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 818 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 818:

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TitleThe balance of public favor [sic].
ImprintLondon: Thomas McLean
Date of Publication1827
NotesA lithographic satirical print depicting Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Moore, two friends but also literary rivals, sitting on opposite ends of a giant set of scales. The scales are not balanced: Scott is seated on the higher scale, looking gloomy, clutching the nine volumes of his biography of Napoleon, while Moore, the Irish poet, is on the lower scale, looking pleased, and confidently holding up a single small volume for Scott to look at. The print refers to the fact that Scott's "The life of Napoleon Buonaparte" was due to be published on the same day in 1827 as Thomas Moore's prose romance, "The epicurean, a tale", based on his unfinished poem "Alciphron". However, Moore managed to beat Scott to the punch by getting his book published a day earlier. Scott's biography was subsequently a commercial success but met with a very mixed critical reception, whereas Moore's first novel was an immediate commercial and critical success, hence "the balance of public favo[u]r" falling in Moore's favour.
Acquired on22/07/16
Author[Peter Williamson]
TitleList of all the streets, wynds, squares and closes, of the city of Edinburgh and Canongate.
ImprintEdinburgh: Peter Williamson
Date of Publication1779
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside printed by Peter Williamson, one of Scotland?s most colourful characters of the 18th century. 'Indian Peter' (1730-1799), was abducted from Aberdeenshire as a ten-year-old, and indentured/enslaved for seven years in colonial Virginia. He was later captured by Cherokees, but escaped to narrate his adventures in travelling performances and in print. Returning to Britain he trained to be a printer, becoming a celebrated bookseller and coffee-house keeper in Edinburgh. Williamson published the first Edinburgh street directory in 1773. The present example is a large broadside printing of Williamson's directory, with a more straightforward layout, that gives the names of over 400 places in the city. It was presumably intended to be pasted-up on the walls of offices, workshops and other public areas. In addition to the list of places, Williamson also includes a number of advertisements for his own services, these include his famous "Portable Printing Presses" which he explains, is so constructed, "that it will throw off one Folio Page, or four Quarto Pages, at a time, with great ease and exactness". The broadside also advertises Williamson's edition of the Psalms of David "printed upon a new type, and superfine paper, so calculated that it may be carried in a watch-pocket or in a snuff-box". In the imprint Williamson announces that he runs a penny postal service in Edinburgh; the first postal service in Edinburgh recorded in print.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/07/16
TitleNotes sur la lettre de Monsieur de Voltaire a Monsieur Hume + Reflexions posthumes sur le grand procees de Jean-Jacques, avec David.
ImprintParis?: s.n.
Date of Publication1766
NotesTwo anonymous, rare pieces on the Hume Rousseau dispute that gripped Enlightenment Europe. In the first pamphlet comes the assertion that Voltaire did not write the "La letter au Docteur Pansophe", which helped inflame the dispute. In 1766 David Hume helped the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who no longer felt safe in his place of exile, his native Switzerland, to find refuge in England. Once there Rousseau soon fell out with Hume. Rousseau began to question Hume's motives in offering him shelter in England. When anonymous poems poking fun at Rousseau were published, he immediately and wrongly assumed they had been written by Hume. Rousseau retaliated by writing letters to his French associates denouncing Hume for his treacherous behaviour. When Hume eventually learnt of Rousseau's accusations he was shocked, and then angered that the fine reputation he had acquired when living in Paris was now being dragged through the mud. The two men became estranged from each other and Rousseau returned to France in 1767. In less than a year, the relationship between Hume and Rousseau had gone from love to mockery by way of fear and loathing, and much of the dispute was played out in letters and in print to the scandal and delight of literary salons in England and France.
Acquired on01/07/16
AuthorEdmund Gibson & David Hume
TitleLettere di Edmund Gibson + Vita di David Hume scritta da lui stesso + Saggio in risposta a Mr. Hume circa i miracoli di Gulielmo Adams.
ImprintVenice: Andrea Santini
Date of Publication1804-1806
NotesThis volume contains two further additions to the Library's extensive collection of books relating to David Hume the philosopher and former Keeper of the Advocates Library. These are two Italian translations by the Italian cleric Pietro Antoniutti: David Hume's celebrated short autobiography, first published in English in 1777; and English cleric William Adams's "Essay in answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on miracles", which was his response to Hume's attack on the reasonableness of belief in miracles. Both works are bound in with another Italian translation of another English-language work: Edmund Gibson's "Pastoral letters". Antoniutti had previously translated William Robertson?s "History of Scotland" in 1784 and would go on to translate Hume's "History of England" (1818-1820), as well as around 40 other English-language texts.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on10/06/16
AuthorJohn Scott
TitleA bibliography of printed documents and books relating to the Darien Company.
ImprintEdinburgh: privately printed
Date of Publication1903 & 1906
NotesOriginally published as part of vol. 6 of the series Publications of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (1901-1904), under the title "A bibliography of printed documents and books relating to the Scottish company, commonly called the Darien Company", this is the catalogue originally compiled by John Scott (1830-1903), former President of the EBS, of his collection of books relating to the Darien Company. Scott was a well-known engineer and shipbuilder, who, with his brother, ran the family firm of Scott's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. in Greenock. Only 20 copies of the catalogue were printed, the catalogue being prefaced by EBS secretary George Pyper Johnston's encomium of John Scott. Johnston revised the catalogue and made additions and corrections to it. The publication contains two title pages reflecting the fact that it was printed in two stages: pp. [1]-54, printed in 1904, containing Scott's original bibliography, and pp. 54-75, containing Johnston's additions and corrections, printed in 1906. The first one, dated 1904, reads "Revised by George P. Johnston", and is usually found at the front of the work. The second title-page has two publication dates in the imprint, 1904 and 1906, and reads "With additions and corrections by George P. Johnston", and is usually found between pages 54 and 55; in this copy it has been bound at the front of the work. The original paper wrapper, not present in this copy, is printed as the 1904 title page. This particular copy, no. 11 of 20, has the signature on the recto of the front free endpaper of "Alasdair Mac Gillemhoire a“ Bea`rnaraidh na Hearadh" (Alasdair Morrison).
Acquired on03/06/16
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
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 Marķa 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.
Acquired on27/05/16
AuthorWilliam Morris
TitleThe well at the world's end.
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1896
NotesWilliam Morris's fantasy novel the "Well at the World's End" was one of the last works to be printed at the Kelmscott Press 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)
Acquired on20/05/16
AuthorKendall, E. G.
TitleCosmopolitan System of Dresscutting.
ImprintLondon : Cosmopolitan Dresscutting Association, 65A, Oxford Street
Date of Publication1893
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.
Acquired on16/05/16
TitleDomestic, literary and village sketches.
Imprint[London: W. Nicol]
Date of Publication[1823]
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.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorAndrew Aird
ImprintGlasgow: [A. Aird]
Date of Publication1899
NotesThis is a privately printed autobiography of the Glasgow master printer Andrew Aird (1819-1899), printed in the year of his death and presumably for distribution to family and friends. In the brief "Autobiography" Aird gives information on his humble origins, on his beginnings in the fields of printing and literary production, with sections on his times as apprentice and as journeyman, and he writes on the books he authored, such as "Letterpress printing in Glasgow during the last fifty years", and "Reminiscences of editors, reporters, and printers, during the last sixty years". He also discusses his much longer work "Glimpses of Old Glasgow". Several of his religious works are also detailed.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
TitleThe moving market or cries of London.
ImprintEdinburgh: G. Ross
Date of Publication1815
NotesThis is an unrecorded Scottish printing a popular London chapbook/children's book "Cries of various city tradespeople". It features 25 woodcut illustrations of various kinds of street vendors with the cries they made when selling their wares. This printing is for Ross's juvenile library", the work was also printed in Glasgow by James Lumsden.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
AuthorWilliam Keith
TitleCase of lodgment, for four months of the breeching of a fowling-piece in the face.
ImprintAberdeen: Printed by G. Cornwall & Sons
Date of Publication1858
NotesThis is a case study of James Scott, a 19-year-old draper's apprentice, whose gun exploded while he was shooting, resulting in a large piece of metal from the gun penetrating his face, destroying his left eyeball and smashing his nasal bones. After some very basic medical treatment, he consulted the author of this study, William Keith (1802 or 1803-1871), senior surgeon at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, who was able to extract the metal from Scott's skull and repair much of the damage to his face, including fitting an artificial eyeball. Keith first published his case study as an article in the "Medical Times & Gazette" for October 1858, but then republished it as a pamphlet, this time with two albumen print photographs of the unfortunate Scott, one taken before the operation and the other after, to show the efficacy of his surgical work.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorClaude-Francois-Xavier Mercier de Compiegne
TitleHistoire de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse. Nouvelle edition.
ImprintParis: Mercier
Date of Publication1795
NotesA rare edition of a French biography of Mary Queen of Scots, the author Mercier de Compiegne (1763-1800) originally published the work in 1793 with the longer and somewhat racier title "La vie, les amours, le proces, et la mort de Marie Stuart, reine de France et d'Ecosse". This later edition was divided into two parts and with two plates depicting scenes from Mary's life rather the portrait of her in the earlier edition. The source material of this work appears to have been Nicolas Caussin's (1583-1651) work "La cour saincte" although there may have been other sources used as well.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorJames Connolly
TitleErin's hope. The end and the means.
ImprintRutherglen: P. Walsh
Date of Publication[1900?]
NotesThis was the first separate publication of the Irish socialist and revolutionary James Connolly (1868-1916), who was born and brought up in Edinburgh. "Erin's hope" was first published in 1896 in Dublin by the Irish Socialist Republican party, which Connolly had founded that year after moving to Ireland. The pamphlet was Connolly's first major attempt to express in print his views on the Irish question and the future of socialism. The work was republished in serial form in the "Worker's Republic", and the text reprinted several times in the USA. This cheap (2d.) Scottish printing was done by Patrick Walsh, who was working in Rutherglen, a town in South Lanarkshire, in the 1890s and early 1900s and who appears to have specialised in selling and publishing cheap reprints of pro-socialist, Irish texts. A surviving letter of his of 1911 to the famous naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, asks permission to reprint Wallace's work "Land nationalisation" for its account of the Highland clearances and Irish land evictions. Walsh reveals that he has been selling socialist literature for the last 18 years.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/04/16
AuthorJohn Shier
TitlePreliminary report, or Outline of the principal duties of the agricultural chemist to the colony of British Guiana.
ImprintDemerara: Royal Gazette Office
Date of Publication1847
NotesThis is a rare British Guiana printing of a report by the Scottish agricultural chemist John Shier (1807-1854), who was the first Fordyce lecturer on agriculture at Aberdeen University (1840-45). Shier had recently emigrated to the British colony of Guiana where he was employed as Consulting Agricultural Chemist, tasked with improving agriculture, in particular cultivation of sugar cane. This copy is a presentation copy from the author to the Royal Agricultural Society of England.
Acquired on18/03/16
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51     52     53     54     55