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 727 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 727:

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Author[Anon]
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.3.210.09
Acquired on13/08/10
Author[Anon]
TitleExcise a comical hieroglyphical epistle
Imprint[London]: I. Williams
Date of Publication1763
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unusual satirical broadside attacking the unpopular Scottish prime minister John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792). Engraved throughout, it takes the former of a rebus letter from 'Beelzebub' to the Earl of Bute. It is headed by representations of the Devil (Beelzebub) with a fork for a foot, and a portrait of Lord Bute, which, unusually, is not a caricature but is a faithful representation of Allan Ramsay's portrait of Bute. The letter suggests, through the liberal use of engraved symbolic illustrations, that following Bute's 'diabolic' conclusion of the peace with France in 1762 and the 'master stroke' of the cider tax, Bute should introduce taxes on other food and drink, "for why should the Vulgar (who are no more than Brutes in your Opinion) have anything to Eat above Grass without paying Tribute to their Superiors". The cider tax had actually been proposed by Bute's chancellor of the exchequer as a means of paying off the government's debts that it had accrued whilst waging the Seven Years War. Bute defended it in the House of Lords and it was passed on 1 April 1763. The tax was hugely unpopular, as it gave excise men the right to search private dwellings; riots broke out in the West Country and in the streets of London, where Lord Bute's windows were smashed. This broadside, dated "Pandemonium 1st April 1763", was part of the protest against Bute and his government. His opponents did not have long to wait to see Bute's downfall. Only 8 days after the bill was passed Bute had resigned from office, wearied by all the vicious attacks on him. The cider tax was eventually repealed in 1765, but Bute remained the target of satirists throughout the 1760s, being suspected of influencing the government behind the scenes.
ShelfmarkAP.6.213.06
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on30/08/13
Author[Anon]
TitleThe agreable [sic] contrast between the British hero and the Italian fugitive.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication[1746]
LanguageEnglish
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".
ShelfmarkRB.l.253
Acquired on26/06/09
Author[Anon]
TitleEarnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.
ImprintEdinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.
Date of Publication1757
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2794
Reference SourcesIsabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.
Acquired on09/07/10
Author[Anon]
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
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.l.251
Reference SourcesAntoin E. Murphy, 'The Genesis of Macroeconomics', Oxford, 2009.
Acquired on18/06/09
Author[Anon]
TitleTherese philosophe
ImprintGlascow [Glasgow]
Date of Publication1773
LanguageFrench
NotesThis is a very rare 1773 printing of the French erotic novel Therese Philosophe (Therese the philosopher), not recorded in ESTC, WorldCat or COPAC. It has a false 'Glascow' (Glasgow) imprint, but was probably printed on the Continent, in Paris or the Netherlands. The work first appeared in 1748 and was reprinted several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, becoming a bestseller - in modern parlance an "underground classic". It has been attributed to the marquis d'Argens (originally by the marquis de Sade, in his "Histoire de Juliette") and to Arles de Montigny, among others. The plot concerns the sexual adventures of a young bourgeois woman, Therese, who becomes a student of a Jesuit priest Father Dirrag, who is also counselling another female student, Mlle. Eradice. Father Dirrag and Mlle. Eradice were anagrams of Catherine Cadiere and Jean-Baptiste Girard, who in 1730 were involved in a highly-publicised trial in France for an illicit relationship between priest and student. After various adventures Therese ends up as the mistress of a wealthy Count, to whom she recounts her life story. The novel combines pornography with discussion of philosophical issues, including materialism, hedonism and atheism. It also depicts the sexual repression of women at the time of the Enlightenment, and abuse of power by representatives of the Church. This particular copy, which is in its original wrappers, is illustrated with 16 very graphic engravings. Jules Gay, in his "Bibliographie des Ouvrages Relatifs a l'Amour, aux Femmes, au Mariage [etc]", records 20 plates (including frontispiece) in this edition, as in the London [i.e. Paris?] 1771 edition, but there are no indication of any missing plates in NLS copy and the plates in this edition are different to the London 1771 edition.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2859
Acquired on31/05/13
Author[Anon]
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]
LanguageItalian
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.
ShelfmarkRB.el.29
Acquired on11/06/09
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
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 Island 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
Author[Anon]
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]
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.208.12
Acquired on02/05/07
Author[Anon]
TitleJacobi des Andern aus Franckreich, in Gendancken nach Engeland.
ImprintCoelln [Cologne]: Bey Peter Hammern,
Date of Publication1696
LanguageGerman
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.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.041
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Marteau
Acquired on14/05/10
Author[Anon]
TitleA particular account of the cruel murder of Mrs. Thompson & in the city of Dublin
ImprintGlasgow: John Muir
Date of Publicationc. 1821
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkAP.4.208.13
Acquired on02/05/07
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
Author[Anon]
TitleAccount of a most melancholy and dreadful accident! Loss of the Comet steam-boat. 70 persons drowned.
Imprint[London] : Printed for J. Catnach,
Date of Publication[1825]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside ballad combines a prose account of a maritime disaster with a poem commemorating the event, it also contains an appropriately melodramatic woodcut illustration of the sinking of the steam boat Comet. The Comet was the second steam boat owned by Henry Bell of Helensburgh to bear this name, the original Comet paddle steamer having been used in the first commercially successful steam boat service from 1812 onwards. When the original Comet was shipwrecked in 1820, Comet II took over the service, operating routes on the River Clyde and the west of Scotland. On 21 October 1825 she collided with the steamer Ayr off Kempock Point, near Gourock, and sank with the loss of 62 of the 80 passengers. News of the disaster was spread not only by the newspapers but also by contemporary street literature, namely the popular ballads printed in major British cities. The printer/publisher of this broadside was James "Jemmy" Catnach, the most prolific producer of street literature in London, who was based in the Seven Dials area, the centre of street ballad publishing at the time. Catnach, the son of a Scottish printer, employed a number of hack balladeers to compose poems relating to disasters such as these. In contrast to the rather sober prose account (which states incorrectly that 70 people had died) the author of the ballad wastes no opportunity in wringing out every last drop of pathos from the sinking; from a newly-married couple dying in each other's arms and small children being parted from the desperate grasp of their mothers, the awfulness of the event is conveyed to a public eager for the latest sensation.
ShelfmarkAP.el.212.01
Acquired on23/03/12
Author[Anon]
TitleA dramatic dialogue between the King of France and the Pretender.
ImprintLondon: printed by T. Gardner
Date of Publication1746
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.m.701
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Oxford DNB
Acquired on09/08/10
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