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 751 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 106 to 120 of 751:

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AuthorAssociation for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa
TitleProposals for printing by subscription ... Travels in the interior parts of Africa
Imprint[London: G. Nicol]
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded single sheet, dated June 4th 1798, outlining the conditions for subscribing to the forthcoming publication of Mungo Park's "Travels in the interior districts of Africa". The young Scot (1771-1806) had been appointed by the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa (African Association) to lead an expedition to 'ascertain the course, and if possible, the rise and termination' of the river Niger. Park set out for Africa in 1795 and returned home two and a half years later, having survived a series of arduous adventures in which he was able to ascertain that the river flowed inland to the east. An abridged account of his expedition was privately printed for African Association members in 1798 while Park returned to his home town of Selkirk and wrote up his notes for his planned book, which was to be published by subscription. This sheet reveals the completed book would "form one handsome volume in quarto" and would be ready "early in the ensuing season". Subscribers would pay an initial guinea for which they were likely to get the book in boards along with the engravings, but may have to pay an extra half guinea for any additional expenses in printing and engraving. They would also have their names printed. Subscriptions were to be received by the London bookseller George Nicol, who was already exhibiting a map of Park's route in his shop (the map engraved by James Rennell showed the Niger flowing eastward, but, incorrectly, also showed it petering out into an inland swamp). Park's "Travels" was published the following year and would prove to be a bestseller, going through three editions in its first year of publication.
ShelfmarkAP.5.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/11/11
Author[Anon]
TitleThe puzzling cap: a choice collection of riddles
ImprintGlasgow : J. & M. Robertson
Date of Publication1784
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded early Scottish childrens book in pocket-size format with original wrappers. Childrens books of this format and age are particularly rare. It consists of 18 riddles, with woodcut vignettes illustrating each one, which are as follows: The Miser, A Dark Lanthorn, Merry Andrew, A Ship, A Bear, A Parrot, A Cock, Robin Red Breast, A Cuckow, A Tree, A Wind-Mill, A Lark, A Doll, A Cuckold, Charity, Solomon's Temple, A Monkey, A Whale, A Watch. These were presumably popular verses of the time although the modern reader may find the inclusion of a riddle about a cuckold in a children's book to be curious to say the least. Various 18th-century printings of works entitled the "Puzzling cap", sometimes attributed to 'Billy Wiseman', survive; most of them being American imprints. NLS and UCLA have imperfect copies of 1786 printing of this work by Robertson of Glasgow; there is also a much longer version of the "Puzzling cap" printed by Newbery of London, also in 1786, but nothing as early as this copy, which makes it a remarkable early survival of a Scottish children's book.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2829
Acquired on18/11/11
AuthorMaty, Matthew
TitleOde sur la rebellion de MDCCXLV en Ecosse
ImprintAmsterdam: Jean Joubert
Date of Publication1746
LanguageFrench
NotesThe NLS's collections of material relating to the Jacobite uprising of 1745-46 have been enhanced by the acquisition of this very rare poem by Matthew Maty (1718-1776). The Maty family were Huguenot refugees who moved first to Holland, where Matthew was born, then, in 1740, to London. Matthew Maty practised medicine there but also contributed to various British literary publications. This short French-language poem, printed in his native Netherlands, is uncompromising in its anti-Catholic, anti-Jacobite stance. Maty describes Prince Charles as a tyrant seduced by pride "un Tiran, que l' orgueil seduit" and praises the Duke of Cumberland for 'calming the storm' and punishing the 'criminal cohorts' of the rebels. The poem is preceded by a six-page preface dedicated to 'M.L.C.D.C.', presumably My Lord [or perhaps Milord Le] Comte de Chesterfield, the fourth earl of Chesterfield, who was a keen literary patron. Maty addresses him in the preface as dear friend and almost as an equal. Maty would go on to found the "Journal Britannique" (published at the Hague from 1747 onwards) which reviewed British works for continental readers. He also earned the hatred of Samuel Johnson for his implication, in a review of Johnson's Dictionary in 1755, that Johnson had been ungrateful to the Earl of Chesterfield. From 1756 he was employed as a librarian at the British Museum, taking charge of the printed books in the royal library, gifted to the Museum by George II, and from 1772 he was Principal Librarian there. Only two copies of this poem have been traced, one at the British Library and the other at the University of Virginia.
ShelfmarkAP.3.212.01
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on21/10/11
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitlePoema posledniago barda. [Lay of the last minstrel]
ImprintMoscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii
Date of Publication1823
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is the rare first edition in Russian of "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", first published in English in 1805. Only one other copy has been located in western European libraries at the National Library of Finland. The publisher/translator of the prose translation was Mikhail Kachenovsky (1775-1842), professor at Moscow University and editor of the journal "Vestnik Evropy" (Herald of Europe).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2828
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorBurns, Robert
TitleThe jolly beggars : a cantata.
Imprint[London? : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1831]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis pamphlet published as a guide to an exhibition of eight figures by the Scottish sculptor John Greenshields (1792-1835) in illustration of Burns's poem "The jolly beggars". The sculpture was one of the best known of Greenshields's works, attracting the attention of Sir Walter Scott. The author happened to meet Greenshields in 1829, when visiting Clydesdale. Scott wrote in his journal that he had met "a man called Greenshields, a sensible, powerful-minded person", who "had at twenty-eight ... taken up the art of sculpture. ... He was desirous of engaging on Burns' Jolly Beggars, which I dissuaded. Caricature is not the object of sculpture." However, Greenshields was not to be dissuaded and when Sir Walter eventually saw the finished work he declared that the young artist had caused an old man to reinterpret a lifelong understanding of this particular Burns cantata. After exhibition in Edinburgh, the statues were transported to London for public viewing in the Quadrant, Regent Street, and later purchased by Baron Rothschild for the gardens of his property at Gunnersbury Park. The pamphlet itself is in three parts: the first part consists of the text of the poem; the second part reveals that the statues have been visited by nearly 20,000 people in Edinburgh, quotes reviews of the statues in the Edinburgh newspapers and reprints Walter Scott's article on the poem for the Quarterly Review; also included is a folded broadside titled "Jolly beggars, with the description in Burns' words", consisting of four passages from the poem which presumably relate to the sculptures. It is probable that broadside was also available separately.
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.06
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleMatil'da Rokbi, poema v shesti knigakh. [Rokeby]
ImprintMoscow: V tipografii Avgusta Semena
Date of Publication1823
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is the rare first edition in Russian of Scott's English Civil War poem, "Rokeby". No copy has been traced in western European libraries. The two-volume translation, by an unidentified translator, is in prose. The first English edition of "Rokeby" appeared in 1813; it did not enjoy quite the spectacular success of the "Lady of the Lake" but was still a big seller. Like Scott's other works it was soon translated for readers on the Continent; a French translation was published in 1820 and a German translation in 1822, then this Russian translation of 1823. Scott was probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from "Ivanhoe", appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. Of the three great influences on the celebrated Russian author Alexander Pushkin from European literature, Byron, Shakespeare and Scott, the influence of Scott is most marked in Pushkin's prose, particularly the historical fictions. The verso of the title in volume 1 states that the book was on sale at the bookshop of Vasily Loginov; his ticket is also pasted here to the front pastedown. This copy appears to be in its original binding.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2826-2827
Reference Sources"The Caledonian Phalanx: Scots in Russia", National Library of Scotland, 1987
Acquired on07/10/11
AuthorClark, George
TitleLiber tertius de fidei familia
ImprintBasil: Georg Decker
Date of Publication1640
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is a rare work of theology, unrecorded in the UK, by one George Clark[e] 'Scoto-Britannus', published in Basil. The identity of the author is not certain; it is probably the George Clark(e) (d. 1644) listed in the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae as a student in King's College Aberdeen between 1607-11, subsequently becoming a minister at Aberdour in the presbytery of Deer, Aberdeenshire. This George Clark wrote at least three other theological works: "De Idea Seculi libri tres" printed in Breda in 1625 and "De Lege Dei Scripta, libri XII" printed in Franeker in the Netherlands in 1642 and "De Lege Dei Scripta, liber secundus" published in Geneva in 1647. The main subject of this book is fidelity in biblical families. Although the title refers to this being the third book on the subject, there is no record of a first and second book in any library, nor are they mentioned in the preface. The work is dedicated to, among others, Count Walter Leslie of Balquhain (1606-1667), soldier and diplomat, who since the 1620s had been soldiering on the Continent in the Thirty Years War, fighting on the side of the Spanish Habsburgs.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2832
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/09/11
TitleThe King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1912]
LanguageEnglish
Notes'Durbar' is a Persian term that was adopted in India to refer to a ruler's court. It could also be used to refer to a feudal state council or to a ceremonial gathering. The term was used during the British Raj for special royal occasions. Three imperial Durbars were held in Delhi: the first, held in 1877, marked the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Queen Empress of India; the second, held in 1902-03, marked the coronation of King Edward VII. The last, held on 12 December 1911, marked the coronation of King George V as 'King-Emperor' of India, and was the only Durbar that the ruler attended in person. The 1911 Durbar was "the most spectacular ceremony in the history of the British empire" (ODNB); it cost over 1 million to mount, and was over a year in preparation. Over 200,000 people attended the events taking place in Delhi's Coronation Park, which were captured in print, photography and the relatively new technology of film. As well as providing a clear sign of Britain's commitment to maintaining its grip on India, the Durbar was also used for particular political purposes. George announced the reversal of the unpopular 1905 decision that had partitioned Bengal. He also declared Delhi the new capital and laid its foundation-stone (soon after moved when New Delhi was re-sited). The Durbar was followed by a shooting expedition in Nepal and a visit to Calcutta (Kolkatta), the former capital of British India. The royal party returned home the following year, reaching Portsmouth on 5 February 1912. This lavishly-produced photo album was produced to commemorate King George's Durbar and subsequent tour through India. There are 208 photographic prints with printed letterpress captions pasted beneath them, bound in a full red morocco album with gilt lettering on the front cover. The photographs cover not just the Durbar but the whole of the royal tour, from the departure from Portsmouth, on 11 November 1911, to the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, London, in February 1912 to mark the safe arrival home of the king and queen. The album also contains a number of memorable images of the elaborate hunting trip in Nepal and of Indian royalty. The photographs are not attributed to anyone but the person taking them clearly had very good access to the royal party. It is possible that the photographer was Ernest Brooks (b. 1878), who photographed the British royal family during this period and who during the War, in 1916, became the first official photographer to the Western Front appointed by the British military (many of his photographs are preserved in the Haig papers in NLS's manuscript collections). It is not known how many copies were produced and whether they were ever intended for public sale; a likely explanation is that a few copies were compiled for people travelling with the royal party as a souvenir of the tour.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.79
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/09/11
AuthorBurns, Robert [et al.] + Armstrong, John.
TitlePoems chiefly by Robert Burns, and Peter Pindar, &c. &c. To which is added the Life of Robert Burns. + The Oeconomy of love [by John Armstrong]
ImprintLondon: Printed for the booksellers,
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small volume contains two unrecorded editions bound together; the first is an anthology which contains nine of Robert Burns's most famous poems, as well as works from other poets including John Wolcot 'Peter Pindar'; the second is an Oxford printing of Scottish poet John Armstrong's erotic poem "The oeconomy of love", a bestseller in the 18th century. The Burns edition is probably a piracy, appearing under the convenient, catch-all imprint "Printed for the booksellers". The composition of the book suggests that it was hastily put together. The contents page lists a 'Life of Robert Burns' on pp. 3-4 but in fact on pp. [v]-xx there is an unacknowledged reprint of Robert Heron's "A memoir of the life of the late Robert Burns" which had first appeared the previous year, 1797, the earliest printed biography of the poet. In addition to the Burns poems there are the following: four poems by 'Peter Pindar'; an unacknowledged printing of Matthew Lewis's "Alonzo the brave"; Thomas Holcroft's satirical song "Gaffer Gray" which first appeared in print in 1794; two Border ballads "Lord Gregory/The lass of Loch Royan" (which both Burns and Wolcot produced versions of) and "The battle of Otterburn"; four anonymous poems "Saint Genevieve of the Woods" (which was first printed in Warrington, c. 1780, under the title "The saint of the woods, or the loves of Siffred, and the maid of Brabant"), "The contented cottager", "Poem translated from the Persian" and "The blind boy".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.02(1-2)
Acquired on05/08/11
AuthorHume, David.
TitleDavid Hume's vollkommne [sic] Republik [Idea of a perfect commonwealth].
ImprintLeipzig: in der Schaeferischen Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1799
LanguageGerman
NotesDavid Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth' was first published as Essay XII of his "Political Discourses" in 1752. Hume's essay discusses previous authors' ideas of political utopia and sketches what he thought was the best form of government. Hume's perfect commonwealth is a very pragmatic affair - a republic with a government subject to many check and balances; he acknowledges "the resemblance that it bears to the commonwealth of the United Provinces [i.e Netherlands], a wise and renowned government". This is the very rare first German translation by a German professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Christian August Fischer (1771-1829). The title states that this is a free translation "frey nach dem Englischen", and the translator has made Hume's scepticism about politics and utopias more pronounced. Fischer is best known for his travel writing, although he also had a profitable sideline in writing erotic literature under the pseudonyms Adam Pruzum and Christian Althing. This particular copy was originally in the large library of the Dukes of Oettingen-Wallerstein, as can be seen from the book label on the front pastedown and stamp on the title page. The library's origins can be traced back to the late 15th-century; its holdings of contemporary German literature were considerably enhanced by Fuerst Kraft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallerstein (1748-1802) and his son Ludwig. A substantial part of the library is now in the University of Augsburg, the rest having been dispersed in the 20th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2823
Acquired on05/08/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron.
TitleMorgante maggiore.
ImprintParis: Galignani
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first separate edition of Byron's translation of the first canto of the "Morgante", a poem by Italian Renaissance poet Luigi Pulci (1432-1484). Pulci's epic tale concerns the unlikely friendship between the heroic Orlando and the pagan giant, Morgante, who converts to Christianity and becomes his loyal follower. The two have many adventures before both meeting untimely ends. Byron wrote his translation when staying in Ravenna in Italy in late 1819/early 1820. Byron had moved there from Venice as a result of his affair with Countess Teresa Guiccioli, renting the upper floor of Palazzo Guiccioli with the assent of Teresa's husband. During his time in Ravenna he worked at a remarkable rate, producing this work as well as two new cantos of "Don Juan" and completing "The Prophecy of Dante". "Morgante Maggiore" was first published in the fourth number of the short-lived literary periodical "The Liberal", edited by Byron and Leigh Hunt. This edition bears the imprint of A. and W. Galignani of Paris who specialised in publishing English-language books for the Continent. It includes 12 pages of advertisements for new publications "at one-third of the London prices".
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.14
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/07/11
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleKenel'uort. Roman Val'tera Skota obrabotan dlia iunoshestva [Kenilworth. A novel by Walter Scott adapted for youth].
ImprintSankpeterburg, Moskva : M.O. Vol'fa
Date of Publication1873
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is a Russian adaption of Sir Walter Scott's novel "Kenilworth" for younger readers. The cover states the book was published within the series 'Sochineniia Val'ter-Skota' ('Works of Walter-Scott' [sic]), but no other works within this series have been located apart a translation of "Waverley" (Veverlei, 1876), at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. Translations of Scott into Russian began to appear in the 1820s; he reached probably the widest audience of any foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, and his influence could be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan, 'Walter Scott' cloaks, and dressing up as characters from his novels. It is not clear whether this translation has been done direct from the English or from a French translation (French being the language of conversation and correspondence by the Russian nobility which had in turn encouraged widespread access to French literature in Russia). However, the tinted lithograph frontispiece is taken from an illustration by the French book illustrator Denis Auguste Marie Raffet, who illustrated Auguste Defauconpret's French translations of Scott's works.
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.056
Acquired on08/07/11
Author[Fergusson, Thomas.]
TitleThe weeping christian; or The six vices of man.
ImprintGlasgow: James Duncan
Date of Publication1729
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, earliest known printing of a collection of six moral and devotional poems relating to the vices of mankind, namely: malicious envy, pride and insolence; excess of drinking; notorious, and vain swearing; lewd and wanton living; disobedience to parents. The work is anonymous and there is no clue in the text as to who the author is, but the imprint of a later (London? 1760?) printing of the work states that it was printed for one Thomas Fergusson "late a soldier in the Thirty-Third Regiment of Foot". Fergusson has been assumed to be the author but the existence of this Glasgow printing, possibly 30 years earlier than other known printings, calls this attribution into question.
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.15
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorGreat Britain. Record Commission
TitleRecord Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items
ImprintLondon : [Record Commission],
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that 8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his 7,000 debt to the crown.
ShelfmarkAB.3.212.03(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorBoutcher, William.
TitleA treatise on forest-trees.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by R. Fleming, and sold by the author,
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Boutcher was a Scottish nurseryman, who had premises at Comely Bank, Edinburgh (his father, William Boutcher, senior, had also been a nurseryman and leading garden designer). "A treatise on forest trees" was his first printed work, dedicated to the Duke of Buccleuch, and was financed by subscription. Boutcher notes in his preface, concerning the subscribers, "the quality, if not the number of those, does me honour, as I can boast of many of the greatest and most respectable names in the kingdom". These names included most of the Scottish land-owning aristocracy. A number of copies for the subscribers were bound by the leading Scottish bookbinder of his day, James Scott of Edinburgh. The Library already four copies, all with different designs, of Scott bindings for this book; this is another example. The boards have a roll-pattern used by Scott from 1775 onwards (Loudon Ro16 (1775)) and the botanical ornaments on the spine recall a tool used by Scott used in other bindings (Loudon Bo.46a). This copy has an early 19th-century heraldic bookplate of Sir James Montgomery Bart. of Stanhope (1721-1803), lord chief baron of the Scottish exchequer who became a baronet in 1801, two years before his death. Montgomery took a keen interest in the science of agriculture and subscribed for two copies of the book.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.172
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
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