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 121 to 135 of 727:

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Author[Anon]
TitleThe child's catechism in two parts. The first, treating of God... The second, of mans recovery... By a well-wisher to the education of children.
ImprintEdinburgh: [s.n.],
Date of Publication1751
LanguageEnglish
NotesLearning the catechism was an essential part of religious education in the 18th century. Catechisms accordingly were a staple of Scottish printing houses from the 17th century onwards. In the 1690s a catechism for children by the late Robert Leighton, bishop of Dunblane, was printed in Edinburgh. Leighton's catechism was followed in the first half of the 18th century by a number of similar children's catechisms, with shorter and simplified text, were printed in Scotland. This particular version of 1751, by an anonymous 'Well-wisher to the Education of Children', was originally composed for a four-year-old girl, and was continued for her with additional sections until she was twelve. The last eight pages comprise "Some forms of prayers for children." Only three known copies of this particular printed catechism have been recorded, none of them in the UK.
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.09
Acquired on13/08/10
Author[Anon]
TitleA dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender.
ImprintLondon: printed by T. Gardner
Date of Publication1746
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 12-page pamphlet contains an unrecorded poem in blank verse printed in London in 1746. The anonymous work, signed only 'By a young gentleman of Oxford', is an imaginative recreation of a conversation between King Louix XV of France (1710-1774) and Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), known as the Young Pretender, following events at the Battle of Culloden. The Battle of Culloden, on 16 April 1746, marked an end to the Jacobite uprising, which started in 1745 and Charles Stuart's attempt to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. While the King refers to Prince William, duke of Cumberland (1721-1765) as 'that beardless, unexperienc'd Boy', the Pretender recounts the abilities of the Duke in battle: 'But, soon as e'er the sad and dreadful Name / Of Cumberland was whisper'd through the Lines, / Each Face grew pale, a sudden Panick seiz'd / Each Scottish Heart, as if some mighty Power / With him had join'd, to disappoint our Hopes.' The Pretender goes on to relate his troops' valiant attempts before they 'fell a victim to their dreadful Duke', and Charles himself was forced 'reluctant, from the bloody Field'. The poem ends on a pessimistic note with an order to the Pretender from the King: 'Betake thee strait to some religious Choir, / ... Where, in Peace you may forever live, / And think no more of ruling o'er a People, / Who both despise Religion and their Prince.' This is the only recorded copy of the poem and supplements the Library's rich holdings of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism.
ShelfmarkRB.m.701
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB
Acquired on09/08/10
AuthorMissionary Society for Africa and the East
Title[Handbill for sermon to be preached at Glasgow Episcopal Chapel, August 14 1814, by Rev. Isaac Saunders]
ImprintGlasgow: Chapman, Printer
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside handbill or flyer advertises a sermon to be preached at the Episcopal Chapel, Glasgow, in 1814, by the Rev. Isaac Saunders, on behalf of the Missionary Society for Africa and the East. This was an English society, whose vice-presidents included William Wilberforce, and Saunders was a minister in London who would preach three sermons on the day. The handbill lists the Society's activities around the world from Malta to New Zealand, including the offer to sponsor a child: 'The Society clothes, maintains, and educates a poor African child for 5 per annum, and affixes any name to such poor liberated child, as the benefactor may wish.' This is the only known surviving copy of this handbill. It is interesting to note that it lists the Glasgow booksellers Steven & Fraser, Brash & Reid and Turnbull and Smith's Circulating Library as places where donations to the Missionary Society may be made by those who wish to contribute but cannot attend the sermon.
ShelfmarkAP.4.210.27
Reference Sourceshttp://blogs.nls.uk/rarebooks/?p=107
Acquired on05/08/10
Author[Anon]
TitleEarnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.
ImprintEdinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.
Date of Publication1757
LanguageEnglish
NotesSwearing, drunkenness and working on Sundays are still issues in contemporary society, as they were over 250 years ago when this stern tract was printed warning of the dangers in indulging in these vices. The tract was printed for the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor (SPRKP), an organisation founded in London in 1750, which was the first of the evangelical tract societies that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was founded by Protestant dissenters, but included many Anglicans among its members; its object was to promote religion by distributing bibles and cheap tracts, usually written by dissenting ministers, to the poor. The Society co-existed with the establishment church-orientated Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and later with the Society for Distributing Religious Tracts among the Poor, founded by the Methodist leader John Wesley in 1782. In 1756 branches of the SPRK were founded in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the same lines as the London model. The anonymous "Earnest invitation" is one of at least three Society publications printed by Ebenezer Robertson in Edinburgh in the late 1750s. Very few of Society's publications survive and there is only one other copy of this book recorded in ESTC, in the British Library's collections. This particular tract covers three sins: swearing and profanity, with particular regard to the army and navy; 'the great sin of profaning the Lord's day by worldly business and pleasures'; and 'the great evil of the sin of drunkenness'. The author may, according to lists of books published by the SPRKP, be the evangelical minister Isaac Toms (1709-1801) from Hadleigh in Suffolk, who is known to have written five tracts for the Society. In the tract the author thunders, "It is not to be doubted but the glaring impiety and gross profaneness of our armies and fleets, and the bulk of the nation, had had a great hand in raising the storm of divine judgements on man and beast". Published at a time when Britain was fighting the Seven Years War on the Continent and the French in North America, this was alarming stuff intended to shock sinners into repentance. Whether the book had any effect on the profane of Edinburgh is open to question. The SPRKP's influence in Scotland appears to have been confined to the 18th century, but elsewhere it lasted into the early part of the 20th century, although it is now largely forgotten.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2794
Reference SourcesIsabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.
Acquired on09/07/10
TitleSlave trade.
ImprintHaddington: G. Miller and Son, printers.
Date of Publication1814
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn abolitionist broadside printed in Haddington, East Lothian indicating that the residents of Dunbar are petitioning Parliament for the universal abolition of the slave trade. Beneath the title is a woodcut of a slave being whipped by a white man, followed by an abolitionist poem and a call to the residents of Dunbar to sign the petition: 'It is requested that every well wisher to the melioration of the poor Africans, and those who, from motives of humanity, are inclined to give their dissenting vote to the revival of the bloody traffic, will come forward without delay.'
ShelfmarkRB.m.702
Acquired on06/07/10
AuthorSartorius, Georg.
TitleHandbuch der Staatswirthschaft: zum Gebrauche bey akademischen Vorlesungen, nach Adam Smith's Grundsatzen.
ImprintBerlin: Bey Johann Friedrich Unger.
Date of Publication1796
LanguageGerman
NotesEarly synopsis of Smith's 'Wealth of nations' for use at universities. Sartorius, a professor at Gottingen University, was the first to introduce the teaching of Adam Smith at a German university. Here he presents his outline of Smith's work, with the addition of his own critical and practical remarks.
ShelfmarkAB.2.210.18
Acquired on01/07/10
AuthorDuncan, Mark
TitleMarci Duncani philosophiae et med. D. Institutionis logicae libri quinque.
ImprintSalmurii [Saumur]: Apud Isaacum Desbordes,
Date of Publication1643
LanguageLatin
NotesBorn possibly in London, the philosopher Mark Duncan (d. 1640) was of Scottish parentage and probably educated partly in Scotland. In 1606 he was appointed professor of philosophy and Greek at the French protestant university of Saumur, rising to the position of Regent. He also practised medicine and his renown as a medical practitioner was such that James VI/I offered him the post of physician in ordinary to the English court, but Duncan, having settled with his second wife in Saumur, did not wish to uproot his family. This philosophical textbook, dedicated to the founder of the Academy of Saumur Phillipe de Mornay (1549-1623), was printed first in 1612. It was drawn on in particular by the Dutch logician Franco Burgersdijk (1590-1635) in the composition of his own "Institutiones Logicae" (Leiden, 1632). This is the third edition of Duncan's "Institutiones Logicae"; all editions are scarce.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2782
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorMennie, Donald.
TitleGlimpses of China: a series of Vandyck photogravures illustrating Chinese life and surroundings.
ImprintShanghai: A.S. Watson & Co.,
Date of Publication[c. 1920]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a welcome addition to the Library's holdings of photographically illustrated books on the Far East. Not much is known about the early years of Donald Mennie (d. 1941), the photographer who produced this book. He appears to have been of Scottish origin, later becoming an American citizen. He arrived in China in 1899 and worked initially for the firm Mactavish & Lehman & Co., one of the first producers of picture post-cards of Shanghai, before moving to the Shanghai-based company of A.S. Watson & Co. Watson's had been founded by a Scot in 1828, as a chemists and druggists, and had branched out into wine and spirits and photographic services (the firm still exists to this day as the largest health and beauty retailer in the world). Mennie became a managing director of the firm and a leading entrepreneur in China in 1920s and 30s, but he also had a passion for photography. He was able to use his position in Watson's to get his photographs published, being best known for his books "The pageant of Peking" (1920) and "The grandeur of the Gorges" (1926). Both of them were expensively produced, with handsome bindings, and with hand-coloured photogravures in the pictorialist style. Mennie specialised in depicting the faded grandeur of imperial China and the eye-catching landscapes of China's gardens, rivers and mountains. "Glimpses of China", while still using the same photogravure process, is a more modest affair. Produced in oblong quarto format, with plain cloth covers, it is possibly an early work by Mennie or a spin-off from "The pageant of Peking". Of particular interest are the street scenes of ordinary Chinese people which are reminiscent of the street-photography of the early Scottish photographic pioneer in the Far East, John Thomson.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.145
Reference SourcesWorswick & Spence, "Imperial China: photographs 1850-1912" (London: Scolar Press, 1979)
Acquired on29/05/10
Author[Gilchrist, Archibald]
TitleEdinburgh sold by Arch. Gilchrist & Co. at their warehouse behind the city-guard ....
Imprint[Edinburgh ; Archibald Gilchrist]
Date of Publication[1781]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a fascinating piece of late 18th-century printed ephemera. It is an engraved trade card for the Edinburgh haberdasher Archibald Gilchrist which provides a list of goods that he sold at his "warehouse behind the city-guard". Around the middle of the eighteenth century Gilchrist had moved from Lanarkshire to establish his business in Edinburgh. At that time he was one of only two haberdashers in the city, the other being John Neil. The business became Archibald Gilchrist & Co. when two of his nephews named Mackinlay became partners. On Gilchrist's death the company was dissolved and around 1788 his son, also Archibald (c.1766-1804), set up as a haberdasher on the South Bridge.
ShelfmarkAP.1.210.12
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorBarclay, John.
TitleL' Argenide di Giovanni Barclaio.
ImprintVenetia [Venice]: Pietro Maria Bertano,
Date of Publication1636
LanguageItalian
NotesThe Library has recently acquired a number of early editions of the Franco-Scottish author John Barclay to increase its holdings of one of the most widely-read and influential literary figures of 17th-century Europe. This Italian translation of Barclay's political romance "Argenis" was made by Carl' Antonio Cocastello and edited by Christoforo Tomasini. First published in Turin in 1630, it followed another Italian translation made by Francesco Pona that was originally published in Venice in 1629. "Argenis" was Barclay's last work, completed only days before his death, and his greatest one. Composed in Rome as Barclay was working at the papal court at the time, but printed in Paris in 1621, Barclay's novel, describing the story of Princess Argenis and her suitors, offered an allegorical presentation of European history in transition from the 16th to the 17th centuries.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2803
Reference SourcesShaaber B144
Acquired on29/05/10
AuthorGraeffe, Johann Friedrich Christoph.
TitleDe miraculorum natura philosophiae principiis non contradicente.
ImprintHelmstedt: C.G. Fleckeisen,
Date of Publication1797.
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a rare German Enlightenment text which systematically confutes David Hume's essay on miracles, first published in his "Philosophical essays concerning human understanding". The author, Johann Friedrich Christoph Graeffe (1754-1816), was a German Protestant theologian who studied at his hometown university in Goettingen. After working some years as a teacher and minister in the church, Graeffe eventually became a doctor of theology at the University of Helmstedt in Lower Saxony in 1797. "De miraculorum natura" was his inaugural dissertation in which he grappled with one of the typical Enlightenment problems: how could one account for miracles in the Bible using modern scientific means of explanation? As a rationalist who was also a firm believer in the veracity of the Bible, Graeffe was able to reconcile the two positions by demonstrating that the laws governing the effecting of miracles do not suspend or infringe the laws of nature. His argument thus brought him into conflict with the work of Hume, who in his essay of 1748 had regarded miracles as irrational and unlikely ever to have happened. Graeffe uses the recently published work by Immanuel Kant, "Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft" [Religion within the bounds of mere reason], in support of his dismissal of Hume's arguments. He returned to the theme in his later work "Philosophische Vertheidigung der Wunder Jesu und seiner Apostel" [A philosophical defence of the miracles of Jesus and his apostles], published in Goettingen in 1812. This particular copy has a 19th-century library label on the front pastedown showing that it was once in the library of Theological Seminary of Lexington, South Carolina (now the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Columbia, S.C.). The library was founded in 1832 and grew rapidly. It contained a large number of German texts, including items from the personal collection of its first professor of theology, Ernest Hazelius, who had emigrated from Prussia to the USA. Due to lack of students the seminary and library moved to Newberry, South Carolina, in 1859.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2779
Acquired on21/05/10
AuthorRob Roy [MacGregor, John]
TitleThe tail of the Beagle, ship! ahoy!
Imprint[Castle Wemyss: John Burns],
Date of Publication[1865]
LanguageEnglish
NotesEarly Scottish privately-printed books often did not come to the Library through legal deposit, so the acquisition of such books is always a bonus. This privately-printed book describes a cruise in the Western Isles of Scotland in 1864, and is taken from a tongue-in-cheek log kept by John 'Rob Roy' MacGregor (1825-1892), barrister, philanthropist, traveller and intrepid canoeist. Although born in Kent, MacGregor had Scottish parents and spent part of his childhood in Scotland, and thus regarded himself as "Scotch to the backbone". After studying law at Cambridge and training to be a barrister, he chose instead to devote himself to philanthropy, becoming involved in the provision of ragged schools (independent charity schools for the poor). He also spent a lot of time travelling, writing and illustrating books about his various expeditions and contributing articles to "Punch". In 1864 he was invited by his friend and fellow philanthropist John Burns (1829-1901), who was later to become the first Baron Inverclyde, for a cruise in the Western Isles. The cruise was the inaugural voyage of the screw-steam yacht 'Beagle' which had just been built for the shipping company owned by Burns's father. MacGregor and Burns were members of a party of eleven men, the 'Beagles', who enjoyed an eleven-day trip, starting from Burns's home at Castle Wemyss, Renfrewshire, on July 26, up to the island of Lewis, then back again. MacGregor kept a log of the cruise, written in typically whimsical and humorous style, and illustrated with pen and pencil caricatures of his fellow shipmates and of the various incidents that befell them. The following year John Burns had MacGregor's account of the trip, based on the entries in his log, printed as a book for distribution to friends and fellow Beagles under the title "The tail of the Beagle". No expense appears to have been spared for the folio-size publication, which was bound in green cloth with gilt lettering and borders and included seven photographs of pages from the original log, as well as a group photograph of the Beagles, and a map of their journey. While much of the content of the book has long since lost its relevance, MacGregor's drawings are particularly witty. Sadly the 'Beagle' did not last long after its inaugural cruise. In November 1865 it was involved in a collision with another ship near the Cumbrae islands and sank. MacGregor would go on to achieve fame for his long solo canoe journeys on the Continent, being one of the first to promote the sport of canoeing in Britain. This particular copy of the "The tail of the Beagle" includes an undated MS note which appears to be in MacGregor's hand: "Dearest Carry, I am clearing up finally at Comyn[?] House - & don't think the "Beagles" should go with the sale, so send it to you! ..."; it also has a newspaper cutting pasted on the back pastedown reporting the loss of the 'Beagle'.
ShelfmarkAB.10.210.04
Reference SourcesEdwin Hodder "John MacGregor (Rob Roy)" (London, 1894)
Acquired on14/05/10
AuthorMacDiarmid, Hugh [C.M. Grieve]
TitleTo circumjack Cencrastus or The curly snake.
ImprintEdinburgh & London: William Blackwood,
Date of Publication1930
LanguageScots
NotesThe Library has a large collection of examples of fine Scottish bookbinding, from the 15th century down to the present day, and we continue to add to this collection wherever possible. We have acquired this particular copy of the first edition of Hugh MacDiarmid's epic poem because of its binding by renowned Scottish bookbinder Arthur W. Currie (b. 1922), who was overseer of bindings at the Edinburgh-based publishing firm of Oliver & Boyd before becoming a lecturer at Napier College (now Edinburgh Napier University). Currie's work is now regarded as being on a par with other major 20th-century British bookbinders such as Edgar Mansfield and Elizabeth Greenhill. He specialised in the use of coloured inks as well as gold leaf to produce his designs; this binding, dating from the 1950s?, is a blue goatskin with a serpent-like design of interlinked coils in black, blue, grey and tan morocco and with a gilt sunburst pattern. Currie's design of coils reflects the content of MacDiarmid's poem, in which the windings of a snake around the roots of the world are equalled by the tortuous windings of the poetic work. The struggle of the poet to complete a work, described in the poem, was informed by MacDiarmid's own difficulties in the 1920s in trying to produce creative work while trying to earn a living as a small town journalist in Montrose.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.942
Acquired on14/05/10
Author[Anon]
TitleJacobi des Andern aus Franckreich, in Gendancken nach Engeland.
ImprintCoelln [Cologne]: Bey Peter Hammern,
Date of Publication1696
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Library has one of the major collections of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism, including foreign-language works concerning the exiled Stuart court. This is an uncommon first (and only?) German-language printing of an anonymous work on James VII and II, which had first been printed in French in 1696 under the title "Histoire secrette [sic] du voyage de Jaques II a Calais pour passer en Angleterre". The book deals with the last attempt to restore James to the British throne after his exile in 1688. Early in 1696 Louis XIV of France lent ships and men to James for an invasion of England. To coincide with the arrival of the French, a rising was secretly organized by the Jacobites in England. However, as neither side would take the initiative, the murder of William III, planned by a group of Jacobites in London, was seen as a way out of the deadlock. The plot was betrayed on the eve of the murder attempt and most of the conspirators were apprehended. The assassination plot aroused enormous contemporary interest throughout Europe as evidenced by this book. By supporting the assassination attempt, James came out of the whole affair in an unflattering light. In England there was a backlash of loyalty to William and the Jacobite cause there was badly undermined. The place of publication for this book is uncertain as it appears under the 'Peter Hammer' imprint. Books in French with a 'Pierre Marteau' (French for Peter Hammer) imprint had started appearing in the 1660s. Allegedly located in the German city of Cologne the publishing house never actually existed. The fictitious imprint was used by booksellers and printers in the Netherlands, France and Germany who wanted to publish politically controversial books to avoid open identification and censorship. German-language 'Peter Hammer' books started appearing in the late 1680s. German intellectuals, who were opposed to the despotic character of the French monarchy and who supported the likes of William III in his wars against Louis XIV, used the imprint to print books such as this one, which was critical of the French monarch and of those, like the exiled King James, who were under his influence.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.041
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Marteau
Acquired on14/05/10
Author[Smollett, Tobias, ed.]
TitleA compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages digested in a chronological series.
ImprintLondon: R. and J. Dodsley,
Date of Publication1756.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis seven-volume anthology of travel writing was partially edited by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett. In 1753 he was contracted, for the considerable sum of 150, to complete the work by the following year. Smollett was at the time working on a wide range of literary projects in his roles of translator, editor and critic; he was also living an expensive and hectic social life in London. It is perhaps little wonder that he later admitted that his overall contribution to the work was actually very limited. The seven volumes consist of edited accounts of the trade and military expeditions of major European explorers and adventurers such as Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Francis Drake and Cortes. They contain several plates, including portraits and illustrations of exotic places and peoples, such as cannibals in the Caribbean, as well as 20 maps. A second edition appeared in 1766. This particular set of volumes belonged to the library of the Phelip[p]s family of Montacute House near Yeovil in Somerset.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.014-020
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/10
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