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 763 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 16 to 30 of 763:

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AuthorAnon.
TitleThe Highland rogue: or, the memorable actions of the celebrated Robert Mac-gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy.
ImprintLondon: J. Billingsley
Date of Publication1723
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the earliest printed account of the life of Rob Roy, Robert MacGregor (c. 1671-1734), Scottish outlaw and folk hero. Rob's fame extended well beyond his Stirlingshire homeland; hence the publication in 1723 of this account of his colourful exploits. His double life as a cattle trader who enriched himself through cattle raiding and running protection rackets; his feud with the Marquess of Montrose who, according to him, pursued him vindictively for debts he could not pay; his involvement with the Jacobite cause which made him a fugitive; all these ingredients made him the stuff of popular legend. In 1716 he was attainted for high treason for his role in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. In 1717 the British government passed the Indemnity Act, which effectively pardoned all those who had taken part in the Rising, but the Clan Gregor and Rob were specifically excluded from the benefits of the Act. Rob remained at large, an outlaw and rebel until 1725, well after this work was published. His situation changed when General George Wade was sent to Scotland by the British government with the authority to offer remaining rebels the chance to receive a pardon after writing letters of submission. Rob in his letter argued that he had never meant to be a rebel, even though the facts spoke otherwise. He spent the rest of his life living in the Balquhidder area, acting occasionally as a spy for General Wade but also still dabbling in cattle raiding and protection rackets. This anonymous work, supposedly based on "authentick Scotch MSS" (which are no longer extant), purports in the preface to tell "not a romantic tale & but a real history: not the adventures of a Robinson Crusoe, a Colonel Jack, or a Moll Flanders." The preface is signed "E.B." which has led to the work being ascribed to the Quaker author Elias Bockett (1695-1735), but this seems unlikely in view of the nature of other works by him on religious and political controversies. Lives of notorious criminals were very popular among the English reading public of the early 18th century, and a number of authors, including Daniel Defoe, were happy to churn out biographies to meet popular demand. Inevitably, given the subject matter of the work and the mention in the preface of Robinson Crusoe, Colonel Jack and Moll Flanders - all works written by Defoe in this period  'Highland rogue' has been widely attributed to Defoe. Sir Walter Scott stated that Defoe ought to have written it, without actually confirming that he was the author. However, it is not attributed to Defoe in Furbank and Owens's 1998 critical bibliography of his works, nor in Moore's checklist of Defoe's writings (2nd ed. 1971). The book and its title may in fact have been inspired by another anonymous work, first published in London back in 1706, 'The scotch rogue: or, the life and actions of Donald Macdonald a high-land Scot', a first-person account of the (mis)deeds of a "highland robber". 'Scotch rogue' was reprinted in two parts in 1722 and 1723, at the same time as 'Highland rogue', thus roguery and Scottish highlanders were firmly linked in the minds of the English reading public of 1723. Whoever the author of 'Highland rogue' was, his account of the life of Rob Roy is, contrary to the claims of the preface, "inconsistent, badly written and fanciful" (Stevenson, "Hunt for Rob Roy", 2004). The basic outline of Rob's life is, however, "essentially accurate" (Stevenson). The work's main importance, apart from being the first biography of Rob, is that it provides a blueprint for his character in later printed works, depicting him as a charming and audacious rogue rather than a bloodthirsty villain, a man capable of towering rages but one who abhors cruelty and violence. His legendary status is matched by his physical appearance; the author notes that he has a superhero-like stature, "he approaches even to a gigantic size", has a foot-long beard, and of course an abundance of red hair covering his body. Moreover, the author's depiction of Rob is consistent with the widely-held belief among the common people of Scotland that Rob Roy was indeed a Robin Hood figure, a humble man who had taken to robbery to right wrongs done to him by an arrogant aristocrat. They regarded him as a man "who did not steal indiscriminately, but took what was his by right from the great while sparing poor men" (Oxford DNB). The affection he inspired can be seen by the fact that he was not betrayed in all his years as an outlaw. A slightly enlarged version of the text of 'Highland rogue', with a re-written ending taking into account Rob's death, was published in 1743 under the title of 'The highland rogue: being a general history of the highlanders, wherein is given an account of their country and manner of living, exemplified in the life of Robert Mac-Gregor, commonly called Rob-Roy'. The 1743 edition makes explicit the connection between Rob and Robin Hood, noting that he had "lived in the manner of the ancient Robin Hood of England." As mentioned earlier, Sir Walter Scott was familiar with 'Highland rogue'; one of the five other UK copies of the 1723 edition recorded in ESTC is held in his library at Abbotsford. Incidentally, he also owned two editions of 'Scotch rogue'. Scott drew on this work when writing his own celebrated version of Rob Roy's life, published in 1817, which gave the Highland outlaw international fame and inspired plays, operas, biographies and an industry in Rob Roy memorabilia. The NLS copy of 'Highland rogue' is extra-illustrated with a woodcut of a highlander with a drawn sword and shield taken from the 1723 edition of 'Scotch rogue', which has been cut out and mounted on a blank leaf as a frontispiece. The work has also been bound together with a copy of John Campbell's 'A full and particular description of the Highlands of Scotland' (London, 1752); this particular copy also contains the frontispiece plate of a highlander sitting in his study which is not present in any of the other NLS copies of the work. The volume was formerly in the private collection of the late Peter Nelson (d. 2004) who worked at Lyon and Turnbull auction house in Edinburgh. The volume also contains the loose bookplate of Robert Hay-Drummond, the 10th Earl of Kinnoull (1751 1804), which may have at one point been stuck on to the front pastedown.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2905(2)
Reference SourcesDavid Stevenson, 'The hunt for Rob Roy', (Edinburgh, 2004); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on04/07/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe noble pedlar! Or the late chance-sellor & present broom seller!!
ImprintLondon: J. Sidebotham
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a hand-coloured broadside satirising the Scottish politician Thomas Erskine, first baron Erskine (1750-1823). Starting off in the army, Erskine later became a successful barrister in England, moving into politics in the 1780s. As a supporter of the Whigs he championed the causes of parliamentary reform, the freedom of the press, and opposition to the growing reaction caused by fear of revolutionary France. In 1806 he finally achieved high political office, becoming lord chancellor, but resigned the following year. His latter years were marked by financial problems. He lost much of his fortune in failed American investments, and was forced to sell the bulk of his property in London. Having bought an estate, Holmbush, near Crawley in Sussex, he tried his hand at farming. The land, however, was infertile, and he suffered further financial losses when he tried to make money by growing and selling heath brooms. To add insult to injury, one of the men he employed to sell his brooms in London was taken to court in 1816 for selling the brooms without a hawker's license. Erskine was fined 10 and when, on entering the court, he was told by the magistrates of his conviction, he showed that he had lost none of his renowned wit by commenting "if you do, it must be under a sweeping clause." The broadside shows Erskine walking beside a cart selling brooms, crying "O the broom, the bonny, bonny broom! who'll buy my charming brooms". The verses at the foot, titled "The bonny brooms", are accordingly to be sung to the well-known Scottish ballad 'The broom o' the Cowdenknowes'.
ShelfmarkAP.7.214.17
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleThe history of Netterville, a chance pedestrian.
ImprintLondon: J. Cundee
Date of Publication1802
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare copy of a sentimental novel set in the 1770s which relates the misadventures of the young hero Lewisham Netterville. Netterville's attempts to follow his late father's precepts and lead a virtuous life while at the same time pursuing the object of his affection, the beautiful Clara Walsingham, take him on a tour of Great Britain, from Bath to Bamborough (Bamburgh) Castle, in Northumberland, and so on to Scotland, where he visits the fictitious Clanrick Hall, Edinburgh, the hill of Moncreiff, Perth, and the islands of Mull, Staffa and Iona. The anonymous female author also includes a Scottish ballad of the her own composition, 'Ellen of Irvine; or, the Maid of Kirkonnel[sic], a ballad' (vol. II, pp. 57-65). The tragic tale of Ellen Irvine had appeared in Pennant's 'A tour in Scotland', (London 1774), and both Burns and Walter Scott wrote versions of the story. In the dedication (signed "the authoress"), the author apologises for her "untutored muse", claiming that the poetry was written at a different period. She describes this novel as "a second attempt in the region of fiction" and hopes that, given that it contains nothing immoral or irreligious, it may not fail to amuse a "candid and generous few, who condescend sometimes to stray awhile, amid the bowers of Fancy". The novel met with some praise from contemporary critics: "There is some novelty in the conduct of this novel and the characters and incidents are ingeniously varied. The plot is, perhaps, a little perplexed, but the interest, amid all the episodical interruptions which it meets with, suffers but little abatement" (The Monthly Mirror, XIII, London 1802, p. 251).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2903-2904
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/06/14
AuthorAnderson, Grace Scott & John
TitleJapan from India: letters & notes of the journey of two travellers, chiefly by one of them.
Imprint[Calcutta?: privately printed]
Date of Publication[1884]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, privately-printed account of a journey to Japan in 1884, made by the eminent Scottish zoologist, Dr John Anderson (1833-1900) and his wife, Grace (1834-1917). Anderson was at the time based in Calcutta, where he had lived for 20 years and was working as Superintendent of the Indian Museum and professor of comparative anatomy at the medical school. He had devoted his career to studying the zoology and ethnology of the Far East, having already gone on three arduous, and at times dangerous, scientific expeditions to China and Burma during his time in India. The trip to Japan was a more leisurely affair. The anonymous account printed here is a mixture of a travel journal, written by Grace Anderson, who addresses her chapters to a relative or friend called Isabella, with two additional, more scholarly, chapters written by Anderson (referred to in the text as "J.A."). The Andersons' journey started from Calcutta on March 15 with the first destination being the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they met the governor (and fellow Scot), Col. Thomas Cadell. During their stay they visited the penal colony at Port Blair. After a stay in Rangoon, Burma, they moved on to Penang in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canton (Guangzhou), Grace making frequent comparisons with the landscape she saw in the course of her travels and that of her native Scotland. In May they arrived in Japan, which was the Anderson's main destination. The majority of the book is accordingly devoted to their travels in the Japanese islands with descriptions of the scenery, wildlife, local customs, religion and food. The final chapter in the book is written by John Anderson and concerns their visit to the island of Yezo (Hokkaido) from August to October. He cites a number of other contemporary authors who had written on Japan, including Isabella Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks in Japan' (first published in 1880). Clearly inspired by Bird's travels among the indigenous Ainu people, much of this chapter is taken up with a description of the Ainu. Anderson adopts a relatively neutral tone throughout his account, but, as already described by Isabella Bird, Anderson shows that the Ainu were suffering under the direct Japanese control of the island imposed after 1869. He describes a people living in squalor, unable to practise some of their local customs, and blighted by their addiction to alcohol. Anderson was able to get a letter of introduction from an English Anglican missionary, the Rev. John Batchelor, to meet an Ainu chief Peuri who figured prominently in Bird's 'Unbeaten tracks'. Peuri would appear to have been the "Benri" described by Bird as a "superb but dissipated-looking savage". Not long after his return to Calcutta in 1886, Anderson resigned from his posts and returned to Britain, where he settled in London. He devoted the rest of his life to studying the fauna of North Africa, although for the rest of his life he was in poor health. He and his wife are buried in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. In his obituary in the 'Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal' (1902) it is stated that he travelled with his wife to Japan after his retirement from his jobs in Calcutta, the existence of this account shows that in fact he made the journey before his retirement.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.28
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on06/06/14
AuthorWilliam Brodie, Aeneas Morison
TitleThe trial of William Brodie wright and cabinet maker in Edinburgh
ImprintEdinburgh: Charles Elliot
Date of Publication1788
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first issue, in original wrappers, of Elliot's publication of Aeneas Morison's account of the trial, published on 6 September 1788, which does not have the appendix (pp. [261]-279 of subsequent issues) and the frontispiece portrait of Brodie. As indicated in William Roughead's 'Trial of William Brodie' (Glasgow, 1906 - p. 233), in the introductory paragraph to the appendix it states that the inclusion of the extra material, relating to but not actually covered in the trial itself, was the result of a misunderstanding with William Creech. Creech had included this material in his published account of the trial and Aeneas Morison felt that readers of his version of the trial should not be disadvantaged: he is of the opinion, that he intitled to put the purchasers of his account of the trial on a footing with those who have purchased Mr Creeche's [sic], by furnishing them gratis with the following Appendix (p. [261]).
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.146
Reference SourcesW. Roughead, 'The trial of William Brodie', Glasgow, 1906.
Acquired on30/05/14
AuthorWilliam Blacker
TitleW. Blacker's art of angling, and complete system of fly making and dying [sic] of colours
Imprint[London: W. Blacker]
Date of Publication1842
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis the first edition first issue of William Blacker's famous book on angling, printed in Edinburgh by Anderson and Bryce, with 38 pages. The author (1814-1857) was born in Wicklow in Ireland. He moved to London in the 1840s where he became a prominent fishing tackle dealer in Dean Street, Soho. Being an accomplished angler himself, his revolutionary methods made this book a key work in the history of fly fishing. A 48-page edition with 6 leaves of plates was also printed in London in the same year, followed by an expanded edition of 130 pages in 1843. The book was deliberately printed in a small pocket-size format so that it could be carried by anglers to the river bank. Surviving copies of the early editions are rarely identical, this particular copy for instance only has 2 plates. Blacker went on to publish in 1855 an expanded edition of the work, with the title 'Blacker's art of flymaking'.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2898
Acquired on23/05/14
AuthorDiego de Torres Bollo
TitleDe rebus Peruanis, R di P. Dieghi de Torres, Societatis Iesu Presbyteri commentaries a Ioanne Hayo.
ImprintAntwerp: Martin Nutius
Date of Publication1604
LanguageLatin
NotesThis work is an account of Jesuit Father Diego de Torres Bollo's missionary activities in Peru. After joining the Jesuit order Torres Bollo (1550-1638) had hoped to be chosen for the China missions; instead, his superior general sent him to the fledgling mission of Peru in South America. There he eventually became the Provincial of Peru and sent out missionaries throughout the continent. Torres Bollo was also instrumental in the development of the famous 'reductiones' of Paraguay, small utopian-like communes created by the Jesuit fathers for the native peoples, but which were eventually destroyed by the Spanish colonists. The work also includes interesting details and anecdotes of the continent, such as when the volcanoes spewed out such a great quantity of ash the peoples had to walk through the cities with a lantern at noon. According to Sabin's bibliography of books relating to America it is probable that Torres Bollo wrote his account in Spanish; but the earliest recorded printed editions are in Italian, published in Milan, Venice and Rome in 1603. Subsequent Latin and German versions state that they are translations from the Italian. This Latin translation is one of several editions to be published a year following the first Italian edition and is distinguished from the Mainz Latin translation published the same year in that it is the work of John Hay (1547-1607), a Scottish Jesuit and exile living on the Continent. Hay had entered the Society of Jesus in 1566 and became noted for his polemical treatises written whilst living in France. In his later years he was based in the Low Countries where he translated Jesuit mission reports, such as these, into Latin.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2900
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford DNB (John Hay); Sabin (96257)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorSeymour, Mina S.
TitlePen pictures: transmitted clairaudiently and telepathically by Robert Burns
ImprintLily Dale, N.Y. : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1900
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a privately-printed oddity relating to Robert Burns. It is a volume of over 150 poems in English and Scots allegedly by Burns, as received by an American medium, Mina Seymour, at the end of nineteenth century. It was published in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community in south-western New York State. Carol McGuirk, writing on Burns in America in the nineteenth century comments on the frequency with which nineteenth-century Americans imagined, wished, or even roundly asserted that Robert Burns was not dead. "As with Elvis Presley sightings in our time, this is most likely a sign that mere celebrity has been transcended and cult status achieved. The cult of Burns included prominent Scottish-Americans such as Andrew Carnegie but also marginal persons as Mina S. Seymour, a psychic who in 1900 published a book said to be 'transmitted' or channelled directly from the mind of Burns" (McGuirk, 'Haunted by authority', 1997). McGuirk describes the book as "Seymour's deranged little volume", and the quality of the poems in it is truly awful. In the opening poem, dedicated to the Psychical Research Society, the voice of Burns reveals that "I've beat auld Death, I write as weel, As mony in Earth life." The book is illustrated with portraits with various members of the American spiritualist community, many of whom were apparently recipients of poems by Burns.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.31
Reference SourcesCarol McGuirk, "Haunted by authority: nineteenth-century American constructions of Robert Burns and Scotland", in 'Robert Burns and Cultural Authority' edited by Robert Crawford (Edinburgh, 1997), pp. 136-158.
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorSir William Hamilton
TitleAccount of the discoveries at Pompeii, communicated to the Society of Antiquaries of London by the Hon. Sir William Hamilton.
ImprintLondon : W. Bowyer and J. Nichols,
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare work by Sir William Hamilton (1730/31-1803), diplomatist and art collector, who was appointed to the post of envoy-extraordinary to the Spanish court of King of Naples in 1764. Hamilton had already began to collect art and antiquities, mainly pictures, bronzes, and terracottas, before he left London for Naples. His arrival in Naples increased his interest in the ancient world and his passion for collecting ancient Greek and Roman artefacts, many of which had been unearthed in recent years at various sites in Italy. Excavation of the site of Pompeii began in 1748. During the first phase, the excavation was carried out essentially in order to find art objects, many of which ended up in the private collection of the Bourbon king Charles III of Naples. Hamilton was ideally placed to visit the site and write reports which were read at meetings of the Society of Antiquaries in London in 1775. This book gives the text of his reports and is illustrated with 13 handsome engraved plates. The book was the first in a long line of works, dedicated to the lost city of Pompeii, which were published in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.145
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorAnon
TitleEpistle to the deil by Holy Willie of Prussia. Second edition.
ImprintGlasgow: J. Biggar & Co.
Date of Publication[1871]
LanguageScots
NotesAnonymous satirical poem in Scots supposedly by "Holy Willie of Prussia" (German Emperor Wilhelm I)addressed to the devil "dear Nickie-ben". It refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, which led to the defeat of France and the proclamation of King Wilhelm of Prussia as the first German emperor. The poem is written in the style of Robert Burns, and is followed by a full-page appendix "concerning Were-wolves", and a five-page glossary of Scotticisms. The author is clearly anti-Prussian as one verse runs: "Now just confess: through France I've trod O'er men, wives, weans, knee-deep, in blood; On right and justice trampl'd rough-shod, Until they're dead; And when I've blamed a' this on God, Are you no paid?" The author also gets a dig in at Thomas Carlyle, "the psalmist dour of Prussia's course", who was an admirer of German culture and who had written a history of Frederick the Great of Prussia. A contemporary manuscript note at end of poem (p.26) records one reader's dislike of the poem: "one of those thousand jingling dilettante whose jingle dies with the moment of its birth - ". No copy of this edition is recorded on COPAC, and the only other copies traced are published in London.
ShelfmarkAP.1.214.35
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorBible
TitleLa Bible qui est toute la saincte escriture du Vieil & du Nouveau Testament
ImprintLa Rochelle: Imprimerie de H. Haultin par Corneille Hertman
Date of Publication1616
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a rare, finely printed and illustrated French Protestant bible from La Rochelle with an interesting early Scottish provenance. The bible, printed in small Roman type, imitates the great Estienne folio Bibles of the previous century. All Protestant printing of this period in France is rare as it was expressly forbidden by the edict of Nantes except in those provincial towns where Protestantism was allowed. After the siege of La Rochelle in 1627-28 during the Protestant revolt Protestant bibles were preserved in France clandestinely. This bible is bound in a contemporary red morocco which may be in a French binding style but the somewhat cruder material and execution may point to it being Scottish. The marks of provenance indicate that it belonged to the Wemyss family in Scotland and in particular to one or two women in the family. There are three inscriptions in two 17th-century hands: "Jean Wemyss" on front free end-paper, "Janna Wemyss" in the same hand on the following leaf, "Forfar" on verso of title page in different hand. "L I W" is blind-stamped at centre of front and back boards of the binding. The Jean/Janna Wemyss inscribed on the free endpapers is either Jean Gray (d. 1640), the wife of John Wemyss, 1st Earl of Wemyss (1586-1649), or her granddaughter, Lady Jean Wemyss (d. 1715), eldest daughter of David Wemyss, second earl of Wemyss. Lady Jean Wemyss' eldest son was Archibald Douglas, who became 1st Earl of Forfar in 1661, which could explain the "Forfar" inscription on the verso of the title page.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2899
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorJohn Muir (ed.)
TitlePicturesque California and the region west of the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to Mexico.
ImprintSan Francisco & New York: J. Dewing Company
Date of Publication1888
LanguageEnglish
Notes2014 marks the centenary of the death of Scottish-born naturalist and conservationist John Muir (1838-1914), who is regarded as the founder of national parks in the USA. He edited this great work of pictorial Western Americana. Among the famed artists who contributed to the work are Frederick Cozzens, Thomas Hill, Thomas Moran and Frederick Remington. Their work is reproduced here in engravings, etchings and photogravures, which fill 120 full-page plates (with printed tissue descriptions). The 35 separate articles are written by a variety of authors, with Muir contributing seven articles, three of them on the High Sierras and his beloved Yosemite Valley (two of them were written especially for this work, the others were edited from earlier publications). This edition includes his article on Alaska which is not included in later abridged editions. Publication was issued by subscription, and no subscription was accepted "for less than the entire work." The work was issued in a bewildering number of different formats and editions, initially between 1887 and 1890, the latest edition with this title being 1894. Muir wrote in a letter of 1889 that he had finished his contributions by shutting himself up in a room in the Old Grand hotel San Francisco for two weeks.
ShelfmarkAB.10.214.07-09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford DNB; W.F. Kimes & M.B. Kimes 'John Muir: a reading bibliography' (Palo Alto, 1977) (no. 175); L.G. Currey & D.G. Kruska "Bibliography of Yosemite, the Central and the Southern High Sierra" (Palo Alto, 1992) (no. 257)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorRobert Louis Stevenson
Title[A collection of 5 items printed by Lloyd Osbourne in Davos-Platz Switzerland]
ImprintDavos-Platz: S.L. Osbourne & Co
Date of Publication1882
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of five small items printed by Robert Louis Stevenson's stepson, (Samuel) Lloyd Osbourne (1868-1947). They were produced on a little printing press which he took with him to Davos, Switzerland, when he, Stevenson, and his mother Fanny spent the winters of 1880-81 and 1881-82 there. Surviving copies of items printed on Lloyd Osbourne's press are very rare and much sought after by collectors. The items acquired are: the two collections of poems by Stevenson, both titled 'Moral emblems' with woodcut illustrations by Stevenson, two single leaf advertisements for the above works, and 'To M. I. Stevenson' a [4]-page pamphlet which has a woodcut and a single line quotation attributed to Stevenson's father, Thomas. The Scottish author had become part of Lloyd's life when he had met Lloyd's mother, the American Frances (Fanny) Van de Grift Osbourne, in the summer of 1876 at an artists' colony in Grez, France. Fanny had given up on her unhappy marriage to Samuel Osbourne and moved to France with Lloyd and his sister, Isobel (Belle). Stevenson fell in love with her and the relationship continued despite the disapproval of Stevenson's parents. Fanny moved back to California in 1878 but they were reunited the following year in the USA, and in May 1880, Fanny having obtained a divorce, they were married. At some point in 1880, before his 12th birthday in April, Lloyd was given a little portable printing press. Family tradition has attributed the gift to Stevenson, although at the time the struggling author was almost penniless, whereas Lloyd's wealthy father could easily have afforded it. Some of Lloyd's earliest blurry efforts on the press from early 1880 have survived and are now held in the Beinecke Library. They show that the boy's enthusiasm was not initially matched by his skill in using the press. In August 1880, Stevenson, Fanny and Lloyd moved to Scotland (Fanny's daughter Belle married in 1879 and remained in the USA). Stevenson was now reconciled with his parents, who would support him financially. In November of that year the family was on the move again, this time on medical advice, to spend the winter in the health resort of Davos-Platz in the Swiss Alps. Stevenson was suffering from chronic lung problems which would plague him for the rest of his life, and the clean dry air of the Alps was thought to be better for him than a damp Scottish winter. For a 12 year-old boy, Davos was hardly an enticing location; he would describe it as a "small straggling town where nearly all the shops were kept by consumptives." Lloyd had brought his printing press along to while away the hours and was soon carrying out small pieces of jobbing printing such as lottery tickets, admission tickets and concert programmes, and three issues of a newspaper, 'The Davos News'. Back in Scotland in the summer of 1881, he visited the Edinburgh printers R. & R. Clark, who printed some of Stevenson's early works, and saw how the professionals did it. The following winter the family was back in Davos, and once again the printing press was put to good use. This time Stevenson himself became more involved in the activities of Lloyd's printing 'firm', not only supplying text to print but also carving woodblocks with a penknife to make woodcuts to illustrate the pamphlets. Lloyd regarded his press very much as a commercial venture, giving it the names: Osbourne and Company, S.L. Osbourne and Company, and Samuel Lloyd Osbourne and Company. He was now sufficiently confident of his skill to advertise his services as follows, "printing of all kinds done neatly and well". In this second Davos winter Lloyd printed his own mini-novel 'The Black Canyon', and finished off the printing, begun in the previous winter, of a collection of poems by Stevenson, 'Not I, and other poems'. The pamphlet 'To M. I. Stevenson' was printed for his step-family's amusement, and was not for sale. M. I. Stevenson was Stevenson's mother, Margaret Isabella, and Lloyd printed it for her 53rd birthday on February 11, 1882. Stevenson supplied a woodcut of a woman in a dress delighting in the discovery of a flower in the countryside. On the adjacent page is the caption: "THE MARGUERITE. Lawks! What a beautiful flower!! T.S", supposedly a quote from Stevenson's father, Thomas, and, according to his son, the only piece of poetry his father ever composed. This particular copy is housed a morocco case with silk folding inner liner made by the Scroll Club of New York. Lloyds next project in March 1882 was another collection of five short nonsense poems by his stepfather, 'Moral Emblems', modelled on pocket-size emblem books, which were popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. Stevenson supplied four basic woodcuts to accompany the poems; the fifth, depicting an elephant, was done by Fanny. Ninety copies were printed and sold in Davos, and also sent to friends and family. Stevenson sent a copy of the booklet to his friend the Scottish author Alexander Japp, describing, with tongue firmly in cheek, the illustrations as "replete with the highest qualities of art". The success of 'Moral Emblems' was such that Stevenson was willing to write a second instalment, 'Moral Emblems: a second collection of cuts and verses', even though he was at the time hard at work finishing off the novels 'The Silverado Squatters' and 'Treasure Island'. The format was the same as the first collection, five poems and five woodcut illustrations, this time all done by Stevenson. Fanny had gone to the trouble of acquiring for him some pear-wood blocks, which were easier to carve, and proper engraving tools, so the illustrations were of a finer quality. Stevenson wrote in a letter to his mother, dated 20 March 1882, "I dote on wood engraving." Another print run of ninety copies was produced just over a month after the first collection, and was equally successful. The items purchased for NLS include copies of both collections of 'Moral Emblems', the second collection being a presentation copy from Stevenson, inscribed in ink on the front cover "S.E.P. from R.L.S.". The identity of "S.E.P." is unknown; there is no one among Stevenson's close friends and regular correspondents with these initials, it may have been one of his fellow residents at Davos-Platz. Along with the copy of the second collection of 'Moral Emblems' there is a letter from Stevenson's friend, the writer Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), dated 17 November 1896, nearly two years after Stevenson's death. Written on Board of Trade paper, where Gosse worked as a translator, he informs his correspondent "Foote", the American banker and book collector Charles B. Foote (1837-1900), that he has managed to acquire for Foote this copy, with Stevenson's signature on it, from the original owner. Gosse remarks that the owner would not part with it for less than 5, which was the sum Foote had commissioned him to pay for it. Gosse was well acquainted with 'Moral Emblems'; back in March 1882 Stevenson had sent him an advertisement leaf for the first collection, noting that this was an "advertisement of my new appearance as a poet (bard, rather) and hartis [artist?] on wood." Stevenson could only send Gosse the advertisement, not the book as he declared, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, "I would send you the book; but I declare I'm ruined. I got a penny a cut and a halfpenny a set of verses from the flint-hearted publisher, and only one specimen copy, as I'm a sinner." Gosse would later remark that the pamphlets had a curious charm even if he was less convinced of Stevenson's abilities as a poet, "these volumes were decidedly occult. A man might build upon them a reputation as a sage but hardly as a poet." Gosse and his wife did, however, receive copies of 'The Black Canyon' and 'Not I and other poems'. The advertisement leaves for both collections of 'Moral Emblems' are among the items acquired here; the leaf for the first collection contains Stevenson's woodcut to accompany his poem 'The hero and the eagle', and promises an edition deluxe priced 9 pence, the illustrations marking "a new departure in the business of Osbourne & Co." The advertisement leaf for the second collection shows Lloyd developing his entrepreneurial skills to offer a deluxe edition for 10 pence, and a "popular edition for the million" with the "cuts slightly worn", for the bargain price of 8 pence. In a letter of April 1882 Stevenson mentioned his stepson's printing activities (calling him by his first name), "Sam I believe is to be a printer". However, Lloyd's printing activities were in fact over for good. That same month the family moved back to Britain, where Lloyd was sent to a private tutor to make up for the lack of education he had received in Switzerland. He was reunited later in the summer with his family and his printing press in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands, but his attempts to begin printing again were scuppered as the press was broken, possibly damaged in transit from Switzerland to Scotland, and could not be repaired. The next publication of Samuel Osbourne & Co., 'The Graver and the Pen', another collection of Stevenson poems with woodcut illustrations, had to be printed on a shop owner's press in Kingussie. A further collection of poems was planned to be printed in Edinburgh later that year, 'Robin and Ben: or, The pirate and the apothecary'. Stevenson wrote the text and carved three wood blocks for it, but it was never published in his lifetime. The family moved to the south of France in the winter of 1882, as Stevenson could not bear the thought of another stay in Switzerland, and Lloyd was sent off to school where he developed new interests. These surviving publications of his press are a fascinating reminder of an important chapter in his and Stevenson's life, where they collaborated to produce works which may have lacked literary and typographical polish, but more than made up for it in homespun charm. Lloyd's printing press is now on display in the Writers' Museum in Edinburgh.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2894 ; RB.s.2895 ; RB.s.2896 ; RB.s.2897(1) ; RB.s.2897(2)
Reference SourcesJ.D. Hart, 'The private press ventures of Samuel Lloyd Osbourne and R.L.S.' (San Francisco, 1966); Oxford DNB; B.A. Booth and E. Mehew (eds)'The letters of Robert Louis Stevenson' (New Haven, 1995-1996)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorTheatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
TitleFor the benefit of Madame Frederick, on Friday evening, December 26, 1800, will be performed the favorite comedy of The wonder! ... to which will be added a grand historical romance ... taken from Ossian's poems) called Oscar & Malvina or The Hall of Fingal.
Imprint[Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Theatre Royal]
Date of Publication1800
LanguageEnglish
NotesTheatre poster advertising performances at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in December 1800. Among the pieces being performed was the popular ballet-pantomime 'Oscar and Malvina', based on the poems of Ossian. The work was first performed in Covent Garden 1791. The house composer William Shield had resigned that year leaving the score for pantomime unfinished. William Reeve (1757-1815)completed the piece, and its success secured his place as the composer of many of the Covent Garden operas and pantomimes. The performances in Newcastle were for the benefit of Madame Frederick, a popular dancer on the Edinburgh stage, best known for her performances of the Scottish Strathspey at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh.
ShelfmarkAP.el.214.03
Reference SourcesF. Burwick, 'Romantic drama: acting and reacting' (Cambridge, 2009)
Acquired on16/05/14
AuthorBlair, James Law
Title[Photographs taken by James Law Blair in and around Bandawe when employed by the African Lakes Company circa 1900.]
Date of Publication1900?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe volume contains 132 black and white photographs. Bandawe settlement was funded from Glasgow on a commercial/evangelical basis. It was then called Nyasaland but is now Malawi. The African Lakes Corporation was a British company originally set-up in 1877 by Scottish businessmen to co-operate with missions in what is now Malawi. Despite its original connections with the Free Church of Scotland, it operated its businesses in Africa on a commercial rather than a philanthropic basis, and it had political ambitions in the 1880s to control part of Central Africa. Its businesses in the colonial era included water transport on the lakes and rivers of Central Africa, wholesale and retail trading including the operation of general stores, labour recruitment and landowning.
ShelfmarkPhot.med.125
Acquired on09/05/14
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