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 775 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 rarebooks@nls.uk


Important Acquisitions 211 to 225 of 775:

Ordered by date acquired
Order by author | Order by title
AuthorAdam, William, (1689-1748)
TitleProposals for printing by subscription, in two large volumes in folio, the plans, elevations, and sections, of the principal regular buildings in Scotland, together with several new designs, done for some of the noblemen and gentlemen of that country. To which will be added, the particular sections of the best rooms built in Scotland. Also, some designs of buildings for the decoration of parks and gardens. By the late William Adam, Esq. architect, and continued by his son John Adam, Esq. ...
Date of Publication[1766]
NotesDuring the 1720s the Scottish architect William Adam began plans to publish "Vitruvius Scoticus", a work surveying the finest architecture in Scotland. Adam died before his ambitious work came into being. John Adam (1721-1792), William's eldest son, revived the idea of publishing his father's book. In March 1766 this proposal was issued to potential subscribers promoting the intended publication: "this work will consist of 160 copper-plates, near one fourth of which are whole sheets. There will be above 200 folio pages of engravings, done by the best hands, and printed on a French Colombine paper ...". This copy of the proposal includes manuscript inscriptions in the receipt section at the end of the text: "the Marquis of Carnarvon" and "For Mr Adam Ja[me]s Dodsley". The subscription belonged to James Brydges (1731-1789), 3rd Duke of Chandos, who was Marquess of Carnarvon from 1744 to 1771. Although at the time of the proposal's issue sheets of the book (apart from the description or explanation of the plates) are known to have already been printed, the work was not published in 1767 as advertised. It is suggested that issues relating to the copyright holders of the engraved plates prevented Adam from keeping his agreement to transfer sole rights in the book to the London bookseller Andrew Millar (1705-1768) (Harris, p.99-100). It was not until 1811 that "Vitruvius Scoticus" was eventually published under William Adam's grandson, William Adam (1751-1839). This proposal is significant in tracing the history of the publication of this work.
Reference SourcesBookseller's catalogue; Harris, Eileen, "British Architectural Books and Writers 1556-1785", Cambridge University Press, 1990; Oxford DNB
Acquired on03/11/09
AuthorCicero, Marcus Tullius
TitleM. Tullii Ciceronis opera philosophica ex editione Jo. Aug. Ernesti cum notis et interpretatione in usum Delphini variis lectionibus notis variorum recensu editionum et codicum et indicibus locupletissimis accurate recensita.[vol.II only]
ImprintLondini : Curante et imprimente A. J. Valpy
Date of Publication1830
NotesThis is volume two taken from an eighteen volume edition of the collected works of Marcus Tullius Cicero. The book features a grand fore-edge painting of Edinburgh Castle as viewed from the Grassmarket. The painting may have been based upon the title-page vignette of the same scene in T. H. Shepherd's 'Modern Athens Displayed in a Series of Views, or, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century' which was published in London in 1829, a year prior to the present volume. However, this painting shows significantly more detail and a wider panorama. The artwork shows only a little fading and a couple of spots of minute wear.
Acquired on03/11/09
AuthorSmith, Andrew.
TitleRistretto dei viaggi fatti in Africa dal capitano Smith.
Imprint[Italy: s.n.]
Date of Publication[1836?]
NotesThis is a hitherto unrecorded pamphlet in Italian based on a report written by Scottish army medical officer and naturalist, Andrew Smith. Born in Roxburghshire, Smith (1797-1872) entered the Army Medical Service in 1815 and was sent to the Cape Colony (South Africa) in 1820. While remaining in the Army, Smith became renowned for his research into the region's zoology, ethnography, and geography. In 1834 to 1836 he superintended a fact-finding expedition into the territory north of Cape Colony, which was financed by Cape merchants and other interested parties. His 'Report of the expedition for exploring Central Africa from the Cape of Good Hope' was first published for subscribers only in Cape Town in 1836. Extracts from the report were also published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1836. The report, with its details of the various African peoples, including a tribe of albinos, evidently attracted interest in continental Europe as well, hence this Italian translation. Smith returned to Britain in 1836, and became a personal friend of Charles Darwin, the latter consulting him on African zoology. He was eventually promoted to become director-general of the army and ordnance medical departments, which brought him into conflict with Florence Nightingale and the British press during the Crimean War.
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on19/10/09
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleDe Zeeroover [The Pirate]
ImprintLeeuwarden : Steenbergen van Goor,
Date of Publication1825
NotesThe fame of Walter Scott's novels spread quickly through Continental Europe. Scott's novel "The Pirate" was written in 1821 and published in Edinburgh and London by Archibald Constable in December 1822. This is the first Dutch translation, done by the publisher Jan Willem Steenbergen van Goor (1778-1856). "The Pirate" was written after Scott's publisher, Archibald Constable had suggested he write a novel about pirates. Scott took as his inspiration the tale of the 'Orkney Pirate' John Gow, who had returned home to Orkney to lie low for a period. Gow lived a respectable life for several weeks, pretending to be an honest trader, until his cover was blown, which led to his eventual arrest and execution in 1725.
Reference Sourceshttp://www.walterscott.lib.ed.ac.uk/works/novels/pirate.html
Acquired on19/10/09
AuthorA.B. Fleming & Co.
TitleSpecimen book of fine colours for letterpress and lithographic printers.
Imprint[Leicester: Raithby, Lawrence & Co.]
Date of Publication[1893?]
NotesThe firm A.B. Fleming & Co. was founded c. 1854 and was initially based in Salamander Street in Leith. The firm developed a technique of producing much cheaper newspaper ink which led to a rapid expansion of the business. By the 1880s they could claim to have the largest printing ink works in the world in Caroline Park, Granton, north of Edinburgh city centre. This specimen book is one a series of specimen books produced from the 1870s onwards to showcase their wares nationally and internationally. The book also includes the text of a lecture 'The chemistry of colour printing' given to the Edinburgh Branch of the British Typographia in 1891 by Robert Irvine (d. 1902), who was a chemical director of A.B. Fleming & Co. This copy has an American provenance, containing the embossed stamp of one F. Grant Schleicher, who was superintendent of the W. D. Wilson Printing Ink Company in Long Island City, N. Y.
Acquired on14/10/09
AuthorCastera, Desiree de
TitleNarcisse, ou le Chateau d'Arabit
ImprintParis: Dentu, Imprimeur-Libraire, Palais du Tribunal, galeries de bois, no.240
Date of Publication1804
NotesThis rare and obscure French gothic novel with a Scottish setting begins with 'miss Narcisse', who has reached the age of eighteen without knowing anything of her origins. In the course of the novel, she uncovers the story of her own birth and the strange and romantic histories of other characters, recounted in a series of retrospective narratives and discoveries of packets of letters, until the happy ending which ties up all the strands. As a depiction of Scotland in European fiction before Scott's novels, it offers some interesting points. The history of how a noble family lost power and influence on the downfall of the Stuarts is linked not to Jacobite rebellions but to the execution of Charles I. While there is no explicit discussion of the religious affiliations of the characters, 'miss Narcisse' begins the novel being educated in a convent in the Highlands, and elsewhere a hermit, Pere Antoine, inhabits a grotto. Volume 3 contains an imitation of Ossianic bardic raptures, supposedly produced by one of the characters while in Wales, in homage to his Scottish love, with an authorial note explaining the connection to 'M. Mackferson' [sic]. Some care has been taken by de Castera with regard to the geographical setting, which seems to derive ultimately from the descriptions found in Blaeu's Atlas of 1654. While 'Chateau d'Arabit' seems fictional, it is located in 'Chanrie' (or Chanonry, now Fortrose) and may be based on Ormond Castle, and the other main fictional location, 'Rosenthall' manor, may derive from nearby Rosemarkie. Many of the Scottish placenames are accompanied by authorial notes explaining their location such as 'Innerlothe, otherwise Fort William, capital of Lochaber' (vol. 2, p.154). It would not be impossible to plot Narcisse's journeys on a map of Scotland - and one wonders if this is, in fact, what the author did. Finally, each volume comes with a frontispiece in which characters and buildings and landscapes are presented without any of what would soon become the defining markers of Scottishness such as tartan and baronial castles.
Acquired on14/10/09
TitleA decorative box containing six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow
ImprintGlasgow: David Bryce and Son
Date of Publicationca. 1890
NotesA collection of six miniature publications by David Bryce of Glasgow housed in a metal hinged box which features images of a Chinese dragon and flying cranes. The books measure only 27 mm. tall and are bound in flexible red roan leather with pages of very fine, thin India paper. The titles comprise: 'Old English, Scotch and Irish Songs'; 'Witty, Humorous and Merry Thoughts'; 'Golden Thoughts from Great Authors; 'Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect by Robert Burns' and 'The Smallest English Dictionary in the World'. The sixth title, 'The Tourist's Conversational Guide to English, French, German, Italian' by J. T. Loth, is regarded as perhaps the rarest of all the tiny Bryce miniature books. Tiny bookplates in the volumes indicate that they were owned by Rabbi Kalman L Levitan (d. 2002), the first president of the Miniature Book Society and also Harold Stanley Marcus (1905-2002) president of the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and one of the most important and influential American businessmen of the 20th century.
Reference SourcesBondy p. 107-8.
Acquired on14/10/09
AuthorCarmichael, Henry.
TitleHints relating to emigrants and emigration; embracing observations and facts intended to display the real advantages of New South Wales, as a sphere for the successful exercise of industry.
ImprintLondon D. Walther,
Date of Publication1834.
NotesThis is the first of three editions of an early work on emigration to Australia by Henry Carmichael (d. 1862), a schoolmaster and educational theorist, and former student of St. Andrew's University. In 1830 he was recruited in London by Scottish emigre John Dunmore Lang as a teacher for Lang's proposed Presbyterian secondary school in Sydney, the Australian College. Lang, Carmichael and three other licentiates of the Church of Scotland opened the College soon after their arrival in Australia in 1831. Carmichael, when his contract as a 'professor' at the College expired, set up his own school in Sydney, the Normal Institution (1834-38). He also founded in 1833 the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, the first of its kind in the colony, and was prominent believer in advanced educational ideas for the colony. In this work Carmichael states that "the necessity of emigration from Great Britain, under the present circumstances, seems questionless", the "present circumstances" being the increasing population of Britain and the growing misery among its working classes. He does, however, counsel would-be emigrants against "harbouring undue notions of the success and enjoyment which await them on setting foot in this territory"; he recognises that courage, perseverance and thrift are needed to flourish in Australia. This copy has the bookplate of James Edge-Partington (1854-1930) a British anthropologist and member of the Polynesian Society, who collected books on Oceania, and a blind stamp of Sir Thomas Meek Ramsay (1907-1995), a prominent Australian philanthropist and book collector.
Reference SourcesAustralian Dictionary of Biography (online edition)
Acquired on07/10/09
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.
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.
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
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.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB
Acquired on30/09/09
TitleCabinet of curiosities (No. I-IX)
ImprintLondon : Printed for the booksellers
Date of Publication1795
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.
Reference SourcesOxford DNB; bookseller's catalogue
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorA Lady
TitleThe ladies' science of etiquette by a lady
ImprintEdinburgh: Paton and Ritchie
Date of Publicationc1850
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').
Reference Sourceshttp://www.worldcat.org/identities/np-calabrella,%20e%20c%20de$baroness
Acquired on30/09/09
AuthorSmith, Adam.
TitleRicerche sopra la natura e le cause della ricchezza delle nazioni [Wealth of nations].
ImprintTorino [Turin]: Pomba,
Date of Publication1851.
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.
Acquired on25/09/09
AuthorScott, Walter.
TitleThe vision of Don Roderick; a poem.
ImprintEdinburgh: Ballantyne and Co.,
Date of Publication1811.
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.
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
TitleThe Poetical Works of the inimitable Don Carlos, commonly called the Young Chevalier.
ImprintLondon: J. Oldcastle,
Date of Publication1745
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.
Acquired on19/09/09
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51     52