens's 1998 critical bibliography of his works, nor in Moore's checklist of Defoe's writings (2nd ed. 1971). The book and its title may in fact have been inspired by another anonymous work, first published in London back in 1706, 'The scotch rogue: or, the life and actions of Donald Macdonald a high-land Scot', a first-person account of the (mis)deeds of a "highland robber". 'Scotch rogue' was reprinted in two parts in 1722 and 1723, at the same time as 'Highland rogue', thus roguery and Scottish highlanders were firmly linked in the minds of the English reading public of 1723. Whoever the author of 'Highland rogue' was, his account of the life of Rob Roy is, contrary to the claims of the preface, "inconsistent, badly written and fanciful" (Stevenson, "Hunt for Rob Roy", 2004). The basic outline of Rob's life is, however, "essentially accurate" (Stevenson). The work's main importance, apart from being the first biography of Rob, is that it provides a blueprint for his character in later printed works, depicting him as a charming and audacious rogue rather than a bloodthirsty villain, a man capable of towering rages but one who abhors cruelty and violence. His legendary status is matched by his physical appearance; the author notes that he has a superhero-like stature, "he approaches even to a gigantic size", has a foot-long beard, and of course an abundance of red hair covering his body. Moreover, the author's depiction of Rob is consistent with the widely-held belief among the common people of Scotland that Rob Roy was indeed a Robin Hood figure, a humble man who had taken to robbery to right wrongs done to him by an arrogant aristocrat. They regarded him as a man "who did not steal indiscriminately, but took what was his by right from the great while sparing poor men" (Oxford DNB). The affection he inspired can be seen by the fact that he was not betrayed in all his years as an outlaw. A slightly enlarged version of the text of 'Highland rogue', with a re-written ending taking into account Rob's death, was published in 1743 under the title of 'The highland rogue: being a general history of the highlanders, wherein is given an account of their country and manner of living, exemplified in the life of Robert Mac-Gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy'. The 1743 edition makes explicit the connection between Rob and Robin Hood, noting that he had "lived in the manner of the ancient Robin Hood of England." As mentioned earlier, Sir Walter Scott was familiar with 'Highland rogue'; one of the five other UK copies of the 1723 edition recorded in ESTC is held in his library at Abbotsford. Incidentally, he also owned two editions of 'Scotch rogue'. Scott drew on this work when writing his own celebrated version of Rob Roy's life, published in 1817, which gave the Highland outlaw international fame and inspired plays, operas, biographies and an industry in Rob Roy memorabilia. The NLS copy of 'Highland rogue' is extra-illustrated with a woodcut of a highlander with a drawn sword and shield taken from the 1723 edition of 'Scotch rogue', which has been cut out and mounted on a blank leaf as a frontispiece. The work has also been bound together with a copy of John Campbell's 'A full and particular description of the Highlands of Scotland' (London, 1752); this particular copy also contains the frontispiece plate of a highlander sitting in his study which is not present in any of the other NLS copies of the work. The volume was formerly in the private collection of the late Peter Nelson (d. 2004) who worked at Lyon and Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh. The volume also contains the loose bookplate of Robert Hay-Drummond, the 10th Earl of Kinnoull (1751 1804), which may have at one point been stuck on to the front pastedown.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2905(2)
Reference SourcesDavid Stevenson, 'The hunt for Rob Roy', (Edinburgh, 2004); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on04/07/14
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
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe noble pedlar! Or the late chance-sellor & present broom seller!!
ImprintLondon: J. Sidebotham
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a hand-coloured broadside satirising the Scottish politician Thomas Erskine, first baron Erskine (1750-1823). Starting off in the army, Erskine later became a successful barrister in England, moving into politics in the 1780s. As a supporter of the Whigs he championed the causes of parliamentary reform, the freedom of the press, and opposition to the growing reaction caused by fear of revolutionary France. In 1806 he finally achieved high political office, becoming lord chancellor, but resigned the following year. His latter years were marked by financial problems. He lost much of his fortune in failed American investments, and was forced to sell the bulk of his property in London. Having bought an estate, Holmbush, near Crawley in Sussex, he tried his hand at farming. The land, however, was infertile, and he suffered further financial losses when he tried to make money by growing and selling heath brooms. To add insult to injury, one of the men he employed to sell his brooms in London was taken to court in 1816 for selling the brooms without a hawker's license. Erskine was fined 10 and when, on entering the court, he was told by the magistrates of his conviction, he showed that he had lost none of his renowned wit by commenting "if you do, it must be under a sweeping clause." The broadside shows Erskine walking beside a cart selling brooms, crying "O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom! who'll buy my charming brooms". The verses at the foot, titled "The bonny brooms", are accordingly to be sung to the well-known Scottish ballad 'The broom o' the Cowdenknowes'.
ShelfmarkAP.7.214.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe history of Netterville, a chance pedestrian.
ImprintLondon: J. Cundee
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare copy of a sentimental novel set in the 1770s which relates the misadventures of the young hero Lewisham Netterville. Netterville's attempts to follow his late father's precepts and lead a virtuous life while at the same time pursuing the object of his affection, the beautiful Clara Walsingham, take him on a tour of Great Britain, from Bath to Bamborough (Bamburgh) Castle, in Northumberland, and so on to Scotland, where he visits the fictitious Clanrick Hall, Edinburgh, the hill of Moncreiff, Perth, and the islands of Mull, Staffa and Iona. The anonymous female author also includes a Scottish ballad of the her own composition, 'Ellen of Irvine; or, the Maid of Kirkonnel[sic], a ballad' (vol. II, pp. 57-65). The tragic tale of Ellen Irvine had appeared in Pennant's 'A tour in Scotland', (London 1774), and both Burns and Walter Scott wrote versions of the story. In the dedication (signed "the authoress"), the author apologises for her "untutored muse", claiming that the poetry was written at a different period. She describes this novel as "a second attempt in the region of fiction" and hopes that, given that it contains nothing immoral or irreligious, it may not fail to amuse a "candid and generous few, who condescend sometimes to stray awhile, amid the bowers of Fancy". The novel met with some praise from contemporary critics: "There is some novelty in the conduct of this novel and the characters and incidents are ingeniously varied. The plot is, perhaps, a little perplexed, but the interest, amid all the episodical interruptions which it meets with, suffers but little abatement" (The Monthly Mirror, XIII, London 1802, p. 251).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2903-2904
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnderson, Grace Scott & John
TitleJapan from India: letters & notes of the journey of two travellers, chiefly by one of them.
Imprint[Calcutta?: privately printed]
Date of Publication[1884]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, privately-printed account of a journey to Japan in 1884, made by the eminent Scottish zoologist, Dr John Anderson (1833-1900) and his wife, Grace (1834-1917). Anderson was at the time based in Calcutta, where he had lived for 20 years and was working as Superintendent of the Indian Museum and professor of comparative anatomy at the medical school. He had devoted his career to studying the zoology and ethnology of the Far East, having already gone on three arduous, and at times dangerous, scientific expeditions to China and Burma during his time in India. The trip to Japan was a more leisurely affair. The anonymous account printed here is a mixture of a travel journal, written by Grace Anderson, who addresses her chapters to a relative or friend called Isabella, with two additional, more scholarly, chapters written by Anderson (referred to in the text as "J.A."). The Andersons' journey started from Calcutta on March 15 with the first destination being the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they met the governor (and fellow Scot), Col. Thomas Cadell. During their stay they visited the penal colony at Port Blair. After a stay in Rangoon, Burma, they moved on to Penang in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canton (Guangzhou), Grace making frequent comparisons with the landscape she saw in the course of her travels and that of her native Scotland. In May they arrived in Japan, which was the Anderson's main destination. The majority of the book is accordingly devoted to their travels in the Japanese islands with descriptions of the scenery, wildlife, local customs, religion and food. The final chapter in the book is written by John Anderson and concerns their visit to the island of Yezo (Hokkaido) from August to October. He cites a number of other contemporary authors who had written on Japan, including Isabella Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks in Japan' (first published in 1880). Clearly inspired by Bird's travels among the indigenous Ainu people, much of this chapter is taken up with a description of the Ainu. Anderson adopts a relatively neutral tone throughout his account, but, as already described by Isabella Bird, Anderson shows that the Ainu were suffering under the direct Japanese control of the island imposed after 1869. He describes a people living in squalor, unable to practise some of their local customs, and blighted by their addiction to alcohol. Anderson was able to get a letter of introduction from an English Anglican missionary, the Rev. John Batchelor, to meet an Ainu chief Peuri who figured prominently in Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks'. Peuri would appear to have been the "Benri" described by Bird as a "superb but dissipated-looking savage". Not long after his return to Calcutta in 1886, Anderson resigned from his posts and returned to Britain, where he settled in London. He devoted the rest of his life to studying the fauna of North Africa, although for the rest of his life he was in poor health. He and his wife are buried in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. In his obituary in the 'Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal' (1902) it is stated that he travelled with his wife to Japan after his retirement from his jobs in Calcutta, the existence of this account shows that in fact he made the journey before his retirement.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.28
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on06/06/14
AuthorWilliam Brodie, Aeneas Morison
TitleThe trial of William Brodie wright and cabinet maker in Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: Charles Elliot
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first issue, in original wrappers, of Elliot's publication of Aeneas Morison's account of the trial, published on 6 September 1788, which does not have the appendix (pp. [261]-279 of subsequent issues) and the frontispiece portrait of Brodie. As indicated in William Roughead's 'Trial of William Brodie' (Glasgow, 1906 - p. 233), in the introductory paragraph to the appendix it states that the inclusion of the extra material, relating to but not actually covered in the trial itself, was the result of a misunderstanding with William Creech. Creech had included this material in his published account of the trial and Aeneas Morison felt that readers of his version of the trial should not be disadvantaged: he is of the opinion, that he intitled to put the purchasers of his account of the trial on a footing with those who have purchased Mr Creeche's [sic], by furnishing them gratis with the following Appendix (p. [261]).
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.146
Reference SourcesW. Roughead, 'The trial of William Brodie', Glasgow, 1906.
Acquired on30/05/14
AuthorWilliam Blacker
TitleW. Blacker's art of angling, and complete system of fly making and dying [sic] of colours
Imprint[London: W. Blacker]
Date of Publication1842
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis the first edition first issue of William Blacker's famous book on angling, printed in Edinburgh by Anderson and Bryce, with 38 pages. The author (1814-1857) was born in Wicklow in Ireland. He moved to London in the 1840s where he became a prominent fishing tackle dealer in Dean Street, Soho. Being an accomplished angler himself, his revolutionary methods made this book a key work in the history of fly fishing. A 48-page edition with 6 leaves of plates was also printed in London in the same year, followed by an expanded edition of 130 pages in 1843. The book was deliberately printed in a small pocket-size format so that it could be carried by anglers to the river bank. Surviving copies of the early editions are rarely identical, this particular copy for instance only has 2 plates. Blacker went on to publish in 1855 an expanded edition of the work, with the title 'Blacker's art of flymaking'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2898
Acquired on23/05/14
AuthorSir William Hamilton
TitleAccount of the discoveries at Pompeii, communicated to the Society of Antiquaries of London by the Hon. Sir William Hamilton.
ImprintLondon : W. Bowyer and J. Nichols,
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare work by Sir William Hamilton (1730/31-1803), diplomatist and art collector, who was appointed to the post of envoy-extraordinary to the Spanish court of King of Naples in 1764. Hamilton had already began to collect art and antiquities, mainly pictures, bronzes, and terracottas, before he left London for Naples. His arrival in Naples increased his interest in the ancient world and his passion for collecting ancient Greek and Roman artefacts, many of which had been unearthed in recent years at various sites in Italy. Excavation of the site of Pompeii began in 1748. During the first phase, the excavation was carried out essentially in order to find art objects, many of which ended up in the private collection of the Bourbon king Charles III of Naples. Hamilton was ideally placed to visit the site and write reports which were read at meetings of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1775. This book gives the text of his reports and is illustrated with 13 handsome engraved plates. The book was the first in a long line of works, dedicated to the lost city of Pompeii, which were published in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.145
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorTheatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
TitleFor the benefit of Madame Frederick, on Friday evening, December 26, 1800, will be performed the favorite comedy of The wonder! ... to which will be added a grand historical romance ... taken from Ossian's poems) called Oscar & Malvina or The Hall of Fingal.
Imprint[Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Theatre Royal]
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesTheatre poster advertising performances at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in December 1800. Among the pieces being performed was the popular ballet-pantomime 'Oscar and Malvina', based on the poems of Ossian. The work was first performed in Covent Garden 1791. The house composer William Shield had resigned that year leaving the score for pantomime unfinished. William Reeve (1757-1815)completed the piece, and its success secured his place as the composer of many of the Covent Garden operas and pantomimes. The performances in Newcastle were for the benefit of Madame Frederick, a popular dancer on the Edinburgh stage, best known for her performances of the Scottish Strathspey at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh.
ShelfmarkAP.el.214.03
Reference SourcesF. Burwick, 'Romantic drama: acting and reacting' (Cambridge, 2009)
Acquired on16/05/14
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