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 735 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 211 to 225 of 735:
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|Title||Dialectica Guillelmi Ma[n]deston. Tripartitum epithoma|
|Imprint||[Lyon: Jacques Giunta]|
|Date of Publication||[c. 1520]|
|Notes||This is an extremely rare Lyons printing of the "Tripartitum", a work on logic by the Scottish philosopher and logician William Manderston, with only one other copy being recorded, in the bibliotheque municipale of Lyons. Described as "one of the leading Scottish intellectuals of his age" (ODNB) Manderston (c.1485-1552) followed the standard career path of Scottish 15th- and 16th-century scholars. After graduating from Glasgow University in 1506, he moved to France and continued his education at the University of Paris, where he studied alongside other Scots including John Mair, George Lokert, and David Cranston. The "Tripartitum", Manderston's first published work, was first printed in Paris in 1517. It is, as the title implies, a three-part work in Latin on the principles of logic, dedicated to Andrew Forman, archbishop of St Andrews. A year later Manderston's "Bipartitum", a two-part work on moral philosophy, was published. Manderston remained in France until 1528, eventually becoming rector of the University of Paris and acting as a tutor and mentor to prominent Scots such as George Buchanan and the theologian Patrick Hamilton. On his return to Scotland he moved to St. Andrews, becoming rector of the University. This book also has an interesting provenance; an inscription on the title page of the book, 'Collegio de Montilla', shows that the book was formerly in the collection of the Jesuit college of Montilla, near Cordoba in southern Spain. It also has extensive marginal annotations in a 16th-century hand, by a former owner or student of the college.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||Dialogues sur la religion naturelle.Ouvrage posthume.|
|Imprint||Edimbourg [i.e. Amsterdam] : [s.n.]|
|Date of Publication||1780|
|Reference Sources||This 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".
|Author||Korb, Johann Georg.|
|Title||Diarium itineris in Moscoviam.|
|Imprint||Vienna: Leopold Voigt|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||An account of the Austrian diplomatic mission to Russia in 1698 to discuss an alliance against the Turkish Empire does not sound particularly thrilling, but this unexpectedly shocking book seems to have caused something of a diplomatic incident. While describing the progress of the embassy, Korb, the secretary to the embassy, described at length the turmoil of Russian internal politics. In the summer of 1698, the Tsar, Peter the Great, was on his famous incognito tour of western Europe, when the streltsy, the musketeer troops based in Moscow, rose up in rebellion. Curiously, the rebels were defeated by a Scottish general, Patrick Gordon. Gordon, born in 1635 at Auchleuchries in Aberdeenshire, had served in Russia since the 1660s, and rose to great eminence under Peter. As a Catholic, he was greatly distrusted by some in the Russian establishment (just as he would have been in Britain), but the Tsar's liking for Gordon extended so far that he was actually permitted to erect a stone-built Roman Catholic church in Moscow, in which Gordon was eventually buried. Gordon is mentioned repeatedly in this text, and some of the plates depict Gordon's fortifications at the town of Azov.
Peter hastily returned to Russia at the news of the rebellion, and proceeded to carry out a ferocious retaliatory campaign involving torture, mass executions and the punishment of the rebels' wives and children. Korb records all this in gruesome detail, and the large plates with which this volume is illustrated depict Moscow festooned with gallows, people being burned and buried alive, and rows of prisoners waiting to be beheaded. All in all, this was not a book conducive to better Austro-Russian relations, and it seems that the Austrian government had it suppressed. This is consequently a scarce book, and this is an excellent copy, from the library and bearing the bookplate of Archibald, 5th earl of Rosebery, one of the greatest early benefactors of the National Library of Scotland.|
|Reference Sources||Gordon, Patrick. Passages from the Diary. Aberdeen, 1859.
MacDonnell transl.. Diary of an Austrian secretary of legation at the court of Czar Peter the Great. London, 1863.|
|Author||Commissioners and trustees for fisheries, manufactures and improvements in Scotland|
|Title||Directions for raising flax|
|Date of Publication||1763|
|Notes||This rare pamphlet provides practical instructions for farmers who wished to grow flax. This crop had been grown to produce linen in Scotland as early as 1000 B.C. and in the eighteenth century, the linen industry was one of the most important in the country. The Act of Union of 1707 did not immediately have the desired effect of giving linen manufacturers access to new markets. The Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Manufactures, established in 1727, tried to encourage the growth of more flax as the industry was largely dependent on imports from Holland and the Baltic. This pamphlet includes information on choosing 'lintseed' (linseed), weeding, harvesting, stacking 'winning' (winnowing), watering and grassing (drying) flax. Further revised and extended editions were published in 1772 and 1781. By 1782 it seemed that such instructions were having an effect, as Scotland became almost self-sufficient in flax. It was mainly grown in the counties of Forfar, Renfrew, Lanark, Perth and Fife, where some farms grew as many as 50 acres of flax per year. By the 1830s, flax was in decline. Hand-loom weavers in the countryside found that the power loom was reducing their profits to almost nothing. Consequently the farmers ceased to grow flax and changed over to turnips and potatoes. The only other copy of this pamphlet is held at the British Library. |
|Reference Sources||T. Bedford Franklin, A history of Scottish farming. London, 1952M.L. Parry and T.R. Slater. (eds)The making of the Scottish countryside. Montreal, 1980.Alastair J. Durie (ed.). The British Linen Company. Edinburgh, 1996.|
|Title||Dirge or a voice in the night, originally addressed to a clergyman at Edinburgh 1845.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Anderson and Bryce|
|Date of Publication||1848|
|Notes||This work is attributed to one Susan Williamson on the strength of a telling inscription on the verso of the dedication to Queen Victoria which reads: 'The writer of this book was Miss Susan Williamson who resided in Edinburgh with her brother Mr. David Williamson, in some of her ways she was odd, but not considered to be insane'. The 600 or so pages which follow can certainly be considered to be odd if not downright unintelligble to readers in the 21st century. An extract from the introduction sets the tone for what follows:
'And all vitellent spirits revolt or resault over whom was ratified reflection as a whispered word imputave before the perfectability of planatory imparature in the temporal attribute, whose nullity remained in premonitory complex'
The book consists of short texts of a religious nature dealing with sin, creation, eternity and so on. The only other copy traced is at the British Library and no other works by Susan Williamson are known.|
|Date of Publication||1728|
|Notes||This is a fine thesis binding in black morocco, with gold tooling on boards, spine, board edges and turn-ins. Fine green and gilt Dutch endpapers, with the attractive label of Kerr & Richardson, book makers of Glasgow, on the front pastedown. Curiously, Kerr & Richardson do not appear in SBTI. The actual text is ESTC T188177, the only other known copy of which is in the Advocates' Library. The textblock in this new copy is untrimmed and in superior condition. The binding complements that of Bdg.s.13, which may well have come from the same workshop: the structure of the design is similar, but different tools are used. The new copy is particularly distinguished by the stars in the panels on the spine, and the 'chain' design of the diagonals. The floral roll which makes up the central rectangle and which is repeated on the turn-ins is mostly crisp and clear, although there are a couple of slips on the front board where it can be seen how the craftsman ran on slightly too far.|
|Author||A.M. graduate in Physic [Tobias Smollett]|
|Title||Don Ricardo Honeywater vindicated.|
|Imprint||London: E. Pen|
|Date of Publication|||
|Notes||In 1748 the eminent English physician Richard Mead was viciously attacked in print by the London-based Scot William Douglas in the pamphlet "The cornutor of seventy-five". This withering response to Douglas's pamphlet appeared in the same year and includes a comprehensive rebuttal of Douglas's aspersions and a damning biography of Douglas, referred to here as 'Doctor Salguod'. The authorship of this rare satirical pamphlet has been convincingly attributed to Tobias Smollett. As a fellow Scot in London, Smollett must have been acutely aware of the prejudices against Scots in the wake of the recent Jacobite uprising, and was anxious to prevent Douglas from stirring up more trouble by attacking the most respected medical man in England. This pamphlet is signed on the final page 'Gill Blas', the same moniker used by Smollett, who had done an English translation of Lesage's work "Gil Blas", in his pamphlet "Thomsonus Redivivus". Smollett's stout defence of Mead appears to have ended Douglas's literary career and no doubt enhanced Smollett's standing in the medical and literary community of London.|
|Reference Sources||ESTC; 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|
|Title||Donation of 4 items of ephemera, relating to bicentenary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party|
|Notes||1. Single Sheet Flyer, for the event in St Andrew's Hall, Glasgow
2. Ticket for the event
3. Souvenir Programme of the event signed by J. F. Campbell, Hugh MacDiarmid and Alex McCrindle
Three rare items of ephemera relating to bicententary celebrations for Robert Burns on 25 January 1959, organised by the Scottish District of the Communist Party. The programme is especially interesting as it lists the various contributors to the evening, including Hugh MacDiarmid and John Ross Campbell, editor of the Daily Worker.|
|Title||Dreadful fray, which took place at Culrain near Gladsfield in Ross-shire|
|Date of Publication||1820|
|Notes||A rare broadside consisting of letters printed in the 'Scotsman' and the 'Glasgow Courier', which gives a graphic, if one-sided, account of one of the flashpoints of the Clearances. In early 1820 Hugh Munro, the laird of Novar in Easter Ross, decided to clear his estates at Culrain, effectively evicting nearly 600 people, and place the land under sheep. No provision had been made for their resettlement. One of the letter writers describes Munro's actions as 'improvements' and the actions of the law-agents as 'warning' the people from their farms.
A few weeks prior to the incident described in this document, the law-agent on arriving to serve the Writs of Removal, was driven from the area. Subsequently, Sheriff Donald Macleod backed up by a small force of constables and militiamen was attacked by a 1000-strong 'mob', of whom women, labelled 'amazons', were to the fore. Once again the authorities were forced to retreat, but not before one local woman was mortally wounded, something not mentioned in these accounts. However faced with the power of the civil and military authorities and the stern disapproval of the local minister, the Rev. Alexander Macbean, the tenants submitted shortly afterwards.
But for the ultimately unsuccessful resistance of the people, it is unlikely that this incident would have reached the newspapers. There was considerable nervousness among the authorities, a fear that local unrest was symptomatic of wider radicalism given the recent occurences at Peterloo and Cato Street.
The broadside was printed, probably in Edinburgh by William Cameron, known as 'Hawkie', a speech-crier and a well-known printer of street literature, who mainly worked in Glasgow.|
|Title||Dream of John Ball and a king's lesson.|
|Imprint||Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press|
|Date of Publication||1892|
|Notes||A valuable addition to the Library's large collection of Kelmscott Press publications. The Kelmscott Press, modestly described by William Morris himself, as 'a little typographical adventure' is regarded as the most influential and famous of the private presses which emerged in the latter years of the nineteenth century. Between 1891 and 1898, 52 books were produced of which the Library holds 49. Morris sought to emulate the books produced in the early years of printing and 'to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type'. Morris oversaw every aspect of the production and design of the Kelmscott books 'the paper, the form of the type, the relative spacing of the letters, the words and the lines, and lastly the position of the printed matter on the page'.
A king's lesson and A dream of John Ball were first published in the socialist journal Commonweal in 1886 and 1887. This utopian socialist work is one of the few writings of the press with clear political overtones. Most of the Kelmscott books, were works of literature, including many medieval texts. This is one of the 300 copies printed on paper; 11 were also printed on vellum. The frontispiece was engraved by W.H. Hooper based on a design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, with the lettering and border being designed by Morris.|
|Title||Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders|
|Date of Publication||1881|
|Notes||Purchased with a selection of other yellowbacks by two popular Scottish authors. Yellowbacks (less commonly called 'mustard-plaster' novels) was the name given to the form of cheap fiction developed from the late 1840s and competed with the 'penny dreadful' as an accessible source of entertaining reading. The distinctive brightly coloured covers made the books very attractive for a growing reading public encouraged by the spread of education and the expansion of the railways. Routledges in establishing their 'Railway Library' in 1849, were the first of many publishers to target a new reading public with yellowbacks. This series ran to 1,277 titles, ending in 1899. Most works of fiction in this format were stereotyped reprints of earlier cloth editions. By the end of the 19th century, sensational fiction and adventure stories in addition to more 'educational' manuals, handbooks and cheap biographies were being published in this manner.
These yellowback novels of Grant and Stevenson were typical of those published at this time. Edinburgh-born, James Grant (1822-1887), a distant relation of Sir Walter Scott, was a prolific author, writing some 90 books. Many of his 56 novels deal with key characters and events in Scottish history. In 1853 he founded the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights. Grant is best remembered today as an historian - his thoroughly-researched 'Old and new Edinburgh' was published in 1880.|
|Title||Dundee from the tram cars : an illustrated guide to the city and its surroundings. |
|Imprint||Dundee: John Durham & Co.|
|Date of Publication||1908|
|Notes||This well-illustrated guide book to Dundee and the surrounding area was published by the local Tramways Committee. There are descriptions of the notable places to see along all the routes. The preface notes that 'the horse and steam haulage of earlier days has given place to electric traction'. The statistics which follow are impressive - 20,000 miles covered weekly, 15 million passengers conveyed annually. The guide also includes a map of the tram routes with a list of the routes, fares, stations and distances.
Electric trams were on the streets of Dundee for over 50 years from 1900 to 1956. Loosely inserted in the volume are a number of interesting ephemeral items: Dundee City Tramways security card from 1911 and an employees pass for Andrew Thomson dated March 1910. There is also a photograph of a driver and conductor standing in front of the Blackness tram.
|Title||Earnest invitation to all profane persons to repent.|
|Imprint||Edinburgh: Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||Swearing, drunkenness and working on Sundays are still issues in contemporary society, as they were over 250 years ago when this stern tract was printed warning of the dangers in indulging in these vices. The tract was printed for the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor (SPRKP), an organisation founded in London in 1750, which was the first of the evangelical tract societies that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was founded by Protestant dissenters, but included many Anglicans among its members; its object was to promote religion by distributing bibles and cheap tracts, usually written by dissenting ministers, to the poor. The Society co-existed with the establishment church-orientated Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and later with the Society for Distributing Religious Tracts among the Poor, founded by the Methodist leader John Wesley in 1782. In 1756 branches of the SPRK were founded in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the same lines as the London model. The anonymous "Earnest invitation" is one of at least three Society publications printed by Ebenezer Robertson in Edinburgh in the late 1750s. Very few of Society's publications survive and there is only one other copy of this book recorded in ESTC, in the British Library's collections. This particular tract covers three sins: swearing and profanity, with particular regard to the army and navy; 'the great sin of profaning the Lord's day by worldly business and pleasures'; and 'the great evil of the sin of drunkenness'. The author may, according to lists of books published by the SPRKP, be the evangelical minister Isaac Toms (1709-1801) from Hadleigh in Suffolk, who is known to have written five tracts for the Society. In the tract the author thunders, "It is not to be doubted but the glaring impiety and gross profaneness of our armies and fleets, and the bulk of the nation, had had a great hand in raising the storm of divine judgements on man and beast". Published at a time when Britain was fighting the Seven Years War on the Continent and the French in North America, this was alarming stuff intended to shock sinners into repentance. Whether the book had any effect on the profane of Edinburgh is open to question. The SPRKP's influence in Scotland appears to have been confined to the 18th century, but elsewhere it lasted into the early part of the 20th century, although it is now largely forgotten.|
|Reference Sources||Isabel Rivers "The first evangelical tract society" The Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1 (2007), pp. 1-22.|
|Title||Edinburgh and Port-Patrick time-bill.|
|Date of Publication||c.1790|
|Notes||This is a timetable for the Edinburgh to Portpatrick mail-coach, printed during the 1790s. It sets out the time and the distance for each stage of the journey, along with the name of the contractor responsible for each portion of the journey. The distance covered by the route, which took in places including Moffat, Dumfries, Newton Stewart, Glenluce and Stranraer, was 156 miles. The coach took 23 hours and 20 minutes to cover this distance, allowing for 30 minutes of 'office business' at Stranraer. This was considerably slower than the average royal mail coach, which moved at 11 mph in around 1800, and is indicative of the poor state of Scottish roads at the time.A weekly mail service from Portpatrick to Donaghadee in Co. Down (a distance of 21 miles) was established in 1662. In 1790 a daily mail service was introduced with the Post Office using its own vessels. Previously the mail had been carried by contract in privately owned ships. Portpatrick was also used as a port for sending troops and cattle to and from Ireland. The Portpatrick-Donaghdee route was superceded by the Stranraer-Larne crossing in the 1860s.
A regular coach travel for passengers between England and Scotland was only introduced in the 1750s. The journey from London to Edinburgh/Glasgow took 10 or 12 days depending on the season. By the 1780s this had been reduced to 4 days. Within Scotland there were coaches operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow from 1749 and from Edinburgh to Perth and Stirling by 1767. The use of mail coaches, which also catered for passengers, only began in Scotland in 1786 with the London-Edinburgh mail coach which travelled via the Great North Road. Edinburgh-Portpatrick followed in 1790 and Edinburgh-Aberdeen in 1798. However the heyday of the mail coach was short-lived. It was superceded by the railway in most parts of Scotland by the mid-19th century.|
|Reference Sources||Cunningham, R.R. Portpatrick through the ages. (1974)
Gordon, Anne. To move with the times: the story of transport and travel in Scotland (1988)|
|Title||Edinburgh Calotype Club Album, Volume 1|
|Date of Publication||c. 1848|
|Notes||By an extraordinary sequence of events, the Library, in partnership with Edinburgh City Council, purchased the 'lost' Edinburgh Calotype Album at auction on 12 December 2001. The sister album (volume 2) was acquired by Edinburgh Central Library in 1952. Having the output of the club, acknowledged as the first photographic society in the world, reunited in Edinburgh is a remarkable coup. The Edinburgh Calotype Club was formed in the early 1840s after a group of Edinburgh gentlemen, mostly advocates, doctors and academics, were introduced to the process by Sir David Brewster (1781-1868). The photographs in the album are a mixture of portraits, landscapes, buildings and sculptures, most of them showing locations in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Newhaven, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness. These invaluable images enable the researcher to discover a wealth of information about Scotland and its people in the mid-19th Century. As part of the project, both albums have been digitised and mounted on a specially designed website www.nls.uk/pencilsoflight to enable the widest possible access to this resource.
The project received financial support from:
The Heritage Lottery Fund
The National Art Collections Fund
The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust
Edinburgh City Council