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 782 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 782:

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Author[Le Wright, John]
TitleTwo Proposals Becoming England at this Juncture to Undertake. One, for securing a Collony [sic] in the West-Indies... And the other, for advancing Merchandize
Imprint[London]: Printed
Date of Publication1706
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis proposal for a new English colony near Darien has some curious features. Nationalistic and somewhat naive, the writer explains that his project will be much more successful than the ruinous Spanish colonies or the feeble Scottish enterprise. On the Scots efforts he writes 'the Scots Company made nothing of it, true; but what could a single ship do in so great an affair? And we now are addressing to the English, between who and the Scots, we allow no comparison in point of trade.' Wright (not in DNB) sees his proposed colony as a part of the struggle for international political supremacy. He concludes with a promise to reveal a new method for preserving ships against worms. Details: ESTC T167866, 4o, pp. [2], ii, 1-8; sig. ?2, A4, in folding case. Imprint partly cropped. Author's name appears at foot of introductory epistle to the Merchant Adventurers of England, p. ii. Like all the other copies, the final page has the catchword 'By', although the page also has the word 'Finis' and the work appears to be self-contained. There does not appear to be a connection with the other work Wright published in 1706, Captain le Wright's Warrant (ESTC T34125). Possibly, the text as we have it was only intended to be the first proposal, and 'Finis' indicates the end of the proposal rather than the end of the work as a whole. Was the printing interrupted for some reason before Wright could get down to a detailed description of his plans for 'advancing Merchandize'?
ShelfmarkRB.s.2078
Acquired on19/10/00
Author[Lothian, Marchioness of]
TitleCatalogue of household furniture, &c, which belonged to the late Marchioness of Lothian ... which will be sold by Roup, at Lothian House ... Monday the 3d March 1788 ... Mrs Bowie, Auctioneer.
Imprint[Edinburgh]
Date of Publication[1788]
NotesAn extremely rare printed sales catalogue of the household belongings of Jean, Marchioness of Lothian, sold by auction after her death in December 1787. Lothian House, at the foot of the Canongate, was the family's Edinburgh town house and was leased after her death to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, eventually becoming the headquarters for Youngers brewery. The site is now to be occupied by the Scottish Parliament building and the sales catalogue gives a direct source of evidence to the Parliament's eighteenth century precursor.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2072
Acquired on18/10/00
Author[MacFait, Ebenezer]
TitleEntwurf von Platon's Leben, nebst Bermerkungen ueber dessen schriftstellerischen und philosophischen Charakter.
ImprintLeipzig: Dyk,
Date of Publication1797
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is the first German translation of "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Plato", which was originally published in Edinburgh in 1760 by the obscure Scottish scholar-physician Ebenezer MacFait (d. 1786). MacFait's book focuses particularly on Plato's "Republic", and includes a defence of Plato's ideas against the criticisms which appeared in the scholarly works published by the 18th-century English politician Viscount Bolingbroke. The translation was the work of Karl Morgenstern (1770-1852) then professor of philosophy at the university of Halle, who had published his own commentary on the "Republic" in 1794; it is augmented with his own notes on Plato. This particular copy has doodles in pencil on the paper covers, including four faces in profile, and the word 'Tennemann' written in several places, which suggests that this book may have once been owned by a student of the Platonic scholar Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann (1761-1819), who himself had written a four-volume work "System der Platonischen Philosophie" (Leipzig, 1792-95).
Shelfmark AB.3.210.07
Acquired on23/04/10
Author[Mercer, John]
TitleExact abridgement of all the public acts of assembly of Virginia.
ImprintGlasgow
Date of Publication1759
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis collection of early acts passed by the assembly of colonial Virginia covers legislation from 1660 to 1758. Chronological tables give summary information, but the bulk of the text is taken up with an abridgement of the acts under alphabetical headings such as 'Deer', 'Duty on Slaves', 'Executions', 'Madeira Wine', 'Runaways' etc. A detailed index ensures that this is a highly practical reference work. Mercer had produced his first collection of acts in 1737, which was printed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Presumably this edition was printed in Glasgow in order to give Scottish traders information about the community with which they were making commercial transactions. However, most copies seem to have found their way to North America, with the result that this is a rare book in the British Isles; no copy is found in the Advocates' Library.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2172
Acquired on21/05/02
Author[Miscellaneous]
Title[Collection of Scottish tracts]
Imprint[Various]
Date of Publication1691-1774
LanguageEnglish
NotesThese 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.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2313-17
Acquired on28/11/03
Author[Miscellaneous]
Title[Collection of 6 pre-1701 items printed in Scotland]
Imprint[Edinburgh, s.n.]
Date of Publicationbetween 1630 and 1693
LanguageEnglish
NotesA collection of 6 Scottish single-sheet items printed before 1700, these were formerly part of a bound volume of mainly 17th century broadsides and pamphlets belonging at one time to an Alexander Warrand of Muir of Ord, who died in 1899. The volume was sold at auction in 2011 and the NLS subsequently acquired these six items: (1) a proclamation of Charles I, printed in 1630, relating to tax collection in Scotland; (2) a 1660 proclamation of the Committee of Estates against "unlawfull meetings and seditious papers"; (3) answers for Henry Nevil Payne, an agitator for the Roman Catholic cause in Scotland, to the indictment raised by the lord advocate (c. 1693); (4) "Act and ratification in favours of the glass manufactory in Morisons Haven" (1698) (Morrison's Haven was a harbour at Prestongrange, East Lothian, which was then a busy port); (5) "Reasons for passing an act for communication of trade to the town of Leith" (c. 1693), a printed document concerning the Acts of the Scottish Parliament in 1672 and 1693 which removed trade restrictions in Edinburgh and extended the trading rights of baronies such as Leith; (6) a proclamation, from the Commonwealth era, of the commissioners at Leith, dated 1651, requiring merchants to make a full declaration of all their merchandise to the customs officials at the chief ports in Scotland. Items 4, 5 and 6 are of particular interest as they are not recorded in ESTC or Aldis's bibliography of books printed in Scotland before 1701.
ShelfmarkRB.l.277(1-6)
Reference SourcesESTC, Aldis
Acquired on03/02/11
Author[Morris, James Archibald]
TitlePhotographs of the auld brig of Ayr (built about fifteenth century)
Imprint[Ayr: s.n.]
Date of Publication1910
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis a rare privately-published photo album documenting, in a series of 28 numbered photographs, the restoration of Ayr's most famous landmark, the Auld Brig. Built in the 15th-century, the bridge featured in Robert Burns's poems "The Brigs o' Ayr" and "Tam o'Shanter". By the start of the 20th-century the bridge was in poor condition and was almost demolished. However, a campaign led by architect and local historian James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), and supported by the Earl of Rosebery, was successful in raising funds for restoring the Auld Brig to its former glory. As the cover of the album informs us, £11,000 was raised from subscribers around the world, with the restoration work taking place between 1907 and 1910. The Earl of Rosebery re-opened the bridge on 29 July 1910. All bar three of the 28 gelatine prints were taken by Morris, who was a keen amateur photographer. Morris presumably arranged for the photographs to be bound in albums (with a leaf of explanatory notes for each photograph) and distributed, presumably to members of the executive committee of the Ayr Auld Brig preservation campaign whose names appear on the back cover.
ShelfmarkPhot.sm.152
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/11/12
Author[Morris, William and Wyatt, A.J. translators]
TitleTale of Beowulf sometime king of the folk of the Weder Geats
ImprintHammersmith: Kelmscott Press
Date of Publication1895
LanguageEnglish
NotesWith the purchase of this item along with "Atalanta in Calydon" the NLS has completed its collection of books which were available for public sale at the Kelmscott Press (there are 2 remaining items in the A section of Peterson's bibliography but it is unlikely that copies will be available for purchase). Beowulf seems to have been a favourite and long-cherished project of Morris. He described the Anglo-Saxon epic poem as "the first and best poem of the English race, [with] no author but the people", which would have appealed to his socialist principles. In 1893 he began his own translation of the poem using a papraphrase by the scholar Alfred John Wyatt. He completed the translation the following year then worked with Wyatt to revise his text. The book was issued in February 1895, 300 copies were printed on paper and 8 on vellum, and, costing over £485 to produce, was one of the more of the more expensive productions of the KP. Problems with the initial printing led to several sheets having to be reprinted. Morris was later to claim that he had lost money on the book; but the final publication ranks as one of the triumphs of the press, living up to Morris's dictum that his book were "beautiful by force of mere typography" . Morris and Wyatt's translation was reprinted by Longmans in 1898.
ShelfmarkKP.21
Reference SourcesPeterson "Bibliography of the Kelmscott Press" A32
Acquired on30/07/04
Author[Salmon, William]
TitleAristotle's Master-Piece
ImprintGlasgow: [n.n.]
Date of Publication1782
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe 'Joy of Sex' of its day, this is a revised version of the work that first appeared with this title in 1694, and was continually republished thereafter. A compendium of popular medical knowledge, folklore and myth, it promises a guide to marriage, copulation and procreation, plus 'the picture of several monstrous births'. There are various unpleasant woodcuts, some derived from the first edition, of deformed babies. All kinds of remedies are proposed for infertility, difficult childbirth or 'green sickness' in virgins. There are detailed descriptions of the genitals and practical sections for midwives. Works like this have an enduring popularity. This Glasgow edition of 1782 is otherwise unrecorded. This edition has an amusing section at the end, 'Observations on the human body', which discusses how appearances reveal more about the person. ('When the nostrils are close and thin, they denote a man to have but little testicles'.) A curious feature of this copy is that the endpapers are printed leaves from an Edinburgh sermon. The bookseller suggests that the binder had a sense of humour.
ShelfmarkABS.1.204.024
Reference SourcesWing, EEBO, ESTC
Acquired on17/09/03
Author[Smith, Adam]
TitleFragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois.
ImprintLausanne, Société Typographique
Date of Publication1778
LanguageFrench
Notes[SMITH, Adam. REVERDIL, Élie Salomon François, translator]. Fragment sur les colonies en general. Et sur celles des anglois en particulier. Traduit de l'anglois. Lausanne, Société Typographique, 1778. [bound with:] [CLERC, Nicolas-Gabriel]. La Boussole morale et politique des hommes et des empires. Dédiée aux nations. Boston, [n.p.], 1780. [and:] [FRANKLIN, Benjamin; SAUNDERS, Richard; PENN, Richard, HANCOCK, John and PENNSYLVANIA]. La Science du bonhomme Richard. Philadelphia and Lausanne, François Grasset & Co., 1778. An important addition to our holdings of Scottish Enlightenment authors in translation, this is possibly the first appearance of any part of Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations' in French. This extract is a translation of Book IV, chapter vii, 'Of Colonies', of the 1776 first edition of Smith's work. In this section, Smith refutes the idea that wealth consists in amassing precious metals. The 'Fragment' appeared in two issues whose priority cannot be determined (the other issue has a Basle imprint). The translator was Élie Salomon François Reverdil (1732-1808), who in 1760 became tutor to the future Christian VII of Denmark, and, following his pupil's accession to the throne in 1766, one of the king's closest advisors. His politics were reformist. In 1772, he returned to his native Geneva and wrote books, including a French translation of Adam Ferguson, 'Institutions de philosophie morale' (Geneva: 1775), of which NLS has a copy at [Ven].8. Because 'The Wealth of Nations' is a large work whose publication in translation would have been regarded as a risky venture, this fragment may have been published to test demand. The 'Avertissement du traducteur' states that he hopes this extract will encourage someone to translate the entire work. (Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843', p. 16+). The first full translation into French also appeared in 1778 as 'Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations': NLS already has a copy at RB.s.1251. (Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith'), pp. 76, 229). The Fragment, however, is rare, and the only other UK copy seems to be the one in the University of Wales, Bangor. The other works are both relevant to Enlightenment thought. With a Boston and Philadelphia imprint, they are both recorded in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC). Clerc's work considers natural law and the rights of man, with chapters on trade and commerce, arguing for freedom of the seas and of trade, largely critical of English policy. The third item is the first edition of this collection of French translations of American authors, bringing together a number of works on trade and political freedom. All three are good copies, bound in a single volume with contemporary Swiss calf-backed sprinkled boards.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2627(1)
Reference SourcesKeith Tribe, 'Critical Bibliography of Adam Smith' (London, 2002) Kenneth Carpenter, 'The Dissemination of The Wealth of Nations in French and in France 1776-1843' (New York, 2002)
Acquired on31/08/06
Author[Smollett, Tobias, ed.]
TitleA compendium of authentic and entertaining voyages digested in a chronological series.
ImprintLondon: R. and J. Dodsley,
Date of Publication1756.
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis seven-volume anthology of travel writing was partially edited by the Scottish author Tobias Smollett. In 1753 he was contracted, for the considerable sum of £150, to complete the work by the following year. Smollett was at the time working on a wide range of literary projects in his roles of translator, editor and critic; he was also living an expensive and hectic social life in London. It is perhaps little wonder that he later admitted that his overall contribution to the work was actually very limited. The seven volumes consist of edited accounts of the trade and military expeditions of major European explorers and adventurers such as Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Francis Drake and Cortes. They contain several plates, including portraits and illustrations of exotic places and peoples, such as cannibals in the Caribbean, as well as 20 maps. A second edition appeared in 1766. This particular set of volumes belonged to the library of the Phelip[p]s family of Montacute House near Yeovil in Somerset.
ShelfmarkAB.1.210.014-020
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on07/05/10
Author[William Agnew]
TitleThe book of signs
ImprintGlasgow : William Agnew
Date of Publication1880?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is unrecorded pamphlet depicts signs to be used for communication with deaf people. The author/artist and publisher, William Agnew (1846-1914) was himself deaf and left school to become a bookbinder, and after nine years went to work for the 'semi-mute' printer Mr A.F. Strathern. He is best known for painting a series of pictures showing Queen Victoria using finger spelling to communicate with a deaf woman on the Isle of Wight. In the pamphlet text Agnew refers to the incident with Queen Victoria that the painting related to, he also mentions the use of sign language by native Americans. Agnew was a keen supporter of using sign-language for educating the deaf, as opposed to using systems based on using articulation and speech, the latter approach being favoured by leading educators of the time. In the pamphlet he argues that oral education of the deaf is ineffective and expensive compared with finger and sign methods. He subsequently became involved in the fundraising for the building of a new Institute for Deaf and Dumb Adults in Glasgow and West Scotland, that would rely on instruction through sign language. Queen Victoria contributed money, and funds from an 1891 grand bazaar raised enough to purchase a site for the new building, with Agnew being made a Director of the Institution.
ShelfmarkAP.1.216.08
Reference SourcesH Dominic, W Stiles, "Deaf artist William Agnew" https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/library-rnid/2011/12/20/deaf-artist-william-agnew/
Acquired on20/11/15
Author[William Douglas]
TitleThe cornutor of seventy-five. Being the genuine narrative of the lives, adventures and amours of Don Ricardo Honeywater. The second edition.
ImprintLondon: J. Cobham
Date of Publication[1748]
LanguageEnglish
NotesA very rare satirical pamphlet by William Douglas (b. 1710/11?), a Scottish doctor who had a prominent medical career in London; at one time he was employed as physician to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Douglas's main claim to fame, or rather notoriety, was not his skill as a physician but the vindictive attacks he made in print on some of the leading physicians of his day. Having already attacked his fellow Scots William Smellie and Thomas Thompson, he turned his attention to the wealthiest, most famous and respected physician in England, Richard Mead (1673-1754). Although already in his seventies, Mead had acquired a reputation for womanising, or rather nocturnal 'impotent fumblings' with young girls of much lower social status. His extra-marital activities and alleged inflated status in the medical world were targeted by Douglas in the first edition of this pamphlet, where Mead punningly became 'Don Ricardo Honeywater'. In 1748 Douglas also produced this expanded second edition, with mock-learned footnotes and enlarged preface and an attack on Mead's translator, Dr Thomas Stack, 'Dr Chimney'. Douglas's pamphlet attracted a powerful response in defence of Mead: "Don Ricardo Honeywater Vindicated", a work attributed to another Scottish doctor and man of letters, Tobias Smollett. It seems to have put an end to Douglas's career as satirist; he later gave up his medical career in London and by 1758 he had returned to Scotland and, according to William Smellie, had gone mad.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2638(1)
Reference SourcesESTC; DNB; R.A. Day, The cornutor of seventy-five and Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated, The Augustan Reprint Society publication no. 224-225, Los Angeles, 1987
Acquired on24/11/06
Author[William Henry Dick-Cunyngham]
Title[Album of 94 albumen prints]
ImprintS.n, s.d.
Date of Publication[c. 1875 - c.1882]
LanguageEnglish
NotesAn album of 94 albumen prints probably compiled by William Henry Dick-Cunyngham (1851-1900). Dick-Cunyngham served with the Gordon Highlanders in India then Afghanistan, winning a Victoria Cross in the Second Afghan War of 1878-80. The album contains photographs relating to his time in India, as well as views of the family home at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, all of which are captioned. The first half of the album comprises commercially produced views in India and towards the end are a few commercial Scottish views by Valentine and Wilson. In between are photographs that relate specifically to army regiments, including an interesting series of military group portraits identified as: pipers, 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, Windsor 1882; group of Sutherland Highlanders (93rd?); officers of the Sutherland Highlanders including Colonel MacPherson and Colonel Nightingale; Captain Dick-Cunyngham VC, Gordon Highlanders and the men of his company, taken at Edinburgh Castle. The photographs showing Dick-Cunyngham and companions posing with hunting trophies may have been taken by John Burke (1843-1900), a leading commercial photographer based in North-West India who is best known for his photographs taken during the Second Afghan War (two of the photographs in this album show men and officers of the 92nd Highlanders in Kabul in 1880). Dick-Cunyngham went on to serve in the Boer War in South Africa where he died of wounds incurred in action at Wagon Hill in Natal.
ShelfmarkPhot.la.69
Reference SourcesJ. Falconer " India: Pioneering Photographers 1850-1900" London, 2001. Auction catalogue.
Acquired on21/04/08
Author[William Sotheby]
TitleTo His Majesty's ship Barham, appointed by the King to convey Sir Walter Scott to Naples.
Imprint[London : s.n.]
Date of Publication1831
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis single sheet poem of 42 lines is by 'W.S.', William Sotheby (1757-1833), a poet and translator. The poem is dated 18 November 1831 at the end, with the address of Fair Mead Lodge, Epping Forest, which had been Sotheby's home since the early 1790s. Sotheby had been in the army in his youth and had been stationed in Edinburgh in the 1770s, where he came to know Walter Scott, then only a boy. The two remained friends; Scott may not have greatly esteemed Sotheby's talents as a poet but he had a sincere respect for the elder man. By the summer of 1831 Scott had suffered three strokes and reluctantly agreed to go on a tour of the Mediterranean to improve his declining health. In the poem Sotheby addresses the man-of-war HMS Barham, which had been provided at the command of William IV to take Scott to Malta and Naples rather than have him undergo an arduous overland journey. The ship had set sail in October, and Sotheby anticipates its return with its precious cargo, hoping, in vain, that the famous author will return restored to full fitness. In fact, Scott had a fourth stroke on the return journey, which was overland, and by the time he reached London in June 1832 he was dying, surviving long enough to return to Scotland and to die in his beloved Abbotsford. Only one other copy of this printing is recorded, in the British Library.
ShelfmarkAP.1.215.03
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on16/10/15
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