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 834 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 196 to 210 of 834:

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TitleThe King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint[London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1912]
LanguageEnglish
Notes'Durbar' is a Persian term that was adopted in India to refer to a ruler's court. It could also be used to refer to a feudal state council or to a ceremonial gathering. The term was used during the British Raj for special royal occasions. Three imperial Durbars were held in Delhi: the first, held in 1877, marked the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Queen Empress of India; the second, held in 1902-03, marked the coronation of King Edward VII. The last, held on 12 December 1911, marked the coronation of King George V as 'King-Emperor' of India, and was the only Durbar that the ruler attended in person. The 1911 Durbar was "the most spectacular ceremony in the history of the British empire" (ODNB); it cost over Ł1 million to mount, and was over a year in preparation. Over 200,000 people attended the events taking place in Delhi's Coronation Park, which were captured in print, photography and the relatively new technology of film. As well as providing a clear sign of Britain's commitment to maintaining its grip on India, the Durbar was also used for particular political purposes. George announced the reversal of the unpopular 1905 decision that had partitioned Bengal. He also declared Delhi the new capital and laid its foundation-stone (soon after moved when New Delhi was re-sited). The Durbar was followed by a shooting expedition in Nepal and a visit to Calcutta (Kolkatta), the former capital of British India. The royal party returned home the following year, reaching Portsmouth on 5 February 1912. This lavishly-produced photo album was produced to commemorate King George's Durbar and subsequent tour through India. There are 208 photographic prints with printed letterpress captions pasted beneath them, bound in a full red morocco album with gilt lettering on the front cover. The photographs cover not just the Durbar but the whole of the royal tour, from the departure from Portsmouth, on 11 November 1911, to the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, London, in February 1912 to mark the safe arrival home of the king and queen. The album also contains a number of memorable images of the elaborate hunting trip in Nepal and of Indian royalty. The photographs are not attributed to anyone but the person taking them clearly had very good access to the royal party. It is possible that the photographer was Ernest Brooks (b. 1878), who photographed the British royal family during this period and who during the War, in 1916, became the first official photographer to the Western Front appointed by the British military (many of his photographs are preserved in the Haig papers in NLS's manuscript collections). It is not known how many copies were produced and whether they were ever intended for public sale; a likely explanation is that a few copies were compiled for people travelling with the royal party as a souvenir of the tour.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.79
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on23/09/11
AuthorBurns, Robert [et al.] + Armstrong, John.
TitlePoems chiefly by Robert Burns, and Peter Pindar, &c. &c. To which is added the Life of Robert Burns. + The Oeconomy of love [by John Armstrong]
ImprintLondon: Printed for the booksellers,
Date of Publication1798
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small volume contains two unrecorded editions bound together; the first is an anthology which contains nine of Robert Burns's most famous poems, as well as works from other poets including John Wolcot 'Peter Pindar'; the second is an Oxford printing of Scottish poet John Armstrong's erotic poem "The oeconomy of love", a bestseller in the 18th century. The Burns edition is probably a piracy, appearing under the convenient, catch-all imprint "Printed for the booksellers". The composition of the book suggests that it was hastily put together. The contents page lists a 'Life of Robert Burns' on pp. 3-4 but in fact on pp. [v]-xx there is an unacknowledged reprint of Robert Heron's "A memoir of the life of the late Robert Burns" which had first appeared the previous year, 1797, the earliest printed biography of the poet. In addition to the Burns poems there are the following: four poems by 'Peter Pindar'; an unacknowledged printing of Matthew Lewis's "Alonzo the brave"; Thomas Holcroft's satirical song "Gaffer Gray" which first appeared in print in 1794; two Border ballads "Lord Gregory/The lass of Loch Royan" (which both Burns and Wolcot produced versions of) and "The battle of Otterburn"; four anonymous poems "Saint Genevieve of the Woods" (which was first printed in Warrington, c. 1780, under the title "The saint of the woods, or the loves of Siffred, and the maid of Brabant"), "The contented cottager", "Poem translated from the Persian" and "The blind boy".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.02(1-2)
Acquired on05/08/11
AuthorHume, David.
TitleDavid Hume's vollkommne [sic] Republik [Idea of a perfect commonwealth].
ImprintLeipzig: in der Schaeferischen Buchhandlung
Date of Publication1799
LanguageGerman
NotesDavid 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2823
Acquired on05/08/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron.
TitleMorgante maggiore.
ImprintParis: Galignani
Date of Publication1825
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first separate edition of Byron's translation of the first canto of the "Morgante", a poem by Italian Renaissance poet Luigi Pulci (1432-1484). Pulci's epic tale concerns the unlikely friendship between the heroic Orlando and the pagan giant, Morgante, who converts to Christianity and becomes his loyal follower. The two have many adventures before both meeting untimely ends. Byron wrote his translation when staying in Ravenna in Italy in late 1819/early 1820. Byron had moved there from Venice as a result of his affair with Countess Teresa Guiccioli, renting the upper floor of Palazzo Guiccioli with the assent of Teresa's husband. During his time in Ravenna he worked at a remarkable rate, producing this work as well as two new cantos of "Don Juan" and completing "The Prophecy of Dante". "Morgante Maggiore" was first published in the fourth number of the short-lived literary periodical "The Liberal", edited by Byron and Leigh Hunt. This edition bears the imprint of A. and W. Galignani of Paris who specialised in publishing English-language books for the Continent. It includes 12 pages of advertisements for new publications "at one-third of the London prices".
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.14
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/07/11
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleKenel'uort. Roman Val'tera Skota obrabotan dlia iunoshestva [Kenilworth. A novel by Walter Scott adapted for youth].
ImprintSankpeterburg, Moskva : M.O. Vol'fa
Date of Publication1873
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is a Russian adaption of Sir Walter Scott's novel "Kenilworth" for younger readers. The cover states the book was published within the series 'Sochineniia Val'ter-Skota' ('Works of Walter-Scott' [sic]), but no other works within this series have been located apart a translation of "Waverley" (Veverlei, 1876), at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. Translations of Scott into Russian began to appear in the 1820s; he reached probably the widest audience of any foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, and his influence could be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan, 'Walter Scott' cloaks, and dressing up as characters from his novels. It is not clear whether this translation has been done direct from the English or from a French translation (French being the language of conversation and correspondence by the Russian nobility which had in turn encouraged widespread access to French literature in Russia). However, the tinted lithograph frontispiece is taken from an illustration by the French book illustrator Denis Auguste Marie Raffet, who illustrated Auguste Defauconpret's French translations of Scott's works.
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.056
Acquired on08/07/11
AuthorGreat Britain. Record Commission
TitleRecord Commission. Scotland. Correspondence of C.P. Cooper, Esq. Secretary to the Board, with Thomas Thomson, Esq. deputy clerk register [etc] + 2 other items
ImprintLondon : [Record Commission],
Date of Publication1835
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis particular volume contains three works relating to Thomas Thomson (1768-1852), record scholar and advocate, who, as the first deputy clerk register of Scotland, played an important role in making available early Scottish legal and parliamentary records to scholars in the early 19th century. They appear to have been specially printed for the Record Commission based in London (the Record Commission is the collective name given to a series of six Royal Commissions on the Public Records appointed between 1800 and 1831, the last one lapsing in 1837) and can be regarded as marking the start of an investigation into Thomson's financial mismanagement of Commission money with regard to the various publications he was supervising and his payment of staff working under him. Thomson had been appointed to his post at General Register House in 1806 and his achievements there were overall very impressive, but by the 1830s his rather dubious accounting procedures and tendency to get bogged down in an increasing number of editorial projects had begun to have repercussions. The first part of the first item in this volume, "Correspondence of C.P. Cooper [etc]", reproduces letters written by Thomson and Charles Purton Cooper (1793-1873), the secretary of the Record Commission, concerning the long-delayed publication of vol. 1 of "Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland". A version of volume one had been printed as early as 1800, edited by the antiquary William Robertson; but in 1804 Thomson had argued successfully that this version should not be published as it was flawed and in need of updating and expanding. As deputy clerk register of Scotland Thomson presided over the publications of vols 2-11 of the "Acts" between 1814 and 1824, but continually delayed publication of the revised version of vol. 1, covering the earliest Scottish parliaments, due his tendency to procrastinate and his obsessive desire to produce a superior version to the suppressed 1800 edition. The printed correspondence here records Cooper's exasperation at the delays and his "mortification and vexation" caused by Thomson's "long and unaccountable silence". As well as documenting Cooper's annoyance with Thomson, the second part of this first item also puts Thomson's lax financial arrangements in the spotlight by printing letters and a memorial by the Scottish antiquary Robert Pitcairn (1793-1855). In addition to claiming public money for the financial losses he had incurred publishing his 1833 work "Criminal trials in Scotland & 1488 to 1624" - a work that he had undertaken at the suggestion of Thomson - Pitcairn was also complaining that Thomson had asked him to prepare an abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland, while leading Pitcairn to understand that the Record Commission would pay his salary. When, after many years of research, the salary was not forthcoming, Pitcairn stated his grievances in his "Memorial" to the Commission, reproduced here; he also went to London in person in 1835 to complain about Thomson's mismanagement of the project and state his case. As an appendix to the Cooper correspondence and the Pitcairn memorial, Thomson's quarterly reports to the Record Commission for the years 1822 to 1831 are printed here. The other two items in the volume are further reports from Pitcairn to Cooper, dated February 1835 and April 1835 respectively, concerning his unpaid work on the abridgement of the register of the great seal of Scotland. Pitcairn's revelations of irregular payments to staff eventually led to a Treasury inquiry in 1839 into the financial maladministration of the Register House. In 1840 the inquiry concluded that Ł8570 was owing to the crown, but Thomson avoided prosecution by convincing the government that the money had been applied to record work and not for his private use. He was dismissed from his post of deputy clerk register in 1841, but was allowed to continue to work as clerk of session to the Scottish courts. Thomson, like his predecessor as president of the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott, was determined to pay off all his debts. Most of his salary as clerk of session subsequently went to pay off his creditors and the sale of his library in 1841 met nearly half of his Ł7,000 debt to the crown.
ShelfmarkAB.3.212.03(1)
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cosmo Innes, "Memoir of Thomas Thomson, advocate" (Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1854).
Acquired on03/06/11
Author[Fergusson, Thomas.]
TitleThe weeping christian; or The six vices of man.
ImprintGlasgow: James Duncan
Date of Publication1729
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded, earliest known printing of a collection of six moral and devotional poems relating to the vices of mankind, namely: malicious envy, pride and insolence; excess of drinking; notorious, and vain swearing; lewd and wanton living; disobedience to parents. The work is anonymous and there is no clue in the text as to who the author is, but the imprint of a later (London? 1760?) printing of the work states that it was printed for one Thomas Fergusson "late a soldier in the Thirty-Third Regiment of Foot". Fergusson has been assumed to be the author but the existence of this Glasgow printing, possibly 30 years earlier than other known printings, calls this attribution into question.
ShelfmarkAP.1.212.15
Reference SourcesESTC
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorWachsmuth, Karl Heinrich.
TitleInamorulla oder Ossians Grosmuth. Ein Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen. Nach Ossian.
ImprintDessau: Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler,
Date of Publication1783
LanguageGerman
NotesThe Ossianic poems of James MacPherson, first published in the 1760s, also had a huge impact on the Continent, particularly in the German-speaking countries. Numerous German translations appeared in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and also spin-off works such as this, a prose drama with occasional lyric passages by Karl Heinrich Wachsmuth (1760-1836), later to become a jurist and tax-collector in Saxony. It was based on the poems Croma and Oina-Morul from the Ossian cycle. A second edition was printed in Leipzig in 1787. Wachsmuth also produced "Fingal in Lochlin" (Dessau, 1782) a prose drama based on Fingal. The work was published by the Verlagskasse fuer Gelehrte und Kuenstler, an organisation set up to give financial assistance to enable scholars and academics to publish their own works. At this time it was run by Georg Joachim Goeschen, the famous publisher and printer. As Wachsmuth was only 23 at the time, and presumably short of funds, it was natural that he would seek financial support to get his works published.
ShelfmarkAP.1.211.48
Acquired on03/06/11
Author[Binding - Scott, James of Edinburgh]
TitleThe book of common prayer + A companion to the altar + A new version of the Psalms of David
ImprintEdinburgh: Adrian Watkins,
Date of Publication1756-57
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Library has the largest institutional collection of bindings by James Scott and his son William, the renowned Scottish bookbinders of the second half of the 18th century, and is always looking to add to its collections. This particular volume contains three works bound together in a red morocco binding which is representative of James Scott's earlier work. It combines the characteristics of the rococo style with elements of chinoiserie, a style that preceded his shift into a more neo-classical decorative influence. Both boards are bordered by a Greek-key roll, panels with an elaborate rococo decoration framing a radiating pyramid, with use of swan and nesting bird tools; the spine is gilt in compartments, repeating a tool with two birds. The binding appears datable to c.1777 from a comparison with the recorded uses of Scott's tools detailed in J.H. Loudon's James Scott and William Scott, bookinders (Edinburgh, 1980). On this binding can be found the nesting bird tool (Zo.9) the swan tool (Zo.7) and the radiating pyramid tool (Ge.2). Also present are the detached flower head tool (Bo.7) and rococo scrolls (Sc. 1). The endpapers have been patterned with a painted spatter decoration that was used on some of Scott's earlier bindings. The title page of prayer book contains the signature of the owner "Louisa Graeme" and a note regarding her identity, namely Louisa Graham (d. 1782) wife of David Graham of Orchil, Perthshire.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.171(1-3)
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorDavis, D.
TitleLadies and gentlemen, the contents of this bill are worthy your attention. Comfortable walking. D. Davis, (to be consulted at Mrs. Young's, No.5, College-street, Edinburgh,) the well known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions [sic] on the great toes, root and branch, without the least pain or drawing blood ....
Imprint[Edinburgh] : Schaw, printer, Lawnmarket,
Date of Publicationc. 1810
LanguageEnglish
NotesPrinted ephemera from the hand-press era of printing are particularly scarce, so this Edinburgh-printed handbill from the early 19th century is a welcome addition to the Library's collections. It advertises the medical services of one D. Davis, "well-known extractor of hard and soft corns, bunnions on the great toes". For potential clients in Edinburgh he provides information on his success in rectifying all manner of foot complaints, rendering the patients "able to walk immediately, although they may have been afflicted many years & he has arrived from Hull, with great testimonials from several highly honourable ladies and gentleman, from the year 1796 to the present period, and is highly recommended in the town of Sunderland; also in the city of Lincoln, Louth, Boston, Gainsbro', Doncaster, Swansey, Carmarthen&"
ShelfmarkAP.3.211.20
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorBoutcher, William.
TitleA treatise on forest-trees.
ImprintEdinburgh: Printed by R. Fleming, and sold by the author,
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesWilliam Boutcher was a Scottish nurseryman, who had premises at Comely Bank, Edinburgh (his father, William Boutcher, senior, had also been a nurseryman and leading garden designer). "A treatise on forest trees" was his first printed work, dedicated to the Duke of Buccleuch, and was financed by subscription. Boutcher notes in his preface, concerning the subscribers, "the quality, if not the number of those, does me honour, as I can boast of many of the greatest and most respectable names in the kingdom". These names included most of the Scottish land-owning aristocracy. A number of copies for the subscribers were bound by the leading Scottish bookbinder of his day, James Scott of Edinburgh. The Library already four copies, all with different designs, of Scott bindings for this book; this is another example. The boards have a roll-pattern used by Scott from 1775 onwards (Loudon Ro16 (1775)) and the botanical ornaments on the spine recall a tool used by Scott used in other bindings (Loudon Bo.46a). This copy has an early 19th-century heraldic bookplate of Sir James Montgomery Bart. of Stanhope (1721-1803), lord chief baron of the Scottish exchequer who became a baronet in 1801, two years before his death. Montgomery took a keen interest in the science of agriculture and subscribed for two copies of the book.
ShelfmarkBdg.m.172
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James and William Scott, bookbinders" (NY, 1980)
Acquired on03/06/11
AuthorByron, George Gordon Byron, Baron, 1788-1824.
TitleLord Byron's Poesien.
ImprintZwickau: Gebrueder Schumann
Date of Publication1821-1828
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the rare first collected German edition of Byron's complete works and is a welcome addition to the Library's extensive holdings of early translations of the poet's work. The edition was translated by a team of writers, among them August Schumann and Elise von Hohenhausen, and began to appear in print when the author was still alive. The firm Brothers Schumann had been founded by Alexander Schumann (1773-1826), the father of the romantic composers Clara and Robert Schumann, and began publishing a huge series of translations of foreign literature. Byron's works are part of their Pocket Library of Foreign Classics in New German Translations (Taschenbibliothek der auslaendischen Klassiker, in neuen Verdeutschungen) which apeared between 1819 and 1831. There are in total 31 volumes/parts to this edition, which in this set have been bound into seven volumes.
ShelfmarkAB.1.211.023-029
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorSmith, Adam, 1723-1790.
TitleVizsgalodas a nemzeti vagyonossag termeszeterol es okairol [Wealth of Nations]
ImprintBudapest : Pallas Irodalmi es Nyomdai Reszvenytarsasag
Date of Publication1891-1894
LanguageHungarian
NotesThe Library has one of the most extensive collections in the world of printed material relating to the 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith and his seminal work, "Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations". This is the rare first Hungarian translation of of the work, translated by the Budapest lawyer Jakab Polya (1844-1897), with a lengthy introduction by the noted economist, politician and banker Gyula Kautz (1829-1909), under whose editorial control the book was published. Polya, although a lawyer, had a particular interest in economics and a sufficient grasp of English through his work with an international insurance firm to be able to cope with Smith's English text. For the present translation, he collaborated with the Hungarian civil servant Lukács Enyedi (1845-1906), who played a significant role in the promotion of economics as an independent discipline in Hungarian universities. The introduction by Kautz, which appears to have also been published separately (NLS copy: ABS.3.206.005) describes Smith's life and work, and his position as the "founder of economic science", putting his work into its historical context and offering a critical appraisal of his significance and his influence on 19th century economics and political theorists. Kautz was governor-general of the central bank of Hungary (the Osztrák-Magyar Bank) from 1893-1900, and the economics department of Budapest University is today named after him. The only other known copy of this translation is located at the Hungarian National Library.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2816-2819
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
AuthorKing, Kennedy [i.e. George Douglas Brown]
TitleLove and a sword: a tale of the Afridi War.
ImprintLondon: John Macqueen
Date of Publication1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Scottish author George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) is best known for his work "The House with the Green Shutters", which was published in autumn 1901 in both Britain and the United States under the pseudonym 'George Douglas'. That work has long been regarded as a milestone in Scottish literature; a decisive move away from the sentimental, 'kailyard', Scottish novels of the 19th century. Before his ground-breaking novel appeared, Brown had moved, after leaving Oxford University in 1895, to London, with the intention of forging a literary career. However, in order to make ends meet he had to work as a hack author, writing poetry, reviews, and short stories for a number of periodicals, as well adventure books for boys. "Love and a sword" published under the pseudonym 'Kennedy King', was his first published book, an adventure story set in India and the North-West Frontier, with a Scottish hero, Roderick Gordon, as the protagonist.
ShelfmarkAB.2.211.006
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on20/05/11
Author[Anon]
TitleOverland route to India and China.
ImprintLondon: T. Nelson and Sons,
Date of Publication1858
LanguageEnglish
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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2815
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/05/11
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