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 755 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 166 to 180 of 755:

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AuthorHodgson & Co. [Auctioneers]
TitleCatalogue of an extensive & valuable library of economic, historical and general literature.
ImprintLondon: [Hodgson & Co.],
Date of Publication1904
LanguageEnglish
NotesAuction sale catalogues may not at first sight seem particularly interesting but the stories that lie behind them often are. This catalogue was produced for the sale in London in 1904, between May 9th and 13th, of the "property of a gentleman" - a substantial library covering mainly trade and commerce. The books on sale included several early works on Scotland, America and the West Indies, works on tobacco, and a large number of 17th-century books of the Civil War and Commonwealth periods. The "gentleman" in question was J.T. (James Taylor) Bell of Glasgow. Bell was a senior partner in the tobacco firm of J. & F. Bell, founded by his father and uncle in the mid-19th century, which manufactured Three Nuns tobacco and Three Bells cigarettes. The company ran into severe financial difficulties in the early 1900s and went into voluntary liquidation in early 1904. At the bankruptcy court in Glasgow in October of that year, the sorry state of Bell's finances was revealed. James Taylor Bell himself owed the company £12,000, and, as a means of reducing his debts, he revealed that he had had his library of c. 9000 volumes valued and then sold. He admitted that he had spent over £11,000 acquiring his library but that the Hodgson's sale in May had only realised £2,000, leaving with him a loss of £9,000. This particular copy of the sale catalogue reveals all the details of the sale; it has been neatly annotated in ink with the prices realised for each lot in the sale. The name of the London booksellers Francis Edwards is inscribed on the front pastedown which suggests that it belonged to an employee of the firm who attended the sale. Most of the c. 1700 lots in the sale sold for very modest prices, rarely going above the £1-2 range. The apparent lack of interest in Bell's library is in stark contrast to the prices realised for 15 lots of old English literature, owned by a separate collector, which were sold at the end of the third day of the sale. These books attracted far higher prices, most notably £230 for a "clean and perfect copy" of the London, 1598 edition of George Chapman's translation of Homer's "Iliad".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2796
Reference SourcesThe Scotsman "Failure of a Tobacco Manufacturer"(article October 15 1904).
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorAnderson, James
TitleObservations on the means of exciting a spirit of national industry; chiefly intended to promote the agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, of Scotland.
ImprintDublin : S. Price, W. and H. Whitestone,
Date of Publication1779
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first Irish printing of a work originally published in Edinburgh in 1777, which contains one of the earliest critiques of Adam Smith's recently-published "Wealth of nations". The author, James Anderson (1739-1808), was a landowner and farmer. As well as devoting himself to agricultural matters, Anderson also had a strong interest in the subject of political economy and published a large number of articles in newspapers, pamphlets and other people's publications, often using a pseudonym. In his lengthy preface to this work, he reveals that he had considered remaining anonymous but thought that it would be "a somewhat mean and disingenuous appearance to keep himself concealed". The work consists of a series of letters outlining his thoughts on the future of Scotland's economic output, with special reference to the economically depressed Highlands. Letter XIII in volume two of the "Observations" is largely devoted to arguments put forward in the "Wealth of nations". Anderson refers to Smith's "very ingenious treatise", before proceeding, very politely, to take serious issue with Smith's "entirely fallacious" thinking on aspects of Britain's Corn Laws. Smith had been critical of the existing legislation, which was designed to protect major English landholders by encouraging the export and limiting the import of corn when prices fell below a fixed point. Anderson the farmer and landowner preferred to defend the status quo. Anderson dedicated his work to the Duke of Buccleuch, a major landowner who took a keen interest in Scottish agriculture, but who also happened to be a former pupil and a patron of Adam Smith.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2783-2784
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorReinbeck, Johann Gustav.
TitleAls der Hoch-Edle, Großachtbare und Hochgelahrte Herr, Hr. Robert Scott, Medicinae Doctor, Sr. ChurFuerstl. Durchl. von Hannover wohlbestalter Leib-Medicus, am Sonntage Septuagesima 1714 durch eine gewaltsahme Kranckheit aus dem Weinberge dieser Welt von seiner Arbeit auffgefordert wurde ...
ImprintBerlin : Johan Wessel,
Date of Publication[1714]
LanguageGerman
NotesIn 1714 Dr Robert Scott, a Scottish physician working in Germany, died after a long and successful career. Scott had worked in the castle of Celle near Hanover as the personal physician to Georg Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Lueneburg and then to his successor, Georg Ludwig (who in 1714 became King George I of Great Britain). Little is known about Scott except that his exceptionally pious nature meant that he was often ridiculed behind his back at the Duke's court. This poem, dedicated to his memory, was written by Johann Gustav Reinbeck (1683-1741), who had married Scotts daughter Margarethe in 1710. Reinbeck, originally from Celle, was a Lutheran theologian who, by the time this poem was published, had become a preacher in the parishes of Friedrichswerder and Dorotheenstadt in Berlin. However ridiculous Scott may have seemed to the courtiers at Celle, the equally pious Reinbeck thought fit to publish this poem, with its suitably flowery language and religious imagery, in praise of his late father-in-law.
ShelfmarkAP.4.210.34
Reference Sourceshttp://hugenotten.de/gesellschaft/_pdf/03-2008.pdf Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie v. 28, pp. 2-4 (Leipzig, 1889)
Acquired on30/04/10
AuthorHighland Society of Scotland.
TitleReport drawn up by a committee of the Highland Society of Scotland.
ImprintStirling: M. Randall,
Date of Publication [1812?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded Stirling printing of a report drawn up by a special committee of the Highland Society of Scotland to recommend "the great utility of establishing a general uniformity of weights and measures all over Scotland". The Act of Union of 1707 had stipulated that weights and measures in Scotland and England should be uniform, but over a century later there was clearly a lack of uniformity within Scotland itself (as well as England), despite a series of Weights and Measures Acts being passed in the British Parliament in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The committee, appointed in January 1811, made a number of recommendations in its report to ensure the co-operation of all the Scottish counties in adopting common standards. The printed report also records the Society's official approval of the recommendations at their general meeting in July of 1811. The whole issue, however, was not decisively tackled by the British government until the Weights and Measures Act of 1824, when the imperial system of units was adopted throughout Britain and its empire. The report was printed by Mary Randall, the widow of Charles Randall who a few years earlier had established the first printing press in Stirling since the 16th century. After her husband's death in 1812, Mary continued the business until 1820, printing large numbers of chapbooks. This particular printing is in chapbook duodecimo format, with typically low quality printing on low-grade paper; the NLS copy is in its original state unbound, uncut and unopened.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2778
Reference SourcesScottish Book Trade Index
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorHume, David
TitleWysgeerige en staatkundige verhandelingen [Political Discourses]
ImprintRotterdam : Abraham Bothall,
Date of Publication1766
LanguageDutch
NotesThis is a rare edition (no copies recorded elsewhere in the UK) of the first Dutch translation of David Hume's "Political Discourses", which was the first work by Hume to be translated into Dutch. The translation was published in Amsterdam by Kornelis van Tongerlo in 1764, with this particular edition appearing two years later in Rotterdam under a different publisher, but with identical collation. The identity of the translator remains unknown. The "Political Discourses", first published in Edinburgh in 1752, was arguably the only one of Hume's works to enjoy immediate commercial success in Britain. In addition to a series of essays on economic matters, Hume also discusses at length a number of other diverse Enlightenment topics such as: whether the ancient world had been more populous than the modern, the Protestant succession to the British throne, and the model of a perfect republic. The work quickly became very influential throughout Europe among the leading economic theorists of the day, including Adam Smith, but Hume does not appear to have appealed to a wider readership within the Netherlands. A translation of Hume's "History of England" appeared between 1769 and 1774, but these seem to be the only Dutch translations of his works in the 18th century.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2785
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/04/10
Author[Anon]
TitleEssay on the memory and character of Dorophagus, the great patriot of the North.
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1743?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis anonymous satirical pamphlet is a savage attack on 'Dorophagus' (from the Greek for 'devourer of [financial] gifts') a.k.a. John Campbell, second Duke of Argyll and Duke of Greenwich (1680-1743). Argyll had a long military and political career, which was marked by several quarrels not just with his political enemies, but also with family and friends. As early as 1714, a contemporary who knew him personally, George Lockhart of Carnwath, wrote in his "Memorials Concerning the Affairs of Scotland" that Argyll "was not, strictly speaking, a man of sound understanding and judgement; for all his natural endowments were sullied with too much impetuosity, passion, and positiveness". This pamphlet, presumably printed after Argyll's death in October 1743, is a lot harsher in its criticism of his character. The author depicts Argyll as man without principle and motivated only by financial gain, concluding that, "upon the whole: a character more compleatly [sic] immoral never appeared in this part of the world."
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.12
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorGregory, John.
TitleVergleichung des Zustandes und der Kraefte des Menschen, mit dem Zustande und den Kraeften der Thiere.
ImprintFrankfurt und Leipzig: J. Dodsley,
Date of Publication1768
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first German translation of "A comparative view of the state and faculties of man with those of the animal world". The author, John Gregory (1724-1773) was a Scottish physician and writer, best known for his "A Father's Legacy to his Daughters" - a didactic work on the education of girls. "A comparative view" was first published in 1765 and grew out of papers presented to meetings of the 'Wise Club' in Aberdeen, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, which Gregory had co-founded with his colleague Thomas Reid in 1758. The identity of the translator, mentioned on the title page as "A.M.J.B.St.", is not known.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.008
Acquired on23/04/10
Author[MacFait, Ebenezer]
TitleEntwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.
ImprintLeipzig: Dyk,
Date of Publication1797
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first German translation of "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Plato", which was originally published in Edinburgh in 1760 by the obscure Scottish scholar-physician Ebenezer MacFait (d. 1786). MacFait's book focuses particularly on Plato's "Republic", and includes a defence of Plato's ideas against the criticisms which appeared in the scholarly works published by the 18th-century English politician Viscount Bolingbroke. The translation was the work of Karl Morgenstern (1770-1852) then professor of philosophy at the university of Halle, who had published his own commentary on the "Republic" in 1794; it is augmented with his own notes on Plato. This particular copy has doodles in pencil on the paper covers, including four faces in profile, and the word 'Tennemann' written in several places, which suggests that this book may have once been owned by a student of the Platonic scholar Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819), who himself had written a four-volume work "System der Platonischen Philosophie" (Leipzig, 1792-95).
Shelfmark AB.3.210.07
Acquired on23/04/10
AuthorHume, David
TitleVier Philosophen
ImprintGlogau: bey Christian Friedrich Guenthern
Date of Publication1760
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the extremely rare German translation of Hume's essays 'The Epicurean', 'The Stoic', "The Platonist' and 'The Sceptic'. Interestingly, the translation was not done from the English original, but from a French translation of 1758 done by Jean Bernard Merian. Now for the first time the German public was able to read the enlarged version of the essay 'The Sceptic' which Hume had produced for inclusion in his 'Essays and treatises on several subjects'. The only hitherto available German translation of 'The Sceptic' was a shorter version of 1748, which had been translated from the third edition of Hume's collected works. There are remarkable differences between the two versions of different length of 'The Sceptic'. The translator of the 1760 edition tried hard to praise the volume as a comfort in difficult times, almost regarding Hume's essay to be edifying when he says, "It can serve to cheer up the mind during the present sorrowful times, in order to glimpse the glow of merciful predestination, notwithstanding all gloomy shades." The hopes this blurb aroused in the readers would be bitterly disappointed, because the sceptic Hume himself, who has no belief whatsoever in any divine providence, is the actual hero of all four essays. There are no known copies of this item in Britain or the US.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2795
Acquired on10/04/10
AuthorGray, Andrew
TitleThe experienced millwright; or, A treatise on the construction of some of the most useful machines, with the latest improvements. [2nd edition]
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed by D. Willison for Archibald Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesAndrew Gray's 'The experienced millwright' presents the most accurate first-hand account of the state of traditional British millwrighting in the second half of the 18th century. The first three chapters consist of a general treatise on mechanics. The following chapters cover practical directions for the construction of machinery, the mathematics necessary for calculating the strength of machines, and detailed plans for the construction of various kinds of water mills. The text is supplemented by a series of forty-four fine engravings showing the layouts of various types of water-, wind- and animal-powered machinery. The designs and descriptions are mostly of mills and machines which Gray either designed or supervised in actual construction in central-eastern Scotland. As stated in the preface: "the machines of which he has been careful to give accurate drawings and concise explanations are to be considered, not as plans founded on the speculative principles of mechanics ... but as cases of practical knowledge, the effects of which have been fairly tried and long approved". Little is known of Gray, described in his book's preface as "a practical mechanic" who 'has been for at least forty years employed in erecting different kinds of machinery". The text indicates that he is very familiar with the work of the leading civil engineer of the age, John Smeaton (1724-92), and especially Smeaton's seminal paper on the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines. The second edition of Gray's book corrects 14 textual errors found in the original edition of 1804. The front pastedown of this copy also includes a large printed advertisement for the prospective publication of Gray's 'The plough-wright's assistant' which was eventually published in 1808.
ShelfmarkRB.l.266
Acquired on02/04/10
TitleMacKenzie's Gazette
ImprintNew York and Rochester, NY
Date of Publication1838-39
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Dundonian William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) ran a circulating library with his mother before emigrating to the province of Upper Canada in 1820. He became a politician and journalist, starting with the publication of the "Colonial Advocate" in 1824. Politically he supported the critics of the local ruling class of Tory politicians and colonial administrators. He was elected to the assembly of the new provincial capital York in 1828 but was ejected three years later by the Tories. In 1834, when York became incorporated as the City of Toronto, Mackenzie became its first mayor. He later pushed for greater Canadian autonomy, which led to the armed Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-8; the revolt was quickly put down by British troops and Mackenzie and his allies fled to the USA. He settled in New York and on 12 May 1838 launched "Mackenzie's Gazette", asserting that the newspaper would defend the cause of Canadian patriots, who, although now based the USA, were still determined to overthrow the Upper Canadian government and remove the British presence in the province. In January 1839 Mackenzie moved to Rochester, New York state, continuing to publish the newspaper from there, but financial support for him and his cause began to dry up; moreover, in June of that year Mackenzie was found guilty of violating America's neutrality laws. He served almost a year in prison, but still managed to publish his newspaper, although issues appeared only sporadically. The last issue was published in December 1840, six months after MacKenzie received a pardon by the US President, Martin Van Buren. Mackenzie later became an American citizen, but he returned to Canada in 1850 when an amnesty for those who took part in the 1837-8 Rebellion was announced. He remained active in politics and journalism for the rest of his life. "Mackenzie's Gazette" was an important, if rather short-lived, literary expression of radical, anti-colonial feeling among Canadians and American sympathisers and contains much valuable historical information for the period. The set acquired by NLS comprises Vol. 1, numbers 27 to 52, covering November 1838 to May 1839; there are no recorded original copies of the newspaper in the UK.
ShelfmarkRB.l.265
Reference SourcesDNB
Acquired on01/04/10
AuthorHamilton, Clayton Meeker
TitleOn the trail of Stevenson
ImprintGarden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co.
Date of Publication1915
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the uncensored first issue, first edition of Clayton Meeker Hamilton's 1915 biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. Hamilton (1881-1946) was an American drama critic who had edited the 1910 Longman's English Classics edition of Treasure Island. His biography in its original form is particularly important as it is the first attempt to depict Stevenson 'warts and all'. In contrast to the sanitised image of Stevenson (d. 1894) presented by his official biographer Graham Balfour in 1901, Hamilton was able to draw on detailed information provided by the author's former friends and acquaintances to provide a new perspective on his life and colourful character. Writing a biography of one of Scotland's most famous authors deemed suitable for public consumption was, however, no easy task. Balfour's official biography was only written after Stevenson's friend and mentor, Sir Sidney Colvin, had to give up the project following some acrimonious rows with Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, and the author's formidable widow, Fanny. Presumably only after the death of Fanny Stevenson in February 1914 did Hamilton think it was safe to publish his book - excerpts of "On the trail of Stevenson" appeared in 'The Bookman' journal in late 1914 and early 1915 - as it was, by the standards of the age, relatively open in discussing sensitive matters. For instance, he alludes to Stevenson's use of prostitutes in his youth, and claims that he consummated his relationship with Fanny shortly after they met - when she was still married to another man ("their union was immediate and complete"). Such openness offended Fanny's daughter (and Stevenson's stepdaughter) Isobel Field, and led him withdraw the book shortly after publication in October 1915. Hamilton's reasons for doing so appear in a copy of the suppressed issue now held in the Beinecke Library of Yale University, which has inscription by him on the front fly leaf, dated 1936. Hamilton states that the issue was suppressed "in deference to various objections adduced by the step-daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, - Mrs. Salisbury Field [Isobel] & her personal reactions seemed more important to me than a disinterested insistence on the facts of history." Hamilton goes on to reveal that many of Stevenson's friends disapproved of his action, including Sir Sidney Colvin and Henry James, but, while believing that he had written nothing that was untrue and scandalous, he was convinced he had done the right thing. A new issue of the book appeared later in the same year, with a number of passages accordingly rewritten to remove anything controversial about Stevenson's relationship with his wife and with the opposite sex in general. This particular copy contains some press clippings, a note written by Hamilton's widow to a former owner of the book referring to her husband's death, and, of especial interest, a letter from the publishers, Doubleday Page & Co., dated October 27, 1915, to the New York publishing and bookselling firm Charles Scribner's Sons. The letter is requesting a recall of the first issue of the book and, predictably, it gives a different view of its suppression. The letter refers to "serious errors" in the book which Doubleday Page & Co. wish to correct. In addition to requesting the return of all unsold copies, they also ask if owners of the book can be traced and asked to return their "imperfect" copies, which will be replaced with copies of the corrected edition. Inevitably a few copies, such as this one, must have slipped through the net.
ShelfmarkRB.m.698
Reference Sources"A Stevenson library: catalogue of a collection of writings by and about Robert Louis Stevenson formed by Edwin J. Beinecke" (New Haven, 1951-64) No. 1304
Acquired on19/02/10
AuthorScotland. Estates.
TitleProclamation welcher Gestalt Carolus Stuard Prince von Schottlandt und Walles Koenig in Schottlandt und Irrlandt den 5. Februarii S.V. 1649, zu Edenburg in Schottlandt solenniter und offentlich aussgeruffen und proclamirt worden.
ImprintFrankfurt : Philipps Fievet
Date of Publication1649
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is one of two recorded German-language translations of the proclamation issued by the Estates of the Scottish Parliament in February 1649, proclaiming Charles II king. Charles's father had been executed in England, without Scottish approval, on 30 January that year and the Scottish Parliament had moved swiftly to recognise him as heir a few days later. The Scots' recognition of Charles II came with a price: they demanded from the new king satisfaction concerning religion, union, and the peace of Scotland, according to the covenants. The existence of two German translations of the proclamation can be seen as evidence of how events in England and Scotland at that time, and in particular the public execution of a reigning monarch, Charles I, were of great interest to people in continental Europe.
ShelfmarkRB.m.697
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/01/10
AuthorBarclay, John
TitleEuphormionis Lusinini.
ImprintOxford: Henry Cripps,
Date of Publication1634
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is an early English edition of the works of Scottish author John Barclay (1582-1621) which consists of five separate works: both parts of his satirical work "Euphormionis Lusinini Saytricon", the "Apologia" he wrote to defend the work, his "Icon Animorum", and the "Veritatis Lachrymae", an attack on the Jesuit order, which was actually written by the French author Claude-Barthélemy Morisot. The book has been bought for its provenance. As well as marginal readers' marks, it has annotations in a 17th-century hand on the front and back pastedowns and final leaf which show that the book was also used for the conveying of messages between Scotland and England. The back pastedown has a MS list of towns in South West Scotland and North West England (presumably stops on a drove road, the distances between each of the towns in miles appear to be written next to them) and an inscription on the final leaf informs a Robert Watson that a John Andrew will be arriving in Carlisle with a "8 or 9 pack[s]" but will not be arriving until Friday, so Watson is asked to keep any packs destined for Scotland until he arrives.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.005
Acquired on19/01/10
AuthorDarwin, Charles.
TitleOn the origin of species by means of natural selection. [2nd edition]
ImprintLondon: John Murray,
Date of Publication1860
LanguageEnglish
NotesDarwin's "Origin of Species" is one of the most important, influential and controversial books to have been published in the English language. With the acquisition of this second edition NLS now has copies all six editions published by John Murray in Darwin's lifetime (1809-1882). The first edition sold out on the day of publication in November 1859, the second edition accordingly appeared in January the following year to meet public demand. Three thousand copies were printed. John Murray had asked Darwin to begin revising the text as soon as the first edition had appeared in print and the second edition can be recognised immediately by the date, by the words 'fifth thousand', and the correct spelling of 'Linnean' on the title page. There is also a minor change to the text with the 'whale-bear story' (where Darwin speculated on a possible evolutionary link between whales and bears, much to the later amusement of his opponents) edited down, and a misprint of the word 'species' has been corrected.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2771
Reference SourcesThe Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
Acquired on15/12/09
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