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 735 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.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 106 to 120 of 735:

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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, Großachtbare 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
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
TitleAndrew Lammie, or, Mill of Tiftie's Annie
ImprintBanff: J. Davidson
Date of Publicationc.1790-1820
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis ballad, like many others, was reprinted around Scotland to be sold locally. However, this rare Banff edition is one of only seven Banff imprints listed in ESTC, and the third recorded example of Davidson's chapbook printing to be acquired by the Library. The only other recorded copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. James Davidson, the 'Bookseller and Bookbinder', as he describes himself in this chapbook, is recorded in Pigot's _Commercial Directory for Scotland_ from 1820-1837 with an address at Bridge Street, but we do not know when he began printing, as all three of his chapbooks are undated. This item may, as ESTC conjectures, have been printed any time from 1790 until a few decades into the 19th century. ESTC T300367
ShelfmarkAPS.1.204.092
Reference SourcesESTC; SBTI; Bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on04/03/04
AuthorEbel, Johann Gottfried
TitleAnleitung auf die nützlichste und genussvollste Art in der Schweitz zu reisen.
ImprintZürich. Bey Orell, Gessner, Füssli und Compagnie.
Date of Publication1793
LanguageGerman
NotesThis guide by Johann Ebel (1764-1830) is a rare first edition of one of the earliest and most famous handbooks for travellers in Switzerland.
ShelfmarkGB/A.3883
Acquired on05/09/05
AuthorGretser, Jacob.
TitleAntitortor Bellarmianus Ioannes Gordonius Scotus pseudodecanus et capellanus Calvinisticus.
ImprintIngolstadt: Adam Sartorius
Date of Publication1611
LanguageLatin
NotesIn the early 1600s King James VI/I found himself embroiled in a feud with the Italian cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), which led to a 'battle of the books', to which this publication belongs. While still in Scotland James had made secret overtures to the king of France and the pope, hinting at better treatment for Catholics and even conversion, in the hope that they would support his claim to the English throne. In 1600 he sent an envoy to Rome with letters for the pope and various cardinals, including Bellarmine, a Jesuit and one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church of the period. Bellarmine subsequently presented James, probably via the French ambassador to Scotland, with an elaborately-bound four-volume set of his defence of the Catholic faith "De controversiis Christianae fidei Bellarmine" (vol. 1 of this set is now in NLS: Bdg.m.89). Bellarmine's hopes for James were to be disappointed. After the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the English parliament the following year passed an act which could require any citizen to take an oath of allegiance, entailing a denial of the pope's authority over the king. In 1607, when an English archpriest George Blackwell eventually took the oath and wrote a letter to the English Catholic clergy exhorting them to do likewise, the Cardinal wrote a letter to Blackwell deploring his subscription to a heretical oath. James in turn attacked Bellarmine in 1608 in a Latin treatise "Triplici nodo, triplex cuneus", which the scholarly cardinal answered, making fun of the defects of the royal Latin prose. James replied with a second attack in more careful style, "Apologia pro iuramento fidelitatis", in which he posed as the defender of primitive and true Christianity. Bellarmine responded again setting off a war of words between the two men's supporters, including the Scottish dean of Salisbury, John Gordon (1544-1619). Anxious to curry favour with James, Gordon published in 1610 a polemical poem "Antitortobellarminus, siue Refutatio calumniarum, mendaciorum, et imposturarum laico-Cardinalis Bellarmini". The initial word Antitorto... was derived from the name of the Cardinal's chaplain, Matteo Torti, under whose name the Cardinal had earlier written pseudonymously. This book is a response to Gordon by the German Jesuit writer, Jacob Gretser (1562-1625), who alters Gordon's punning title to suit his own ends. Gretser responds in kind to Gordon's Latin abusive verse with some abuse of his own. A book stamp and inscription on the title page shows that this particular copy was formerly held in the Jesuit college of San Hermenegildo in Seville, Spain. It was later part of the collection of the bibliographer and scholar Cosmo Alexander Gordon (1886-1965).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2800
Acquired on01/09/10
TitleArboflede, ou le mérite persécuté. Histoire Angloise. Première [-seconde] partie
ImprintImprimé à la Haye, & se vend à Liège, chez J.F. Bassompierre, libraire & imprimeur en Neuvice
Date of Publication1747
LanguageFrench
NotesAn unusual novel set in medieval England and Scotland, centering on the figure of Arboflede, a disgraced member of the English court who is forced to live in exile in a forest in the Scottish borders. The storyline, which involves the royal houses of Scotland, England, Denmark and Finland and which ends very tragically, is complicated and verges on the absurd. This, together with the fact that the author remains anonymous, could well be an indication of a satire on current European affairs, although with the tale being so phenomenally abstruse, it is hard to pin it down on anything in particular. The author may have been inspired by current Anglo-Scottish politics (?not the Jacobite Risings?) The novel was first published in 1741, also in the Hague; one of the known copies of the 1741 edition has a slip pasted over the date reading 1745. Both editions are very scarce; no other copy of either traced in Scotland.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2064
Acquired on17/05/00
Author[Salmon, William]
TitleAristotle's Master-Piece
ImprintGlasgow: [n.n.]
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe 'Joy of Sex' of its day, this is a revised version of the work that first appeared with this title in 1694, and was continually republished thereafter. A compendium of popular medical knowledge, folklore and myth, it promises a guide to marriage, copulation and procreation, plus 'the picture of several monstrous births'. There are various unpleasant woodcuts, some derived from the first edition, of deformed babies. All kinds of remedies are proposed for infertility, difficult childbirth or 'green sickness' in virgins. There are detailed descriptions of the genitals and practical sections for midwives. Works like this have an enduring popularity. This Glasgow edition of 1782 is otherwise unrecorded. This edition has an amusing section at the end, 'Observations on the human body', which discusses how appearances reveal more about the person. ('When the nostrils are close and thin, they denote a man to have but little testicles'.) A curious feature of this copy is that the endpapers are printed leaves from an Edinburgh sermon. The bookseller suggests that the binder had a sense of humour.
ShelfmarkABS.1.204.024
Reference SourcesWing, EEBO, ESTC
Acquired on17/09/03
AuthorGlasgow Ayrshire Society
TitleArticles of the Glasgow Ayrshire Society.
Imprint[Glasgow?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1791]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis unrecorded pamphlet is a early publication relating to the Glasgow Ayrshire Society. The Society was instituted on 20 October 1761 in order to provide support to impoverished and distressed people from Ayrshire in Glasgow and also "to connect together Ayrshire people by the most social and friendly ties". To qualify for membership you had to have been been born in or have landed property in Ayrshire or have lived there for seven years. You could also qualify if one of your parents or your wife or in-laws had links with Ayrshire. However, none were to be admitted who "either from old age or disease are likely to become an immediate burden on the society". These new set of articles of the society were ordered to be printed at a meeting of the Society in Glasgow on 2 December 1791. The new articles were intended to clarify the existing regulations, which had "on different occasions, been found in some respects defective and inexplicit". The nine articles cover such matters as admission of members, subscription costs, the organisation and management of the society, discipline expected of members and the procedures by which members and their families might apply for financial assistance from the organisation. The Society still exists today and provides financial support for Ayrshire students to assist with further education.
ShelfmarkAP.2.213.23
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on05/07/13
AuthorWatt, James and John Robison
TitleArticles Steam and Steam-Engines
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1817-1818?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the most important books dealing with the ground-breaking inventions of the Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt's steam engine made the railway revolution possible, and it is remarkable that this publication seems to be very rare. The book is a separate edition of John Robison's articles on Watt's discoveries written for the Encyclopedia Britannica, printed here with extensive and critical footnotes by James Watt himself. This appears to be the only time Watt ventured into print to discuss his inventions. Eight folding plates in good condition illustrate the processes described (designed by William Creighton and engraved by Lizars of Edinburgh). This is a nice presentation copy, with an inscription to a Dr. Hope in Watt's hand: the book later passed to the Hope Trust, an Edinburgh-based society for the promotion of temperance. The trust's bookplate is inside the front board.
ShelfmarkRB.m.492
Acquired on03/03/03
AuthorSwinburne, Algernon Charles
TitleAtalanta in Calydon
ImprintKelmscott: Kelmscot Press-
Date of Publication1894
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library has an almost complete set of publications of the Kelmscott Press, the acquisition of this fine copy leaves only 2 more to acquire (1 of which was privately printed and not available for public sale). The publication of "Atalanta in Calydon" in 1865 brought the budding poet Swinburne both fame and notoriety in equal measure. The work is based on the ancient Greek myth of the huntress Atalanta, who takes part in the hunt of the ferocious Calydonian boar and becomes inadvertently embroiled in a family conflict which leads to the death of the hero Meleager, caused by his own mother. Swinburne wrote a verse drama, using the structure of an Classical Greek tragedy, complete with Chorus and semi-Chorus, and formal dialogue. Although Classical Greek in content and form Swinburne uses the drama to challenge not just the religious acquiescence to the will of the gods portrayed in the Classical Greek tragedies but also by implication Victorian attitudes to God and Christianity. As a keen admirer of the Kelmscott Press, Swinburne wrote to Morris after the publication of "Atalanta" in July 1894 that it was "certainly one of the loveliest examples of even your incomparable press". Morris too was pleased with the book, of which 250 copies were produced on paper and 6 on vellum, and which sold out within a few weeks. The publication is also unusual as it is the only KP book in which Morris used a type not designed by himself. To reproduce the Greek text which appears at the start of work, Morris used electrotypes of a Greek type designed by the artist and designer Selwyn Image. This particular copy, as well as being in fine, almost mint, condition, is bound in early twentieth century blue morocco with gilt ornamentation by the famous bookdbing firm of Birdsall & Sons of Northampton.
ShelfmarkKP.6
Reference SourcesPeterson A25
Acquired on21/07/04
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