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

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Important Acquisitions 166 to 180 of 772:

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TitleScotch gallantry display'd: or the life and adventures of the unparralel'd [sic] Col. Fr-nc-s Ch-rt-s, impartially related. With some remarks on other writers on this subject.
Imprint London: printed for, and sold by the booksellers in town and country,
Date of Publication1730
NotesThis is the rare first edition of a pamphlet which gives an account of the life of the infamous Francis Charteris (c.1665­-1732), gambler and rake, who was born in Edinburgh, and whose family were major landowners in Scotland. The work was published at the height of his notoriety; in December 1729 Charteris was charged with the attempted rape of Ann Bond, one of his maidservants, who had been in his employment for only a few days. After hearing testimony from the girl herself, as well as from fellow servants, Charteris was found guilty and in February 1730 was sentenced to death by hanging. It was unusual at the time for a gentleman to be punished for what many contemporaries considered an act of gallantry, and his conviction may have been secured by influential parties hostile to Charteris. The rape, however, was just one such in a long career of gambling, extortion, and serial seduction, usually of tall young lower class girls (Charteris was 6 feet tall), recently arrived in London, ensnared by one of his employees and brought to his houses in the West End. If unable to secure their favours by fair means, he would resort to force. Charteris, however, escaped the gallows. On the advice of judges, privy council, and his advocate, Duncan Forbes (another legatee of Charteris's will), George II granted him a full pardon on 10 April. The trial and its aftermath had incurred expenses amounting to £15,000, but Charteris's personal fortune was estimated at £200,000 so this was a sum he could well afford. He may have bought his freedom, but for the rest of his life Charteris was vilified, and was once physically attacked in his coach. He left London for good in 1730, retiring to his property in Lancashire before returning to Scotland in February 1732. He died the following month at his Stony Hill estate near Musselburgh, after using "Opiates in great Quantities" (The Country Journal, 4 March 1732. At his burial in the family vault at the Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, the populace gave a "loud Huzza" (Fog's Weekly Journal, 11 March 1732). Only one copy (in the British Library) is recorded in ESTC.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/09
TitleEssay on the memory and character of Dorophagus, the great patriot of the North.
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1743?]
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."
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/04/10
Title[A group of 8 poetical broadsides, printed on silk and dedicated to Count Agostino Scotti dei Duglassi]
Imprint[Padua: Giuseppe e Fratelli Penada & Gio. Antonio Conzatti]
Date of Publication[c. 1800]
NotesThis is a collection of Italian poetical broadsides composed to celebrate Count Agostino Scotti dei Duglassi's graduation from university in Padua with a law degree. The Scotti dei Duglassi were a branch of the Scottish Douglas family who settled in northern Italy in the 16th-century. The poems are printed on coloured silk (three on ivory-coloured silk, one on pink, three on light blue and one on yellow) four of them have woodcut headpieces. The texts of all 8 poems are different. The Count was born c. 1776 and presumably graduated in his early 20s, so these broadsides were printed c. 1800. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 and is one of the oldest universities in Italy (second only after Bologna). Graduation ceremonies in Padua were very important and solemn events and became very popular during the sixteenth century, often involving all the citizens of the city. After the ceremony a banquet took place and the graduates celebrated together with their family and friends. In many cases, the graduates' relatives arranged for the publication of sonnets, poems and songs to announce their graduation. These publications were written by the graduates' friends or parents and praised the intellectual abilities and the moral strength of the graduates. It is rare for such poems to have survived, let alone ones printed in silk in such fine condition. One of the broadsides has a contemporary ink inscription: Pellegrin Pasqualigo Friulano.
Acquired on11/06/09
TitleThe agreable [sic] contrast between the British hero and the Italian fugitive.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1746]
NotesThis is an engraved satirical broadside printed in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, which gives an indication of the anti-Jacobite sentiments in the capital. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the "Italian fugitive", sits in a library reading and leaning his elbow on "The Pope's Bull". At his feet lies a print of the battle of Culloden and a broken anchor. He is flanked by Britannia and Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland (the "British hero") who both issue rebukes to him. At the foot of the broadside is engraved "Here happy Britain tells her joyfull [sic] tales, And may again since Williams arms prevails".
Acquired on26/06/09
TitleStates of the affairs of Messrs Douglas, Heron, and company, at August 1773, when they finally gave up business.
Imprint[Edinburgh: s.n.]
Date of Publication1780
NotesThis is an unrecorded broadside of 1780, presumably printed in Edinburgh, which summarises the financial state of the failed Ayr Bank, one of the most dramatic crashes in the history of early Scottish, indeed European, banking. The bank had been founded in 1769 by the firm of Douglas, Heron & Co. with the motto "Pro bon publico", as a response to a rapidly growing demand in Scotland for banking facilities. Credit was tight among the existing banks and there was a general belief that a new bank could unleash the potential of land ownership in Scotland. The bank was supported by some of the leading aristocratic landowners in Scotland, its credit backed by the collateral of large tracts of land. However, in order to support land improvement schemes, the Ayr Bank adopted policies that proved to be far too risky. Adam Smith, would later comment in his 'Wealth of Nations', "this bank was far more liberal than any other had been, both in granting cash accounts, and in discounting bills of exchange" (II.ii.73). By June 1772 the bank had issued £1.2 million through advances and bills of exchange, around two thirds of the currency of the country. In the same month, news of the collapse of a London bank, which had extensive dealings with the Ayr Bank, reached Scotland; a financial crisis ensued which led to the eventual collapse of all but three of the country's 30 private banks. There was a run on the Ayr Bank forcing it to suspend payments on June 25. To shore up the loan book of the bank its partners had to put up the collateral of their lands; these lands were gradually sold over the following years to meet the bank's huge losses. The collapse of the bank was thus a major blow to the great Scottish landowning families, including Adam Smith's patron and former pupil, the Duke of Buccleuch, who was a major shareholder in it.
Reference SourcesAntoin E. Murphy, 'The Genesis of Macroeconomics', Oxford, 2009.
Acquired on18/06/09
TitleThe Poetical Works of the inimitable Don Carlos, commonly called the Young Chevalier.
ImprintLondon: J. Oldcastle,
Date of Publication1745
NotesThis is the first edition of a very rare and unusual attack on Bonnie Prince Charlie, which involved printing and attributing to him two salacious and immoral French poems. According to the anonymous author/editor of the introduction, the purpose of the publication was to show how very odious "our bold adventurer's character" must appear "in the eyes of all who have the least regard for religion and morality". The author goes on to express that the wish that the publication "will have a good effect, not only by preventing unthinking men from joining the Pretender's son, but likewise by opening the eyes of those deluded wretches who have already taken up arms in his cause". The dating of the introduction, 20 October 1745, shows that the publication was conceived at the height of the panic about the Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Charles's army had taken Edinburgh in September; he was now holding court at Holyrood and waiting for reinforcements for his expedition to England, which began at the end of the month. Charles was counting on receiving support from Jacobites in England and this pamphlet was an attempt to deter would be recruits to his cause. The two poems printed here, 'L' Ode Priapique' and 'Épitre à Uranie', are in fact not by Charles, as the anonymous author/editor must have known. The former is a famous piece of erotica by the French dramatist Alexis Piron (1689-1773), written in c. 1710, and which had circulated widely in manuscript. The version printed here is in 14 stanzas (other printings are in 17 or in an expurgated 11) and varies substantially from the more widely-known versions of the text. The latter poem is actually 'Le pour et le contre', an anti-religious poem by Voltaire probably written in 1722, first printed under a false "Londres" imprint in 1738 - this is its first true English printing. The author/editor concludes in a final paragraph that "as there is no living in this Protestant kingdom with such a religion and such morals as his, he had even best return from whence he came - ". ESTC records only two other copies of this work, both of them are in England.
Acquired on19/09/09
TitleA melancholy account of several barbarous murders & lately committed in the counties of Limerick, Clonmel, Kildare and Carlow
ImprintGlasgow: T. Duncan
Date of Publication[c. 1800]
NotesThis is a rare Glasgow broadside outlining recent murders committed in Ireland by groups of "armed banditties". After the failure of the 1798 Rebellion pockets of armed resistance to British rule were still to be found in parts of the country, with gangs carrying out robberies and reprisals on anyone with loyalist sympathies. The main series of murders mentioned here were the result of an attack on the Boland family home in Manister, Co. Limerick in March 1800. (Justice in this case turned out to be swift and brutal: contemporary newspaper accounts subsequently record that the following month two men, Henry Stokes and Patrick Sheehan, were found guilty by a general court martial at Limerick of the murder of the male members of the Boland family. The men were hanged, after which their bodies were brought to Limerick and thrown into a mass grave, the 'Croppies'-hole', at the new gaol.) The broadside briefly refers to the "state of fermentation" in "that unhappy country" but is more concerned with stressing the barbarity of the crimes being committed and also alludes to the apparent complicity of the Catholic church in the outrages by offering absolution to convicted murderers.
Acquired on02/05/07
TitleA particular account of the cruel murder of Mrs. Thompson & in the city of Dublin
ImprintGlasgow: John Muir
Date of Publicationc. 1821
NotesAccounts of murders were a stock theme in 19th-century broadsides, the more gruesome and tragic the better. This moralising Glasgow broadside is based on an account in the "Dublin Journal" of the brutal murder of 19 year-old Mrs Thompson in the house of a certain Captain Peck in Portland Place, and would have been of interest to the large Irish community in Glasgow. Two servant women, Bridget Ennis and Bridget Butterly, appear to have worked together on a plan to burgle the house. During the robbery Mrs Thompson was murdered, apparently stabbed with a knife and beaten with a hot poker. The broadside typically focuses on Mrs Thompson's youth and beauty and the fact that she was the mother of a three week-old child. The author draws some comfort from the fact that the culprits were swiftly apprehended, Butterly having aroused suspicion by using a blood-stained £10 note at a local grocer's shop. The Library also has in its collections another broadside reporting the execution of Ennis and Butterly on 21 May 1821 and Butterly's public confession (shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(20) - digitised on the Word on the Street (http://www.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/14675/criteria/butterly)), which gives further details of the crime. Butterly was a former servant and lover of Captain Peck, who had a miscarriage when pregnant with his child and was later dismissed from service for speaking disrespectfully of "Miss" [sic] Thompson. Along with Ennis she decided to rob her former employer and to use the proceeds to flee to England. The women's motivation for the robbery as revenge on the predatory Captain Peck is thus made clear. Butterly's decision to murder Mrs/Miss Thompson, against Ennis's wishes, is seen as jealousy on her part, the victim being presumably Peck's mistress and the mother of his child.
Acquired on02/05/07
TitleLife of Arthur Lord Balmerino & to which are added, some memoirs of the lives of the two other lords, the Earls of Kilmarnock and Cromertie [sic].
ImprintLondon: C. Whitefield
Date of Publication1746
NotesAfter the failure of the rebellion of 1745/46, the leading Jacobites, who had been captured or had turned themselves in, were taken to London and tried for treason. The trials of these men and subsequent fate of these men excited a lot of public interest in 1746, in particular the fate of four Scottish aristocrats: Lord Balmerino, the earls of Kilmarnock and Cromarty, and Lord Lovat. Balmerino and Kilmarnock were publicly beheaded on 18 August for their roles in the rebellion. Cromarty was also sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to imprisonment nine days before the planned execution; Lovat had been captured in the Highlands and was now awaiting trial in the Tower of London (he would be tried in December and executed the following year). A number of 'hack' biographies of these eminent rebels were quickly published to meet the demand for information, including the ones printed in this book. The initial title page of this particular edition was clearly issued before the final contents had been decided, as it does not mention the final two biographies, which cover Jenny Cameron, 'the reputed mistress of the deputy Pretender', and Lord Lovat. The tone of the whole book is strongly anti-Jacobite as can be seen in the inclusion of a biography of Jenny or "Bonnie Jeannie" Cameron, who is depicted as an amoral gold-digger. Little is known of the real Jean Cameron, but her life almost certainly bore no relation to the account published here. Despite the sensational tone of the biographies, in the detailed description of their conduct leading up to their executions the anonymous author shows respect for the brave and dignified manner in which Balmerino and Kilmarnock met their deaths. This particular edition was published in fifteen parts and has five portraits engraved by William Parr. A later edition was published by Whitefield in the same year with a general title page that mentions all five biographies, but this earlier edition appears to be very rare, with only three known UK locations listed in ESTC.
Reference SourcesESTC; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Acquired on22/01/06
TitleA dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender.
ImprintLondon: printed by T. Gardner
Date of Publication1746
NotesThis 12-page pamphlet contains an unrecorded poem in blank verse printed in London in 1746. The anonymous work, signed only 'By a young gentleman of Oxford', is an imaginative recreation of a conversation between King Louix XV of France (1710-1774) and Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), known as the Young Pretender, following events at the Battle of Culloden. The Battle of Culloden, on 16 April 1746, marked an end to the Jacobite uprising, which started in 1745 and Charles Stuart's attempt to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. While the King refers to Prince William, duke of Cumberland (1721-1765) as 'that beardless, unexperienc'd Boy', the Pretender recounts the abilities of the Duke in battle: 'But, soon as e'er the sad and dreadful Name / Of Cumberland was whisper'd through the Lines, / Each Face grew pale, a sudden Panick seiz'd / Each Scottish Heart, as if some mighty Power / With him had join'd, to disappoint our Hopes.' The Pretender goes on to relate his troops' valiant attempts before they 'fell a victim to their dreadful Duke', and Charles himself was forced 'reluctant, from the bloody Field'. The poem ends on a pessimistic note with an order to the Pretender from the King: 'Betake thee strait to some religious Choir, / ... Where, in Peace you may forever live, / And think no more of ruling o'er a People, / Who both despise Religion and their Prince.' This is the only recorded copy of the poem and supplements the Library's rich holdings of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB
Acquired on09/08/10
TitleThe child's catechism in two parts. The first, treating of God... The second, of mans recovery... By a well-wisher to the education of children.
ImprintEdinburgh: [s.n.],
Date of Publication1751
NotesLearning the catechism was an essential part of religious education in the 18th century. Catechisms accordingly were a staple of Scottish printing houses from the 17th century onwards. In the 1690s a catechism for children by the late Robert Leighton, bishop of Dunblane, was printed in Edinburgh. Leighton's catechism was followed in the first half of the 18th century by a number of similar children's catechisms, with shorter and simplified text, were printed in Scotland. This particular version of 1751, by an anonymous 'Well-wisher to the Education of Children', was originally composed for a four-year-old girl, and was continued for her with additional sections until she was twelve. The last eight pages comprise "Some forms of prayers for children." Only three known copies of this particular printed catechism have been recorded, none of them in the UK.
Acquired on13/08/10
TitleJacobi des Andern aus Franckreich, in Gendancken nach Engeland.
ImprintCoelln [Cologne]: Bey Peter Hammern,
Date of Publication1696
NotesThe Library has one of the major collections of printed material relating to Jacobites and Jacobitism, including foreign-language works concerning the exiled Stuart court. This is an uncommon first (and only?) German-language printing of an anonymous work on James VII and II, which had first been printed in French in 1696 under the title "Histoire secrette [sic] du voyage de Jaques II a Calais pour passer en Angleterre". The book deals with the last attempt to restore James to the British throne after his exile in 1688. Early in 1696 Louis XIV of France lent ships and men to James for an invasion of England. To coincide with the arrival of the French, a rising was secretly organized by the Jacobites in England. However, as neither side would take the initiative, the murder of William III, planned by a group of Jacobites in London, was seen as a way out of the deadlock. The plot was betrayed on the eve of the murder attempt and most of the conspirators were apprehended. The assassination plot aroused enormous contemporary interest throughout Europe as evidenced by this book. By supporting the assassination attempt, James came out of the whole affair in an unflattering light. In England there was a backlash of loyalty to William and the Jacobite cause there was badly undermined. The place of publication for this book is uncertain as it appears under the 'Peter Hammer' imprint. Books in French with a 'Pierre Marteau' (French for Peter Hammer) imprint had started appearing in the 1660s. Allegedly located in the German city of Cologne the publishing house never actually existed. The fictitious imprint was used by booksellers and printers in the Netherlands, France and Germany who wanted to publish politically controversial books to avoid open identification and censorship. German-language 'Peter Hammer' books started appearing in the late 1680s. German intellectuals, who were opposed to the despotic character of the French monarchy and who supported the likes of William III in his wars against Louis XIV, used the imprint to print books such as this one, which was critical of the French monarch and of those, like the exiled King James, who were under his influence.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Marteau
Acquired on14/05/10
TitleEarnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.
ImprintEdinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.
Date of Publication1757
NotesSwearing, drunkenness and working on Sundays are still issues in contemporary society, as they were over 250 years ago when this stern tract was printed warning of the dangers in indulging in these vices. The tract was printed for the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor (SPRKP), an organisation founded in London in 1750, which was the first of the evangelical tract societies that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was founded by Protestant dissenters, but included many Anglicans among its members; its object was to promote religion by distributing bibles and cheap tracts, usually written by dissenting ministers, to the poor. The Society co-existed with the establishment church-orientated Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and later with the Society for Distributing Religious Tracts among the Poor, founded by the Methodist leader John Wesley in 1782. In 1756 branches of the SPRK were founded in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the same lines as the London model. The anonymous "Earnest invitation" is one of at least three Society publications printed by Ebenezer Robertson in Edinburgh in the late 1750s. Very few of Society's publications survive and there is only one other copy of this book recorded in ESTC, in the British Library's collections. This particular tract covers three sins: swearing and profanity, with particular regard to the army and navy; 'the great sin of profaning the Lord's day by worldly business and pleasures'; and 'the great evil of the sin of drunkenness'. The author may, according to lists of books published by the SPRKP, be the evangelical minister Isaac Toms (1709-1801) from Hadleigh in Suffolk, who is known to have written five tracts for the Society. In the tract the author thunders, "It is not to be doubted but the glaring impiety and gross profaneness of our armies and fleets, and the bulk of the nation, had had a great hand in raising the storm of divine judgements on man and beast". Published at a time when Britain was fighting the Seven Years War on the Continent and the French in North America, this was alarming stuff intended to shock sinners into repentance. Whether the book had any effect on the profane of Edinburgh is open to question. The SPRKP's influence in Scotland appears to have been confined to the 18th century, but elsewhere it lasted into the early part of the 20th century, although it is now largely forgotten.
Reference SourcesIsabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.
Acquired on09/07/10
TitleWhiskiana, or, the drunkard's progress. A poem. In Scottish verse.
ImprintGlasgow: printed by A. Napier
Date of Publication1812
NotesThis is a poem in Scots dealing with the "evil of habitual intoxication", which mixes humour with a serious moral message. The anonymous author, 'Anti-Whiskianus', reveals in the preface that he was originally from the village of Ceres in Fife and wrote the poem between 1810 and 1811. "Whiskiana" is in five parts covering the progress of a drunkard from inebriation to redemption: a description of the drunkard, his wife's lament for his "infatuated conduct", his remorse, his repentance, and finally his complete reformation when he swaps the bottle for a prayer book. The author acknowledges Scots popular poet Hector Macneill as an inspiration; Macneill had written a ballad against the evils of drink, "Scotland's Skaith, or, The History of Will and Jean", first published in 1795, which quickly became a popular favourite and which is quoted on the title page. "Whiskiana" can be regarded as a further sign of growing unease among some Scots about the social problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Scotland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was becoming an increasingly urbanised society due to the Industrial Revolution, with a growing and thirsty population, and there was little attempt to control and regulate alcohol production, illicit spirits being found in most taverns. 'Anti-Whiskianus' has no qualms in his preface about criticising the late Robert Burns, indeed the poem is meant to "counteract the excessive praises lavished on whisky by Burns". The author may have been influenced by James Currie's biography in his four-volume edition of the works of Burns, first published in 1800, in which Currie controversially mentioned that Burns drank to excess. He may also have in mind the traditions of Scottish conviviality exemplified by the male drinking clubs of the 18th-century to which many Scottish literary figures, including Burns, belonged, 'How comes it why ilk Scottish bard/Their sonnets always interlard, Strong recommending drinking hard, Wit to inspire?/Can sober thinking e'er retard/Poetic fire?" For men such as 'Anti-Whiskianus' temperance was the only solution to the problem; such sentiments would lead in the late 1820s to the establishment of temperance societies in Scotland. This appears to be the only published version of the poem, no other copies have been recorded in other major libraries.
Reference SourcesJack S. Blocker, David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrrell eds "Alcohol and temperance in modern history: an international encyclopedia" v. 1 Santa Barbara, Calif., c. 2003.
Acquired on15/01/11
TitleOverland route to India and China.
ImprintLondon: T. Nelson and Sons,
Date of Publication1858
NotesIn the 19th century the firm of Thomas Nelson became of the most successful publishing houses in the world. From its bookselling origins in Edinburgh at the end of the 18th century the firm expanded into publishing and printing. This particular book is an example of their success in printing good quality, affordable, small format books. Despite the title, this anonymous work describes a sea journey to China, stopping in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt and India, Ceylon, Hong Kong and Singapore, before ending up in Shanghai. The only real overland part of the journey was travelling from Alexandria to Suez (the Suez canal was yet to be built), which involved, according to the author, "incessant galloping and jolting over the parched desert" as the railway line through the desert was still in construction. The book has particularly attractive colour plates, produced using an early chromolithograph technique based on G. J. Cox's invention of transferring steel and copperplate engraving onto lithographic stone but using a combination of light blue, chocolate brown, and beige. This technique proved to be a cost effective way to print colour illustrations. "Overland route" appears to be a particularly rare Nelson publication, with only two other UK library locations in WorldCat.
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
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