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 750 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

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

      

Important Acquisitions 16 to 30 of 750:

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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), on a little printing press which he took with him to Davos-Platz, 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 and Fanny's move back to California in 1878. 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 and Fanny moved to Scotland, the former having been reconciled with his parents, who would now 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 it was thought that the clean dry air of the Alps would be better for him than a damp Scottish winter. For a 12 year-old boy Davos-Platz 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-Platz again, and once again the printing press was put to good use. This time Stevenson himself become 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 following 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 and 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 poems by his stepfather, 'Moral Emblems', with Stevenson also supplying four basic woodcuts to accompany the poems; the fifth, depicting an elephant, was done by his mother. Ninety copies were printed and sold in Davos-Platz, and also sent to friends and family. 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 of 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 over for good. That same month the family moved back to Britain, where Lloyd was sent to a private tutor. He was reunited later in the summer with his family and his printing press in Kingussie in the 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 shopowner'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.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
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
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
TitleThe Edinburgh Review, or Critical Journal
ImprintEdinburgh: Archibald Constable
Date of Publication1814-1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a collection of c. 130 issues of 'The Edinburgh Review', covering the years 1814 to 1860. The volumes are in their original state with blue paper wrappers, along with inserts of publishers' advertisements for the later issues. The latter are often missing from bound sets in Library copies, such as NLS's existing set, as they were usually removed prior to binding. These particular volumes were part of the collections found the Northumbrian mansion The Hermitage, described in the press as the house "that time forgot". The contents of the house on the outskirts of Hexham were sold at auction in 2013 after the death of last surviving member of the Morant family, who had rented the house since the 1920s. The Morants had thrown very little away in the 90 years they had occupied the house and looked after the existing contents with great care, with the result that the house was full of antiques, memorabilia and ephemera. 'The Edinburgh Review' was published from 1803 to 1929 (the first issue for October 1802 actually appearing in 1803) and quickly established itself as one of the leading and most influential English-language periodicals of the 19th century. The publishers' aim was to select only a few outstanding books in all fields of interest and to examine them with more care than had been customary in previous reviewing. 'The Edinburgh Review' was above all an instrument of political enlightenment and social reform, adopting a pro-Whig stance in contrast to the pro-Tory 'Quarterly Review' and later 'Blackwood's Magazine'. To have a substantial run of this important periodical with the volumes in their original state is a great addition to the Library's collections.
ShelfmarkAB.3.214.09-141
Reference SourcesWaterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800 - 1900
Acquired on04/04/14
AuthorAnon
TitleThe song of Solomon
ImprintLondon: Guild of Women Binders
Date of Publication1897
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book is bound in a modelled goatskin medieval-style binding popularised by Scottish women binders of the late 19th century. The technique was developed by Annie MacDonald (d. 1924) who along with a few other women in Edinburgh had begun binding books in the 1890s. Walter Biggar Blaikie (whose collection of Jacobite-related books and manuscripts is now in NLS) of the publishers A. & J. Constable let them use his workshops after hours. From 1895 two of Constable's workmen, a finisher and a forwarder, taught the group of women in premises owned by Edinburgh Social Union. MacDonald tried various types of leather for modelled bindings but found that natural goatskin, before any curing processes, could be moulded as she wanted. The modelling was done after the book itself was covered in the goatskin. It involved neither cutting nor raising the leather to relief. The design was traced onto the dampened leather and worked with one small tool called a 'Dresden', which was used to carefully press the background and mould the relief design. Using glue rather than paste to cover the books, the leather was a pale ivory when completed which developed into a richer brown once aged. The work of MacDonald and the other Edinburgh-based women inspired London bookseller Frank Karslake to found of the Guild of Women Binders in 1898 as an outlet for the sale of work by women binders who lived outside London, including the Edinburgh women. Karslake advertised a series of books specially printed for the Guild on Japanese vellum and bound by Guild members, including 'The Song of Solomon', which was one of 100 numbered copies (this particular copy being number 31). A pencil note on the front free endpaper, "worker Mrs MacDonald", would seem to indicate that it was done by Annie MacDonald herself. However, the 1900 Sotheby's catalogue of bindings done by the Guild of Women binders reveals that there were at least two separate "embossed mediaeval morocco" bindings of the Japanese vellum printing of the 'Song of Solomon'. One was done by Annie MacDonald, "the design adapted from the cover-design", and one by a "Miss Pagan", "the designs adapted from the illustrations". An Annie MacDonald binding for the 'Song of the Solomon' which is now held in Duke University Library, is reproduced in Marianne Tidcombe's "Women bookbinders 1880-1920" p. 98. The Duke University binding is a likely match for the one described in the Sotheby's catalogue as having done by Annie MacDonald, given that it resembles the cover of the regular 1897 edition of the 'Song of Solomon' published by Chapman and Hall. It is possible that she did more than one binding of this particular edition; but the design for this particular binding is adapted from the illustrations within the book, not the cover of the regular edition, and would seem to correspond to Miss Pagan's binding. The design on the front board is based on the art-nouveau style illustrations in the book by Herbert Granville Fell (1872-1951), along with a quote from the Song of Solomon as a decorative border : "Many waters cannot quench love neither can the floods drown it. Love is strong as death". The back board contains the ownership initials "H.F.C. 1898". "Miss Pagan" may be Jean Pagin, who was one of the women binders associated with Edinburgh Social Union, the main amateur arts and crafts organisation in the city (Tidcombe also mentions in an appendix to her book the existence of a binder called Jeannie E. Pagan but this may be same person as Jean Pagin). The turn-in on the front board simply records in gilt lettering that this binding is by the Guild of Women Binders. What is notable is that this copy has normal paper endpapers, where in other modelled bindings silk endpapers were used because the goatskin tended to stain both paper and vellum - as has happened in this copy. Inserted in this copy is a printed advertisement slip for the Guild of Women Binders describing this style of binding as a "revival of the mediaeval monastic binding".
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesM. Tidcombe, 'Women bookbinders 1880-1920', London, 1996.
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorAnon.
TitleA famous Fife trial: the Kirkcaldy duel case.
ImprintCork: Purcell and Company
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 16-page pamphlet records the basic details of one of the most famous murder trials in Scotland in the 19th century. David Landale, a linen merchant from Kirkcaldy in Fife, was tried for the murder of George Morgan in a duel which took place on 23 August, 1826. It was the last recorded fatal duel that took place in Scotland. The shooting of Morgan by Landale was the culmination of a dispute between the two men that had started the previous year. Landale's business was suffering major cash flow problems when his banker Morgan had suddenly and unexpectedly refused to help him pay his creditors. Morgan was a vindictive and irascible man, who took exception to Landale's subsequent decision to take his business elsewhere. He began to spread rumours in the town about the merchant's lack of creditworthiness. In June 1826 Landale complained bitterly in a letter to the Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh about Morgans conduct. The Bank took Landale's allegations seriously and admonished Morgan and his brother (and fellow-banker), David, for discussing bank matters and Landale's financial affairs in public, but chose not to punish them. George Morgan took this reprieve from the Bank as a green light to pursue his own personal grudge with the merchant. He was incensed that Landale had gone behind his back and had written to the Bank of Scotland directly; he demanded an immediate written apology for the allegations in the letter. Landale refused to apologise but did not rise to the bait of challenging Morgan to a duel, Morgan being reluctant to issue a challenge himself. There followed a tense stand-off between the two men, neither of them willing to back down and apologise, which was finally broken on the morning of 22 August when Morgan spotted Landale in Kirkcaldy's High Street and hit him across the shoulders with his umbrella while shouting "Take you that, sir!" Landale sought refuge in a shop only to be pursued in there by Morgan crying, "By God, sir, you shall have more of this yet!" Landale fled, briefly pursued by Morgan, only to return to the scene of the attack to find Morgan had also gone back there; his reaction was to call Morgan "a poor, silly coward". After being assaulted in public Landale now had no alternative but to write to Morgan and to demand "the satisfaction which as a gentleman I am entitled to". He challenged Morgan to a duel at seven o'clock the following morning with pistols, even though he later claimed that he had never fired a gun in his life and did not own any pistols; moreover, Morgan was a former army officer who was used to handling firearms. Despite one final attempt by Morgan's second, on the night of the 22nd, to resolve the dispute, the duel proceeded as planned on 23 August in a field just outside Kirkcaldy. Morgan fired and missed but Landale, having purchased a pair of pistols in Edinburgh the previous day, mortally wounded his adversary. Landale escaped to Cumbria to avoid arrest but returned to Scotland the following month to face trial for murder, confident he would be cleared. The trial took place in Perth on September 22 in a packed and boisterous courthouse. Landale was represented by two of the leading advocates of the day: Henry Cockburn (a record of the trial, kept his clerk, is now in the NLS's manuscript collections: Adv.MS.9.1.2) and Francis Jeffrey, best known today as a literary critic. Cockburn and Jeffrey argued convincingly that Landale had not acted out of malice, had been reluctant to challenge Morgan, and had been subject to sustained and intolerable provocation by Morgan. After a five-hour trial, the jury only need two minutes to acquit Landale. The judge dismissed him from the court room, commenting on his honourable and unsullied character. He returned to Kirkcaldy to carry on running his business, later becoming provost of Kirkcaldy. In an incredible twist of fate, one of his daughters, Ellen, married in 1851 Alexander Morgan, nephew of George Morgan, a sign that both families had long become reconciled. Another daughter, Eliza Gage Landale, married William Lane, an Irish landowner. He owned Mount Vernon in Cork, a Georgian mansion in the city, which is still there today. As Cork is the place of publication of this pamphlet, she must have been involved in getting this work privately printed. The text is largely based on an anonymous account of the trial published in 1826 'Report of the trial of David Landale Esq., before the Circuit Court of Justiciary at Perth'. Her motives for publication, nearly 70 years after the event, are unclear. The inscriptions in this copy show that Eliza presented this copy to her son, Samuel, and at the back she records basic details of her father's life and the fact that her sister had married the nephew of the man her father had "the misfortune to kill".
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesJames Landale, 'Duel: a true story of death and honour', (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005).
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorMartin Martin
TitleA late voyage to St. Kilda, the remotest of all the Hebrides, or Western Isles of Scotland
ImprintLondon: Printed for D. Brown, and T. Goodwin
Date of Publication1698
LanguageEnglish
NotesMartin Martin (d. 1718), the Scottish traveller and author, wrote the first published account of the remote Scottish island group of St. Kilda, based on his experiences during a trip to the islands made in 1697. The work was published in London the following year with some success and he would go on to publish in 1703 his celebrated 'Description of the Western Islands of Scotland'. The Advocates Library copy of the latter is believed to have been taken by James Boswell on his journey with Samuel Johnson to the Highlands and Inner Hebrides in 1773. This particular copy of 'A late voyage' has been acquired for the Library as the existing Library copy was imperfect, lacking the half title, whereas this copy is complete. It also has a noteworthy provenance. It contains the late 18th-century armorial bookplate of James Whatman, Vinters, Kent, and an inscription on the title page "J. Whatman 1800", which indicates the book was in the library of the famous paper-making family the Whatmans, either collected by James Whatman II (1741-1798) or his son James Whatman III (1777-1843).
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on14/03/14
AuthorPindar
TitleTa tou Pindarou Olympia
ImprintGlasgow: R. and A. Foulis
Date of Publication1754
LanguageGreek
NotesThis is the first volume of the miniature Foulis Press edition of the ancient Greek poet Pindar's odes (printed 1754-58), this copy being one of only a few recorded copies printed on silk. It is a separate bibliographic item as only volume was the only printed in silk and accordingly it does not have the general title page of the regular 4-volume set. This is in fact only one of two miniature books printed on silk by the Foulis Press of Glasgow, the other being an edition of Anacreon printed in 1751 (a copy was acquired by the Library in 2003). It showcases the quality of their printing and the clarity of the Greek type they developed. The book is in a contemporary red morocco binding.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesGaskell, A bibliography of the Foulis Press, 2nd ed., 1986, no. 274
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorAnon
TitleA Scottish penny wedding
ImprintBelfast: Simms and M'Intyre
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Belfast-printed broadside contains a large wood engraving printed from nine individual blocks. It shows a lively wedding scene in a barn with bride and groom dancing to fiddle music and guests eating and drinking. There were three sorts of wedding in Scotland in the early half of the 19th-century: the free wedding, where only a few select friends were invited and the guests were not to be the cause of any expense; the dinner wedding, where a dinner was provided by the marriage party; and the penny wedding (also known as the penny bridal), where each guest contributed financially or by way of food towards the dinner and then paid for their own drink, and which by the end of the festivities (which could go on for several days) could bring in a tidy profit for the newly-weds. This latter type of wedding was particularly common across rural Scotland, despite the disapproval of the Kirk. The three-column poem printed beneath the illustration is 'Twas on the morn of sweet May-day' also known as 'Jockey to the fair', a wedding-themed song often appearing in 18th- and 19th-century chapbooks.
ShelfmarkIN PROCESS
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorFerguson, Adam
TitleRicerche storiche e critiche su le cause dei progressi e del decadimento della repubblica Romana. [History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic]
ImprintVenice: presso Antonio Zatta e figli
Date of Publication1793-94
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's 'History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic', first published as a 3-volume work in English in 1783. No copies of this 8-volume translation are recorded in major UK libraries. Ferguson's history of the Roman republic proved to be one of his most popular works, receiving critical acclaim in his native Scotland and from the historian Edward Gibbon, who had written the definitive work on Roman history 'The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire'. A French translation of Ferguson's work had already appeared in Paris, in 1784-91, and a German translation in Leipzig in 1784-86, by the time this Italian translation (by an unknown translator) appeared. Unlike the French and German editions, the Italian edition does not include the maps which appeared in the first English edition. This particular copy is still in the original publisher's paper wrappers with an attractive floral design.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2882-2889
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/01/14
Author[Anon]
TitleRemarks on a voyage to the Hebrides, in a letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D
ImprintLondon : G. Kearsly
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn January 1775 Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland' was published. His account of his three-month tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the late summer and early autumn of 1773, in the company of James Boswell, met with a mixed reception. Scots were affronted by his apparent bias against their country and his description of primitive culture in the Highlands, as well as his dismissal of the poems of Ossian as a modern invention by their editor James Macpherson. Journalists in both Edinburgh and London, politically hostile to Johnson, accused him of ingratitude in abusing Scottish hospitality. A brief entry in the 'Caledonian Mercury' for 4 February 1775 went as far as to state that Johnson was "now under a course of mercury" having caught the pox ("Scotch fiddle") "in the embraces of a female mountaineer" on this island of Coll. This anonymous and acerbic pamphlet addressed to the English author, while not descending into the cheap abuse of the 'Caledonian Mercury', was part of the attack on Johnson's work. The author, clearly a proud Scot, begins by commenting on Johnsons life-long prejudice against Scotland: "The contemptible ideas you have long entertained of Scotland and its inhabitants, have been too carefully propagated not to be universally known; and those who read your Journey, if they cannot applaud your candour, must at least praise your consistency, for you have been very careful not to contradict yourself. Your prejudice, like a plant, has gathered strength with age - the shrub which you nursed so many years in the hothouse of confidential conversation, is now become a full-grown tree, and planted in the open air" (pp. 2-3). The author goes on to make detailed observations on Johnson's inaccuracies and misjudgements in the book. The conclusion of the pamphlet is predictably damning, "the flame of national rancour and reproach has been for several years but too well fed you too have added your faggot" (p. 35). The truth of the matter was more complex. Johnson was deeply interested in Scotland and had a deep knowledge of its culture and history in comparison with other Englishmen of his day. Most of his anti-Scottish remarks seem to have been intended simply to provoke and tease. As someone with Jacobite sympathies, his criticisms were more directed at Scottish Presbyterianism and the way its supporters, in his opinion, had betrayed the house of Stuart and allowed elements of Scotland's native culture to decline. Johnson himself could shrug off all criticism of the work; the book earned him 200 guineas, as well as the admiration of George III, and considerable success in terms of sales.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.04
Reference SourcesP. Rogers, 'Johnson and Boswell: the transit of Caledonia' Oxford, 1995; M. Pittock "Johnson and Scotland" in 'Samuel Johnson in Historical Context' (ed. Clark and Erskine-Hill) Basingstoke, 2002; bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on03/01/14
AuthorHarnisch, Carl.
TitleBildliche Darstellungen in Arabeskenform zu Ossians Gedichten
ImprintBerlin: G. Reimer
Date of Publication1835
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a rare copy, in its original wrappers, of a portfolio of six lithographs, and a leaf of descriptive text, by the German artist Carl Harnisch (1800-1882). The lithographs are illustrations are inspired by the poems of Ossian, which had already appeared in German translation in the 1770s and continued to be popular in the early 19th century. The artist has done them in the arabesque form, which uses a decorative motif comprising surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage and tendrils. The European version of arabesque art was inspired by early Islamic art and became widely used from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards. In his introduction Harnisch states that, "the following leaves, a series of drawings in the arabesque form, arose out of reading Ossian. The intention of their creator, as can been seen from the chosen form of representation, has been to portray an overall view of the ancient Nordic bard's individual sensibilities and poetry, rather than each drawing represent a particular passage in the poet's work." Harnisch had already published in 1832 a series of arabesque lithographs of illustrations inspired by Goethe's Faust. Harnisch later emigrated to the USA where he continued to work as an artist and lithographer.
ShelfmarkRB.el.30
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/12/13
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
AuthorBeatson, Alexander.
TitlePapers relating to the devastation committed by goats on the island of St. Helena.
ImprintSt. Helena : Printed for S. Solomon by J. Coupland,
Date of Publication1810
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first items printed on the island of St Helena; it addresses, among other things, the issue of the harm that could be caused to a local ecosystem by the introduction of an alien species, in this instance - goats. St Helena is a small island (47 square miles in area) in the South Atlantic Ocean, which was occupied by the English East India Company from 1658 onwards. Regarded as one of the most isolated islands in the world, it was nevertheless colonized by the English due to its important strategic position as a stop-off point for ships sailing from Asia or South Africa to Europe. In 1807 the Scottish army officer Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was appointed as governor of the island, a post he held from 1808 to 1813. Beatson found that the island, which still belonged to the East India Company, was in a very impoverished state. He set up a series of improving measures for the island and the islanders and was able to use a printing press, which had been set up in 1806, to communicate his plans. A newspaper was printed on the island in 1807, but no book publication is recorded until 1810, with an abstract of the laws usually being regarded as the island's first publication. The present pamphlet was printed the same year, and contains the text of Beatson's proposal to print the abstract of the laws and ordinances, so may in fact precede it. The pamphlet's main text is Beatson's essay "Remarks on the evil consequences which have resulted from the introduction of goats upon the island of St. Helena". Beatson had a strong interest in agriculture and he had seen at first-hand how the introduction of goats to St Helena had greatly changed its landscape, as they had eaten much of its native vegetation and posed a constant threat to the vegetables and crops grown by the islanders. According to Beatson, goats had been introduced by the Portuguese as early as 1543, on what was then a thickly forested island. The Portuguese did not leave a permanent settlement on St Helena and the goat population had been left to grow unchecked in the absence of any natural predators. By 1809, according to Beatson, there were 1811 sheep and 2887 goats on the island, and he argues in favour of exterminating the goat population. The rest of the pamphlet consists of reports on Beatson's own agricultural experiments on the island growing cereal crops and a record of the ensuing lively debate among the islanders over whether the goat population should be exterminated or not. Beatson in his final contribution to the debate, in a minute dated 29 November 1810, suggests that until a decision on the goat issue is made by the Court of Directors of the East India Company, landowners should be allowed to shoot goats trespassing onto cultivated land, with the animals' owners being compensated five shillings per goat. The final contribution to the debate is a minute by William Doveton, a local landowner and "grazier", who was working for the East India Company. Doveton argues against total extermination of the goat population, regarding them as valuable property, but does support the culling of goats that stray onto cultivated land. Despite his failure to eradicate the goat population, Beatson continued to experiment with agriculture on the island until he left in 1813. His experiments, details of which he published in 1816 in 'Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena', have been described as a major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism. 200 years on St Helena continues to grapple with the problems caused by the depredations of alien species and sustaining farming in area with poor, thin soil, which is susceptible to drought. In 2012 it was reported that the legislative council of St Helena was considering an increase in the fine for letting goats (and sheep) stray on to Crown land. A rise from 25 pence to 250 was proposed, in the hope that a "more meaningful" deterrent would help protect vulnerable plants and trees. Beatson would no doubt have approved.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2880
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
AuthorNorth British Society (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
TitleRules and regulations of the North-British Society in Halifax, Nova-Scotia.
ImprintHalifax, Nova Scotia: John Howe
Date of Publication1791
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Halifax North British Society was founded on 26 March 1768, making it the oldest Scottish charitable society formed in Canada. The Halifax society was the latest addition to a small number of ethnic Scottish associations established along the eastern seaboard of North America. The first one was the Charitable Society of Boston, which was set up as early as 1657 to provide relief for local Scottish people in need. By the mid-18th century St Andrew's Societies had been established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1729, in Philadelphia in 1747, and in New York in 1756. Canadian societies were slower to develop as Canada did not become the main destination of British emigrants until after the American Revolution. The town of Halifax in Nova Scotia had been founded in 1749 under the direction of the British Board of Trade and Plantations under the command of Governor Edward Cornwallis. The town was named after the British statesman the 2nd Earl of Halifax, who had played a major role in the founding of the settlement. The creation of the town was an attempt to bring European Protestant settlers to the region to counter-balance the presence of French Catholic settlers in Nova Scotia; it contravened existing treaties with the French and Native American tribes and subsequently triggered a war between the rival factions. Halifax in its early years was accordingly an important military and naval base for the British forces. As early as 1752 a local newspaper, The Halifax Gazette, was printed, the first newspaper to be printed in Canada, and only the third to be printed in North America. A measure of peace came to Nova Scotia in 1761, but life in this isolated frontier region was often a struggle for settlers due to the inhospitable environment and the long, harsh winters. The North British Society, also known as 'The Scots' and 'The Scots Club', was founded along the lines of the other Scottish societies in the American colonies. It was a national and patriotic association whose main objectives were to provide help to Scottish emigrants, to give financial and material assistance to those in distress, to maintain a patriotic, i.e. pro-British, sentiment among the Scottish emigre community, and to foster links between other similar societies elsewhere in North America. It also later helped to fund the passage home for Scots who wished to return to their homeland but could not afford to do so. A constitution was drawn up in 1768 and revised in 1786. In 1791, as the Society continued to grow in size and importance, a further revision was deemed necessary and a committee was appointed to improve the bye-laws. The result was captured in print in this small pamphlet, which was presumably distributed to all the members of the Society. The printer was the Boston-born John Howe (1754-1835), who had moved to Halifax during the American War of Independence because of his loyalist sympathies. He would later become the king's printer for Canada. The pamphlet provides some fascinating information about the operation of charitable societies in 18th century North America. It lists the entrance criteria for the Society  all members had to be Scottish or had to have Scottish parents or at least a Scottish father. An entrance fee of not less than four dollars had to be paid, followed by quarterly fees of three shillings. There were three categories of members: ordinary, perpetual and honorary; members who missed four consecutive quarterly meetings without a good excuse lost their membership. In addition to its other charitable functions, funds were made available through the various office holders for the care of sick members and also for the widows of deceased members. At the end is a list of current office bearers and of 100 members who had joined from the foundation of the Society onwards. In 1794, the Society had the honour of hosting Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn, at their annual St. Andrew's Day celebrations. Edward, the fourth son of George III, and father of Queen Victoria, was based in Canada between 1791 and 1800. From 1794 onwards he lived at the Royal Navy's base in Halifax and became a fixture of British North American society. Following on from the success of Halifax Scottish society, the St. Andrew's Society of St. John, New Brunswick, was established in 1798. However, other Scottish ethnic associations only emerged in Canada during the early 19th century, with the creation of major urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, all of which had St. Andrew's Societies by the 1840s. The North British Society in Halifax continues to this day; NLS has a few publications from the 19th and 20th centuries relating to its commemoration of Scotland and Scottish figures such as Burns and Scott in its collections. There is no recorded copy of this pamphlet in major North American or British libraries. This copy survives in its original marbled paper wrappers; on the front free endpaper is an inscription "Allan" in an 18th-century hand, which could imply that the former owner was relative or descendant of William Allan, one of the members listed at the back of the pamphlet. William Allan may be identified with Major William Allan (1720-1790), a Scottish officer in the British Army who was one of the original settlers of Halifax. He lived there for 10 years before relocating to Fort Lawrence in Nova Scotia, where he worked as a farmer and merchant.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2881
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/11/13
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleElena Duglas ili Deva Ozera Lok-Katrinskago [Lady of the lake]
ImprintMoscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii
Date of Publication1828
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is an early Russian translation of Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem 'The Lady of the lake', first published in English in 1810. The poem was an immediate and huge success, selling 25,000 copies in 8 months, and helped spread Scott's fame beyond English-speaking lands. He became probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from 'Ivanhoe', appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. This translation (the name of the translator is unknown) is in turn taken from a French translation, possibly the 1813 translation by Elisabeth de Bon.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2878
Acquired on04/10/13
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