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 727 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 727:

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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
AuthorWolther, Johannes.
TitleAureum Johannis Woltheri Peinensis Saxonis. Das ist Gulden Arch ...
ImprintRostock: Sachs
Date of Publicationc.1623
LanguageGerman
NotesThis book is the first and only edition of Johannes Wolther's critique of John Napier's work 'A plaine discovery of the whole revelation of Saint John' (1593), translated into German in 1615. It also includes a partial translation of the work. Napier asserted that the symbols in the Book of Revelation were mathematical ones which could be discovered with reason. Little is known of Wolther, or Walther, as he is sometimes known. He was in born in 1562 in Salzwedel in northern Germany. He probably studied in the university town of Wittenberg, before becoming assistant head teacher of the school in Stralsund. He then, in 1597, moved to take up the same post in the Latin school in Salzwedel, where, a year later he became head (rector). In 1602 he moved to Danzig where he was deacon of the Johanniskirche. He died in Danzig in 1620 from the plague. During his time in Danzig he wrote a series of theological works. He is best known for a comic play he wrote for his pupils in Salzwedel, 'Speculum Josephi', on the biblical story of Joseph, which was based on two older German dramas on the same theme. The play was first performed in 1600 and published in Magdeburg in 1603. Napier (1550-1617) from Merchiston is best remembered now as a mathematician and inventor of logarithms.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2691
Reference SourcesAllgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Leipzig, 1898), vol.44.
Acquired on29/10/07
AuthorCollins, F. Howard
TitleAuthor & Printer
ImprintSecond impression. London: Henry Frowde
Date of Publication1905
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of the guide for authors, editors, printers and compositors was owned by the Scottish printer John Birkbeck, who dated it on the flyleaf 26 September 1931. The book is heavily annotated in his hand, and includes numerous newspaper cuttings, cartoons and even a poem. It is a working copy, and Birkbeck has added many words difficult to spell to the printed lists. However, some of the stuck-in items were clearly included for humour's sake. For example, one printed note headed 'Please pass round - hygiene' reads 'Some person unknown has fouled one of the seats in the lavatories. Will the person concerned please take greater care in the direction of his evacuation. And, in any case, when there is an accident will he please clean the seat. January 11, 1956. J.R., Father.' Does this come from an irate school headmaster?
ShelfmarkHB1.207.7.113
Acquired on19/06/07
AuthorBuchanan, George
TitleBaptistes, sive calumnia tragoedia
ImprintEdinburgi: Apud Henricum Charteris
Date of Publication1578
LanguageLatin
NotesOne of four items acquired from the sale of the library of the eminent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre (1914-2003), which included a substantial number of early modern Scottish items. This volume is an important acquisition for three reasons: it represents a rare opportunity to add to the Library's collection of pre-1600 Scottish imprints; it is an addition to our holdings of the writer and political figure George Buchanan; and it is a fascinating document of early modern book ownership. This edition of Buchanan's Latin biblical drama about John the Baptist has an Edinburgh imprint, but apart from the title page it is identical to one produced in the same year by the London printer Thomas Vautrollier - Durkan lists both as item 62 in his Buchanan bibliography. The name on the Edinburgh imprint is that of Henry Charteris, who was a bookseller as well as a printer, so he may well have imported copies of the London edition for the Scottish market. Relatively few copies of books with Charteris' imprint survive, and there are many gaps in the Library's holdings of them from this decade, so even in its imperfect state (lacking 14 out of 64 pages) this item is a valuable addition to the Library's holdings of early Scottish books (ESTC S116192; Aldis 147). Baptistes is the second of four works by Buchanan bound together in one volume, with many contemporary notes and inscriptions . The works were produced over a period of 20 years and come from a variety of European cities, while the owners were English or Scottish. However, it is difficult to ascertain the chronological order of these early owners, and at what point the items were placed together. The other three items are: Euripidis poetae tragici Alcestis... (Argentorati: Josias Rihelius, 1567), Buchanan's translation into Latin of Eurpides' play; Georgi Buchanani Scoti Franciscanus et fratres... (Geneva: Petrus Sanctandreanus, 1584), a collection of his secular poetry; Sphaera (Herbornae: Christophori Coruini, 1587), an unfinished cosmological poem. These items may simply have been bound together because of their similiar size. The binding is early modern, but more recent repairs have been carried out. The inscriptions include the names Wilkie (on the title page of Alcestis and Baptistes); James Fox (a marginal note in Alcestis); Gilbert Eliot (Alcestis and Baptistes); Georgius Scotus (Baptistes); Robert Elliott (Franciscanus). There are other inscriptions which are faint and almost indecipherable, but which might yield further information. These owners have written their names, marginal notes, Latin verse, and scribblings perhaps to test their pens throughout the volume. Bought with: A bill for the better ordering of the militia forces in that part of Great-Britain called Scotland (c.1760). Possibly a draft of a bill not enacted, this item is not in ESTC. Bound with Alexander Carlyle, The question relating to a Scots militia considered. (Edinburgh: Gavin Hamilton and John Balfour, 1760) ESTC T121729. Also with Trevor-Roper's book label. John Major: Historia Majoris Britanniae, tam Angliae quam Scotiae ... editio nova. (Edinburgh: Apud Robertum Fribarnium, 1740). A subscription edition by the Edinburgh publisher Robert Freebairn, including his receipt for the subscription of James Sinclair (d.1762) of Rosslyn. The book contains Sinclair's armorial bookplate and his crest is on the binding. Sinclair, from a notable Scottish family, was an important figure in the British army of the period, besides being an M.P. (Also bought with George Conn: De duplici statu religionis apud Scotos, which is a separate Report item)
ShelfmarkRB.s.2336(2)
Reference SourcesJohn Durkan: Bibliography of George Buchanan; DNB
Acquired on24/06/04
AuthorBillings, Robert William
TitleBaronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons
Date of Publicationn.d.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unusual version of the first edition of Billings' magnum opus, a wide-ranging and thoughtful alphabetical discussion of notable early churches, castles and towers in Scotland, with engravings of the author's own detailed drawings. The engravers include some notable figures including John Sad(d)ler; see Rodney K. Engen, Dictionary of Victorian Engravers, Print Publishers and their Works, Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1979. The printing seems to have been completed in 1852 (the author's'introduction is dated 29 February 1852), although the 240 plates are dated 1847-1848. The National Library already has sets of the first standard edition (shelfmark NE.18.a.34, now rather worn and in need of rebinding; Hist.S.80.B) and of the 1908 version edited by A. W. Wiston-Glynn (shelfmark X.8.b). Like the standard edition, this set is in four volumes, but it is printed in large folio. There do not appear to be any text or plates different to the standard edition, but the plates are positioned differently and are in superior condition due to being printed on fine India paper. A curious feature is that throughout the volumes, one can find the occasional standard-size page inlaid in the folio, rather than printed on the larger paper. The large paper is foxed in places. A manuscript note on the inside of the front cover of the first volume states 'Blackwoods Copy La Folio India Paper Proofs Bt from Brunton 1971'. There does not appear to be other evidence for this, and Blackwood is not mentioned in the list of subscribers to the available versions described as 'Folio proofs and etchings' and 'India proofs'. Bound in blue cloth, with gold lettering. See DNB for Billings.
ShelfmarkFB.el.127
Acquired on09/11/00
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