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 765 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Acquisitions 211 to 225 of 765:
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|Title||De vulgi erroribus in medicina.|
|Imprint||Amsterdam: Joh. Janssonius, |
|Date of Publication||1639|
|Notes||This is the rare first overseas edition of the physician James Primrose's 'De vulgi in medicina erroribus' (literally 'Of the common mistakes [by people] in medicine'). Primrose (also known as Jacques Primerose) (1600-1659) was born and brought up in France to a Scottish family which had close links to the house of Stuart, in particular to James VI/I. The family moved to England in the 1620s and Primrose eventually moved to Hull in Yorkshire where he worked as a doctor and also built a career as a prolific and highly regarded medical author. In this book, his most popular, first published in London in 1638, he attacks the non-professional practice of medicine, and the widespread use of folk remedies by quack doctors. Two of the common errors refuted by Primrose were that the linen of the sick ought not to be changed; that remedies ought not to be rejected for their unpleasantness; and that gold boiled in broth will cure consumption. Despite his rational approach to medicine, Primrose remained devoted to the writings of ancient physicians, such as Galen, which led to him to reject William Harvey's discovery that the heart pumps blood around the body.|
|Reference Sources||Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|
|Title||De Zeeroover [The Pirate]|
|Imprint||Leeuwarden : Steenbergen van Goor,|
|Date of Publication||1825|
|Notes||The 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. |
|Author||Russell, Robert Frankland|
|Title||Deer stalking in the Highlands.|
|Imprint||[London]: J. Dickinson|
|Date of Publication||1839|
|Notes||Robert Frankland (1784-1849) was a talented amateur artist who later assumed by royal licence the surname of Russell, after Frankland, on inheriting Chequers Court in Buckinghamshire from his kinsman Sir Robert Greenhill-Russell. This volume was presumably privately printed, and was sold for "the benefit of the York and Aylesbury Infirmary". It consists of a letterpress title page and 10 lithographed plates depicting scenes of deer stalking, from pursuit to successfull kill, after drawings/sketches by Frankland Russell. This particular copy is a presentation copy from him to the Viscountess Strathallan (Lady Amelia Sophia Drummond, wife of the 6th Viscount of Strathallan), perhaps as a token of gratitude for former visits to the Strathallan estate in Stobhall, Perthshire. The book stayed in the Drummond family and was sold in 2012 as part of the library of the late 17th Earl of Perth. Only other copy is recorded, in the British Library, which has a MS title page dated '1836'.
|Title||Des Herrn Fordyce, beruehmten Professors zu Aberdeen in Engelland, Anfangsgruende der moralischen Weltweisheit; mit Herrn de Joncourt Abhandlung von der Oberherrschaft Gottes, und der sittlichen Verbindlichkeit, vermehrt.|
|Imprint||Zuerich: bey Orell und Comp.|
|Date of Publication||1757|
|Notes||David Fordyce (1711-1751) studied philosophy and mathematics at Marischal College ion Aberdeen, graduating with an MA at the age of 17. He then studied divinity, but despite obtaining a licence as a preacher, he never received a call. Instead, he was appointed professor of philosophy at Marischal College in 1742. Fordyce died in a storm off the coast of Holland at the age of 40.
Fordyce wrote an article called 'Moral philosophy' for the magazin "The Modern Preceptor". This was published separately in 1754 as "Elements of Moral Philosophy". This posthumous publication was the most successful work on moral philosophy hitherto written. By 1769 it had gone through four editions.
This is a copy of the German edition published in 1757.|
|Author||Monboddo, James Burnett, Lord|
|Title||Des Lord Monboddo Werk von dem Ursprunge und Fortgange der Sprache|
|Imprint||2 vols. Riga|
|Date of Publication||1784-1785|
|Notes||This is the first German edition, an abridged translation of volumes 1-3,of Monboddo's seminal work Of the origin and progress of language, which was published in six volumes between 1773 and 1792. It is in fact the only translation of any of his works, published until the 1970s. The translation by E.A. Schmid, was prefaced with a translation by Johann Gottfried von Herder, the leading German philsopher. Herder praised the broad philosophical perspective from which Monboddo approached the topic of the origin of language. Although he believed that Monboddo did not have sufficient anatomical information to maintain the humanity of the orang-outang (one of the controversial claims made in vol.I), Herder did not think that this critique impacted on the thrust of the Scot's theory. Monboddo's claims that the men in the Nicobar Islands had tails and that the orang-outang was a class of the human species, lacking only speech, were ridiculed by his contemporaries including David Hume and Lord Kames. His linguistic descriptions were largely ignored. Herder was one critic who took a broader view, believing that Monboddo's comparison of a variety of languages of different cultures opened a new field of inquiry.
According to Cloyd 'it is probable that Monboddo had influence in Germany, on Jacob Grimm and the other great nineteenth-century students of language ... German studies came closer to following directions suggested by Monboddo than British studies did; but there is nothing to indicate that he had any real influence in either place ... '.
Monboddo (1714-1799), one of the key figures of the Scottish Englightenment, was born on the family estate of Monboddo in Kincardineshire, studied law at Edinburgh and Groningen, and was called to the bar in 1737. He rose through the legal hierarchy and became a Lord of Session in 1767. A member of the Select Society, he was a close friend of James Boswell. His other major work was Antient metaphysics, published in six volumes between 1779 and 1799.|
|Reference Sources||Cloyd, E.L. James Burnett Lord Monboddo. (Oxford, 1972) NC.273.h.20
Jooken, Lieve. The linguistic conceptions of Lord Monboddo (1714-1799) (Leuven, 1996) HP2.97.2761|
|Author||Ramsay, Andrew Michael|
|Title||Des Ritters Ramsay reisender Cyrus|
|Imprint||Hamburg: heirs of Thomas von Wiering|
|Date of Publication||1728|
|Notes||This is the first German edition of this important novel by a Scottish-born writer. Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) was a philosopher and mystic who converted to Catholicism but continued to argue for the underlying unity of all religions. Spending much of his adult life in Paris, he served the exiled Jacobite court and befriended David Hume; he also gave hospitality to the Glasgow printers Andrew and Robert Foulis. In 1727 he published 'Les voyages de Cyrus', and an English translation entitled 'The travels of Cyrus'appeared the same year. Based on the life of the first Persian emperor known as Cyrus the Great, this work anticipates the development of the novel during the later 18th century. The hero travels around the Mediterranean, learning about religion and morality in preparation for becoming ruler over many nations.|
|Reference Sources||G. D. Henderson, 'Chevalier Ramsay', 1952|
|Title||Descriptive sketch of the print of the death of Gen. Sir Ralph Abercrombie.|
|Imprint||London: John P. Thompson|
|Date of Publication||1804|
|Language||English and French|
|Notes||This broadside is a guide to a print depicting the death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt in 1801. The death of Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria was recorded by a number of painters including James Northcote, Philip de Loutherburg and Samuel James Arnold. It is likely that the print was based on the work of one of these painters. Abercromby was born in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, in 1734. He was educated in Alloa and Rugby before studying law at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig. His military career began in 1758 during the Seven Years War. For a number of years in the 1770s he sat in Parliament as an MP for Clackmannanshire. The French Revolutionary Wars revived Abercromby's military career - he fought in Flanders and the West Indies, then served briefly in Ireland before the rebellion of 1798. In 1800 Abercromby was appointed as commander of the British forces in the Mediterranean. In the process of routing the French at Abu Qir Bay, near Alexandria in March 1801, he was fatally wounded. He was later buried on Malta. Abercromby was a popular figure in the British army and his death elevated him to hero-status among the general public. Curiously, although the imprint gives the date as 1804, the paper has a watermark dated 1809! The publisher was John Peter Thompson, who worked as an engraver, printer and printerseller in Great Newport Street, London from 1792 to 1813.|
|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|
|Author||George Lyttelton, Baron Lyttelton|
|Title||Dialogues of the dead. 5th edition.|
|Imprint||London: John Murray, |
|Date of Publication||1768|
|Notes||This is the first book published by John Murray I, thus marking the start of what would grow to be a mighty publishing business carried on by successive generations of his family. In October 1768, a young Scottish naval officer based in Brompton, London, John McMurray (he would change his surname to 'Murray' around this time) was looking for a business investment. He found a suitable one in William Sandby's bookselling business in Fleet Street. Sandby had published the first four editions of "Dialogues of the dead" and the 5th edition was Murray's first publication, "the book ushered Murray into the trade in a respectable manner" (Zachs, p.22). In November 1768 the book sold to customers at 5s. 6d. and to the trade at 2s. 11d. Two separate print settings of the 5th edition are known, which may indicate that Murray's first publishing venture go off to a shaky start, the first printing possibly not being good enough, necessitating a second printing. However, the book would go on to be a steady seller for Murray over the coming years. Baron Lyttelton (1709-1773) was an English politician and writer. His "Dialogues of the Dead" was first published anonymously in 1760 and consisted of a series of imaginary dialogues between important historical and literary figures, from Classical times right up to the 18th century, on moral themes. It was inspired by a work of the same name from the 2nd century AD by the Ancient Greek author Lucian of Samosata, who also wrote 'Dialogues of the gods'. A further model was the "Dialogues" of the French Catholic theologian Francois Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambrai (1651-1715). Three of the dialogues in Lyttleton's collection were written by the writer, Elizabeth Montagu, who was a close friend of him. The first three editions sold quickly, and Lyttelton wrote four additional dialogues in 1765, which were added to the 4th edition. Later critics were harsh in the criticisms of the work, regarding them as 'dead dialogues', lacking the humour or spontaneity of Lucian's originals.
|Reference Sources||W. Zachs, "The first John Murray and the late eighteenth-century London book trade" Oxford, 1998; 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|