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 721 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 181 to 195 of 721:
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|Author||Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun Ramsay, Marquis of|
|Title||Copy of a minute by the Marquis of Dalhousie, dated February 28, 1856 reviewing his administration in India, from January 1848, to March 1856|
|Imprint||Printed by J. & H. Cox|
|Date of Publication||1856|
|Notes||This volume contains a presentation inscription on the title page to the Caledonian United Service Club by Colonel W. Geddes, C.B. It is one of the only examples extant of a review of a Governor-General's period in office from the East-India Company Period. Later reviews appear for succeeding Viceroys although their scope is often limited to the Home Department. This report covers both Foreign and Home Departments. Dalhousie's introduction suggests that this is the first example of such a report on administration, perhaps inspired because of his longer than usual tenure in India. A vast range of subjects are covered: Thuggees, tea, vaccination, female education, natural resources, the port of Singapore, the Burma war and the Sikh war.|
|Title||Copy of a Paper to the Magistrates of Edinburgh|
|Date of Publication||1794|
|Notes||These single-sheet items record the unusual paranoia afflicting a man who describes himself as a journeyman weaver. John Grant believed that he was being chased and tormented by none other than the philosopher David Hume, and wrote to these various public figures to seek their assistance. In the first printed letter to the magistrates of Edinburgh, which Grant dates 'Edinburgh, July 11. 1794.', he explains that the persecution has now lasted for 26 years. Hume has followed him through Scotland, England and Ireland, bribing people to poison Grant's food. Grant acknowledges that an accusation directed against such a respected philosopher may cause surprise, but suggests that 'ungoverned passions supersede learning by weakening the understanding.' Grant is particularly roused by the injustice of the monument erected to Hume in Calton churchyard (presumably Grant did not accept that this monument existed because Hume had died in 1776). Laid on the back of this paper is a manuscript letter, possibly autograph, from Grant to one Doctor Gleghorn, complaining at the doctor's decision not to admit him to Glasgow Infirmary. The exact nature of his illness is unclear, but he expresses dissatisfaction at the doctor's suggested remedies of wearing flannel against the skin and rubbing the legs with spirits: the obvious conclusion is that David Hume has told Gleghorn what to say. Both these letters speak of enclosing other papers, which are probably no longer extant.
Neither printed item is recorded in ESTC.|
|Title||Copy of verses on the Tay Bridge Disaster|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||The Tay Bridge Disaster of 28 December 1879, in which some 75 people died when the bridge collapsed as their train was crossing, inspired many outpourings of verse. The bookseller here felt impelled to state 'NOT BY McGONAGALL', as William McGonagall's poem beginning 'Beautiful railway bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!' is one of his most notorious compositions. This broadside poem perhaps scans better than McGonagall's efforts, but it is still essentially sentimental doggerel. Incredible though it may seem, the writer thought that this was an appropriate composition to be sung, and suggests that this be done to the air known as 'Rock me to sleep'. There is even a chorus: 'Down 'neath the waters, down in the deep, / With the train for their coffin, in the river they sleep, / The Tay was the grave that received their last breath - / Near 100 poor souls went from pleasure to Death.' If this seems in rather poor taste, it compares quite well with the lurid media reporting of modern-day tragedies.|
|Author||Byron, George Gordon |
|Title||Correspondance de Lord Byron avec un ami.|
|Imprint||Paris: A. et W. Galignani|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||As the publishers of this work say, 'Everything concerning this great poet & cannot fail to excite the most lively interest'. R.C. Dallas' 'The Correspondence of Lord Byron' has a curious history. An author himself, Robert Dallas (1754-1824) was connected to Byron by marriage (his sister married Byron's uncle). The two corresponded in the early years of Byron's career, and Dallas had an editorial role in Byron's early poetry. In return Byron gave him the copyright to the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and The Corsair, although later he seems to have dropped the personal and literary friendship. In possession of Byron's letters to his mother during his eastern travels, as well as of their own correspondence, Dallas prepared an edition of all these letters which he planned to publish after Byron's death in 1824. However Hobhouse and Hanson, Byron's executors and self-appointed keepers of his memory, took legal action to prevent its publication. Dallas died soon after, and his son published 'The Correspondence' in Paris in 1825: as the French publishers point out, the attempt to suppress the book only served to whet the public's appetite for it.
While the English edition of this book is well known, copies of this French translation are scarce (none are recorded in COPAC). The publishers state that they had originally obtained the French rights to the book and had intended to publish it at the same time as the English edition; their translation was delayed by the legal action, and now they are publishing the two at the same time. These two volumes therefore provide eloquent testimony both to Byron's continental popularity, and to the controversy he was still capable of arousing after his death.
|Title||Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer|
|Imprint||London : R T. Harvey and Co.|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||William Falconer, born in Edinburgh in 1732, was both a sailor and poet. As a young man he joined a merchant vessel at Leith where he served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, he was servant to Archibald Campbell (1726?-1780) who was then purser on a man-of-war. Campbell was the author of Lexiphanes: A Dialogue Imitated from Lucian (1774), and it was he who discovered and encouraged Falconer's literary tastes. In 1751 Falconer published a poem on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales and contributed a few poems to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' In 1762 he published his chief poem, the 'Shipwreck,' which was partly based upon his own earlier experience of being one of only three survivors of a shipwreck on a voyage from Alexandria to Venice.
Although the preface to Cynthio to Leonora states that "the circumstances under which the following poem came into our possession, sufficiently evidence of its being the production of the author of the 'Shipwreck'", the attribution is, in fact, false. Cynthio to Leonora was first published in the Gentleman's Magazine for June and July 1738 (vol. viii, pp. 319, 370-1) and dated 1736. At that date Falconer would have been only 4 years old.
Reasons for a publisher in 1825 reviving a poem written nearly a century earlier may have to do with Falconer's enormous popularity in the first decades of the 19th century. By 1820 there were at least 46 different editions and impressions of 'The Shipwreck' and his works had been praised by Bryon and referred to by Coleridge in Sibylline Leaves. The temptation to publish a hitherto 'unpublished' Falconer poem was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up.
The pamphlet is nevertheless extremely rare and may be only extant copy: no bibliographic records have been found for it in NSTC, NUC, OCLC, RLIN, the Library of Congress, British Library, or the libraries at Harvard and Yale. It is bound together with four other titles: Man and the Animals by Mrs. Gordon; The Highlanders and Other Poems by Mrs. Grant, and Human Life, a Poem by Samuel Rogers.
Shipwreck, A Poem: with the life of the author / by J. S. Clarke. London, 1811.|
|Author||Craig, Thomas, Sir, 1538-1608.|
|Title||D. Thomae Cragii de Riccarton, equitis, ... jus feudale, tribus libris comprehensum: ... Editio tertia, prioribus multáo emendatior. ... Accessit rerum & verborum index locupletissimus, ... Opera & studio Jacobi Baillie|
|Imprint||Edinburgi : apud Tho. & Walt. Ruddimannos, 1732.|
|Date of Publication||1732|
|Notes||Contemporary Scottish binding of red goatskin, the covers tooled in gilt with a border composed of dog-tooth roll and a thistle and floral roll and featuring a centre diamond emblem comprised of roundels and semi-circles. The spine has been rebacked thus preserving the original spine and label. The spine is divided into seven panels with gilt scroll corners, the edges of the boards and turn-ins gilt tooled with thistle and bud roll. The endpapers are floral patterned Dutch gilt.
The tooling and patterns on this copy are very similar to that found on two other Scottish bindings in the NLS collections. Bdg.s.877, also published in 1732, and Bdg.l.8, published in 1734, both feature roundels and semi-circles on red leather.
The text was first published in London in 1655 and in Leipzig in 1716. It is the first systematic work on law in Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC T144476|
|Title||Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis|
|Imprint||Market Drayton: Tern Press|
|Date of Publication||2003|
|Notes||This is no. 3 of a limited edition of 25 copies of William Dunbar's "Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis". The book was produced by Nicholas and Mary Parry at the Tern Press, and is signed by both at the colophon. It is illustrated with ten black and white lithographs by Nicholas Parry. The design, printing, illustration and binding was done by the Parrys.
William Dunbar (ca. 1460-1513?) was probably from East Lothian. He graduated from the University of St Andrews with a master of arts in 1479. Between 1500 and 1513 he received a pension from King James IV as a member of the royal household in the service of James IV. Dunbar was employed both as a royal clerk or secretary and as the King's laureate.
The Scottish court provided Dunbar not only with his livelihood, but also with the primary audience for his poetry. Dunbar, who wrote in the tradition of Chaucer in Middle Scots, has been decsribed as the greatest of the "makaris", to use his own vernacular equivalent for poets. One of his best known poems is "The Thrissill and the rose", which celebrates the wedding of James IV to Margaret Tudor in 1503. He is also famous for the "Flyting between Dunbar and Kennedy", a comparative trial of wits, and "The Goldyn Targe", to name but two of his works.
"The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis" is Dunbar's greatest humorous satire. The sins, ranging from pride to gluttony, are depicted in all their repulsive deformity: it is a work of gloomy power.
Chepman and Myllar issued an edition of seven of Dunbar's poems in 1508; the first complete collection of his poetry was published in two volumes by the bibliophile David Laing in 1834.|
|Reference Sources||DNB, Reid, A. and Osborne, B.D.: Discovering Scottish Writers (Edinburgh 1997), Catholic Encyclopedia|
|Title||Dancing taught without a master. The ball-room companion containing all the fashionable dances of the day.|
|Imprint||Aberdeen : J. Daniel and Son and all booksellers|
|Date of Publication||1879|
|Notes||This little pocket manual contains instructions for over 18 of the most commonly performed dances at balls or assemblies in the late 19th century. It was intended as a reminder for people who had taken dancing lessons, rather than for those new to dancing. No pages in this copy have been opened. However, the contents of the entire work can be read as a single sheet which measures 28 cm. x 45 cm when unfolded. |
|Title||Das Leben Gottes in der Seele des Menchen oder die Natur und Vortreflichkeit der Christlichen Religion [Life of God in the soul of man]. |
|Imprint||Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin|
|Date of Publication||1756|
|Notes||This work by the Church of Scotland minister Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was first published in London in 1667. Widely regarded as an 'enduring religious classic' (ODNB), Scougal's manual of personal devotion was reprinted several times in the 18th century, the first North American edition appearing in 1741, printed by Rogers and Fowle of Boston. A German translation was commissioned by the Trustees of the Charitable Scheme [to promote Christian Knowledge among German immigrants into Pennsylvania] and printed by Benjamin Franklin's press in Philadelphia. German migration to Pennsylvania had started in the 1720s and Franklin, along with other Anglo-American leaders of the colony in the 1750s, regarded the large German presence as a potential threat to its future; the German settlers were in their eyes not only racially and physically different to the Anglo-Americans, but also ignorant of the kind of political liberties enjoyed by English and thus likely to subvert English values and rights. Franklin stated at this time, 'Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of us Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language and customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion.' The printing of Scougal's text in German was part of the process of 'anglifying' the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, along with the offer of free education in English-orientated schools. Although the overall aims of the Charitable Scheme foundered, due to the Germans' understandable mistrust of its motives, in his papers Franklin recorded that the work 'proved most acceptable at this time.' |
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Liam Riordan, "The Complexion of my Country" pp. 97-120 in 'Germans and Indians: Fantasies, Encounters, Projections' by Colin Gordon Calloway, Gerd Gmünden, Susanne Zantop (U of Nebraska Press, 2002)|
|Title||David Hume's vollkommne [sic] Republik [Idea of a perfect commonwealth].|
|Imprint||Leipzig: in der Schaeferischen Buchhandlung|
|Date of Publication||1799|
|Notes||David Hume's 'Idea of a perfect commonwealth' was first published as Essay XII of his "Political Discourses" in 1752. Hume's essay discusses previous authors' ideas of political utopia and sketches what he thought was the best form of government. Hume's perfect commonwealth is a very pragmatic affair - a republic with a government subject to many check and balances; he acknowledges "the resemblance that it bears to the commonwealth of the United Provinces [i.e Netherlands], a wise and renowned government". This is the very rare first German translation by a German professor at the University of Wuerzburg, Christian August Fischer (1771-1829). The title states that this is a free translation "frey nach dem Englischen", and the translator has made Hume's scepticism about politics and utopias more pronounced. Fischer is best known for his travel writing, although he also had a profitable sideline in writing erotic literature under the pseudonyms Adam Pruzum and Christian Althing. This particular copy was originally in the large library of the Dukes of Oettingen-Wallerstein, as can be seen from the book label on the front pastedown and stamp on the title page. The library's origins can be traced back to the late 15th-century; its holdings of contemporary German literature were considerably enhanced by Fuerst Kraft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallerstein (1748-1802) and his son Ludwig. A substantial part of the library is now in the University of Augsburg, the rest having been dispersed in the 20th century.|
|Title||Davington Library catalogue of books, 1905|
|Date of Publication||1905|
|Notes||A rare catalogue from the library in the hamlet of Davington, between Ettrick and Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire, which indicates the spread of the community library in rural Scotland. It is not known when exactly this library was established - the entry in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) written by Rev. William Brown mentions the growing popularity of a library lately established in Eskdalemuir parish and the 'moderate' terms of admission. However a copy of The Christian Monitor was presented to 'Eskdalemuir Library by the Rev. William Brown' in January 1831, which may indicate that a library was in the parish from the 1830s or earlier. Until then 'those fond of reading were subscribers to Westerkirk parish library', which was first established in 1792. Three years later Thomas Telford, the distinguished local and famous engineer had endowed this library and subequently that at Langholm with £1000 each. In 1868 a gift of 104 volumes was made to Davington Library by Westerkirk Parish Library. It is clear that in Eskadale there was a considerable demand for the printed word. There was a Free Church and a school in Davington , so it is possible that the library may have been funded by the church in some way.
This is the second printed catalogue of Davington library – the first, listing 755 items, dates from 1858. A total of 332 books are listed in alphabetical order by title with the press numbers and shelf letters. The stock ranged from popular periodicals such as Chambers's Journal, Good Words, Leisure Hour and Sunday at home to novels like Adam Bede, Vanity Fair, Barnaby Rudge, and The Heart of Midlothian, intriguing titles such as Abominations of modern society, How to be happy though married, Sports that kill as well as biographical and historical works.
It appears that the library at Davington (housed in the school) was in existence until c.1935; manuscript additions to the 1858 catalogue (now at Westerkirk) end with vol. 40 of the Border magazine (1935). When the school closed, possibly during the 1950s, many of the books came into the possession of Westerkirk Parish Library, others were dispersed throughout the parish and to the book trade. The remainder, c.100 volumes, were purchased by Mr. Cutteridge, Billholm, Westerkirk for £25 and the money was used to buy an encyclopedia of Eskdalemuir School.|
|Reference Sources||Shirley, G.W. Dumfriesshire libraries. 1933. 5.478
Kaufman, Paul. 'The rise of community libraries in Scotland' in Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 59, 1965. HP1.201.1250
Crawford, John C. 'The rural community library in Scotland' in Library review, vol. 24, no.6, summer 1974. Y.183|
|Title||De' costumi e della morte di Maria Clementina Regina d'Inghilterra, di Francia, e d'Irlanda|
|Imprint||In Roma ed in Bologna|
|Date of Publication||1737|
|Notes||This is a biography of Princess Clementina, the wife of the Old Pretender. She was the granddaughter of John Sobieski, the warrior king of Poland. Her marriage took place in 1719, under the protection of Pope Clement XI, who proclaimed the pair King and Queen of England. The alliance had been vehemently opposed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who had imprisoned the young woman. She was later dramatically rescued by a band of Jacobite adventurers led by Charles Wogan. The marriage proved turbulent, and unhappy with the princess leaving her husband for a time. A reconciliation was eventually arranged, although she did not long survive it as she died in 1731. This is a very good copy of a rare edition complete with portrait, and a final leaf containing an engraved coat of arms.|
|Reference Sources||Booksellers catalogue|
|Title||De duplici statu religionis apud Scotos libri duo|
|Imprint||Romae: Typis Vaticanis, M.DC.XXVIII|
|Date of Publication||1628|
|Notes||One of four items acquired from the sale of the library of the eminent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre (1914-2003), which included a substantial number of early modern Scottish items.
Inscribed on the fly-leaf: 'Ex Libris Biblioth: Presby. Drumfr. Ex dono Joan: Hutton M.D. 1714'. John Hutton began life as a herd-boy to the Episcopalian minister of Caerlaverock, Dumfriesshire, through whose generosity he was educated. He graduated as a physician at Padua, and had a lucky break when he was the first doctor on the scene after Mary of Orange fell from a horse in Holland. Gaining the favour of William and Mary, he became their first physician when they ascended to the English throne, a role he continued under Queen Anne. Hutton made generous gifts to his family and the parish of Caerlaverock, and his bequests on his death in 1712 included the gift of his library to the ministers of the presbytery of Dumfries 'to be carefully kept in that town'.
As the physician who accompanied William of Orange to the Battle of the Boyne, Hutton seems an unlikely person to have owned this book - a discussion of religion in Scotland by a prominent 17th century Scottish Catholic and friend of Charles I. George Conn (d. 1640) was educated at the Scots Colleges of Paris and Rome: by 1628 he was a Dominican friar and secretary to Cardinal Barberini, to whom this book is dedicated. In the 1630s he was papal agent at the court of Henrietta Maria, where his work for the Catholic religion aroused English opposition. Conn left England in 1639 and died soon afterwards.
This item therefore brings together two Scots from opposing sides of the religious and political spectrum of the seventeenth century. Was Hutton curious to see how a Catholic countryman described Scottish religion? Did his European travels give him a broad-minded tolerance of other doctrines? Or did his Scottish Episcopal background give him an interest in the Stuart court? One of the other items in his library, after all, was the prayer book which Charles I carried to the scaffold. Whatever the explanation may be, this item shows that the religious divide in 17th century Scotland was not so absolute as it is sometimes portrayed.
It is not known how this item travelled from Dumfries presbytery to Hugh Trevor-Roper's library. It does bear the inscription of an earlier owner, George Kellie, Trevor-Roper's book label, and a shelf-mark presumably from Hutton's library. The library of Dumfries Presbytery was transferred to the General Assembly Library in the Tolbooth Church (now The Hub) in 1880, and from there to Edinburgh University's New College Library. However, items from the collection have occasionally turned up at sales in the past.
Bought with: A bill for the better ordering of the militia forces in that part of Great-Britain called Scotland (c.1760). Possibly a draft of a bill not enacted, this item is not in ESTC. Bound with Alexander Carlyle, The question relating to a Scots militia considered. (Edinburgh: Gavin Hamilton and John Balfour, 1760) ESTC T121729. Also with Trevor-Roper's book label.
John Major: Historia Majoris Britanniae, tam Angliae quam Scotiae ... editio nova. (Edinburgh: Apud Robertum Fribarnium, 1740). A subscription edition by the Edinburgh publisher Robert Freebairn, including his receipt for the subscription of James Sinclair (d.1762) of Rosslyn. The book contains Sinclair's armorial bookplate and his crest is on the binding. Sinclair, from a notable Scottish family, was an important figure in the British army of the period, besides being an M.P.
(Also bought with George Buchanan: Alcestis/Baptistes/Franciscanus/Sphaera, which is a separate Report item)|
|Reference Sources||DNB; Bookseller's catalogue; John V. Howard (Archivist at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, who has worked on the Dumfries Presbytery Library); New College Library|
|Title||De Hollandsche Wysgeer.|
|Imprint||Te Amsterdam : By Dirk onder de Linden, Bybel- en Boekverkooper, in de Kalverstraat, over de Nieuwezyds Kapel.|
|Date of Publication||1759|
|Notes||This is the complete run of an unusual and rare Dutch periodical. It covers a wide variety of subjects including natural history (with hand-coloured plates), foreign literature, the latest murder cases and developments in science and technology. The translations of literature include some Scottish texts. Most significantly there are references to James Macpherson's Europe-wide success for Ossian. Volume V contains a poetic description of the climate and landscape of the Scottish Highlands which prepares the reader for the first Dutch edition of a selection of 'Oscian' in volume VI (pp. 66-69). The translator Egbert Buys is known to have compiled at least two Dutch-English dictionaries, one of which specialized in terms used in art.|
|Author||Blackwood, Adam, ed.|
|Title||De Iezabelis Anglae parricido [sic] varii generis poemata Latina et Gallica.|
|Imprint||[Paris : s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1587-88|
|Language||Latin, French, Italian|
|Notes||This is a very rare collection of poems in Latin, French and Italian verse lamenting the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 and attacking Queen Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn. It was probably edited, and partly written, by Mary's Scottish biographer Adam Blackwood. The poems are signed only by initials and were evidently assembled and issued in a number of different forms and arrangements, and were surreptitiously published in the years 1587 to 1588. The first six verses were evidently the first produced, and were also issued separately in quarto but in a different setting, again without title-page (only two copies of this earlier, smaller edition are known: in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbuettel and in the BL). Some five poems appear only here, among the second sequence of poems, which was presumably issued some time in 1588. Four of the poems in this collection appear in the second (1588) edition of Adam Blackwood's most famous work "Martyre de la Royne d' Ecosse". The third edition of "Martyre de la Royne d' Ecosse", a substantially larger collection of poems, shares 24 poems with the present volume. "De Iezabelis Anglae parricido" is a mixture of elegaic poems for the executed Scottish queen and savage attacks on Elizabeth and her mother Anne Boleyn (the latter is referred to as a 'barbarr putain' [barbarous whore]); anagrams of Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor draw appropriate moral praise or censure, and the French audience is whipped up by the poem 'Exhortation au peuple de France sur le trespas de la Royne d' Ecosse'. The editor of the collection Blackwood (1539-1613) was born in Dunfermline and studied in Paris, where his education was in part funded by Mary. He was appointed by her as counsellor to the parliament of Poitiers (part of her marriage settlement to the dauphin Francois), and was said to have visited Mary during in her captivity in England. Blackwood's pro-Mary propaganda had a major influence on subsequent French and Scottish national histories of the 17th century.
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|