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 761 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 email@example.com
Important Acquisitions 181 to 195 of 761:
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|Title||Collection of Poems|
|Date of Publication||1823|
|Notes||Bought with [Walter Scott, Letter on Landscape, 1831], $600.00. This item transferred to MSS.
Two very unusual Scott items, both from the collections of the Scott bibliographers William B. Todd and Ann Bowden: in the bibliography, these are items 166A and 256A.1 respectively. Baillie encouraged many poets to submit original unpublished works for inclusion in her volume, among whom were Scott, Wordsworth, Southey and Campbell. This copy has been purchased because it was apparently given as a present by Scott (see the publisher's note on title-page), and it is finely bound with Scott's personal portcullis device in gilt on the spine. No other examples of such a binding are known outside Scott's own library at Abbotsford.
The second item is a curious facsimile of a Scott letter. At some point this copy has been included in a collection of forgeries, but it seems unlikely that anyone would be fooled for long: although the postmark is dated 1830, the paper is watermarked 1831! The National Library holds what is probably the original of this letter, MS.23141.f.9. A comparision of the two suggests that great labour went into the production of the facsimile, for no very obvious reason.|
|Reference Sources||William B. Todd & Ann Bowden, Sir Walter Scott – a bibliographical history, 1998.|
|Title||[Collection of Scottish tracts]|
|Date of Publication||1691-1774|
|Notes||These five volumes, bought at auction as one lot, contain 24 items.
The National Library of Scotland has the world's strongest holdings of early Scottish tracts and pamphlets, and there are some particularly important additions here, with a number of very rare or unrecorded works. Some examples of works new to our collections are given here:
'A letter from a gentleman in Edinburgh to his friend in the country', Glasgow, 1752. Only one copy listed in ESTC (Princeton University)
Andrew Welwood, 'A Glimpse of Glory', Edinburgh, 1774. Unrecorded.
'The Black Book of Conscience', 30th edition, Edinburgh, 1751. Only one imperfect copy in ESTC (Huntington Library)
'A description of all the kings of Scotland', 1713. Unrecorded.
'A non-juror's recantation', London, 1691. Unrecorded.
'Issuasive from Jacobitism', London, 1713. Unrecorded.
It is always particularly useful to acquire unrecorded works bound in volumes with other items, as this helps to indicate the context in which they appeared, and so makes it easier for the unknown work to be interpreted. This is a particularly good group of pamphlets on Scottish religion and politics.|
|Title||Collection of single-sheet items, mainly posters and advertisements relating to land and agriculture in Scotland, dated between 1805 and 1903|
|Notes||These items include descriptions and valuations of estates and commercial property up for sale or rent, lists of farming equipment to be sold at auction, and a sheet of regulations for containing an outbreak of swine fever. Most are in excellent condition, particularly considering their age and ephemeral nature. The marks where the sheet was fixed to the wall can be seen on at least one item. Further evidence that these were working documents is supplied by the numerous manuscript annotations, including calculations and additions to the lists of goods. The detailed information regarding the pricing of materials, credit arrangements and the quality of particular areas of land should interest anyone researching agriculture, trade or local history in Scotland. It is also of interest as containing examples of Scottish provincial printing, in Linlithgow, Beith and Paisley. Family historians could also make use of the collection; several of the sales or re-lettings clearly came about as a result of the tenant's death, and these advertisements provide useful inventories of the tenant's furniture, tools and livestock.|
|Title||Com. Civit. Limirick. The Information of the Right Honourable the Lord Forester|
|Date of Publication||1714|
|Notes||An apparently unique copy of a single-sheet item relating to the Pretender, James III, and the abortive uprising of 1715. This item is a curious account of a lawsuit which arose from a tavern brawl; Lord Forester had been drinking with other soldiers in a Limerick pub when one Richard Roche suggested that he was a Jacobite, 'which every honest Man, and every Scotch Man was for'. Forester demanded to know who had planted this impression in Roche's brain. A Lieutenant Barkly was called in, who denied ever having made such suggestions, at which point Roche seems to have started backtracking, leading an evidently enraged Forester to launch a prosecution. The impression of the damage that even an accusation of Jacobitism could cause to a public career is striking.
This work, which provides an important Irish perspective on the rebellion, is not recorded in ESTC.|
|Title||Come and play with me|
|Imprint||London: Alexadnra Publishing Company|
|Date of Publication||c.1860-1900|
|Notes||This children's annual contains an unacknowledged abridged and simplified version of George Macdonald's classic children's fantasy story The Princess and the Goblin. Macdonald's story was first published in 1872, and the version here reprints Arthur Hughes' original illustrations. The annual is undated. It contains references to the Arica earthquake of 1868 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 as recent events, so was presumably first printed around this time, although the advertisements suggest this may be a later reprint.
That an abridged, and presumably unauthorized version of Macdonald's novel appeared so soon after its first publication is a testimony to its contemporary appeal, and shows the wide audience for his works. The annual has a cheerful cover in coloured boards, but the inviting illustration of a girl saying 'Come and play with me' is rather undermined by the stark advertisements on the inside boards: 'DO NOT UNTIMELY DIE!' but take 'Fennings' Fever Curer' instead.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue|
|Title||Compendio di filosofia morale|
|Imprint||Padua: Tipografia della Minerva|
|Date of Publication||1821|
|Notes||This is the first Italian translation of Dugald Stewart's Outlines of Moral Philosophy, a book first published in Edinburgh in 1793, but here translated from the fourth edition of 1818. The prolific translator Pompeo Ferrario produced the Italian text and contributed a 'Preliminary Note' in which he set the book in the context of the 'Scottish Philosophical School', claiming for Stewart a key role as the school's best moral philosopher. He praises Stewart's works as 'l'Opera di Morale piu completa che sia fin qui comparsa in Inghilterra' - 'the most complete scheme of Moral Philosophy which has yet appeared in England'. This translation testifies to the Europe-wide reputation of Stewart and other 18th-century Scottish philosophers; no other copy is recorded on COPAC.|
|Reference Sources||Bookseller's catalogue.|
|Title||Complaint of the Black Knight (Celebration edition 2008)|
|Imprint||Dundee: Visual Research Centre (University of Dundee), Dundee City Arts Centre|
|Date of Publication||2008|
|Notes||This portfolio commemorates the 500th anniversary of the first dated printed book in Scotland, Chepman and Myllar's edition of Lydgate's poem The Complaint of the Black Knight, which they entitled The Maying or Disport of Chaucer. On April 4th, 2008, 500 years to the day of the date in Chepman and Myllar's colophon, artists Paul Liam Harrison, Scott Hudson and Andy Rice reprinted the poem at the Visual Research Centre of the University of Dundee, Dundee City Arts Centre. However unlike Chepman and Myllar who produced their book on the then-conventional hand-press, these artists printed the text using the silkscreen method, using water-based acrylic inks, onto archival paper. The day's printing was accompanied by supporting events including a reading from the original text. NLS, whose curators supported the project from its inception, has now received number 4 of the limited edition of 18 prints, along with one of the artists' proofs produced on the day, in a cardboard portfolio. This handsome addition to our collections shows Scotland's 21st-century printers paying homage to the first printers 500 years ago.|
|Title||Complete Glossary for Sir W. Scott's Novels and Romances.|
|Imprint||Paris: Baudry's European Library|
|Date of Publication||1833|
|Notes||This volume contains three works which were published in Paris, in English, in the nineteenth century. All have been annotated, most likely by a French owner, whose notes provide a fascinating insight into how much, or how little, the Scots dialect was understood abroad in the period. The third item is Thomas Moore's poem The Loves of the Angels (1823), and the second is a collection called Tales for the Fireside or the Road, by Popular Living Authors (1854). These tales include Mrs Norton's 'The Ruined Laird', and James Hogg's 'Extraordinary History of a Border Beauty', in both of which the Scots dialect is glossed by the annotator.
But the most interesting item is the Glossary to Scott, where the annotator has written in many additional entries, presumably representing words encountered in his reading of the Waverley novels. These include 'Plaid, a worsted mantle' ; 'Claymore, epee avec garde en osier'; 'Quhom, whom'; 'Sonsy, merry'; 'Yoursell, yourself'. Scott was hugely popular in Europe: this book shows how one contintental reader coped with the language in which he wrote.|
|Title||Complete works of Shakespeare in 20 miniature volumes.|
|Imprint||Glasgow : David Bryce and Son|
|Date of Publication||1904|
|Notes||This is a miniature set of Shakespeare's complete works in 20 volumes published by David Bryce of Glasgow. Bryce was Scotland's most prolific and successful producer of miniature books. The individual volumes measure only 50 mm. in height and they are bound in brown suede featuring gilt spine lettering and gilt textblock edges. The set is housed in a tiny wooden replica of Shakespeare's desk apparently modelled upon the original in a Stratford museum. A publisher's sticker on the back states that it is made of oak (presumably from an artefact or pew) taken out of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, where Shakespeare was baptised and buried. The standard reference sources on miniature books make no mention of this set and no record for another set can be found. |
|Title||Confirming worke of religion, in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith, and thus see the greatness of that security; on which he adventures his eternal fate. …|
|Imprint||Rotterdam: Printed by Reinier Leers.|
|Date of Publication||1685|
A rare work by a popular ejected Scottish minister published in the place of his exile.
Robert Fleming the elder (his son followed him as a writer and minister) was born in 1630 at Yester, Haddingtonshire, studied at Edinburgh and St Andrews, and may have fought in the Scottish army during the Civil War. He was called to the ministry in 1653, and deprived of his parish of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662. He preached in Scotland and London, in spite of problems with the authorities and other difficulties, until 1677, when he was called to a collegiate charge in the Scots Church at Rotterdam, a city where many religious exiles took refuge in the 17th century. On a visit to Edinburgh in 1679 he returned to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned for holding conventicles, but escaped and returned to Rotterdam. His troubles with the Scottish authorities ended with the political changes of 1689, but he remained in Holland and died on a visit to London in 1694.
The DNB lists eleven works by Fleming, in addition to sermons: he defended his own kind of protestantism against Quakers and Catholics alike, and related the lives of Scottish and Ulster Protestants to his own faith and what he saw as the workings of divine providence. This book, in that vein, attempts to show 'the true and infallible way, for attaining a confirmed state in Religion', as the title page says, relating spiritual doctrines and experiences to contemporary events - 'a short confirming prospect of the work of the Lord about his Church, in these last times.'
The NLS already holds other editions of this work, but according to the ESTC there is no other copy of this edition in Scotland, and only seven others are recorded altogether. This copy comes to us with three interesting provenances. On the verso of the title page is an inscription signed 'H.D.A.': Omne tulit punctum/ Qui miscuit Utile dulci ['he has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable', from Horace's Ars Poetica]. I got this token of kindness from Mr. R.F. the author, my very worthy friend'. The book also has the bookplate of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, dated 1702. The gilt crowned orange from the arms of the Earl of Marchmont can still be seen on the spine panels, though faded. Finally there is the bookplate of the Bristol collector James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). This book is one of three the NLS has purchased from the sale of his library, a collection considered worthy of its own location in the Short Title Catalogue of English books before 1640.|
|Reference Sources||DNB; sale catalogue|
|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.|