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 106 to 120 of 790:

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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
AuthorShelley, Percy Bysshe
TitleAdonais
ImprintPisa: printed with the types of Didot
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare first printing of Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy on the death of fellow-poet John Keats. In 1818 Shelley (1792-1822) had moved to Italy due to his growing financial and health problems; he was never to return to England. During these final four years of his life he wrote some of finest poetry, despite enduring a series of personal tragedies. In February 1821 Keats had died in Rome of tuberculosis; Shelley subscribed to the view that the final stage of Keats's fatal illness had been brought on by a bad review of 'Endymion' in the "Quarterly Review" in 1818. He resolved to a write an elegy on Keats which would defend the dead man's reputation and emphasise the significance of poets and poetry in society. On June 8 1821 Shelley wrote to his London publisher, Charles Ollier, asking him to announce for publication a new poem, which was "a lament on the death of poor Keats, with some interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and his fame". The poet decided in the end to have the poem printed locally in Pisa, rather than send a manuscript copy to London. Printing the work in Pisa meant that he could personally supervise the printing to ensure that there were no errors in the text, and also prevent any of the "interposed stabs" from being censored. A slim quarto of the 55-stanza poem was produced, Shelley sending a copy to the poet John Gisborne on 13 July. Other copies were sent to Charles Ollier to be distributed. Ollier offered them for sale at the modest price of 3s 6d but decided not to republish the work, making the Pisa printing one of the scarcest and most highly sought after original editions of Shelley's works. Ollier's reluctance to have the poem printed is no doubt due to his strained relations with Shelley. Between 1820 and his death in July 1822 Shelley frequently complained in his correspondence that Ollier was ignoring his many requests and commissions, including his request for a reprint of 'Adonais', which he himself regarded as "the least imperfect of my compositions". In this case Ollier probably had no wish to become embroiled in Shelley's attack on the "Quarterly Review", which he knew would be met with derision by most of the London critics. In the preface to 'Adonais', Shelley stresses his credentials as an impartial judge of Keats's work, noting that his "repugnance" for some of the latter's earlier compositions was well known. However, he pulls no punches in his attack on John Wilson Croker, the reviewer of 'Endymion'; whilst Croker is not named in the preface, he is referred to as "Miserable man! you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the workmanship of God". The text of 'Adonais' was reprinted in "The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review" of December 1 1821 but a separate edition was not reprinted in England until 1829 in Cambridge. A further separate edition was printed for private circulation in London in 1876. This particular copy of the first Pisa printing is from the library of Sir John Skelton (1831-1897), a Scottish author, literary critic and advocate. It was bequeathed to the Library (along with first editions of Shelley's 'Rosalind and Helen' and 'Epipsychidion') by his descendant Miss Margaret Penelope Skelton (1924-2011). It is bound in a 19th-century calf binding for the booksellers Edmonston & Douglas of Edinburgh. Of particular interest is a letter to Sir John Skelton pinned to the front free endpaper; it is from the poet and fellow literary reviewer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). The letter, dated March 10 1894, is not concerned with 'Adonais' but primarily with the 16th-century French poet and admirer of Mary Queen of Scots, Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard. Swinburne had written plays about both Mary and Chastelard, while Skelton had published the year before "Mary Stuart", a biography defending the queen's conduct. As a postscript Swinburne notes that he has forgotten to reply to a question of Skelton's about Shelley and provides references to two articles by him on Shelley.
ShelfmarkRB.m.751
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; "Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly, edited with a bibliographical introduction by Thomas J. Wise" 2nd ed. (London: Shelley Society, 1886)
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorAesop
TitleAesop's fables
ImprintGlasgow: James Knox
Date of Publication1764
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis edition of Aesop's fables appears to be completely unrecorded. This is surprising as it is a rather attractive publication with numerous woodcuts. It is designed as an educational book: the words of the fables are broken up by hyphens, so that the beginner could read them a piece at a time. This does make the text look rather odd (for example, 'A Wea-sel run-ning in-to a bra-si-ers shop...'). Aesop's fables play an important part in Scottish culture. The fifteenth-century poet Robert Henryson did an excellent translation into Scots, and there are many other editions. This edition is particularly notable for the naive illustrations, which are more akin to those normally found in a chapbook.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2606
Acquired on27/06/05
TitleAesop's fables.
ImprintEdinburgh
Date of Publicationc. 1837
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare and unrecorded edition of the ever-popular Aesop's fables. It was published in Edinburgh by William Darling who is recorded in Gray's annual directory as having an address on South Bridge in 1837. Darling published a number of children's books in a similar format of which the NLS holds four titles. A bookseller and printer of the same name was working at various addresses in Edinburgh between 1765 and 1796 but the illustrative style and typographic layout suggest a later date. The cover is printed on yellow paper with a very fine copper engraving of a family looking out of a window at an old man (presumably Aesop) writing surrounded by a group of animals. The book is composed of 12 fables, each one superbly illustrated with a half page wood-engraving with the text beneath.
ShelfmarkAPS.1.202.074
Reference SourcesSBTI
Acquired on06/04/02
AuthorDyer, William.
TitleAinmeanna cliuteach Chriosd. [Christ's famous titles].
ImprintCharlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Date of Publication1832
LanguageScots Gaelic
NotesThis is an important addition to the National Library's collection of books in Scots Gaelic printed in Canada. Only one other copy is recorded of this Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island imprint. The National Library holds eight imprints by the printer S. Haszard, all dating from the period 1890-1902. This work is a translation of William Dyer's work 'Christ's famous titles' first published in 1663 which ran through seveal editions through into the nineteenth century. Dyer, who died in 1696, was a Non-Conformist minister with Quaker sympathies, who was minister at Chesham and Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire. The text was first translated by C. Maclauruinn for a Glasgow 1817 edition. It was clearly a popular work - five Gaelic editions were also published in Edinburgh between 1845 and 1894. Maclauruinn in his English preface opines that 'it is neither a popular nor an elegant publication ? but an evangelical one'. Ownership inscriptions on the free endpapers indicate that this book belonged to one Fergus Ferguson of New Gairloch, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The last leaf contains an advertisement for the bookseller James Dawson of Pictou, Nova Scotia, which lists 39 Gaelic titles. This is evidence of the market for books in Gaelic among the emigrant population in Nova Scotia in the mid-nineteenth century. Scots first settled in Prince Edward Island in 1768, but the majority of the migrations, primarily from the the Western Isles, Argyll and Invernesshire, took place between 1771 and 1803. One of the largest migrations was that of 1803. It was organized by Thomas Douglas the fifh Earl of Selkirk and resulted in the arrival of 800 people from the Isle of Skye, Raasay, North Uist and Mull, most of whom were Gaelic speakers.
ShelfmarkABS.2.202.015
Reference SourcesHornby, Susan. Celts and ceilidhs: a history of Scottish societies on Prince Edward Island. (Charlottetown, 1981). HP2.201.04699 Craig, David. On the crofters' trail. (London, 1990) H4.90.1632
Acquired on19/03/02
Title[Album of photographs and newspaper cuttings belonging to John Winning]
Date of Publicationc.1930-1944
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an album of photographs and newpaper cuttings relating to the activities of Dr. John Winning during the 1930s and early 1940s. Included are group photographs of visits undertaken by members of the Scottish Socialist Party to Germany in 1930, Austria in 1931 and Denmark in 1936. Winning was a member of Glasgow Town Council between 1926 and 1932 and he led a number of visits to the continent. A cutting from 1936 notes that 'the number of countries which Socialists can visit with enthusiasm seems to be diminishing -- Germany is no longer on the visiting list'. Winning from Larkhall in Lanarkshire began his working life as an apprentice plumber. He became involved in local politics in the 1920s and unsuccessfully stood for election for Westminster. In 1932 he resigned his Council seat to take up medicine and he worked as a GP for a number of years before his appointment as Assistant Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow in 1940. Other cuttings and ephemera document Dr. Winning's involvement in the Scottish Vegetarian Society . There are also four copies of The two worlds: the weekly journal of spiritualism, religion and reform dating from 1938 to 1942. It appears that John Winning was also an active member of the Spiritualist Church.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.22
Acquired on22/02/02
AuthorBourne, Samuel (1834-1912) and other photographers
TitleAlbum of Photographs of India, Burma, and the Andaman Islands
Date of Publication1863-1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn important group of early photographs assembled between 1850 and 1867 by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, and his son Victor Alexander Bruce, the 9th Earl, providing a visual record of the distinguished careers of the two earls as diplomats, military strategists, and politicians in India and the Far East. The four Elgin albums form a valuable source for the study of colonial and imperialist expansion, global commercial travel, and, not least, the rapid growth of commercial photography. The purchase was made possible by generous contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund (National Heritage Memorial Fund) and the National Art Collections Fund.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.13
Acquired on08/02/00
AuthorMetastasio, Pietro.
TitleAlessandro nell'Indie. Artaserse. Didone abbandonata. Demetrio.
ImprintRome: Zempel
Date of Publication[1730-1732]
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is a very rare set of four librettos by Pietro Metastasio. The first two are dedicated to the Old Pretender (James VIII of Scotland, James III of England and Scotland) and his queen Maria Clementina. Both had been prominent patrons of the opera scene since their marriage in 1719. All four operas were performed during carnival at Teatro del Dame, the most prestigious of the Roman opera houses. Between 1721 and 1724, each opera season opened with a pair of operas, one dedicated to James and one to Maria Clementina. The Old Pretender (1688-1766) eventually arrived in Rome in 1717 following the collapse of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715-1716. There he married Maria Clementina Sobieski, grand-daughter of the Polish king. Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) is regarded as possibly the greatest Italian poet and playwright of the 18th century. He composed no less than 1,800 pieces, including 28 grand operas, music for numerous ballets and celebrations of festivals. He borrowed his subjects almost indiscriminately from mythology or history. The music to 'Alessandro nell'Indie' and 'Artaserse' was composed by Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730), a Neapolitan composer closely associated with Metastasio.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2667(1-4)
Acquired on12/06/07
TitleAllies Bible in khaki.
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Son ; London: Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press Warehouse
Date of Publication[Between 1901 and 1914?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the most rare miniature Bibles produced by David Bryce and Son of Glasgow. Known as the 'Allies Bible', it is bound in brown khaki and is preceded by 15 pages of text which includes four national anthems (God Save the King, The Marseillaise Hymn, La Brabanconne, and Russian national anthem -- all in English without music) and also 'Recessional' by Rudyard Kipling and 'Evening Prayer of a People' by Neil Munro. It measures only 45 mm. in height and is accompanied by its original dust-jacket which features pictures of the Belgian, British, French and Russian flags in colour.
ShelfmarkFB.s.959
Reference SourcesBondy: page 110
Acquired on29/06/09
AuthorReinbeck, Johann Gustav.
TitleAls der Hoch-Edle, Gro▀achtbare und Hochgelahrte Herr, Hr. Robert Scott, Medicinae Doctor, Sr. ChurFuerstl. Durchl. von Hannover wohlbestalter Leib-Medicus, am Sonntage Septuagesima 1714 durch eine gewaltsahme Kranckheit aus dem Weinberge dieser Welt von seiner Arbeit auffgefordert wurde ...
ImprintBerlin : Johan Wessel,
Date of Publication[1714]
LanguageGerman
NotesIn 1714 Dr Robert Scott, a Scottish physician working in Germany, died after a long and successful career. Scott had worked in the castle of Celle near Hanover as the personal physician to Georg Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Lueneburg and then to his successor, Georg Ludwig (who in 1714 became King George I of Great Britain). Little is known about Scott except that his exceptionally pious nature meant that he was often ridiculed behind his back at the Duke's court. This poem, dedicated to his memory, was written by Johann Gustav Reinbeck (1683-1741), who had married Scotts daughter Margarethe in 1710. Reinbeck, originally from Celle, was a Lutheran theologian who, by the time this poem was published, had become a preacher in the parishes of Friedrichswerder and Dorotheenstadt in Berlin. However ridiculous Scott may have seemed to the courtiers at Celle, the equally pious Reinbeck thought fit to publish this poem, with its suitably flowery language and religious imagery, in praise of his late father-in-law.
ShelfmarkAP.4.210.34
Reference Sourceshttp://hugenotten.de/gesellschaft/_pdf/03-2008.pdf Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie v. 28, pp. 2-4 (Leipzig, 1889)
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorSir Edmund du Cane
TitleAn account of the manner in which sentences of penal servitude are carried out in England
ImprintLondon: H.M.P. Millbank
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a presentation copy of a work on the penal system in England. It was given by the author, Sir Edmund Du Cane (18301903), to the 5th Earl of Rosebery, who was then, as a member of Gladstone's Liberal government, under-secretary at the Home Office, with particular responsibility for Scottish matters. The book also includes a brief letter, dated 7 March 1883, from Du Cane to Rosebery. Du Cane was one of the most important prison administrators of Victorian Britain. After serving in the army, where he organised convict labour in Australia, he became in 1863 a director of convict prisons and an inspector of military prisons. A few years later he took on the posts of chairman of the convict prison directors, surveyor-general of prisons, and inspector-general of military prisons. Du Cane "exercised a profound influence on the direction of penal policy between 1870 and 1895" (ODNB). This work printed at the press at Millbank prison, London, is an update of a paper originally prepared for the First International Prison Congress which met in London in 1872. It outlines the increasingly centralised prison system in operation in England, a system which conformed to Du Cane's belief that adult criminals required short, severe prison sentences. The term 'penal servitude' was coined in 1853 with the first Penal Servitude Act, which substituted sentences of imprisonment in lieu of transportation. Under Du Cane's regime prisoners could expect solitary confinement, severe conditions such as a plank bed, a very coarse diet, no visits, no library books or writing materials, and gruelling hard labour, often including oakum picking or the treadmill. The final stage was conditional release under police supervision. It was this Du Cane-influenced system that Oscar Wilde experienced as prisoner C.3.3. in Reading gaol in 1895 to 1897, and which he bitterly criticised in "The ballad of Reading gaol". Since 1877 Scotland's prisons had also been brought under Home Office control and a Prisons Commission for Scotland had been created. Du Cane was no doubt anxious that Scotland moved to a centralised system in line with England, and in the letter accompanying this book he notes that he is "highly flattered" by Rosebery's request for this additional copy of his work, which is in a "prettier" red, half-morocco binding. Du Cane eventually retired in 1895, amid growing disapproval by liberal politicians and civil servants of his methods and imperious manner. Penal servitude, however, was not abolished in England until 1948, Scotland followed suit two years later.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.57
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of national Biography
Acquired on03/05/13
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
AuthorNeild, James
TitleAn Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of The Society for the Discharge and Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debts Throughout England and Wales.
ImprintLondon: Printed by John Nichols and Son.
Date of Publication1808
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a signed presentation copy of the third edition of James Neild's account of the state of debtor's prisons in the early nineteenth century. The book was presented to Reginald Pole Carew (1753-1835), an MP in Devon. Neild wrote his report when he found the horrors of the debtors prison were very much the same as they had been when exposed by John Howard in the latter part of the eighteenth century. This present edition was increased in size to reflect not only new data gathered by Neild, but also to add new information on the state of Scottish prisons. The information includes names, salaries, fees and garnish due to the gaolers, with similar information on the chaplain and surgeon attached to each prison followed by the number debtors and the allowance, if any, allocated to each. The book describes the anarchy at many prisons with no attempt at any sanitation or provisions for keeping the inmates alive. Neild observes that Scottish prisons were often the worst of all. James Neild (1744-1814) was a jeweler by trade who became interested in prisons in the 1760's. He was a founding member of the Society for the Discharge of Persons throughout England and Wales, Imprisoned for Debt and later became their treasurer.
ShelfmarkABS.4.205.01
Acquired on11/04/05
AuthorKeill, John
TitleAn examination of Dr Burnet's Theory of Earth. 2nd edition.
ImprintOxford: H. Clements and London: S. Harding
Date of Publication1734
LanguageEnglish
NotesJohn Keill (1671-1721), mathematician and natural philosopher, was born in Edinburgh and was educated at Edinburgh University. He won a scholarship to study at Oxford and while studying there became a devoted follower of Isaac Newton. He was the first to teach Newtonian natural philosophy, developing an innovative course for students which involved 'experimental demonstrations' for the first time in the teaching of science. This is the second edition of Keill's first book, originally published in 1698, in which he criticises Thomas Burnet's book "Telluris Theoria Sacra, or The Sacred Theory of the Earth" and also the work of fellow Newtonian, William Whiston, whose "A New Theory of the Earth" had been published in 1696. Burnet's book on the creation and formation of the earth had appeared in the 1680s and provoked much debate in academic circles. Keill, the scientist, aimed to disprove the views of Burnet, the natural philosopher and schoolmaster, by the application of Newtonian scientific principles. Keill also disagreed with Whiston on how to interpret the Bible. Whereas Whiston accepted revealed scripture, properly interpreted by a Newtonian, as being compatible with Newtonian science, Keill was convinced that there were some aspects of the Bible which no amount of 'scientific' interpreting could square with science. In such cases, for Keill, the Biblical view was always correct. The work contains several plates of scientific diagrams relating to the structure of the earth and movement of celestial bodies.
ShelfmarkAB.3.207.43
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on12/10/07
AuthorEdwards, Jonathan
TitleAn humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God's people in extraordinary prayer.
ImprintBoston, MA: D. Henchman
Date of Publication1747
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis work by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the American theologian and philosopher, testifies to the close connections between Scottish and American thought in the eighteenth century, and the textual traffic between the two countries. Edwards, the most important theologian of his day, who would end his life as third President of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) was concerned with the revival movement known as the 'Great Awakening', and in this book draws on the example of Scottish clergymen who drew up a plan for a 'Concert for Prayer', or prayer meetings arranged internationally to take place at scheduled times. In doing so, he reprints in full the text of a 'Memorial publish'd by a number of Ministers in Scotland', which was only circulated in manuscript in Scotland at the time, and printed in an American edition of which only one imperfect copy is recorded in ESTC. This book is therefore the most important witness to the 'Concert for Prayer', and is cited as such both by Edwards' Scottish contemporaries (John Gillies: Historical Collections (Glasgow, 1754) and John MacLaurin, Sermons and Essays (Glasgow, 1755)) and by scholars today. The contemporary references testify that Edwards' book had a Scottish circulation in his lifetime, where Edwards was held in great esteem, but this is the only recorded copy in Scotland today. Unusually, it is survives in a contemporary brown paper wrapper, with the inscription 'Madam Johnson's book' on the front cover.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2676
Reference SourcesDNB; George M. Marsden: Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, 2003); Matthew Smith: 'Distinguishing Marks of the Spirit of God: Eighteenth-Century Revivals in Scotland and New England'(www.star.ac.uk/Archive/Papers/Smith_C18.Revivals.pdf)
Acquired on24/08/07
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