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 721 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 136 to 150 of 721:
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|Title||Wysgeerige en staatkundige verhandelingen [Political Discourses]|
|Imprint||Rotterdam : Abraham Bothall,|
|Date of Publication||1766|
|Notes||This is a rare edition (no copies recorded elsewhere in the UK) of the first Dutch translation of David Hume's "Political Discourses", which was the first work by Hume to be translated into Dutch. The translation was published in Amsterdam by Kornelis van Tongerlo in 1764, with this particular edition appearing two years later in Rotterdam under a different publisher, but with identical collation. The identity of the translator remains unknown. The "Political Discourses", first published in Edinburgh in 1752, was arguably the only one of Hume's works to enjoy immediate commercial success in Britain. In addition to a series of essays on economic matters, Hume also discusses at length a number of other diverse Enlightenment topics such as: whether the ancient world had been more populous than the modern, the Protestant succession to the British throne, and the model of a perfect republic. The work quickly became very influential throughout Europe among the leading economic theorists of the day, including Adam Smith, but Hume does not appear to have appealed to a wider readership within the Netherlands. A translation of Hume's "History of England" appeared between 1769 and 1774, but these seem to be the only Dutch translations of his works in the 18th century.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Essay on the memory and character of Dorophagus, the great patriot of the North.|
|Date of Publication||[1743?]|
|Notes||This anonymous satirical pamphlet is a savage attack on 'Dorophagus' (from the Greek for 'devourer of [financial] gifts') a.k.a. John Campbell, second Duke of Argyll and Duke of Greenwich (1680-1743). Argyll had a long military and political career, which was marked by several quarrels not just with his political enemies, but also with family and friends. As early as 1714, a contemporary who knew him personally, George Lockhart of Carnwath, wrote in his "Memorials Concerning the Affairs of Scotland" that Argyll "was not, strictly speaking, a man of sound understanding and judgement; for all his natural endowments were sullied with too much impetuosity, passion, and positiveness". This pamphlet, presumably printed after Argyll's death in October 1743, is a lot harsher in its criticism of his character. The author depicts Argyll as man without principle and motivated only by financial gain, concluding that, "upon the whole: a character more compleatly [sic] immoral never appeared in this part of the world." |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Vergleichung des Zustandes und der Kraefte des Menschen, mit dem Zustande und den Kraeften der Thiere. |
|Imprint||Frankfurt und Leipzig: J. Dodsley, |
|Date of Publication||1768|
|Notes||This is the first German translation of "A comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world". The author, John Gregory (1724-1773) was a Scottish physician and writer, best known for his "A Father's Legacy to his Daughters" - a didactic work on the education of girls. "A comparative view" was first published in 1765 and grew out of papers presented to meetings of the 'Wise Club' in Aberdeen, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, which Gregory had co-founded with his colleague Thomas Reid in 1758. The identity of the translator, mentioned on the title page as "A.M.J.B.St.", is not known.|
|Title||Entwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.|
|Date of Publication||1797|
|Notes||This is the first German translation of "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Plato", which was originally published in Edinburgh in 1760 by the obscure Scottish scholar-physician Ebenezer MacFait (d. 1786). MacFait's book focuses particularly on Plato's "Republic", and includes a defence of Plato's ideas against the criticisms which appeared in the scholarly works published by the 18th-century English politician Viscount Bolingbroke. The translation was the work of Karl Morgenstern (1770-1852) then professor of philosophy at the university of Halle, who had published his own commentary on the "Republic" in 1794; it is augmented with his own notes on Plato. This particular copy has doodles in pencil on the paper covers, including four faces in profile, and the word 'Tennemann' written in several places, which suggests that this book may have once been owned by a student of the Platonic scholar Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819), who himself had written a four-volume work "System der Platonischen Philosophie" (Leipzig, 1792-95).|
|Imprint||Glogau: bey Christian Friedrich Guenthern|
|Date of Publication||1760|
|Notes||This is the extremely rare German translation of Hume's essays 'The Epicurean', 'The Stoic', "The Platonist' and 'The Sceptic'. Interestingly, the translation was not done from the English original, but from a French translation of 1758 done by Jean Bernard Merian. Now for the first time the German public was able to read the enlarged version of the essay 'The Sceptic' which Hume had produced for inclusion in his 'Essays and treatises on several subjects'. The only hitherto available German translation of 'The Sceptic' was a shorter version of 1748, which had been translated from the third edition of Hume's collected works. There are remarkable differences between the two versions of different length of 'The Sceptic'.
The translator of the 1760 edition tried hard to praise the volume as a comfort in difficult times, almost regarding Hume's essay to be edifying when he says, "It can serve to cheer up the mind during the present sorrowful times, in order to glimpse the glow of merciful predestination, notwithstanding all gloomy shades." The hopes this blurb aroused in the readers would be bitterly disappointed, because the sceptic Hume himself, who has no belief whatsoever in any divine providence, is the actual hero of all four essays.
There are no known copies of this item in Britain or the US. |
|Title||The experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
|Imprint||Edinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co. |
|Date of Publication||1806|
|Notes||Andrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century.
The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved".
Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines.
The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
|Imprint||New York and Rochester, NY|
|Date of Publication||1838-39|
|Notes||The Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life.
"Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
|Author||Hamilton, Clayton Meeker|
|Title||On the trail of Stevenson|
|Imprint||Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1915|
|Notes||This is the uncensored first issue, first edition of Clayton Meeker Hamilton's 1915 biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. Hamilton (1881-1946) was an American drama critic who had edited the 1910 Longman's English Classics edition of Treasure Island. His biography in its original form is particularly important as it is the first attempt to depict Stevenson 'warts and all'. In contrast to the sanitised image of Stevenson (d. 1894) presented by his official biographer Graham Balfour in 1901, Hamilton was able to draw on detailed information provided by the author's former friends and acquaintances to provide a new perspective on his life and colourful character. Writing a biography of one of Scotland's most famous authors deemed suitable for public consumption was, however, no easy task. Balfour's official biography was only written after Stevenson's friend and mentor, Sir Sidney Colvin, had to give up the project following some acrimonious rows with Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, and the author's formidable widow, Fanny. Presumably only after the death of Fanny Stevenson in February 1914 did Hamilton think it was safe to publish his book - excerpts of "On the trail of Stevenson" appeared in 'The Bookman' journal in late 1914 and early 1915 - as it was, by the standards of the age, relatively open in discussing sensitive matters. For instance, he alludes to Stevenson's use of prostitutes in his youth, and claims that he consummated his relationship with Fanny shortly after they met - when she was still married to another man ("their union was immediate and complete"). Such openness offended Fanny's daughter (and Stevenson's stepdaughter) Isobel Field, and led him withdraw the book shortly after publication in October 1915. Hamilton's reasons for doing so appear in a copy of the suppressed issue now held in the Beinecke Library of Yale University, which has inscription by him on the front fly leaf, dated 1936. Hamilton states that the issue was suppressed "in deference to various objections adduced by the step-daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, - Mrs. Salisbury Field [Isobel] & her personal reactions seemed more important to me than a disinterested insistence on the facts of history." Hamilton goes on to reveal that many of Stevenson's friends disapproved of his action, including Sir Sidney Colvin and Henry James, but, while believing that he had written nothing that was untrue and scandalous, he was convinced he had done the right thing. A new issue of the book appeared later in the same year, with a number of passages accordingly rewritten to remove anything controversial about Stevenson's relationship with his wife and with the opposite sex in general. This particular copy contains some press clippings, a note written by Hamilton's widow to a former owner of the book referring to her husband's death, and, of especial interest, a letter from the publishers, Doubleday Page & Co., dated October 27, 1915, to the New York publishing and bookselling firm Charles Scribner's Sons. The letter is requesting a recall of the first issue of the book and, predictably, it gives a different view of its suppression. The letter refers to "serious errors" in the book which Doubleday Page & Co. wish to correct. In addition to requesting the return of all unsold copies, they also ask if owners of the book can be traced and asked to return their "imperfect" copies, which will be replaced with copies of the corrected edition. Inevitably a few copies, such as this one, must have slipped through the net.|
|Reference Sources||"A Stevenson library: catalogue of a collection of writings by and about Robert Louis Stevenson formed by Edwin J. Beinecke" (New Haven, 1951-64) No. 1304|
|Title||Proclamation welcher Gestalt Carolus Stuard Prince von Schottlandt und Walles Koenig in Schottlandt und Irrlandt den 5. Februarii S.V. 1649, zu Edenburg in Schottlandt solenniter und offentlich aussgeruffen und proclamirt worden.|
|Imprint||Frankfurt : Philipps Fievet|
|Date of Publication||1649|
|Notes||This is one of two recorded German-language translations of the proclamation issued by the Estates of the Scottish Parliament in February 1649, proclaiming Charles II king. Charles's father had been executed in England, without Scottish approval, on 30 January that year and the Scottish Parliament had moved swiftly to recognise him as heir a few days later. The Scots' recognition of Charles II came with a price: they demanded from the new king satisfaction concerning religion, union, and the peace of Scotland, according to the covenants. The existence of two German translations of the proclamation can be seen as evidence of how events in England and Scotland at that time, and in particular the public execution of a reigning monarch, Charles I, were of great interest to people in continental Europe.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Imprint||Oxford: Henry Cripps,|
|Date of Publication||1634|
|Notes||This is an early English edition of the works of Scottish author John Barclay (1582-1621) which consists of five separate works: both parts of his satirical work "Euphormionis Lusinini Saytricon", the "Apologia" he wrote to defend the work, his "Icon Animorum", and the "Veritatis Lachrymae", an attack on the Jesuit order, which was actually written by the French author Claude-Barthélemy Morisot. The book has been bought for its provenance. As well as marginal readers' marks, it has annotations in a 17th-century hand on the front and back pastedowns and final leaf which show that the book was also used for the conveying of messages between Scotland and England. The back pastedown has a MS list of towns in South West Scotland and North West England (presumably stops on a drove road, the distances between each of the towns in miles appear to be written next to them) and an inscription on the final leaf informs a Robert Watson that a John Andrew will be arriving in Carlisle with a "8 or 9 pack[s]" but will not be arriving until Friday, so Watson is asked to keep any packs destined for Scotland until he arrives.|
|Title||On the origin of species by means of natural selection. [2nd edition]|
|Imprint||London: John Murray, |
|Date of Publication||1860|
|Notes||Darwin's "Origin of Species" is one of the most important, influential and controversial books to have been published in the English language. With the acquisition of this second edition NLS now has copies all six editions published by John Murray in Darwin's lifetime (1809-1882). The first edition sold out on the day of publication in November 1859, the second edition accordingly appeared in January the following year to meet public demand. Three thousand copies were printed. John Murray had asked Darwin to begin revising the text as soon as the first edition had appeared in print and the second edition can be recognised immediately by the date, by the words 'fifth thousand', and the correct spelling of 'Linnean' on the title page. There is also a minor change to the text with the 'whale-bear story' (where Darwin speculated on a possible evolutionary link between whales and bears, much to the later amusement of his opponents) edited down, and a misprint of the word 'species' has been corrected. |
|Reference Sources||The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)|
|Author||MacLeod, Fiona [William Sharp]|
|Title||Re-issue of the shorter stories of Fiona Macleod: rearranged, with additional tales.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Patrick Geddes & Colleagues,|
|Date of Publication||1897-1903|
|Notes||This is a three-volume set of William Sharp's short stories, written under the pseudonym 'Fiona MacLeod', in original wrappers. Volume 1 was published in Edinburgh ca. 1897 by the publishing company founded by Patrick Geddes and Sharp to publish literature in support of the Celtic revival taking place in the British Isles. Volumes 2 and 3 have the imprint: 'London: David Nutt, at the sign of the Phoenix, Long Acre, 1903', but have the same overall layout as volume 1.|
|Title||[Privillegiya, dannaya ober' bergmejsteru 7-10 klassa Karla Berdu na upotrablenie mashiny]|
|Imprint||St Petersburg: [s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||Charles Baird (1766-1843) was a prominent Scottish engineer and industrialist who started his career at the Carron Company, the leading ironworks in Scotland. He travelled to Russia in 1786 to help establish a gun factory there and then set up his own ironworks in the 1790s in St. Petersburg. Baird was one of a number of Scottish entrepreneurs working in Russia at the time and he became one of the most successful. The Baird Works supplied much of the metalwork for the capital city and specialised in the manufacture of steam-driven machinery. This papmphlet is a printed privilege ("privillegiya"), a public document which sets out the Baird Works' monopoly on using a steam-driven machine to sort, compress and pack bales of flax and hemp for transportation. Russia was one of the main producers and exporters of flax in the world (by the 20th century it was producing 90% of the world's total crop) so the machine potentially had an important role in the Russian economy, hence the need to patent it. It was one of several developed by Baird; by 1825 his ironworks was producing 130 steam engines of all kinds. The privilege also includes two folding plates illustrating the machine. Baird's company became a byword for efficiency in Russia, the local inhabitants at the time used the expression 'just like at Baird's factory' to denote when something was running smoothly. Baird was also famous for having built the first steamship in Russia in 1815 and for developing a new method of refining sugar. |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Author||Murray, Mungo, d. 1770.|
|Title||A treatise on ship-building and navigation. In three parts wherein the theory, practice, and application of all the necessary instruments are perspicuously handled. With the construction and use of a new invented shipwright's sector, for readily laying down and delineating ships, whether of similar or dissimilar forms. Also tables of the sun's declination, of meridional parts, of difference of latitude and departure, of logarithms, and of artificial sines, tangents and secants. By Mungo Murray. Shipwright, in His Majesty's Yard, Deptford. To which is added by way of appendix, an English abridgment of another treatise on naval architecture, lately published at Paris by M. Duhamel, Mem. of the R. Acad. of Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Surveyor General of the French Marine. The whole illustrated with eighteen Copper Plates.|
|Imprint||London: Printed by D. Henry and R. Cave, for the author; and sold by A. Millar, in the Strand; J. Scott, in Exchange-Alley; T. Jeffreys, at the Corner of St Martin's Lane, Charing-Cross; Mess. Greig and Campbell, at Union-Stairs, and by the author, at his house at Deptford., M,DCC,LIV. |
|Date of Publication||1754|
|Notes||Murray, Mungo (1705-1770) was born in Fowlis Wester, near Crieff, Perth. In 1738, after completing a customary seven-year apprenticeship at an unknown shipyard, he entered the naval dockyard at Deptford as a shipwright. In 1754 he published his first book: 'A Treatise on Shipbuilding and Navigation'. A second larger edition would appear in 1765. To the Victorian historian Nathan Dews, it was 'the only English treatise on ship-building that can lay any claim to a scientific character; and [Murray] was a man "whose conduct was irreproachable".'
On the title page Murray describes himself as 'Shipwright in His Majesty's yard, Deptford'. He makes clear his relatively modest position by acknowledging 'the great obligation I am under to the principle officers and gentlemen in His Majesty's service, not only in the yard where I have the happiness to be employed, but in several others'. Interestingly, he also used the book to advertise for extra income: 'The several branches of mathematicks treated of in this book are expeditiously taught by the author, at his house in Deptford; where may be had all sorts of sliding rules and scales: As also sectors for delineating ships, diagonal scales, &c. on brass, wood or paste-board. Attendance from six to eight every evening, except Wednesdays and Saturdays.'
Murray's fortunes improved after the publication of his first book with Lord Howe appointing him as a mathematics and navigation teacher on board his ships Magnanime and Princess Amelia. Among his pupils was Henry, Earl of Gainsborough to whom Murray dedicated his next book on navigation. Murray would go on to publish several more volumes before his death in 1770.
|Author||[Glasgow Cape Club]|
|Title||Be it known to all men that we Sir Ride the super eminent sovereign of the Capital Knighthood of the Cape... being well inform'd ... of Walter Buchanan Esq.r... create, admit & receive him a Knight Companion of this most social order ...|
|Date of Publication||1777|
|Notes||This is a membership certificate, printed on vellum, for the Glasgow branch of the Cape Club, or Knights Companions of the Cape. The Cape Club was a gentleman's club, formally constituted in Edinburgh in 1764, and which had the motto 'concordia fratrum decus'. The Glasgow branch, though less well-known than its Edinburgh equivalent, was active by 1771 and continued until well into the 19th century. Like other male social clubs of the period, the club's activies revolved around ceremonies which involved singing and copious drinking. Members of the Cape Club called themselves 'knights' - in this certificate the name of Walter Buchanan has been added in MS to the relevant space and he has chosen the title "Sir Hedge". Membership was drawn from a wide range of society from literati to local tradesmen. The "Glasgow Cape Hall", where they met, was in fact Mrs Scheid's tavern in the Trongate.|
|Reference Sources||J. Strang, Glasgow and its clubs, 3rd ed., Glasgow, 1864, p.463|