Important acquisitions

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Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 840 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 840:

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AuthorAnon.
TitleThe balance of public favor [sic].
ImprintLondon: Thomas McLean
Date of Publication1827
LanguageEnglish
NotesA lithographic satirical print depicting Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Moore, two friends but also literary rivals, sitting on opposite ends of a giant set of scales. The scales are not balanced: Scott is seated on the higher scale, looking gloomy, clutching the nine volumes of his biography of Napoleon, while Moore, the Irish poet, is on the lower scale, looking pleased, and confidently holding up a single small volume for Scott to look at. The print refers to the fact that Scott's "The life of Napoleon Buonaparte" was due to be published on the same day in 1827 as Thomas Moore's prose romance, "The epicurean, a tale", based on his unfinished poem "Alciphron". However, Moore managed to beat Scott to the punch by getting his book published a day earlier. Scott's biography was subsequently a commercial success but met with a very mixed critical reception, whereas Moore's first novel was an immediate commercial and critical success, hence "the balance of public favo[u]r" falling in Moore's favour.
ShelfmarkAP.5.216.11
Acquired on22/07/16
Author[Peter Williamson]
TitleList of all the streets, wynds, squares and closes, of the city of Edinburgh and Canongate.
ImprintEdinburgh: Peter Williamson
Date of Publication1779
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside printed by Peter Williamson, one of Scotland?s most colourful characters of the 18th century. 'Indian Peter' (1730-1799), was abducted from Aberdeenshire as a ten-year-old, and indentured/enslaved for seven years in colonial Virginia. He was later captured by Cherokees, but escaped to narrate his adventures in travelling performances and in print. Returning to Britain he trained to be a printer, becoming a celebrated bookseller and coffee-house keeper in Edinburgh. Williamson published the first Edinburgh street directory in 1773. The present example is a large broadside printing of Williamson's directory, with a more straightforward layout, that gives the names of over 400 places in the city. It was presumably intended to be pasted-up on the walls of offices, workshops and other public areas. In addition to the list of places, Williamson also includes a number of advertisements for his own services, these include his famous "Portable Printing Presses" which he explains, is so constructed, "that it will throw off one Folio Page, or four Quarto Pages, at a time, with great ease and exactness". The broadside also advertises Williamson's edition of the Psalms of David "printed upon a new type, and superfine paper, so calculated that it may be carried in a watch-pocket or in a snuff-box". In the imprint Williamson announces that he runs a penny postal service in Edinburgh; the first postal service in Edinburgh recorded in print.
ShelfmarkAP.7.216.09
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/07/16
AuthorAnon
TitleNotes sur la lettre de Monsieur de Voltaire a Monsieur Hume + Reflexions posthumes sur le grand procees de Jean-Jacques, avec David.
ImprintParis?: s.n.
Date of Publication1766
LanguageFrench
NotesTwo anonymous, rare pieces on the Hume Rousseau dispute that gripped Enlightenment Europe. In the first pamphlet comes the assertion that Voltaire did not write the "La letter au Docteur Pansophe", which helped inflame the dispute. In 1766 David Hume helped the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who no longer felt safe in his place of exile, his native Switzerland, to find refuge in England. Once there Rousseau soon fell out with Hume. Rousseau began to question Hume's motives in offering him shelter in England. When anonymous poems poking fun at Rousseau were published, he immediately and wrongly assumed they had been written by Hume. Rousseau retaliated by writing letters to his French associates denouncing Hume for his treacherous behaviour. When Hume eventually learnt of Rousseau's accusations he was shocked, and then angered that the fine reputation he had acquired when living in Paris was now being dragged through the mud. The two men became estranged from each other and Rousseau returned to France in 1767. In less than a year, the relationship between Hume and Rousseau had gone from love to mockery by way of fear and loathing, and much of the dispute was played out in letters and in print to the scandal and delight of literary salons in England and France.
ShelfmarkRB.s.29281-(2)
Acquired on01/07/16
Author[Anon]
TitleA scene at Glasgow, or - Sir Donald Dictate in the dumps.
Imprint[London] : W. Wells
Date of Publication1783
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis satirical broadside relates to banking in Scotland in the 1780s. From the British Museum catalogue description: "A procession of men moving slowly from left to right led by a stout, plainly dressed man holding a thread which is attached to the noses of some of those who follow him, the others being onlookers, except for a man immediately behind the leader. The labels from the mouths of the characters are a prominent part of the design." In the speech labels there are references to an Edinburgh and a Paisley bank and also a reference to the United States. The Edinburgh bank may be the Royal Bank of Scotland which opened a branch in Glasgow in 1783, and the Paisley bank is probably the Paisley Banking Company, founded in the same year with financial support from the Royal Bank. The reference to the USA may refer to the heavy buying of goverment bonds in 1783 by speculators in anticipation of the ending of the American war of independence and the releasing of government funds previously intended for the military campaign. The identity of 'Sir Donald Dictate' is possibly David Dale, the cotton and linen manufacturer, who became the first Glasgow agent of the Royal Bank thanks to his father-in-law being a director of the bank. He is possibly the stout man on the far right of the broadside. The identity of the other 10 men depicted in the broadside is not known.
ShelfmarkAP.6.216.09
Reference SourcesBM Satires 6332
Acquired on24/06/16
AuthorDavid Urquhart
TitleL'Angleterre, la France, la Russie et la Turquie.
ImprintParis: Truchy
Date of Publication1835
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is the rare first French edition of a pamphlet first published in England in December 1834 as "England, France, Russia and Turkey". The work has been attributed to the English politician Richard Cobden, but also, more plausibly, to the Scottish diplomatist and writer David Urquhart (1805-1877). Urquhart spent the years 1827-34 travelling in Greece and the Balkans, having participated in the Greek war of independence, and acted as an advisor to the British government in matters relating to the Ottoman Empire and British policy in the Balkans and Middle East. Urquhart spent the summer of 1834 sailing around the Black Sea, visiting Circassian tribes who were fighting the Russians to prevent becoming part of their empire. Returning to Britain later that year Urquhart tried to drum up support for Turkey as a bulwark against Russian territorial ambitions in the Middle East and Caucasus. "England, France, Russia and Turkey" was co-written with British ambassador to Turkey, Viscount Ponsonby, as part of Urquhart's campaign to encourage British military intervention in the area. Neither author's name was revealed, perhaps in view of the political and diplomatic sensitivities involved, as the then Tory government was very much against military intervention. For this French edition additional material was included. Tensions between Britain and Russia, over the latter's territorial ambitions in the Balkans and Middle East, would culminate 20 years later in the Crimean War.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.07
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/06/16
AuthorSamuel Clark
TitleThe Christian's inheritance; or, a collection of the promises and gracious declarations of scripture.
ImprintDundee: Edward Lesslie
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded example of early Dundee printing, being a collection of biblical references, assembled and printed here without the biblical passages, from the index of English nonconformist clergyman Samuel Clark's (1684-1750) "A collection of the promises of scripture" (London, 1720). The bookseller who had this work printed, Edward Lesslie (1765-1828), appears to have been active in the book trade in Dundee until 1820 when, as a consequence of his involvement with radical politics he was nearly prosecuted for sedition and subsequently emigrated to the USA. The work is bound in with a copy of John Butterworth's "A concordance and dictionary to the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament", printed and sold for another Dundee bookseller, George Milln. The ownership inscriptions in the volume include probably one of the original owner, David Messan, a Dundee merchant listed as a subscriber to the Butterworth concordance.
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.15(2)
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on10/06/16
Author[Anon]
TitleThe story of the blue bird.
ImprintEdinburgh : Oliver & Boyd
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the only recorded copy of a chapbook style children's book published by Oliver & Boyd of Edinburgh, "embellished with neat wood cuts". The text is based on a fairy tale ("L'oiseau bleu") by the French author Madam d'Aulnoy (1650 or 51-1705), who is regarded as the originator of the term 'fairy tales'.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.43
Acquired on10/06/16
Author[Anon]
TitleHouse games for rainy days
ImprintGlasgow: James Gibb & Co.
Date of Publication1860?
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn unrecorded collection of 12 household games for all ages, which show how in the middle of the 19th century entertainment was of a very homespun nature. Two of the games 'Blind man's buff' and 'Charades' were still popular throughout the 20th century. The games described are: 'Hunt the slipper', 'The feather', 'Pinch without laughing', 'The clairvoyant behind the screen', 'The advice gratis lottery', 'The mousetrap', 'Blind man's buff', 'The knight of the whistle', 'Charades', 'Historical puzzles', 'Conundrums', 'Quibbles'. Three of the games ('Charades', 'Conundrums' and 'Quibbles') have answers provided at the end. The work was published by the Glasgow firm James Gibb & Co. which went bankrupt in 1867.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.42
Acquired on10/06/16
AuthorEdmund Gibson & David Hume
TitleLettere di Edmund Gibson + Vita di David Hume scritta da lui stesso + Saggio in risposta a Mr. Hume circa i miracoli di Gulielmo Adams.
ImprintVenice: Andrea Santini
Date of Publication1804-1806
LanguageItalian
NotesThis volume contains two further additions to the Library's extensive collection of books relating to David Hume the philosopher and former Keeper of the Advocates Library. These are two Italian translations by the Italian cleric Pietro Antoniutti: David Hume's celebrated short autobiography, first published in English in 1777; and English cleric William Adams's "Essay in answer to Mr. Hume's Essay on miracles", which was his response to Hume's attack on the reasonableness of belief in miracles. Both works are bound in with another Italian translation of another English-language work: Edmund Gibson's "Pastoral letters". Antoniutti had previously translated William Robertson?s "History of Scotland" in 1784 and would go on to translate Hume's "History of England" (1818-1820), as well as around 40 other English-language texts.
ShelfmarkRB.m.764(1-3)
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on10/06/16
AuthorJohn Scott
TitleA bibliography of printed documents and books relating to the Darien Company.
ImprintEdinburgh: privately printed
Date of Publication1903 & 1906
LanguageEnglish
NotesOriginally published as part of vol. 6 of the series Publications of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (1901-1904), under the title "A bibliography of printed documents and books relating to the Scottish company, commonly called the Darien Company", this is the catalogue originally compiled by John Scott (1830-1903), former President of the EBS, of his collection of books relating to the Darien Company. Scott was a well-known engineer and shipbuilder, who, with his brother, ran the family firm of Scott's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. in Greenock. Only 20 copies of the catalogue were printed, the catalogue being prefaced by EBS secretary George Pyper Johnston's encomium of John Scott. Johnston revised the catalogue and made additions and corrections to it. The publication contains two title pages reflecting the fact that it was printed in two stages: pp. [1]-54, printed in 1904, containing Scott's original bibliography, and pp. 54-75, containing Johnston's additions and corrections, printed in 1906. The first one, dated 1904, reads "Revised by George P. Johnston", and is usually found at the front of the work. The second title-page has two publication dates in the imprint, 1904 and 1906, and reads "With additions and corrections by George P. Johnston", and is usually found between pages 54 and 55; in this copy it has been bound at the front of the work. The original paper wrapper, not present in this copy, is printed as the 1904 title page. This particular copy, no. 11 of 20, has the signature on the recto of the front free endpaper of "Alasdair Mac Gillemhoire a“ Bea`rnaraidh na Hearadh" (Alasdair Morrison).
ShelfmarkRB.m.761
Acquired on03/06/16
AuthorWalter Scott
TitleWaverley, o Ahora Sesenta Anos, Novela Historica por Sir Gualterio Scott.
ImprintMejico [Mexico City]: Galvan a cargo de Mariano Arevalo
Date of Publication1833
LanguageSpanish
NotesThis is the rare three-volume first Spanish translation of Scott's ground-breaking historical novel Waverley, no other copies being recorded as held in Europe. The place of publication, Mexico, is unusual and is explained by the fact that the translation is by the famous Cuban poet Jose Marķa Heredia (1803-1839), then living in exile in the country. As a young man Heredia had been arrested by the Spanish authorities in Cuba for taking part in pro-independence activities and was banished from the island for life. He spent some time in the USA before moving to Mexico, where he became a naturalised citizen, working as an editor and translator. Heredia is regarded as first true Romantic poet in the Hispanic World and his combination of linguistic skills and literary talent made him an ideal person to translate Scott?s work.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2923
Acquired on27/05/16
AuthorBlind Hary
TitleThe acts and deeds of the most famous and valiant champion Sir William Wallace, Knight of Ellerslie.
ImprintEdinburgh : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1648 [1758]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis copy of an 18th-century printed edition of Blind Har(r)y's famous poem of William Wallace contains an apparently unique survival of a variant title page for an edition actually published in 1758. The 1758 edition, some copies of which were apparently issued without a title page, does not give any indication of the bookseller or printer. The most likely explanation of this, as is indicated in a manuscript note in one of the Library copies of the 1758 edition, is that sheets were actually printed in Edinburgh by Robert Freebairn, the former King's Printer, over 40 years previously in 1714 or 1715. Freebairn chose to join the failed Jacobite uprising in Scotland in 1715, acting as the printer for the 'Old Pretender' in Perth. One consequence of this decision was that the sheets for his printing of Blind Harry's poem were impounded in a warehouse until 1758 when they were finally bound up and sold, either without title page or with an imprint bearing the date 1758 (there are also two copies recorded with an imprint date of 1757). This particular copy is a further variant, with the imprint date printed as 'MDCXLVIII' (1648). There was indeed a 1648 printing of the Blind Harry's poem in Edinburgh by Gideon Lithgow, but in a different format. The only explanation for this date is an error on the printer's part. A previous owner has tried to erase the offending 'X' from the imprint date, perhaps intending to write in a 'C' in its place, but seems to have given up quite quickly with the result that the false date is still clearly visible.
ShelfmarkAB.2.216.11
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on27/05/16
AuthorWilliam Morris
TitleThe well at the world's end.
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1896
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Morris's fantasy novel the "Well at the World's End" was one of the last works to be printed at the Kelmscott Press in the year of Morris's death in 1896. It is thought to be one of the first examples of an entirely fictional fantasy world, and greatly influenced later fantasy writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The book follows the travels of Ralph, a prince of a tiny country, as he disobeys his father's wishes and runs away from home to adventure in the world, and seek out the fabled Well at World's End, said to grant eternal youth to those who drink from it. The book was christened by Morris as 'the Interminable' as it was in production from 1892-96, longer than any other Kelmscott Press title, which was mainly due to Morris being dissatisfied with the woodcut illustrations produced by Arthur Gaskin and turning instead to his trusted collaborator Edward Burne-Jones to do the illustrations. Limited to 350 copies on paper this particular copy is in its original vellum binding and is in near mint condition. It was formerly in the Library of Appleby Castle, Westmorland (Cumbria)
ShelfmarkKP.70
Acquired on20/05/16
AuthorKendall, E. G.
TitleCosmopolitan System of Dresscutting.
ImprintLondon : Cosmopolitan Dresscutting Association, 65A, Oxford Street
Date of Publication1893
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a complete kit for home tailoring and dress cutting which includes the printed step-by-step instructions and five cardboard cut-out tools: the main chart, sleeve chart, child's sleeve, collar chart, and the "Cosmopolitan scale" used for measuring purposes. The kit is especially interesting for its provenance. The verso of the cardboard tools have the manuscript inscription "Miss Ireland" with the "sleeve chart" having "Miss Ireland 143 Constitution St. Leith". The 1889-90 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records a W[illia]m Ireland living at 143 Constitution Street Leith and a Miss Ireland, dressmaker at 41 Lothian Road Edinburgh. The 1899-1900 Post Office Edinburgh and Leith Directory records Misses M. & E. Ireland. milliners and dressmakers at 1 Great Wellington Street, Miss E. Ireland, milliner at 165 Leith Walk and Miss Ireland, dressmaker, at 41 Lothian Road, Edinburgh. The kit is accompanied by a carrying folder with the ownership label of the "Rodmure Dresscutting Association, 153 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Madame Levine, Manageress". The Rodmure School of Dresscutting was founded by Joseph Fox (1851-1933) who was credited with introducing the method of individual pattern-cutting to the city and in training many Glasgow seamstresses at his school. The Rodmure System incorporated a "scientific" sizing and cutting apparatus based on a system of radial punch holes and proportion. As the Cosmopolitan System of Dresscutting also incorporates complex measuring tools with punch holes one wonders whether Fox was adapting ideas from elsewhere. Fox's daughter Rhoda Levine was the school's manageress. She had a sister named Muriel, who trained as a Milliner in Paris before returning to Glasgow to open a dress shop near The Rodmure school. Although cutting systems like the Cosmopolitan and Rodmure systems were popular and seen as a solution to the technical problems created by the complex cut and fit of stylish women's clothing, they were criticized for not always equipping students with the skills of a true tailor. As the instruction booklets and accompanying tools for these systems were extremely complex, there was a lucrative market for schools of instruction on their correct application.
ShelfmarkAB.11.216.03
Acquired on16/05/16
AuthorT.J.
TitleDomestic, literary and village sketches.
Imprint[London: W. Nicol]
Date of Publication[1823]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first edition of a whimsical collection of notes on literary travels in Scotland, and local pastimes in Sussex. Poetry is included and there are digressions on painting, sculpture, and landscape gardening. The lithographs are claimed by the anonymous author as his/her own work and show a high degree of draughtsmanship. The work includes a separately-paginated section on "Ossian's Hall" containing extracts from Ossian's poems with "cursory observations" and a coloured plate depicting an imaginary Ossian's hall, probably based on the Ossian's Hall (formerly known as the Hermitage), built in the 18th-century near Dunkeld, which became a popular tourist attraction.
ShelfmarkAB.3.216.03
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/05/16
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