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 752 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 752:

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Author[Currie, John Lang]
TitleA catalogue of books on Australia and the neighbouring colonies: being a portion of the library of John L. Currie of Lawarra (formerly Larra).
ImprintMelbourne: Melville, Mullen and Slade,
Date of Publication1891.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the second edition of a catalogue of one of the great colonial Australiana book collections. The collector, John Lang Currie (1818-1898), was a wealthy pastoralist who was born in the parish of Yarrow, Selkirkshire. At the age of 21 he set off to join his cousins in Australia. In the 1840s he established his own farm at Larra (Lawarra) in New South Wales where he specialised in breeding merino sheep which were prized for the length, fineness and glossy appearance of their wool. Thanks to drainage and land improvement the number of sheep at Larra increased from just over 6,000 in 1846 to over 34,000 in 1879. Currie returned to Scotland several times and was shipwrecked in 1871 and again in 1874. Part of his wealth was used to acquire books on the history of Australia as is recorded by this catalogue, which was printed in limited numbers for distribution to institutions and private collectors.
ShelfmarkAB.3.209.40
Reference SourcesAustralian Dictionary of Biography (online edition)
Acquired on07/10/09
AuthorColquhoun, Patrick.
TitleA general view of the national police system, recommended by the Select Committee of Finance to the House of Commons.
ImprintLondon : Printed by H. Baldwin and Son
Date of Publication1799
LanguageEnglish
NotesPatrick Colquhoun (1745-1820), born in Dumbarton, was a magistrate and founder of the Thames police, a river police force to protect trade on the Thames. In 1796 his "Treatise on the police of the metropolis" was published anonymously, outlining the author's plan for an improved police system. In 1799 Colquhoun published this work, "A general view of the national police system", on the topic of the proposed board of police revenue. This is a first edition. ESTC lists only four other copies held in the UK.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2763
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorA Lady
TitleThe ladies' science of etiquette by a lady
ImprintEdinburgh: Paton and Ritchie
Date of Publicationc1850
LanguageEnglish
NotesVictorian society was famously governed by strict codes of etiquette which were supposed to be the defining marks of members of polite society. This meant that many guides to these rules were produced, aimed at those who were anxious about whether their own behaviour met these exacting standards. This is one of the rarest surviving examples of such a conduct book, in its original coloured paper covers. Although here the work is published anonymously, it seems to be a reprint, originally written by the author and socialite Baroness E.C. de Calabrella, who was part of the circle surrounding the Regency dandy Count D'Orsay. This may account for the tone of this volume: where many such etiquette guides were written by and for the expanding Victorian middle class, and reflected bourgeois stolidity, The Ladies' Science of Etiquette discusses questions such as whether a lady should walk to a ball ('superlatively ridiculous' - if stuck in a provincial town without a carriage, take a sedan chair) and whether it is acceptable for a lady to carry a small dog about town ('altogether vulgar').
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.051
Reference Sourceshttp://www.worldcat.org/identities/np-calabrella,%20e%20c%20de$baroness
Acquired on30/09/09
TitleCabinet of curiosities (No. I-IX)
ImprintLondon : Printed for the booksellers
Date of Publication1795
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe "London Corresponding Society" was a radical society which sought political reform, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution. It was founded in January 1792 by a group of friends, including a Scottish radical, Thomas Hardy (1752-1832). In the same year the Scottish political reformer Thomas Muir (1765-1799) helped to set up the "Association of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh". The "Cabinet of curiosites" is a miscellany containing prose, and some poetry, relating to members of the above reform societies arrested on charges of high treason. ESTC identifies only one other copy in the UK of nos. I-VII. This copy includes two additional parts. No.VIII contains a verse, "The petition of the clerks and apprentices of writers to the Signet and writers in Edinburgh". No. IX contains part of a letter by Muir "Extract of a letter from Mr. Muir to a friend in London, Sidney, December 13, 1794". Muir was arrested on a charge of sedition and transported to Botany Bay along with three other radicals. Among these reformers known as the "Scottish martyrs" was Thomas Fyshe Palmer (1747-1802), whose letter to Mr. Jeremiah Joyce describing life in Australia is also published in No. IX.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2766(1)
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleThe vision of Don Roderick; a poem.
ImprintEdinburgh: Ballantyne and Co.,
Date of Publication1811.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a copy of the first edition of Scott's poem, bound in an ornate, contemporary calf binding. The book has been acquired for the portrait in pencil pasted onto a front free endpaper. It is highly likely that this drawing is a portrait (or later copy of a portrait) of Walter Scott made in 1803, which would make it the earliest surviving image of Scott as a young man. The portrait shows the 32-year-old Scott's head in profile to the left and is initialled "E.B." Scott visited Oxford in April 1803 at a time when his literary career was just taking off; the first two volumes of 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border' had been published the previous year to great acclaim and the third volume was about to be published. Scott accordingly found himself lionized by the academic community in Oxford. He stayed with his friend Richard Heber (1774-1833), a former student at Oxford and famous book-collector. During his stay Scott had his portrait sketched by Edward Berens (1778-1859), a fellow of Oriel College who later became Archdeacon of Berkshire. The existence of the portrait is confirmed by Scott's letters with his friend and regular correspondent, Mary Anne Hughes, in the years 1824 and 1825. Mrs Hughes, who lived in Uffington, Berkshire and who was a neighbour of Berens, wrote on 3 October 1824 to ask Scott if he had ever received from Berens a drawing of Scott's friend and former assistant John Leyden (1775-1811). She reminded Scott that he had been introduced to Berens at Oxford and noted that the latter had "a great talent for drawing and made an outline of you as well as of Dr. Leyden: I think he says he sent you a copy of both, but I am sure he sent your friend". Scott replied on October 6 to say that Heber had told him that he had the drawing of Leyden for him, but somehow he had forgotten to send it or had mislaid it, so Scott would therefore be delighted to get a copy of it from Berens. "I remember well", Scott added, "sitting to him and Heber reading Milton all the while - since that time my block has been traced by many a brush of eminence" (Scott 'Letters', VIII, p. 392). In a letter of 12 April 1825 he told Mrs. Hughes how grateful he was for the "sketches", particularly for that of Leyden. He had evidently been sent by Berens a copy of both drawings (cf. 'Letters', IX, p. 70). As regards the provenance of the book and portrait there is only an inscription on the title of the book: Harriet Thayer, September 27, 1812. Harriet (d. 1860) was the youngest daughter of Edward Lovenden of Buscot Park, Berkshire, and a friend of Mary Ann Hughes; she later married Baron Paul-Adolphe Thiébault, a French army officer.
ShelfmarkRB.m.695
Reference SourcesH. Grierson (ed.) 'The Letters of Sir Walter Scott', vols 8-9, London, 1935; F. Russell, 'Portraits of Sir Walter Scott', London, 1987 (no. 20, p.29)
Acquired on25/09/09
AuthorSmith, Adam.
TitleRicerche sopra la natura e le cause della ricchezza delle nazioni [Wealth of nations].
ImprintTorino [Turin]: Pomba,
Date of Publication1851.
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the second Italian edition, and a new translation, of Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations', published as part of the economic journal 'Biblioteca dell' Economista'. The first Italian translation, published under the title 'Ricerche sulla Natura, e le cagione della ricchezza delle nazioni', appeared in Naples in 1790-91. This anonymous 1851 translation is taken from the 1828 edition edited by John Ramsay McCulloch. The edition is particularly interesting as it contains a translation of an essay by the French philosopher Victor Cousin (1792-1867) on the life and works of Adam Smith, the 'Discorso di Vittorio Cousin'. It also contains Italian translations of the introductions by Adolphe-Jérôme Blanqui and Germain Garnier for their French-language editions of the 'Wealth of Nations'. The 'Biblioteca dell' Economista', printed in Turin, ran from 1850 to 1923. The present work, whilst published as volume II of this series, is complete in itself and was also intended to be sold separately.
ShelfmarkRB.m.692
Acquired on25/09/09
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Poetical Works of the inimitable Don Carlos, commonly called the Young Chevalier.
ImprintLondon: J. Oldcastle,
Date of Publication1745
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the first edition of a very rare and unusual attack on Bonnie Prince Charlie, which involved printing and attributing to him two salacious and immoral French poems. According to the anonymous author/editor of the introduction, the purpose of the publication was to show how very odious "our bold adventurer's character" must appear "in the eyes of all who have the least regard for religion and morality". The author goes on to express that the wish that the publication "will have a good effect, not only by preventing unthinking men from joining the Pretender's son, but likewise by opening the eyes of those deluded wretches who have already taken up arms in his cause". The dating of the introduction, 20 October 1745, shows that the publication was conceived at the height of the panic about the Jacobite uprising in Scotland. Charles's army had taken Edinburgh in September; he was now holding court at Holyrood and waiting for reinforcements for his expedition to England, which began at the end of the month. Charles was counting on receiving support from Jacobites in England and this pamphlet was an attempt to deter would be recruits to his cause. The two poems printed here, 'L' Ode Priapique' and 'Épitre à Uranie', are in fact not by Charles, as the anonymous author/editor must have known. The former is a famous piece of erotica by the French dramatist Alexis Piron (1689-1773), written in c. 1710, and which had circulated widely in manuscript. The version printed here is in 14 stanzas (other printings are in 17 or in an expurgated 11) and varies substantially from the more widely-known versions of the text. The latter poem is actually 'Le pour et le contre', an anti-religious poem by Voltaire probably written in 1722, first printed under a false "Londres" imprint in 1738 - this is its first true English printing. The author/editor concludes in a final paragraph that "as there is no living in this Protestant kingdom with such a religion and such morals as his, he had even best return from whence he came - ". ESTC records only two other copies of this work, both of them are in England.
ShelfmarkRB.m.691
Acquired on19/09/09
AuthorShakespeare, William
TitleComplete works of Shakespeare in 20 miniature volumes.
ImprintGlasgow : David Bryce and Son
Date of Publication1904
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2757
Reference SourcesBondy
Acquired on16/09/09
AuthorFerguson, Adam.
TitleAdam Fergusons ausfuehrliche Darstellung der Gruende der Moral und Politik v.1 [Principles of Moral and Political Science].
ImprintZurich: Orell, Gessner, Fuessli,
Date of Publication1796
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the rare first German edition of Adam Ferguson's 'Principles of Moral and Political Science', first published as a two-volume work in Edinburgh in 1792, which encompassed Ferguson's lectures on moral and political philosophy at Edinburgh University. Ferguson had effectively retired from teaching in 1785 and this was to be his last major work to be published, although he remained very active in academic circles for the last three decades of his life, right up to his death in 1816. The translation and notes for this German edition were done by Karl Gottfried Schreiter (d. 1809), professor of philosophy at Leipzig. As with the first French edition, only volume one was translated, perhaps indicating that despite the great respect Ferguson commanded on the Continent, this particular work was regarded as being less important than his other works. This particular copy has the 20th-century bookplate of "Paul Ad. Leemann", presumably the book historian Paul Leemann-Van Elck.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2762
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/09/09
AuthorRowlandson, Thomas.
TitleThis print representing in one view the manual & the ten divisions of the Highland broad sword. As practised by the dismounted troops of the Light Horse Volunteers of London & Westminster ... at a review on Wimbledon Common on the 10th of July 1800.
Imprint[London: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1800?]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is an unrecorded single sheet item which contains 148 figures drawn and etched by the artist Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), depicting the various positions in the use of the Highland broadsword (basket-hilted claymore). The work was published on behalf of Henry Angelo (1756-1835), a member of a famous family of Italian fencing masters, who began publishing posters on use of the Highland broadsword in the late 1790s, as well as the works "The Guards and Lessons of the Highland Broadsword" and "The Hungarian and Highland Broad Sword" in 1799. In his memoirs Angelo claimed to have practised using the broadsword at Newgate prison in 1798 with a Scottish friend and expert swordsman James Perry, the owner of the "Morning Chronicle" who was then in prison for libelling the House of Lords. The name 'broadsword' applied to all early military swords of the late 17th early 18th centuries. It was the favoured weapon of the Highland clans and with the formation of Highland Regiments in the 18th century it was introduced into the British army. Angelo adapted and developed sword techniques in earlier written treatises into a series of military drills and exercises, which became the standard training for the British army infantry, cavalry and Royal Navy.
ShelfmarkRB.el.220
Acquired on04/09/09
AuthorL'Heritier de Villandon, Marie-Jeanne
TitleThe discreet princess; or, the adventures of Finetta. A Novel.
ImprintEdinburgh: G. & J. Ross
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis volume of eight chapbooks, six of which are of Scottish origin, has the bookplate of Crewe Hall Library. Of the chapbooks, the following were previously unrepresented in NLS collections in these editions: The Discreet Princess; The Valentine's Gift (Edinburgh: G. & J. Ross, 1806); The Way to be Happy: or, the History of the Family at Smiledale. To which is added, The Story of Little George (Edinburgh: G. & J. Ross, 1807); The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse. In Two Volumes (London: John Marshall, c.1805); Garden Amusements for Improving the Minds of Little Children (London, Darton and Harvey, 1806); Worlds Displayed, for the Benefit of Young People (6th edition, Edinburgh: J. Ritchie, 1804). Most of these chapbooks are illustrated with woodcuts, some with crude hand-colouring. The signature of Barbara Peddie appears on the recto of the frontispieces to The Life and Perambulation of a Mouse, vol. ii, dated January 1806, and The History of the Holy Bible Abridged, dated 1805. This may be the Barbara Peddie 'daughter of Dr. James Peddie, a family long associated with many religious movements in Edinburgh.' She married Dr. James Harper, minister of the United Presbyterian Church at North Leith and Principle of the UPC Theological College, now New College (University of Edinburgh), with whom she had fifteen children. Given the similar publication dates of most of these chapbooks, it may be that they were collected originally by Barbara Peddie.
ShelfmarkAB.1.209.057(1)
Reference SourcesThe Sunday At Home (1882) p.212.
Acquired on14/08/09
AuthorBarclay, John.
TitleEuphormionis Lusinini Satyricon.
ImprintParis: Franciscum Huey,
Date of Publication1605
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is the extremely rare first edition (or at least the first surviving edition) of John Barclay's best-selling picaresque novel 'Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon', a work dedicated to King James VI/I. Only two other copies have been recorded, both in Germany: one in Schwerin, in the Landesbibliothek Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the other in Weimar, in the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek; however, the latter is assumed to have been destroyed in the fire there in 2004. The author John Barclay (1582-1621) was born in Lorraine, France, where his father, a Scot, worked as professor of civil law. Barclay appears to have been very proud of his Scots ancestry and is today commonly regarded as a Scottish author. He was educated at a Jesuit school in France, but he later became hostile to the order which eventually led him to write the irreverent satire 'Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon' in c. 1605. Written in elaborate Latin prose, Barclay's first major work deals with the story of Euphormio, a citizen of an ideal realm who arrives in 17th-century Europe, and his subsequent adventures. The characters he encounters are based on contemporary figures: Neptune, a benevolent and powerful figure in the novel, is thought to be James VI/I, and Acignius, an anagram for 'Ignacius' (Ignacius Loyola) represents the Jesuits. The 'Satyricon' is now regarded as one of the most important works of prose fiction published in Europe in the early 17th century. Barclay produced a second part in 1607 with further racy adventures of Euphormio. The work was immediately successful; within his lifetime six editions of the first part and five editions of the second part appeared. Indeed around fifty editions have been identified, printed in the major countries of Europe for well over a hundred years after the initial publication date. This copy shows the text in its earliest form (there have been claims that an edition was printed in London in 1603 but no copy has been discovered). What is traditionally described as the first edition in scholarly works on Barclay is another from the same press issued in the same year, with a different pagination and the statement on the title page reading "Nunc primum recognitum, emendatum, et variis in locis auctum" (i.e. revised and enlarged). The success of the Satyricon enabled Barclay to ingratiate himself at the court of James VI/I in London, where he continued to write and act on behalf of James in literary matters. Barclay left England in 1615 to move to the papal court in Rome. He died there in 1621, in the same year his most famous and popular work, the romance 'Argenis', was published in Paris.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2758
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; D.A. Fleming, "Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon (Euphormio's Satyricon 1605-1607)" Nieuwkoop, 1973.
Acquired on14/08/09
TitlePennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser for Saturday December 5, 1789
ImprintPhiladelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole
Date of Publication1789
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single issue of the Pennsylvania Packet contains an advertisement for the first American edition of Adam Smith's Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, which was printed for and sold by Thomas Dobson, Second Street, Philadelphia in three volumes, price £1-2-6. 'The superior merit of this interesting Work is universally acknowledged where the Book itself is known ... The Publisher flattered himself he should perform an acceptable service to the generous and discerning Public, by presenting to them an Elegant American Edition of this Work at this important period - Printed on a superfine paper and good type, handsomely bound and lettered, at not more than one half the price for which the London Edition can be imported and sold.' While many American libraries hold copies of Dobson's edition, the National Library is one of only two British institutions recorded in ESTC as possessing a copy (shelfmark RB.s.1408). Dobson was born in Scotland but emigrated to Philadelphia. Best known for publishing the first American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he also published other books by Scottish authors such as Robert Burns.
ShelfmarkRB.l.256
Reference SourcesRobert D. Arner: Dobson's Encyclopaedia : the publisher, text, and publication of America's first Britannica, 1789-1803 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
Acquired on12/08/09
AuthorHume, David.
TitleDialogues sur la religion naturelle.Ouvrage posthume.
ImprintEdimbourg [i.e. Amsterdam] : [s.n.]
Date of Publication1780
LanguageFrench
ShelfmarkRB.s.2759
Reference SourcesThis is the second issue of the rare first French translation (by Paul Henri Thiry, baron d' Holbach) of Hume's "Dialogues concerning Natural Religion", his most important posthumous publication. Hume had been engaged on the work for many years, the first mention of the dialogues being in 1751; pressure from friends prevented their publication during his lifetime. In his will he left Adam Smith the job of overseeing their publication, but in a codicil he altered this to his publisher, Strahan. The task was probably finally executed by his nephew David. Despite the imprint this first French edition is probably printed and published in Holland, an assumption which is corroborated by the number of copies found in Dutch libraries. The first issue of the French translation appeared in 1779, the same year as the first English edition. In the Avertissement to the translation, Holbach notes that the Inquisition, "plus habile à brûler qu' à raisonner", viewed Hume's work as a "persifflage impie", but wonders if among the bookburners of Lisbon and Rome, there were not a few who would surreptitiously slip a copy of the "Dialogues" into their pocket, "pour le lire à la place de leur bréviaire".
Acquired on04/08/09
AuthorRamsay, James
TitlePublic confession of Christ illustrated, and the obligations to it stated. A sermon preached at Newton of Mearns 5th of September, 1780. being [sic] a day of solemn fasting and covenanting
ImprintGlasgow: John Bryce
Date of Publication1780
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn interesting insight into the late 18th-century Scottish book trade is provided by this rare pamphlet, one of only three known copies. James Ramsay, 'Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow' here says that he is only putting his sermon into print because of 'the importunate request of many of the hearers in different Congregations'. It was printed by John Bryce of Glasgow, and sold 'at his shop opposite Gibson's-Wynd, Saltmarket'. Bryce took the opportunity at the back of the book to list other 'pamphlets' which he also printed and sold, and which he thought might appeal to the purchasers of Ramsay's sermon. Besides some other sermons, these 'pamphlets' inclued 'A Defence of National Covenanting' and 'The Form of Process used in Kirk Courts, with relation to scandals'. Their prices range from two pence to the most expensive, a 'Weavers Pocket Companion' at sixpence. Bryce adds 'Considerable allowance will be given to those who take quantities, either for selling or giving away.' From this we can deduce that Bryce is not just selling to readers, but to other booksellers, chapmen, and perhaps also to ministers and others who might buy his pamphlets to give away, perhaps as part of a religious exercise. Bryce also lists religious books, whose prices range from one shilling and sixpence to 'fine copies' of a bound ten-volume set of Ralph Erskine's Practical Works, at 'two pound sterling'. Finally, Bryce uses the empty space at the end of the text of Ramsay's sermon to advertise 'Proposals for Printing by Subscription, twenty eight Lectures on the first, second, and third Chapters of Matthew, and to the 14th verse of the fourth' by Reverend William Mair, a recently-deceased popular preacher. These proposals 'may be had' from a list of booksellers around the country, from Stranraer to Edinburgh - one wonders if these booksellers participated in a regular network of such proposals, and if Stirling and Perth were the closest towns to Mair's home territory with booksellers. Bryce duly published Mair's sermons the next year. The volume contains no evidence of being a subscription publication. Perhaps the call for subscribers was unsuccessful but Bryce, or Mair's anonymous editor thought it worth proceeding with the publication anyway. Only two copies survive, which may suggest the demand for Mair's sermons was not strong, or perhaps it was, after all, only produced in a limited print run. From this one pamphlet, therefore, we can see John Bryce at work as printer, publisher, bookseller and supplier to other sellers, and the relationships that existed between the ministers who wrote the religious texts which formed such a large part of the 18th-century Scottish book trade, their publishers, and their readers from the buyers of cheap sermons to those who wanted 'fine copies' of theological discourses.
ShelfmarkAP.1.209.026
Acquired on08/07/09
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